Hyperfocal distance is a fundamental concept in photography, especially when using manual lenses. In short, this is the distance at which the lens should be focused to achieve maximum depth of field in photographs. This means that everything from a close-up to distant objects will be in focus and sharp. Now, let's dig a little deeper into what this means and how it works.
Basic Concepts to Understand Hyperfocal
To understand hyperfocal, it is important to be clear about three key concepts:
Diaphragm: The diaphragm is the part of the lens that controls the amount of light that enters the camera. It is represented by numbers called "f/ numbers." A large aperture is represented by a low number (for example, f/2.8), and a small one by a high number (for example, f/16).
Depth of Field: Depth of field refers to the area in an image that is sharp and in focus. A large aperture (low number) results in a narrower depth of field, where only part of the image is in focus. On the other hand, a small aperture (high number) offers a greater depth of field, which means that more parts of the image will be in focus.
- Acutance : It is the contrast between the details of an image, which highlights the sharpness by differentiating the edges of the elements in the photo, creating more defined and clear lines.
What is Hyperfocal?
Controlling the hyperfocal distance allows you to achieve maximum depth of field in photographs. In simple terms, it is the focusing distance that ensures that everything from a closer object at point A to a more distant one at point B appears sharp and clear. But how does this work?
H = hyperfocal, F = focal length of the lens, f = Aperture of the diaphragm, and d the diameter of the circle of confusion.
You can calculate the hyperfocal distance analogically without the need for applications. Follow these steps:
Select a small aperture (a high number), between f/8 and f/16, to obtain a greater depth of field.
Find the "sweet spot" of the target. Each lens has an aperture at which it is sharpest. It is usually about two stops closer than the maximum aperture of the lens.
Estimate the distance to the closest subject in your composition that you want to be sharp.
Use the hyperfocal distance meter present in manual lenses.
Sets the focus to the hyperfocal distance (half the distance to the closest subject).
Examples of what the meter looks like on several popular lens brands, however, it is applicable to all:
This Nikkor 55/3.5 macro lens tells us that when set at f/32, everything within the range of 1.2m (point A) and 5mm (Point B) away will be in focus in the final image.
This is a Super Takumar 50/1.4 which indicates that if the aperture were set to f/4, all elements at 5m (point A) and 10m (Point B) distance from the photographer, they will be focused on the photograph. In this example, whoever is operating the camera must set the aperture to f/4 to make the technique effective.
In this image, the Canon nFD 50/1.8 is telling us that in the final image everything that is between 1.5m (Point A) and 2m (Point B) away will be in focus.
The hyperfocal is a powerful tool, which allows you to take advantage of the maximum qualities of manual lenses. This technique provides maximum depth of field, from the foreground at point A to another more distant object at point B, or to infinity.