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Author Topic: Hyperfocal distance  (Read 4784 times)

armand

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Hyperfocal distance
« on: January 28, 2015, 12:33:52 PM »

Now that there are plenty of calculators for it does anyone uses a laser distance meter to see where exactly they need to focus, for either single shot or the fewest shots needed for a focus stack?
Assuming the composition is done and you want more DOF.

dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2015, 12:39:04 PM »

Now that there are plenty of calculators for it does anyone uses a laser distance meter to see where exactly they need to focus, for either single shot or the fewest shots needed for a focus stack?
Assuming the composition is done and you want more DOF.

Interesting idea, but I use Helicon Remote to automatically do focus stacking.  Basically you pick the near and far points you want in focus and hit the button and it takes all the shots necessary at the appropriate focus distance.  It is free if you are doing JPG, but requires purchase to do RAW.

Because this just looked interesting I started to research.  Seems most laser rangefinders are made for Hunting and Golf.  Minimum distances for most are way too long (5-6Meters) is way too long for this application.  I did find a Leica DISTO D2 short range one with a range from 0.05m to 60m.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 01:14:14 PM by dwswager »
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Paul Roark

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2015, 02:35:15 PM »

I routinely do focus stacking in shooting landscapes.  So, whereas the programs for macro are great, I use procedures that are more casual. 

Keeping in mind that only a thin plane is actually in focus at any aperture, the issue is how much out of focus one can tolerate and where the focus should be in light of the composition. 

With respect to the camera scales, they are all, in my view, based on a snapshot size print.  So, adjust for the print size.

In practice, what often works best is to simply focus on the main points of interest.  Viewers are going to tolerate some less than perfect sharpness in the unimportant parts of the composition. 

If the air is perfectly clear, as in the High Sierra where I've done a lot of shooting, the ridge line can be critical.  So, I often use the infinity stop (if there is one, and that is one of the criteria I use in evaluating lenses) as one of the points of focus. 

With wide angle lenses, a dual focus approach works amazingly well, even if hand held.  But I also do not expect the automated stacking programs to work.

Since we are not talking of saving film, I often take more shots than needed and throw out the excess ones.

The image on the top of my web page had 3 focus points, is 3 (overlapping) 35mm (Sony a7r) frames wide, and a few extra shots to get the sun right.  All was hand held, manually stacked after an edit>align layers, and stitched in PS CC.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 03:42:25 PM »

I agree, since focus stacking apps like Helicon Remote, were intended for macro with high magnification and expect large apertures prior to diffraction limits on the sensors, the circle of confusion used is really really small.  This is to prevent DOF banding that would be much more noticeable at high magnifications and since the app is automatically taking the images, usually in a controlled environment, it's not a big issue if you shoot a few more slices.  I wish they would let the user set the CoC or have a landscape mode with less stringent DOF requirements.

As your image shows (nice BTW), with low magnification landscapes, 2 or 3 slices are usually enough as long as a reasonable aperture is used and the near subject distance is not too close as the low magnification makes it less likely DOF banding will be noticeable.  My rule when manually doing focus stacking with landscapes is generally a shot focused at the near subject distance, one focused on each main subject assuming depth differences and one focused at infinity.  Obviously, the focal length, aperture and subject matter all need to be considered.

I routinely do focus stacking in shooting landscapes.  So, whereas the programs for macro are great, I use procedures that are more casual. 

Keeping in mind that only a thin plane is actually in focus at any aperture, the issue is how much out of focus one can tolerate and where the focus should be in light of the composition. 

With respect to the camera scales, they are all, in my view, based on a snapshot size print.  So, adjust for the print size.

In practice, what often works best is to simply focus on the main points of interest.  Viewers are going to tolerate some less than perfect sharpness in the unimportant parts of the composition. 

If the air is perfectly clear, as in the High Sierra where I've done a lot of shooting, the ridge line can be critical.  So, I often use the infinity stop (if there is one, and that is one of the criteria I use in evaluating lenses) as one of the points of focus. 

With wide angle lenses, a dual focus approach works amazingly well, even if hand held.  But I also do not expect the automated stacking programs to work.

Since we are not talking of saving film, I often take more shots than needed and throw out the excess ones.

The image on the top of my web page had 3 focus points, is 3 (overlapping) 35mm (Sony a7r) frames wide, and a few extra shots to get the sun right.  All was hand held, manually stacked after an edit>align layers, and stitched in PS CC.

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com
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Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2015, 04:37:16 PM »

Now that there are plenty of calculators for it does anyone uses a laser distance meter to see where exactly they need to focus, for either single shot or the fewest shots needed for a focus stack?
Assuming the composition is done and you want more DOF.

Why not try it? I shoot at approximately hyperfocal distance. I will focus a little further out and when in doubt I will bracket with different f-stops. I have done focus stacking from time to time, but often the results are not that great compared to stopping down. Don't worry so much about diffraction as you might thing. Just bracket as I mention and judge for yourself. Change the sharpening appropriately and in Lightroom turn up the detail slider to 100 when shooting at f/16 or further stopped down. It helps. Some details are lost, but not as much as you might think.

dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 12:18:13 PM »

Why not try it? I shoot at approximately hyperfocal distance. I will focus a little further out and when in doubt I will bracket with different f-stops. I have done focus stacking from time to time, but often the results are not that great compared to stopping down. Don't worry so much about diffraction as you might thing. Just bracket as I mention and judge for yourself. Change the sharpening appropriately and in Lightroom turn up the detail slider to 100 when shooting at f/16 or further stopped down. It helps. Some details are lost, but not as much as you might think.

I agree that sometimes we become paralyzed by DOF or Diffraction issues.  DOF blur tends to be worse than diffraction blur.  The important thing is to know when it matters and when it doesn't.  It really comes down to output size and magnification.  The 2 images below show what I mean.  In the top image, DOF blur is apparent and a poor focus stack job with DOF striping would be immediately apparent because you are expected see individual grains of sand (detail).  In the second image, you are not expected to see individual grains of sand, you see sand!  Hence, our tolerance s going to be a little less demanding.


« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 10:31:43 AM by dwswager »
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Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 12:24:05 PM »

I agree that sometimes we become paralyzed by DOF or Diffraction issues.  DOF blur tends to be worse than diffraction blur.  The important thing is to know when it matters and when it doesn't.  It really comes down to output size and magnification.  The 2 images below show what I mean.  In the top image, DOF blur is apparent and a poor focus stack job with DOF striping would be immediately apparent because you are expected see individual grains of sand (detail).  In the second image, you are not expected to see individual grains of sand, you see sand!  Hence, our tolerance s going to be a little less demanding.




I'm sorry, I don't get your point here with the supplied images.

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2015, 02:26:26 PM »

Hi,

I would change radius according to aperture. With my cameras I found that 1.3 is quite OK for f/16.

Best regards
Erik


Why not try it? I shoot at approximately hyperfocal distance. I will focus a little further out and when in doubt I will bracket with different f-stops. I have done focus stacking from time to time, but often the results are not that great compared to stopping down. Don't worry so much about diffraction as you might thing. Just bracket as I mention and judge for yourself. Change the sharpening appropriately and in Lightroom turn up the detail slider to 100 when shooting at f/16 or further stopped down. It helps. Some details are lost, but not as much as you might think.

dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2015, 04:30:53 PM »

I'm sorry, I don't get your point here with the supplied images.

It's about what detail can you see actually see versus what is the expectation.  From 1 foot away, one can see the detail that is a grain of sand, from 30 feet away, one can't!  Hence, in an image in which one expects to see a certain detail it is important that the detail be rendered.  In the 1st image, detail is there in the middle and DOF drops off behind and in front.  Fine, that is how that photographer chose to shoot it, but in real life we would not expect significant shapness difference over about a 1 foot distance (front to back in the image).  If one was to focus stack an image like that, DOF banding would be very easy to spot. If the image has numerous bands of sharp and blurry sand it easy to spot.   Therefore, tight control must be maintained on how much DOF blur is allowed (since only the plane of focus is actually 'sharp') in each slice.  In the second image, one sees texture and patterns in the sand, but not the grains of sand.  That level of detail is not visible and not expected to be visible because the size of the original detail and the magnification at which it is reproduced.  Focus Stacking that image would require fewer shots, not only because the DOF of each shot will be larger due to the lower magnification, but because our tolerance for blur will be much higher.  As long as the basic texture and patterns are rendered the shot will be fine.

 
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Lightsmith

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 06:36:04 PM »

The problem for me with using the hyperfocal distance is that this would assume that all parts of the image, foreground, middle ground, and background have equal importance in the image and if this is truly the case then a tilt shift lens is in order. Otherwise I put more emphasis on the foreground objects to insure that they are as sharp as possible. There is also the aspect that with cameras like the Nikon D800 series the best IQ is going to be at f8 and using a smaller aperture to gain DOF is not the optimum approach.

After 13 years of processing digital image files I prefer to get the image right in the camera at the start as much as possible and not try to use post processing to achieve my objectives except as a last resort.
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dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 07:25:27 PM »

The problem for me with using the hyperfocal distance is that this would assume that all parts of the image, foreground, middle ground, and background have equal importance in the image and if this is truly the case then a tilt shift lens is in order. Otherwise I put more emphasis on the foreground objects to insure that they are as sharp as possible. There is also the aspect that with cameras like the Nikon D800 series the best IQ is going to be at f8 and using a smaller aperture to gain DOF is not the optimum approach.

After 13 years of processing digital image files I prefer to get the image right in the camera at the start as much as possible and not try to use post processing to achieve my objectives except as a last resort.

The point of Hyperfocal distance is that a lens focused at that distance will render an image acceptably sharp from 1/2 the hyperfocal distance to infinity.  And you get to choose what is acceptably sharp by your selection of a circle of confusion.

From the start, photographers have generally been willing to trade diffraction blur for DOF sharpness.  While the higher pixel densities we are seeing now over previous low MP DSLRs and film, means diffraction blur onset occurs at larger apertures than before, it is still generally a good trade off.  That does not mean it should be ignored, otherwise we would all just shoot at really small apertures.  Neither T/S lenses or focus stacking is the only or best solution to DOF issues.  Sometimes a small aperture is a good compromise.  And try making a sun star at f/8!

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armand

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 09:32:53 PM »

So far I'm trying both single shot and focus stacking.

On the focus stacking the problem is my lenses have focus breathing so I have to frame wider than I wanted; for landscape the software seems to be doing a good job, for closer shots it depends.

On the single shot I'm finding the F/16 to be a good compromise; but I have such a dirty sensor, I really have to clean it one of these days, I can't keep on cloning 20-40 spots per shot.
I'm focusing on what I care for but I was wandering if using hyperfocal distance might be more lucrative.

shadowblade

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2015, 12:30:40 AM »

The point of Hyperfocal distance is that a lens focused at that distance will render an image acceptably sharp from 1/2 the hyperfocal distance to infinity.  And you get to choose what is acceptably sharp by your selection of a circle of confusion.

From the start, photographers have generally been willing to trade diffraction blur for DOF sharpness.  While the higher pixel densities we are seeing now over previous low MP DSLRs and film, means diffraction blur onset occurs at larger apertures than before, it is still generally a good trade off.  That does not mean it should be ignored, otherwise we would all just shoot at really small apertures.  Neither T/S lenses or focus stacking is the only or best solution to DOF issues.  Sometimes a small aperture is a good compromise.  And try making a sun star at f/8!

Sunstars at f/7.1:

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Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2015, 07:56:47 AM »

It's about what detail can you see actually see versus what is the expectation.  From 1 foot away, one can see the detail that is a grain of sand, from 30 feet away, one can't!  Hence, in an image in which one expects to see a certain detail it is important that the detail be rendered.  In the 1st image, detail is there in the middle and DOF drops off behind and in front.  Fine, that is how that photographer chose to shoot it, but in real life we would not expect significant shapness difference over about a 1 foot distance (front to back in the image).  If one was to focus stack an image like that, DOF banding would be very easy to spot. If the image has numerous bands of sharp and blurry sand it easy to spot.   Therefore, tight control must be maintained on how much DOF blur is allowed (since only the plane of focus is actually 'sharp') in each slice.  In the second image, one sees texture and patterns in the sand, but not the grains of sand.  That level of detail is not visible and not expected to be visible because the size of the original detail and the magnification at which it is reproduced.  Focus Stacking that image would require fewer shots, not only because the DOF of each shot will be larger due to the lower magnification, but because our tolerance for blur will be much higher.  As long as the basic texture and patterns are rendered the shot will be fine.

 

Your first image looks like this to me ...

dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2015, 10:32:33 AM »

Your first image looks like this to me ...

I changed the image in the original post.  Basically a closeup of ants on sand.
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dwswager

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2015, 10:44:33 AM »

Sunstars at f/7.1:

Neat trick.  As I love to learn new things, how did you get the sunstars at such a wide aperture?  I've never been able to pull that off.
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Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2015, 11:29:24 AM »

Neat trick.  As I love to learn new things, how did you get the sunstars at such a wide aperture?  I've never been able to pull that off.

I have a number of shots with sunbursts at f/8. The best lens I have for this is the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II.

Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2015, 11:30:23 AM »

I changed the image in the original post.  Basically a closeup of ants on sand.

Ok, this makes more sense, but for an image like this I would never consider focus stacking anyway ;)

Hans Kruse

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Re: Hyperfocal distance
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2015, 11:33:23 AM »

Hi,

I would change radius according to aperture. With my cameras I found that 1.3 is quite OK for f/16.

Best regards
Erik



My default for f/16 is 50/1.0/100/30 and for wider apertures it is 50/0.8/70/30. Not a huge difference but f/16 shots look a little more crisp which helps.
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