Hyperfocal distance and depth of field

Hyperfocal distance Is the distance the lens is focused when the back edge of the field of focus lies at 'infinity' for a given geometric aperture.

Hyperfocal distance. Article from Radozhiva

Hyperfocal distance. Article from Radozhiva

When the lens focuses on infinity, not only objects located at infinite distance from the lens, but also many objects that are closer to the conditional infinity of the lens are sharp. In this case the concept of infinity is conditional, you do not need to think that the lens should focus on real infinity, which is located far beyond the moon and stars, near the far boundary of our universe. For many lenses, a focusing span of several meters is already called infinity. Each lens has your own hyperfocal distance, which means its own distance with which all objects will be sharp in the image.

Lens indicators

Lens indicators

Now many users of digital and digital-mirror, mirrorless and interchangeable lens cameras are hard to understand the meaning of the width of the field of focus, which is commonly called DOF - гbast рkeenly иimaged пrostranstva. On modern cameras and lenses, important indicators of focus distance and depth of field are often removed. Old lenses, and some modern ones, have special scales by which you can determine at what focus distance the lens is mounted. The focusing distance, for example, at a value of 2 meters, means that only those objects that are 2 meters away from the camera will be sharp. However, due to the fact that the sharpness zone has a certain length, the depth of field scale shows the distance to the object and behind the object, which will also be sharp.

DOF depends heavily on:

  • Aperture F, because DOF is indicated only for certain aperture values. In the example above, the aperture is set to F / 11 using the aperture control ring. The lens is focused on about 1.5 meters, the depth of field scale shows that all objects that are at a distance of 1 to 2 meters will be sharp. If we set the value of F / 22 we will get the depth of field from 0.7m to infinity.
  • Focusing distances... The shorter the focusing distance, the thinner the DOF. Conversely, the larger the focusing distance, the wider the DOF.
  • Influenza indirectly affects matrix size camera (photosensitive element). More than matrix size, the wider the viewing angle and the closer you need to get to the subject, which, in fact, rests on the second point. Therefore, they claim that full-format cameras blur the background more strongly than cropped ones. Speaking rudely, the more crop factor, the more DOF.

Important: focal length has very little effect on the depth of field, but due to the strong visual effect, it seems that the focal length, too, greatly affects the depth of field. I would say that focal length affects on the strength of the blur foreground / background (its visual perception), but it affects the width of the depth of field very little (with the same layout of the same frame with lenses with different focal lengths). At a constant shooting scale, the depth of field does not change when using lenses with different focal lengths.

Very important: DOF is a relative concept. It is connected with what is considered sharp and what is considered not sharp, and therefore the boundaries of depth of field are conditional, just like the marks for depth of field on the lens scale.

The main concept of IPIG

The main concept of IPIG

Due to the fact that when focusing at distances less than the conditional infinity, only some of the objects in the frame will be sharp, the rest will not be sharp, in which case they say that the foreground (near) and far (background) planes are blurred. If you focus on the hyperfocal distance, then only the foreground may not be sharp, and the background 'rests' against the infinity of the lens and becomes sharp.

Hyperfocal distance

Hyperfocal distance when the lens is focused at infinity - all objects beyond a certain border become sharp. This is the essence of hyperfocal distance

The hyperfocal distance has one feature - if you set the focus of the lens not to infinity, but to the hyperfocal distance, then you can get maximum depth of field from a certain value in the foreground to infinity. This is a very important property when photographing landscapes and more.

Field of sharpness

Field of sharpness

It is easy to imagine the depth of field in the form of two planes that form a volume in which everything becomes sharp. We live in a three-dimensional world, and therefore it is easier to imagine a real 3-dimensional situation. The depth of field forms such a sharp area, enclosed between vertical planes, not only the snow, but also the clock (not only grass, but also the raven in previous photographs) become sharp.

Important feature: when we focus on extremely close distances (on MDF), then the depth of field decreases. It is easy to imagine a narrowing of the distance between the planes shown in the picture above. When we begin to focus the lens at distances close to infinity, the depth of field increases. This is easy to imagine by expanding the distance between the planes. When we get to the hyperfocal distance, the plane farthest from us will disappear, go to infinity, and the image will be sharp from the hyperfocal distance to infinity.

Important feature: in order to get a picture of objects at infinity, it is not always necessary to set the focus value on the lens to the limit value of infinity. You can do with a hyperfocal distance. With closed apertures, the hyperfocal distance can be greatly reduced.

Important feature: many lenses, both new and old, have a flight beyond infinity, which means that the lens can focus on infinity, and if you twist the focus ring further, infinity will not be sharp. This is a special idea in the design of the lens, which is designed to compensate for the stretching of the helicoid at different temperatures and will focus on infinity in both winter and summer. Also, many lenses have infinity so that they can be used without problems on different cameras with different working lengths, and also because of the design features of some zoom lenses.

90mm lens

The GR at the 90mm lens starts at about 40m, in this case, even on a closed aperture, the background with trees remains slightly blurry.

Some features of lenses

  • The larger the telephoto lens, the greater the hyperfocal distance. For example, telephoto Nikon ED AF Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8 It has GR for F / 2.8, equal to several hundred meters.
  • The smaller the focal length of the lens, the less GR. For example, a super wide angle lens Zenithar 16mm F2.8 MC Fisheye It has GR for F / 2.8 equal to approximately 1,5m.
  • The closer the aperture is, the smaller GR. Roughly speaking, on covered apertures using super wide-angle lenses, you can generally forget about focusing.
  • Get a small telephoto lens GR pretty hard.
The practical application of hyperfocal distance

Practical application of hyperfocal distance - in this landscape shot, both the foreground with a flowering tree and the background with mountains are sharp. The lens is adjusted so that everything behind the tree is sharp.

Personal experience

The hyperfocal distance can be easily felt when working with wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle optics. The wider the field of view of the lens, the shorter its hyperfocal distance. This effect can be seen even when using the kit 18mm lens. At the 18mm position, the autofocus only rotates the focusing ring slightly, since in most cases the lens works 'at hyperfocal' and everything beyond a few meters is already sharp, and the camera does not need to refocus. I don't use grip calculators, it's easier for me to figure out by eye or from personal experience how the lens will behave. Due to the short hyperfocal distance of ultra-wide angles, it is very convenient to work with the latter in manual focus mode.

Conclusions

Understanding how focusing, depth of field and hyperfocal distance work can help create the desired effect in photographs, improve volume transfer, and help in choosing a lens. In general, with infinity you need to conduct your own experiments in order to 'probe' and understand everything.

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Material prepared Arkady Shapoval... Look for me on Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram.

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Comments: 144, on the topic: Hyperfocal distance and depth of field

  • Manych

    Tell me what tables DOF ​​look at?
    For example, a 100mm full-frame lens. and the crop matrix is ​​1,5
    1. look like 150mm for full frame?
    2. Or 150mm for the cropped?
    3. Or are there more options?

    • Bogdan

      I downloaded the Hyper Focal application from the play market, everything is simple there

  • Oleg

    Good afternoon, maybe I’m not writing there .. Tell me, please, I got a lens sharpened for Nikon with a small flight for infinity. Is there any benefit or harm?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      There is no harm. The benefits are special too.

  • Kostya

    Hello!

    That is, as I understood correctly, focusing to infinity is when the background is all in focus, and the foreground is blurred?

    But can it be done so that everything is in focus and everything is sharp?

  • Ramil

    Hello! The question arose, is the calculation of hyperfocal distance different when using zoom lenses or is there no difference? In practice, I realized that on my Canon 15-85 the best sharpness and detail is obtained at 24mm with a diaphragm of 5.6-8. I wanted to use these focal points in the landscape on this glass. What is the hyperfocal distance then obtained at 24mm of my lens? Thank you in advance!

  • Andrei

    Arkady, but please tell me how to put a Nikkor 18-55 mm lens at infinity? There is no scale except for focusing .. I would like to get a picture where the subject is in the field of sharpness, and the foreground and background are blurred. In general, in the same way that you have a raven photographed in a snapshot of their article. I will be very grateful to you for your help.

  • Alexander

    Good afternoon, please tell me why the diaphragm control scale is not fixed for me, should it be or what? My Nikon 85mm 1.8D is only fixed at 16.thanks

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It should be fixed only in the extreme position.

  • Ruslan

    Explain this phrase

    “The more closed the diaphragm, the less GR. Roughly speaking, at covered apertures with ultra wide-angle lenses, you can forget about focusing altogether. "

    As far as I understand, the larger the hole, the stronger the aperture is OPEN, the background is more blurred there, and there is less depth of field. And you write, “the more the diaphragm is CLOSED”. What's the matter here?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      GR is not DOF, but Hyperfocal Distance. Just read carefully :)

      • Ruslan

        yes, then I read it to a reduction. If with DOF and a blurry background, everything is clear, then with GRI it is somehow harder, how and where to use, etc.

        • Snakewin

          Thank you for asking. At first he was confused in this phrase. At first I thought that I would not be harsh at all, but I had to understand that harshness and aiming would not be necessary, as it would always be sharp.

  • Vladimir

    Good afternoon, Arkady.
    Do an experiment.
    Place, for example, a matchbox on a table at a certain distance from the background.
    Take pictures of the object with lenses with different focal lengths so that the subject (in this example, a matchbox) occupies the entire frame in height, for example (or in width, as you wish, the main thing is that you can clearly see the background behind the subject. must be the same (e.g. 2 or 1,8).
    The distance to the subject, without fail, under these conditions will be different (due to the difference in the focal length of the lenses).
    But you will discover an amazing thing. Background blur will be almost the same.
    Such an experiment was not conducted by me. But I am inclined to believe that the statement of the author of the experiment that the depth of field depends only on the aperture is true.

    • Alexey Anatolevich

      Vladimir, thanks for the informative example, with the depth of field it will be so, only the near and far focus boundaries will change. Arkady, speaking of the fact that depth of field also depends on the focusing distance, implies working with one lens.

  • Catherine

    Please tell me, otherwise I’m already confused! Do I understand correctly that if I focus (autofocus) on the subject at a distance of 10 m from the lens with an aperture value of 1.8, will this subject still be in focus? And if I focus on the same subject, I just go up to it at 5 m, while the aperture remains unchanged (1.8), will the subject be in focus as well? Will these two photos differ only in the composition of the frame and the blurriness of the background and foreground? That is, the distance to the subject with the same aperture does not affect how sharp the exact subject that the autofocus is focused on will come out?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, if you do not take into account subtleties, then both images will be sharp, but with a different composition and different depth of field (blurred foreground and background)

      • Catherine

        Arkady, thanks for the answer! It seems to figure it out again) The article is very useful!

  • Andrei

    Arkady, good afternoon. I read your blog with pleasure. I re-read this article 10 times already :) But I still can’t understand everything. Some kind of inconsistency is present in the text, or I can’t understand correctly.
    Here you write that hyperfocal space is the point from which objects become sharp when focusing at infinity. Correctly?
    And a little lower in the article you write, I quote:
    "The hyperfocal distance has one feature - if you set the focus of the lens not to infinity, but to the hyperfocal distance, then you can get the maximum depth of field from a certain value in the foreground to infinity."
    Please explain how is it? I just can’t understand. How can you focus on hyperfocal?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      For example, unscrew the focusing ring, not to infinity, but 40 meters (depending on the lens), while infinity will also be sharp, and sharpness will start “closer” :)

      • Andrei

        Thank you so much for the answer. And if you can immediately ask another :)
        How often do you use this concept - GR. And a photo with an alarm clock, is it possible to take such a voluminous photo without knowing the GR?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Yes, for a photo with an alarm clock, you need to know not about the GR, but about the depth of field, and doing this is easy - https://radojuva.com.ua/2012/01/dof-best-lens-photo/

          • Andrei

            I have already studied this article and, in principle, have been successfully using my knowledge :) I really want to understand more about GR. How important is GR in the modern world of photography? And how often do you apply knowledge of GR photographing? And in which photograph of GR is it very important? As I understand it, you need to know and at least approximately understand it, but in principle you can apply this knowledge not as often (! If at all), as knowledge and understanding of the same DOF ?!

            • Arkady Shapoval

              Landscape photographers are well aware of GR, in reality, the concept of GR makes it possible to use wider-angle lenses to make everything sharper with the same aperture.

  • Alexander (D90)

    “Hyperfocal distance when the lens is focused at infinity - all objects beyond a certain boundary become sharp. This is the essence of hyperfocal distance. ” “The hyperfocal distance has one peculiarity - if you set the focus of the lens not at infinity, but at the hyperfocal distance, then you can get the maximum depth of field from a certain value in the foreground to infinity. This is a very important property when photographing landscapes and more. ”
    Not quite clear. First, we are talking about the fact that the hyperfocal distance is infinity. How to understand - “if you set the focus of the lens not at infinity but at the hyperfocal distance ...” ??? Let's figure out what is the point! I would be very grateful :)

    • Alexander (D90)

      Sorry, found the answer in the comments!

      For example, unscrew the focus ring, not at infinity, but at about 40 meters (depending on the lens), while the infinity will also be sharp, and the sharpness will start “closer” :)

      Thank you :)

  • Novel

    I still do not understand how to focus on the desired distance if there is no focus scale

    • Bogdan

      I’m also looking for such an answer, I even read that the photoraph takes a calendar attached to a stick, measures the distance with a tape measure, having previously calculated the hyperfocal distance for its focal length in the table, focuses in manual mode, then removes the stick and takes a picture of the landscape. I have 50 mm 1.8 stm. Without scale

      • Bogdan

        Naturally with a tripod! On flat ground you can, but how in the mountains?

        • Vitaly N

          Focus on the subject at the desired distance and compose the frame. You won't be taking pictures from a helicopter. Well, up to the mountains, you can practice your eye with a tape measure. Or take a laser with you - you won't have to run. Found an object at the right distance, focused.

        • Michael

          Use liveview mode (if available, of course). I covered the diaphragm with a repeater and turn the wheel until it is sharp at “infinity”. Since the picture can be zoomed in well, adjusting the GR is quite simple and quick.

  • Vladimir

    Arkady, many thanks for the reviews. As a novice user of CZK, I get a lot of useful information from them.
    In the example you have given, the lens has a corresponding depth of field scale.
    Can you tell me: how to determine the current value of the depth of field zone on a D5200 camera with an 18-55 lens?

    • Alexey

      Vladimir, forgive me for getting in, but I can advise you to use the depth of field calculator - there are a lot of them on the network, there are also for mobile devices.

  • Pogulyayko Artem

    Is there a mistake?

    The stronger the aperture is closed, the less GH. Roughly speaking, on covered apertures using super wide-angle lenses, you can generally forget about focusing.

    It seems that if the F number is larger (the diaphragm is covered), then the GR is larger?

  • Pogulyayko Artem

    Confused GR and DOF in abbreviations. Two of my messages can be deleted. Went to comprehend further.

  • Andrei

    Hello. Please tell me why when shooting a landscape (it turns out) and the person in the frame, then the people are blurry and what is behind it is all the sharp 35mm-1.8G autofocus. This is a focus or gr. Error. How to avoid this.

  • Ivan

    I realized that on my lens one scale reflects meters and is signed - M to infinity, but what the scale above these numbers means - FEET, I still don't understand. And there is only one ring for tuning, and when you turn the ring, you change these figures in the feet scale simultaneously with the meters. thus, for example, above the figure of 2 meters there is also a figure 6. Whoever can explain what this means?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      FEET - feet, in the west it is easier for people to count not in SI units, which include meters.

  • Alexey

    I did not understand .. that is. if you close the hole to F16, for example, at the focal 16 mm, then when focusing at infinity and focusing at 40 meters, the near sharpness border will be different in these two cases?
    Isn't hyperfocal when everything is sharp at any distance from a certain value closest to the lens? But this near value depends on the lens and aperture. And where do we focus, 40 m or 80 m. Anyway, the closest blur border will be the same .
    I think 40 meters is about DOF

    Or am I still not understanding something?

    • Alexey

      And explain, if it's not difficult what is the difference and how exactly to focus at infinity and at hyperfocal distance. Isn't hyperfocal distance a consequence of focusing at infinity with certain camera and lens settings? You just write: “The hyperfocal distance has one feature - if you set the focus of the lens not at infinity, but at the hyperfocal distance, then you can get the maximum depth of field from a certain value in the foreground to infinity. This is a very important property when photographing landscapes and more. ”

      • Alexey

        Moreover, the depth of field and hyperfocal. Hyperfocal is an expanded flu to the value of infinity of the far border of sharpness.
        I don’t understand why you need to write about the hyperfocal point, when you write about the depth of field, in my opinion there is simply the far and near boundaries of blur (sharpness), and GR refers to the concept of focusing when the lens position is set to infinity

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Reread again if not clear.

        • Pilot

          I join, it’s really not clear. That is understandable, but not to the end. It would be nice for some

  • Dmitriy

    Hello, you write that the grip depends on the size of the photosensitive element and does not depend on the focal length. On the other hand, the mathematical formula for calculating the grip does not use the size of the photosensitive element and uses the focal length of the lens. This is understandable to me - the flu is a characteristic of the lens, not the camera.

    Please explain this discrepancy.
    Thank you

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Just read it carefully, there are subtleties.

  • Sergei

    Arkady, he has already broken his head with this hyperfocal distance! Explain in a nutshell ... Where should the focus point be if the lens is 50mm, aperture f8 and a Fuji S5 (1.5crop) camera, when shooting a landscape, so that the whole shot is sharp?

  • Valery

    In the section “Some features of lenses”, the author admitted inaccuracy. Namely, what is GR - depth of field, so the correct abbreviation for DOF, if this is a hyperfocal distance, then GFR. For those dedicated to what we are talking about, it is clear that about the FIU, but the article is for beginners. This can be confusing.

  • Jury

    thought for a long time how to target the GF point. and here's a poppy thought came to my mind. I have a Nikkor 35 1,8 lens. the focusing ring on it is practically not fixed in the extreme positions, but it is still easy to find the moment when the rotation of the focusing ring begins to activate the internal focusing mechanism. (at this point the lens is focused at 0,3m). I put a mark on the focusing ring and take it further as the “zero point”. then I calculate the hyperfocal distances for my bundle (nikon d50 + nikkor 35 1,8) for each aperture value. I get a dozen digits accurate to the centimeter. I mark the obtained distances on the asphalt, switch the camera to manual focusing mode and in turn focus on each of the GFRs marked on the asphalt. In this case, each time on the focusing ring I make a note with the inscription of the aperture value at which a specific distance is valid. As a result, a HFR scale is obtained on the focusing ring for each aperture value.
    how do you like this idea? Please correct me if I am wrong, I am not very good at photography yet. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask, is it worth bothering yourself with this if the camera has a “landscape” mode? logically, in this mode, the camera itself should aim at the GFR?

  • Jury

    Finally I found an accessible explanation about GF, thank you very much for what you are doing.

  • Alexander Malyaev

    Arkady, I have always believed that the depth of field can only depend on the FD, aperture and the size of the matrix (well, maybe even on the focal length). But then I came across the fact that the very well-known and popular calculator of depth of field on Android “Photo Tools” for the same size of the matrix of different carcasses produces completely different depth of field. For example, for 85mm / f1.8 / 3m DOF for D700 - 115mm, for D600 - 81mm, for D800 - 67mm. I contacted the author of the program with a request to clarify why the depth of field, according to his calculations, depends on the number of pixels (read pixel size). It turned out that the algorithm for calculating the depth of field was adjusted relative to the old generally accepted standards for 35 mm film, taking into account the research in this article:

    http://vladimirmedvedev.com/grip.html

    The author of the program also checked the results of calculations on the carcasses of Canon 7D and Canon 1000D, which confirmed the accuracy of the calculations. By default, the program considers the circle to be 3 pixels in diameter. Personally, I have not yet verified the accuracy of the calculator on my carcass, but in general I tend to believe. What do you think about this?

    I consider it important to fully understand this issue, since so far it has been calculated that a crop matrix with a large number of megapixels, say 85 mm, can give an equivalent or even smaller depth of field than a FF matrix with a small number of megapixels by 127 mm.

    • Alexander Malyaev

      I thought about how to explain this “on the fingers” to myself, I came up with it. )))

      The point is that if you resize, say, up to 1600x1200 or a 10x15 photo, then even an object slightly “out of focus” or “out of depth of field” may seem sharp. But at 100% magnification on a 24-megapixel photo, you can see that the subject is out of focus. Accordingly, the fewer megapixels in the matrix, the wider the depth of field can be, which visually appears to be sharp, and vice versa. The same is true for the hyperfocal.

      If all the power of 16/24/36-megapixel matrices is used to print 10x15 photos, then the resolution of all matrices can be conventionally assumed to be the same (a kind of 3 megapixels), and then the depth of field will be influenced exclusively by the FR, aperture and matrix size - that's all.

      • Lynx

        ah, a good addition!

  • Dmitriy

    Calculation of GR.
    http://photo-monster.ru/books/read/giperfokalnoe-rasstoyanie.html

    • Vadym.o

      and, oh - a miracle! In this formula there is NO place for the size of the matrix :))))))) How much is written here

      • Victor

        But the size indirectly affects the depth of field (as described in the article), this should be obvious.

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