Please Help Me Understand Hyperfocal Distance on my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D.

duffeymt

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I am looking for the correct way to use the distance settings on my 50mm prime for maximum depth of field when shooting a landscape. I attached a picture of my lens with the distance settings and the DOF scale (which I don't understand why the dof scale only has f/11 and f/22 on it).

My focal length on the prime will always be 50, so when I select an aperture of f/22, for example, and I want foreground to background sharpness, 1.) How do I use these distance settings to set the distance to get the MAX DOF sharpness for the landscape, and 2.) if I set my tripod lower to the ground to compose a close foreground with a vast background, how do adjust the distance setting for this?


I have checked out the masterDOF calculators and if I select my camera (D40) and my focal length of 50, with f/22, the last variable is subject distance. Is this the closest foreground subject? I see at about 20 feet in this subject distance field gives me an infinite background, so is this telling me that for this lens, since the focal length is fixed, the HFD for maxium FOD is always going to be 20, so H/2 gives me ~10 feet to infinity? Can I get anything closer than 10 feet in sharpness or is that my limit?

I know that is a lot of questions, but just trying to think out loud to make sure I understand this.

Thanks!
 

o hey tyler

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Is the 50mm the only lens you have to work with? That's a bit narrow on an APS-C body to shoot landscapes...
 

analog.universe

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It sounds to me like you understand it pretty well. When they use the term "Subject Distance", they mean the actual point where the lens is focused.

A shot with the tripod close to the ground, and both foreground and infinity in focus, will likely require a shorter focal length. F/22 is really pushing it to begin with (as far as diffraction is concerned), as the 50mm isn't often used as an infinite DOF lens. I've done these shots with my 24mm, and it just about manages to pull them off. It's way easy at 11mm, don't even need to go past f/11.
 

Big Mike

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The 'subject distance' in the calculator, is the distance at which the lens is focused. So given a particular subject distance, does the resulting DOF reach back far enough to encompass the closest object in your photo?

Also, since you are concerned about maximizing your sharpness (as you should be for landscape photography), you probably want to avoid shooting at F22. At probably anything above F16, diffraction is going to cause a loss of sharpness.
By using a DOF calculator and hyper-focal focusing, you might be able to determine whether or not something like F11 will give you sufficient DOF for your shot. If your shot does require F22 (or maybe smaller) for the DOF, you might be better off shooting at F16 or F11 and bracketing your focus distance and 'focus stacking' the shots in post.
 
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duffeymt

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Thanks everyone! I have this prime and then the stock lens, 18-55. I totally understand that the 50 is NOT ideal for landscape. I am going on vacation and mostly shoot candids and portraits but will fire off a few landscape and scenery shots while away.

Back to the specific question about this lens, should I just set the distance on the lens to 20 feet in order to get the max DOF given what lens I am working with?
 

analog.universe

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Back to the specific question about this lens, should I just set the distance on the lens to 20 feet in order to get the max DOF given what lens I am working with?

That's sort of a hard question to answer because it depends on the situation. In order to get that kind of depth of field, you'll be sacrificing sharpness to diffraction at f/22. Whether or not that's a worthwhile tradeoff depends on the shot. Sometimes, even in landscape shots, it's not appropriate to have infinity in focus, so you may end up focusing a little closer than 20ft if the foreground is more significant, and letting infinity go slightly.

If it was me I'd just pop the 18-55 on for these sort of shots. At 18mm f/11 you'd be in much better shape I feel like.
 
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duffeymt

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Back to the specific question about this lens, should I just set the distance on the lens to 20 feet in order to get the max DOF given what lens I am working with?

That's sort of a hard question to answer because it depends on the situation. In order to get that kind of depth of field, you'll be sacrificing sharpness to diffraction at f/22. Whether or not that's a worthwhile tradeoff depends on the shot. Sometimes, even in landscape shots, it's not appropriate to have infinity in focus, so you may end up focusing a little closer than 20ft if the foreground is more significant, and letting infinity go slightly.

If it was me I'd just pop the 18-55 on for these sort of shots. At 18mm f/11 you'd be in much better shape I feel like.

Thank you. I may just have to. I am so new to photography, I think trying both will teach me some valuable lessons.
 

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