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Hyperfocal

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Hyperfocal

Postby richlong8 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:44 pm

A question for someone with expertise, perhaps helping me to understand the use of hyperfocal focusing better: If I wanted to shoot a picture of something that was about 50 foot away, like a lit up part of a lake reflection, for example, would I still keep the lens set at hyperfocal distance to get the sharpest image? I know the hyperfocal changes per aperture, and angle of lens, for me, it would be pretty common to be about 24mm, F8 or F11, and then hyperfocal would probably be around 6'. So I am thinking of a common situation,where the water is still dark right in front of me, but as the sun comes up, further off in the lake, lake surface is lit up, and the mountains in back of the lake are in light as well. So I would fill the frame with the lit up water, leaving out the dark foreground; but would I focus on that spot 50' away, or just set the lens at the hyperfocal distance to get the sharpest in focus pic? I hope I am making my question clear.



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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby John Dittli » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:56 pm

If you're shooting with a 24mm, and your image DOF is 50' to ∞, then focus at ∞, as there is no difference. Remember that the sharpest part of your image will always be the actual focus point/plain.
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby richlong8 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:11 pm

Thank you John.
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby fishmonger » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:09 am

richlong8 wrote: would I still keep the lens set at hyperfocal distance to get the sharpest image?


As for sharpness meaning "being in focus" you should be fine with a 24mm and f8 unless you want extreme foreground to infinity to be sharp.

Meanwhile "sharpness" of features in the image in general has little to do with that. Most lenses are actually at their highest resolution (i.e. sharpest) at medium apertures (5.6 to 11). Below things get fuzzy on the corners, above you get diffraction and other nasty stuff. Basically, there is sharp, and then there is as sharp as the lens can get sharp.

So if you are focused on what you want and you are fine with other things not being sharp (sometimes you may actually want to isolate a subject rather than have the whole world in focus), pick the aperture your lens is sharpest at.

Some long lenses are optimized to be sharpest wide open, but wide angles and anything up to about 200mm in fixed focal length or zoom usually are not at their sharpest wide open nor fully stopped down.

If you want to maximize image sharpness, first put the camera on a tripod, second choose the aperture it has the highest measured resolution that works for your composition, and then if you're really anal, trigger the shutter with a remote release, first mirror up, and on the second click the actual shutter release, to minimize vibration even from the mirror flipping up.

For hyperfocal work, nowadays you can always review your stuff on the LCD if you're shooting digital - 100% zoom on what matters, then play with the focus distance and aperture until you get everything in focus while using the closest aperture to optimal. It's not like you're wasting film by doing that.
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby richlong8 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:48 pm

Thanks, I appreciate the info. I primarily shoot with a wide angle zoom when I am backpacking. One thing I did wrong last year...I did shoot some pics on a tripod when I wasn't moving, (and with the self-timer), but not as many as I should have, and I can see the difference. And I discovered a few months ago that I was shooting a lot of these wide angle photos last year at F11 and F16 trying to maximize my DOF. But I was shooting myself in the foot, because the lens was sharpest at about F5.6 and F8, and I could have easily gotten about the same shot using a wider, sharper aperture. I use Micro 4/3rds because it is less to carry around, and one of the negatives of Micro 4/3rds is I don't think you can do the mirror lockup thing you do on DSLRs. This year I think I am going to experiment and bring a remote, and I am thinking that getting a better quality tripod that absorbs vibration better may help. I also forgot at times to turn off the image stabilization when I had it on a tripod. What can I say, I may be a real Nimrod, but I have fun out there!
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:08 pm

Use your depth of field preview button if you have one, and view it in
live view mode. In the old days you could only look through your view
finder which was okay if you had a bright day, but if it was darker it was
difficult to see what was in focus. Not any more since now you see it on
a brighter, larger view screen. Plus you can use the magnification factor
to check for ultimate sharpness.
Like Fish mentioned some camera's require one to use the f8-f11 range, newer
ones may require even lower (f 5.6) which can cause issues because if one needs
maximum sharpness from the front bottom edge to the top edge of the scene in
a photo and cannot use for example f 21 or higher like in the old days of film
because of diffraction, what is one to do?
Well this is when focus focus stacking can be helpful in some cases, and it allows
you for example to use f5.6 which is the sharpest focal point on my Canon
14mm to achieve incredible sharpness through out the photo. Here is a video
which explains the basic's for this technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqAXR94X0T8

Another issue in the scene your describing is the dynamic range which is
the difference between the brightest point and the darkest point in a scene.
The human eye can see over 20 f-stop equivalents while the best camera
according to DXO is currently the D800 at 14.4. So what you see in the
brighter area and in the shadows will be different than what your camera
can record (shadows can be lifted extremely well with the D800).
You will have to meter one/several shot for the brightest part and one/several
for the darkest and then combine them in either on of the available HDR
Software, photoshop (exposure bracketing) or if your camera has in camera
HDR as some do, though they only produce a "jpg" which may be okay for you, but
I personally want mine to be a "raw" format because of all the info that is lost.
Of coarse this will only work with a static subject otherwise ghosting will be an
issue, though some small movement is acceptable in some scenes.
Here is another video explaining the basics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjtDZdwbBdo

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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby fishmonger » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:58 pm

richlong8 wrote: I use Micro 4/3rds because it is less to carry around, and one of the negatives of Micro 4/3rds is I don't think you can do the mirror lockup thing you do on DSLRs.


well, some of them don't even have a mirror - at least the more compact models don't.
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby richlong8 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:58 pm

[quote="maverick"] Like Fish mentioned some cameras require one to use the f8-f11 range, newer
even lower which causes issues because if once maximum sharpness front the
bottom edge to the top edge of the scene in a photo and cannot use for example
f21 or higher like in the old days of film because of diffraction, what is one to do?
Well this is when focus focus stacking can be helpful in some cases, and it allows
you for example me to use f5.6 which is the sharpest focal point on my Canon
14mm, to achieve incredible sharpness through out the photo. Here is a video
which explains the basic's for this technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqAXR94X0T8

That video on focus stacking is amazing. I had no idea. I am shooting in raw most of the time now, and am learning the basics of editing with Photoshop Elements 11. One thing I have noticed is that many of the new cameras that say they do HDR really only do that in JPEG, (and other special bracketing functions), at least from what I have seen with a few of them I have handled. So it is kind of deceptive of the manufacturers.... to the consumer who might think he or she is getting a machine that will do all this in RAW. Perhaps kind of like thinking all you need is more megapixels to take better photos.
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Re: Hyperfocal

Postby fishmonger » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:39 am

richlong8 wrote: One thing I have noticed is that many of the new cameras that say they do HDR really only do that in JPEG, (and other special bracketing functions), at least from what I have seen with a few of them I have handled. So it is kind of deceptive of the manufacturers


in-camera HDR is just like shooting JPEGs - you let the camera make the decisions for you, and generally, that's a bad idea. But it's a "feature" they can sell people who read a spec list to decide what they want to spend their money on.

You really want to have control over HDR, since it can be be rather hideous looking if not outright absurd. To avoid those extremes, you need to use software that takes your master images and lets you control everything. So you simply shoot your HDR subject in bracketing mode, or just manually fire off a few different exposures, and then load the images into the HDR tool.

Usually, when I get to that point, I realize I have wasted my time and I just ditch the idea and just go back to a single raw image file of the HDR set and adjust things within that one file to my liking. With the dynamic range of my camera, I rarely ever feel I need to use HDR. When I do, I hate the results - it all looks fake and screams HDR once you layer images and start moving the sliders around. The art in HDR is to use it in a way that others can't tell you did it.

One problem to watch out for with stacking is that some lenses change their focal length with the changing focus point. This can be very pronounced in zoom lenses at close range, and with that, they really alter the perspective in source files you are trying to combine in the stack. It always helps to do some controlled testing at home before you rely on this to work when the perfect shot is in front of you.
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