focus for landscapes

Joined
Mar 29, 2013
Messages
331
Location
durham (uk)
hi guys

i love to shoot landscapes but i never seem to get the focus right, where to focus? what setting to use etc

ive read alot of focusing a 1/3 of the way into the scene is that right? and that must be in live mode yeah ?

thanx

steven
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Messages
1,398
Location
Ireland
Real Name
Eamonn
Can you elaborate when you say you don't get the focus "right". Are you referring to composition or soft/unsharp images?

Other considerations:-

What Aperture? Even at f8, 24 mm, DOF is infinite from about 7 feet, f11 you're down to ~ 3 feet
Have you undertaken focus accuracy/af fine tune adjustments or confirmed not required?
Resolving capability of lens.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
4,001
Location
UK
Focus 1/3 of the way into a scene is probably based on a best guess of the hyperfocal distance and can yield perfectly acceptable images.

But there are many factors at work here as highlighted above and it can be easier to (and more accurate predictable results) to use a depth of field calculator such as http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html or similar. There are apps available for mobile phones that do a good job.

You could also make up a couple of 'cheat sheets' for use in the field for your particular lenses http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2009
Messages
7,507
Location
Los Angeles, CA
This might help.

However, I never follow the "1/3 rule", because every composition is different. In some compositions, this rule might even mess up your image. Live view shooting helps too, and you can zoom in your shots to see if you nailed the desired focus area.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
195
Location
Arizona
90% of the time I use live view. however sometimes you just have to focus stack. for example, if there is a branch or some element close enough to your camera, you will not be able to keep it in sharp focus while retaining acceptable results at infinity or even half way in your scene. even using hyperfocal distances, the numbers just won't work unless you could set apertures to impossible values.

in these situations, I take two or more images, then blend them in post. also I tend to always shoot at a sweet spot for the lens. that is usually about two stops down from the max aperture for a given lens. I rarely stop down to f/16-f/22 because diffraction will kick in and yield soft images depending on your sensor resolution and lens. If I want starbursts, I'll capture those at f22 and blend them later in post while keeping the rest of the image at the sweet spot of the lens.

or sometimes I don't give too much of damn and just shoot :)
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
Messages
2,483
Location
Kalamazoo, MI
It depends for me. In general for my 35mm and 100mm lenses, I focus at the infinity hard-stop. If you're using AF, just pick something distant and focus on it. For wider angle lenses, I usually have something of interest in the foreground and focus on that. Shooting at f/11 usually gives the best balance of across the frame sharpness without too much diffraction softening. You can go to f/16, but you'll have to sharpen more aggressively in post.

I've found that the depth of field calculators are decent as rough guides, similar to the distance markings on lenses. But because the pixel density is higher on these cameras than those scales or calculators (at default settings) account for, you won't get critical sharpness across the entire depth of the image that they imply. You may get acceptable sharpness, but you define acceptable, not the calculator :wink:
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
6,698
Location
Riverside, CA
I compose, then use whichever focus point is on my subject to focus. If I have a need for extreme depth of field, I will do three shots. One at the closest point, one about half way and one at the farthest point in my image. Photoshop does a decent job of blending them.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2010
Messages
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Location
UK
... You may get acceptable sharpness, but you define acceptable, not the calculator :wink:
Spot on, you have to define acceptable and this will only come with some practice in the field. Most calculators allow you to adjust for the camera type and change the Circle of Confusion size so you can refine to a degree.

This is/can be a complex subject to understand and if you want to study a little more deeply Howard Merklinger has some interesting things to say and if you are technically minded and not too mathematically challenged (I fall into the former category but mind freeze at the maths :smile:) then you can download a copy of his book The Ins and outs of Focus.
http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/DOFR.html
http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/
Although originally written with film and large format in mind the principles apply just as well to digital acquisition.
 

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