Hyperfocal distance—commonly defined as “the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp”—is critical for landscape photographers who want their whole frame in focus. Here’s a trick for nailing hyperfocal distance without resorting to charts or smartphone apps.
If you have a hyperfocal distance chart or a smartphone app that will help you determine the right value, go with that—it’ll always be more accurate… because math. But if you’re stuck without either of these options, you can use your camera’s Live View mode and the depth of field (DOF) preview button to “hack” the process.
The hack is simple. Once you’ve framed your landscape scene, follow these steps:
Step 1: Turn live view on.
Step 2: Magnify the part of your screen where the most distant object is.
Step 3: Set your lens to the closest focusing distance.
Step 4: Set your aperture where you’d like it (in this case, f/11) and hit the DOF preview button.
Step 5: With the DOF preview button pressed, slowly focus the lens until the zoomed in distant object on your live view becomes acceptably sharp.
That’s it! There is no step 6. You’ve now locked in the maximum focus distance for that aperture. If your foreground isn’t sharp enough at this focal distance, you’ll want to stop down your aperture further and repeat the process until you’re happy with the focus of your whole frame.
As the brothers admit in the video, this process is not perfect—if you have an app or chart you’ll be more accurate than your eyes and live view. But as a “hack” to use when you’re either too lazy to break out the tools or don’t have them with you, we give this one a thumbs up.
Check out the video for yourself to see how it’s done.
Image credits: Photos and video by Koldunov Brothers and used with permission.