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A Beginner’s Guide to Focus for Landscape Photography


Landscape photographer and educator Mads Peter Iversen has put together a helpful focus ‘primer’ for the aspiring landscape photographers out there. In the video, he goes over auto and manual focus technique, his personal workflow, and a few basic tips and tricks that work well for him.

Note that Iversen doesn’t go into the details of hyperfocal distance and how to calculate it. If you want to get that precise every time you take a shot—or you’re looking for a more advanced tutorial—you’re better off consulting a more technical explanation like this one by Nigel Danson.

Iversen’s video is focused on (pun intended) his own short-hand technique that he uses in the field. Since he doesn’t want to set about “calculating” his distance as the light is changing, he shares several autofocus tips, starter settings, and a trial-and-error workflow that works for him. A few tips from the video:

  • Don’t be afraid to use autofocus; in fact, Mads uses AF most of the time
  • Whether you’re using manual or autofocus, take advantage of your camera’s live view and focus assist features like 100% zoom and focus peaking
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot above f/11—on many lenses, f/16 is still totally okay
  • Trial and error is faster than doing the math: set your aperture, focus “1/3” of the way into your scene, take a photo, and review the results. Then adjust focus and aperture as needed, and take another shot.
  • For compositions with extreme depth of field, don’t be afraid to focus stack.

As a bonus, Mads ends the video by showing you how to manually create a really basic, three-shot focus stack when there’s too much depth of field for a single shot to handle.

Check out the full walkthrough above to see how Iversen does it. If you shoot Sony, it will be particularly useful since he covers some of the settings and features he uses; but even if you don’t, the video represents a good primer on the basics of nailing focus for landscape photography, without getting overly technical or pedantic about technique.