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Thread: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

  1. #1

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    How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    I am getting ready to go on an outing with my family where we will be riding on an open air tram and there will be various wildlife that we get to see. I assume the wildlife will be at various different distances from me and my camera and it got me wondering how I could use my speed graphic in a quick way without having to focus. I thought it would be a lot of fun to have the speed graphic with me for this and everyone will probably think I am crazy which could be some fun within itself.

    My first thought is that I just set the 150mm lens to infinity and then ensure the animals are far enough away to make sure they are sharp enough.

    The only thing is that I am not sure how to go about figuring out how far the animals need to be away from me and my camera with the 150mm lens to be in focus.

    Does anyone have a guideline that you can share that is simple and easy to understand without using complicated math and theories?

    Any help is appreciated.

    Larry

  2. #2

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    Doesnít your camera have focusing scales on the bed? Thatís the fast way: estimate subject distance, set focus using the bed scale, and shoot.

    Describe your camera configuration more. Is your camera (rangefinder and focus scales) configured for that lens? Iím really thinking that your planning to use the wrong camera in this application.

  3. #3

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    Hi Brian, I am away from the camera at the moment, but I can check those things when I get home.

    You say that "I'm really thinking that you are planning to use the wrong camera in this application". I understand that any 4x5 is not ideal for this type of scenario and that is exactly why I want to do it in addition to wanting the 4x5 negative for making beautiful prints in the darkroom. I love doing things that other people shy away from or say is wrong, etc. I love the 4x5 format and the big negative for making prints, so I want to find a reasonable method to use this camera for this application if at all possible.

    Any additional tips or guidance from the group here is always appreciated.


    Thanks again.

    Larry



    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    Doesn’t your camera have focusing scales on the bed? That’s the fast way: estimate subject distance, set focus using the bed scale, and shoot.

    Describe your camera configuration more. Is your camera (rangefinder and focus scales) configured for that lens? I’m really thinking that your planning to use the wrong camera in this application.

  4. #4
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    A simple and easy-to-understand way is to set the camera to a hyperfocal distance scale, use high speed film, and stop the lens well down. Unfortunately, hyperfocal distance works best for distant subjects. Brian's above suggestion is more practical. Photographers experienced with top rangefinder Graphics can probably capture good photos of wildlife from a moving tram if the wildlife isn't too wild. If I was forced to tackle this job, I'd conceal an automatic digital camera inside a junk Graphic.

  5. #5

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    If you're in bright light (outside) and can use a reasonably fast film (400) then how about using hyperfocal focussing? If you can get away with the shutter speed to use f22 (might be tricky) then everything should be acceptably sharp from pretty near to infinity.

    For instance, using the depth of field calculator at DOFMaster - for 5x4, with a 150mm lens at f22, if you focus at 33.1ft then the depth of field is from 16.55ft to infinity. Depending on the animals I doubt if you would want them any closer than that!

    Or tune the hyperfocal distancing to the minimum distance that you think the animals will be away from you, then you may be able to use a larger aperture and thus a faster shutter speed.

    (This will doubtless start a debate about using hyperfocal calculations, what is acceptable sharpness etc. It is probably the most useful solution to your fun scenario though )

  6. #6

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    Ah, Jim got there first...

  7. #7
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    In addition to the above, could you prefocus at home to a specific distance and mark that point on the camera's bed? When you get to the zoo, just move the focus to that point and shoot away.

  8. #8

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?


  9. #9

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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    Doesn’t your camera have focusing scales on the bed? That’s the fast way: estimate subject distance, set focus using the bed scale, and shoot.
    If not that’s what masking tape and pens are for!

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: How To Figure Out Subject Distance To Camera For Infinity?

    Some Depth-of-Field charts and scales on lenses are, in my opinion, too optimistic. One should check them against one's own photographs or wrestle with formulas for a reliable understanding of them before relying on them for critical work. For determining the hyperfocal distance in the field without them, estimate the diameter of the diaphram while looking through the front of the lens and multiply it by maybe 1000 or 2000. If you want a good understanding of focusing a camera and hyperocal charts and scales. Harold Merkingler has written extensively on the subject: http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/. Keep in mind, an obsession with such technical details can be a terrible obstacle to making good photographs.

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