Tiny Tips 15: Hyperfocal Distance in Street Photography

Last Updated on April 13, 2017 by Susheel Chandradhas

If you want to take really quick & sneaky photographs on the street without putting your eye to the viewfinder, here’s a sneaky trick.

Setting your lens in manual focus mode, and setting it at its Hyperfocal distance will allow you to take photographs with a great deal of flexibility, often allowing you to shoot from your hip, or while supporting the camera on a steady surface. Very un-obtrusive.

Remember that Hyperfocal distance works best when you’re using a rather small f-stop, like f/16 or f/22, so set your camera in aperture priority mode and shoot on a relatively sunny day, and you’ll find nearly everything in focus. Of course, this works best if you’re using a wide-angle or normal lens.

I’ve managed to get everything from infinity to objects around 4 feet away in good focus while trying this technique recently, with my Nikon F3 and a 50mm lens. It worked great!

Do try it out and let us know how it worked for you, or if you’ve got some other tips involving Hyperfocal Distance or Street Photography, do share them with us in the comments.

Photo: Pingnews

7 comments Add yours
  1. This is a nice approach to the old “shoot-from-the-hip-and-get-everything-in-focus” problem. But one of the things that attracts me in street photos is the different focal planes. A street photo that has huge depth of field can quite easily become boring.

    Just a thought…

  2. @Antonio Marques & Markus Hartel:

    Good points to note… especially zone focusing.

    I think that this one of those techniques that you keep in your back pocket and pull out at a handy moment; when the technique suits the occasion.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. Dear Markus Hartel,
    Excellent article indeed! However, Zone focusing is impossible in the majority of the digital lenses because there is no DOF scale. Mr Bryan Peterson in his book “Understanding Exposure” makes a passing mention about this. He talks some thing like ” F22 and focus second 1/3 of the frame then everything will be sharp” I am not sure though. I am waiting for some good article on Hyperfocal distance for Dummies like me!

  4. There is a simple workaround to use zone focusing with AF/digital lenses. simply focus on an object within your working distance and deactivate autofocus – focus will always be at that point… use a little piece of gaffers tape to hold the lens barrel in place, if necessary. trust me, I have been through this numerous times.

  5. That’s interesting, I shall have to try that. Normally when I am doing from-the-hip I’ll actually eye-ball the distance and set my lens focus manually to that.

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