February 26, 2007 HelpLine
Hyper About Hyperfocal
Q) I was out taking some photographs this weekend and a fellow who was nearby was suggesting that I should be setting my lens to a hyperfocal distance. I had no idea what he was talking about.
Via the Internet
A) Hyperfocal distance relates to depth of field. Depth of field is a range before and after your focus point where objects appear acceptably sharp. I say "acceptably" because what's truly sharp is the focus point. For now, I will call acceptably sharp "in focus."
Here's an example of depth of field: If you focus on an object at 20 feet, depending on lens and your aperture, you might have a range that appears in focus from 15 feet to 30 feet. Depth of field is highly dependent on your aperture setting. If you were to stop down the lens (make the aperture smaller), such as going from f/8 to f/16, your depth of field might increase to 12 to 60 feet.
Hyperfocal distance is the focus point at which the far end of the depth of field is infinity. What you're trying to do is maximize the range that's in focus. This might be easier to understand with an example. Let's say you have a 24mm lens and you focus at around12 feet with an aperture of f/8. The range from 8 feet to infinity will be acceptably sharp. If you were to focus closer, the range might be from 7 feet to 700 feet, so from 700 feet to infinity will be out of focus.
You can find online calculations for hyperfocal distances at www.cambridgeincolour.com and www.dofmaster.com.