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Thread: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

  1. #1

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    Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Iíve got a unique opportunity to photograph some wildlife using my 4x5 and I was thinking about setting the lens at infinity and then making sure the large animals were at the minimum distance for infinity. The goal is to not have to focus the camera which would work in this scenario.

    Any creative ideas on how to approach this with my standard 150mm and possibly my 300mm too?

    I want to make sure I know how to calculate infinity for each of my lenses too.

    Looking forward to everyoneís thoughts and ideas.

  2. #2

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Why calculate when you can measure?

    Find a far, far distant subject, mount a lens, focus on it, mark where the standards are or measure the distance between them.

    When you want to set up your camera with that lens focused to infinity, mount the lens, position the standards at their marks or separate them by the measured distance and off you go.

  3. #3

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    there are charts on the web listing hyperfocal distances for lenses of various focal lengths, and f-stops.
    Look up your lenses and make a small sticker to put on the lens board. IN the field,estimate, or measure if you wish, the HF distance, focus on it and you are ready to go.

  4. #4
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    I don't know what camera you are using but I would set it up at infinity or close to it, and then mark different focus ranges somehow, depending on how your camera focuses. Many Crown Graphics have these scales already on the bed for normal lenses, and scales can be found for a few typical lenses in use at the time - and of course they have a rangefinder too which may really help for your purposes.

    Shooting handheld I would say is your best bet considering the unpredictability of such subjects, but I guess if they are somewhat still maybe you can get away with a tripod. Don't forget about shutter speed - bring some 400-speed film probably.

    Or just use MF .
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  5. #5

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Gotta love the practical advice here Dan...

    One quick question. Is there an easy way to determine how far I need to be away from the animals in order to ensure they are within that infinity range?


    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Why calculate when you can measure?

    Find a far, far distant subject, mount a lens, focus on it, mark where the standards are or measure the distance between them.

    When you want to set up your camera with that lens focused to infinity, mount the lens, position the standards at their marks or separate them by the measured distance and off you go.

  6. #6

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Hey Jim, I want to make sure I don't mess this up... Are hyperfocal distances the same independent of the format? For example, is it the same for 4x5 as it is for 5x7?


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    there are charts on the web listing hyperfocal distances for lenses of various focal lengths, and f-stops.
    Look up your lenses and make a small sticker to put on the lens board. IN the field,estimate, or measure if you wish, the HF distance, focus on it and you are ready to go.

  7. #7

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Hi Corran, good info... I was planning on using HP5 film, so we are thinking along the same lines.

    I don't have a Crown, but a friend does, and I know it has a focal plane shutter too which could help with the handheld aspect too. I can borrow it at any time, so this could be a good option.


    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    I don't know what camera you are using but I would set it up at infinity or close to it, and then mark different focus ranges somehow, depending on how your camera focuses. Many Crown Graphics have these scales already on the bed for normal lenses, and scales can be found for a few typical lenses in use at the time - and of course they have a rangefinder too which may really help for your purposes.

    Shooting handheld I would say is your best bet considering the unpredictability of such subjects, but I guess if they are somewhat still maybe you can get away with a tripod. Don't forget about shutter speed - bring some 400-speed film probably.

    Or just use MF .

  8. #8

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Quote Originally Posted by LFLarry View Post
    Gotta love the practical advice here Dan...

    One quick question. Is there an easy way to determine how far I need to be away from the animals in order to ensure they are within that infinity range?
    Time to calculate. There are many DoF/hyperfocal distance calculators around. When you use one, make sure that you pick a Circle of Confusion that makes sense for you. Most of the calculators' default CoC for 4x5 is much too large.

    Hint: if you're always going to shoot at the same aperture (huge if) then don't throw away DoF by focusing to infinity, do the focusing exercise at the hyperfocal distance you calculate for the lens' focal length and the aperture you'll use. And use a CoC that makes sense given how much you plan to enlarge.

    If I were shooting wildlife -- I've done it with 35 mm and Super 8, all SLRs, never with a press or view camera -- I'd just focus the camera on the subject. This worked for me when the subject wasn't moving rapidly, don't see why it can't be done with a 4x5.

  9. #9

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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    Hi Dan, I think the big thing is that I really have no idea what the situation is going to be in terms of how close or far I may actually be to the animals. So, I was trying to think of ways to control certain variables (move closer or farther) but not have to focus because I probably won't have the opportunity or time. Even if I did, it probably would change too quickly. It is definitely an interesting problem that I have never considered before. But I like that and I am trying to think of ways to manage this before I get out there.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Time to calculate. There are many DoF/hyperfocal distance calculators around. When you use one, make sure that you pick a Circle of Confusion that makes sense for you. Most of the calculators' default CoC for 4x5 is much too large.

    Hint: if you're always going to shoot at the same aperture (huge if) then don't throw away DoF by focusing to infinity, do the focusing exercise at the hyperfocal distance you calculate for the lens' focal length and the aperture you'll use. And use a CoC that makes sense given how much you plan to enlarge.

    If I were shooting wildlife -- I've done it with 35 mm and Super 8, all SLRs, never with a press or view camera -- I'd just focus the camera on the subject. This worked for me when the subject wasn't moving rapidly, don't see why it can't be done with a 4x5.

  10. #10
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Infinity or Hyper Focal?

    If your friend has a Speed Graphic, check with him about what lens it has and if the rangefinder is calibrated. Could be ready to shoot right now with the ease of RF focusing.

    I have a Speed with a 127mm lens calibrated to the RF, as well as a Linhof Master Technika with a variety of lenses I can shoot with the RF. It's fun and an unusual usage for LF, these days.
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