The hyperfocal distance lets you maximize depth of field to get nearby objects and distant horizons sharp. This photography cheat sheet and tutorial will show you how.
If you’re into landscape photography, one of the techniques you may have heard about is using hyperfocal distance to take full control of the depth of field. This technique is popular among landscape photographers as it allows you to keep as much of the scene in focus. Today’s photography cheat sheet and tutorial from Digital Camera World teach us how to maximize the depth of field using a handy hyperfocal distance table for both Full Frame cameras and APS-C cameras.
In their tutorial, Digital Camera World first explained the main factors that affect the depth of field. First is the focal length or zoom setting of the lens you’re using. A wide-angle lens provides more depth of field, while a telephoto produces less. The lens aperture is another. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. Where you focus also has an impact on the depth of field. Focusing on a subject close to the camera will result in a more shallow depth of field, and a subject further away will increase the depth of field.
To make things easier, when you’re shooting landscape photos you can just use hyperfocal distance. The tables below will serve as your cheat sheet to identify the “sweet spot” of where you should set the focus based on the focal length and aperture of your lens.
35mm Full Frame cameras
APS-C crop sensor cameras
For example, if you’re using a Full Frame camera with a 24mm lens, look up the aperture setting you wish to use. Say, you’re shooting at f11. The hyperfocal distance you’ll have is 2.6m, so you have to set your focus at that distance to get everything from 1.3m to infinity in focus. If you want to capture a foreground element, make sure it’s positioned at 1.3m at the closest so it’s in focus.
Easy-peasy, right? But, as with any photography technique or concept, you’ll get a better understanding of it once you try it out yourself.
Fun fact: this hyperfocal distance technique works for street photography as well, and it’s known among street photographers as zone focusing. If you’re also interested in shooting street with this technique, here’s a tutorial you should check out.