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Digital Hyperfocal Distance

Hyperfocal Distance Chart
For Digital Cameras
by Jim Doty, Jr.

If you haven't read the previous page about Depth of Field For Digital Cameras, you should probably read it to clarify what this chart is for and how the figures were calculated.

HYPERFOCAL DISTANCE CHART
FOR DIGITAL SLRs (1.6x FOV Crop)
FOCUSING DISTANCE IN FEET

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LENS:

50mm

35mm

28mm

24mm

20mm

17mm

15mm

12mm

f-stop

               

f/32

19 ft

9 ft

6 ft

4.5 ft

3 ft

2.2 ft

1.7 ft

1.1 ft

f/22

27

13

9

6

4.5

3.5

2.5

1.6

f/16

37

18

12

9

6

4.5

3.5

2.2

f/11

54

27

17

13

9

6

5

3

f/8

75

37

23

17

12

9

7

4.5

f/5.6

107

52

34

25

17

12

10

6

f/4

150

73

47

35

24

17

14

9

Distances greater than 5 feet have been rounded off to the nearest foot. Between 3 and 5 feet, distances have been rounded off to the nearest half of a foot. Below 3 feet, distances have been rounded off to the nearest tenth of a foot.

Directions: Focus at the distance indicated in the column under the lens you are using and in the row across from the aperture in use.  The depth of field will be everything from HALF the focused (hyperfocal) distance to infinity (calculated for an 11x16 inch enlargement from a digital camera sensor with a FOV crop around 1.6x).

EXAMPLE: A 28 mm lens set at f/8 and focused at the hyperfocal distance of 23 feet (from the chart above) will result in an image on film that will have a depth of field from 11.5 feet to infinity when enlarged to any print size up to 11x16 inches.

Remember that the depth of field is from 1/2 the hyperfocal distance to infinity.

For practical use in the field, determine the distance from the camera to the closest object that you want to appear sharp to in the final print.  This is simple.  Just focus on the closest object and check the distance scale on your lens. Double that distance to get the hyperfocal distance and focus the lens accordingly. Then use the chart to determine the aperture you need for the lens you want to use.

Example.  You want some flowers 3 feet away to be sharp in the final photo. If the closest object is 3 feet away, the hyperfocal distance will be 6 feet.  You want to use a 20mm wide angle lens.  On the chart above, look under the 20mm lens column until you find a hyperfocal distance of 6 feet. Look to the left to find the  aperture of f/16. Focus at 6 feet, set your 20mm lens at f/16 and everything from 3 feet (1/2 the hyperfocal distance) to infinity will appear sharp in the final print.

One more example.  You are using a zoom lens set to 28mm in focal length.  You want everything from 5 feet to infinity to appear sharp.  What is the hyperfocal distance and what aperture will you use?  Look at the chart to figure it out, then come back here . . . . .

Since the closest object you want to appear sharp is 5 feet away, the hyperfocal distance is going to be 10 feet. Looking on the chart under 28 mm, 10 feet is in between the two distances of 9 feet for f/22 and 12 feet for f/16.  Set your lens aperture half way between f/16 and f/22.  Focus your lens at 10 feet.  Everything from 5 feet to infinity will appear sharp in your final print.

All of this works for prints no larger than 11x16.

What if you want to make 16x20 prints? Use the chart above to pick the hyperfocal distance and focus accordingly. Then set the lens for one aperture smaller than the chart indicates.

Example: You want to make a 16 x 20 inch print from a photo you will take with a 35mm lens. You want everything to appear sharp from 9 feet to infinity. If the closest sharp subject is 9 feet away, the hyperfocal distance will be 18 feet. Checking the chart, the aperture for a hyperfocal distance of 18 feet is f/16. Focus the lens at 18 feet, but SET THE APERTURE AT f/22 (one stop smaller than the f/16 indicated by the chart). You can make a 16x20 print and everything from 9 feet to infinity wil appear sharp at a normal viewing distance.

Remember that when you look through the lens, only things at the hyperfocal distance will look sharp (unless you have depth of field preview on your camera).  Everything in front of and behind the hyperfocal distance will appear blurry.  That's OK, trust the chart.  It works.

For 35mm film cameras, or "full frame" digital SLRs like the Canon 1DS or 1Ds Mark II, use the hyperfocal distance chart here.

RELATED LINKS:

Controlling Depth of Field for 35mm film cameras
and digital SLRS with full frame sensors

Hyperfocal Distance Chart for 35mm film cameras
and digital SLRs with full frame sensors

Depth of Field for Digital SLRs
with a 1.5x or 1.6x FOV crop

More About Depth of Field

Depth of Field for Palm,Visor, and other PDAs

Field of View Crop in Digital SLRs


April 7, 2005
May 11, 2007

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