Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .

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    Topic: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . . Read 1243 Times
  • Rand Scott Adams
    Rand Scott Adams
    Participant
    Posts: 92
    Landscape & Nature Technique
    on: June 30, 2019 at 5:22 am

    There are lots of videos on various techniques for achieving optimal focus in landscape work.
    I’m curious to hear what specific approaches members here find most effective / manageable in the field. I know my question is stated pretty broadly, but that is intentional. This might even make for a good article for the site.
    Rand

    Rand Scott Adams
    Rand47

    Kevin Raber
    Kevin Raber
    Keymaster
    Posts: 359
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019 at 8:33 am

    It just might make a good article/video for the site. I put it on the list.

    Kevin Raber
    CEO & Publisher of PhotoPXL.com and Rockhopperworkshops.com

    Rand Scott Adams
    Rand Scott Adams
    Participant
    Posts: 92
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #2 on: July 1, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Kevin,
    Thanks!
    Rand

    Rand Scott Adams
    Rand47

    Ron Lacy
    Ron Lacy
    Participant
    Posts: 3
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #3 on: July 3, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    I don’t use Medium Format, but I will comment anyway. After 50 years of photography, the best and easiest focus technique I use is the “double the distance” method. Determine the distance to the closest object you want in focus and then double that distance as the focus point. If you want to be sure you have the optimum focus using this method, you can get a very easy to use app for your cell phone that will calculate the best aperture. Just enter the lens focal length, distance to the closest object to be in focus and it will give you the best aperture to ensure sharpness. The app apparently considers diffraction in the calculation. A simple, easy and reliable method for me to ensure the best sharpness when I focus.’

    Not saying this is the best for everyone, but this is the best one for me. I trust it and get terrific results.

    Ron

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 4 weeks ago by Ron Lacy.
    Rand Scott Adams
    Rand Scott Adams
    Participant
    Posts: 92
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #4 on: July 3, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    Ron,

    Thanks for the input.  What’s the specific app you use for this?

    Rand

    Rand Scott Adams
    Rand47

    Ron Lacy
    Ron Lacy
    Participant
    Posts: 3
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #5 on: July 5, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Rand

    The app is called OptimumCS.  A guy named George Douvos is the developer.  It is on the Apple app store site.  Probably available other places too.  Simple and easy to use, and accurate. The basic version is free and that is the one I use.  The Pro version costs $9.99.  I haven’t used the pro version but apparently it give much more detail and options relative to creating a sharp image.  Hope this helps

    Ron

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 4 weeks ago by Ron Lacy.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 4 weeks ago by Christopher Sanderson. Reason: Edited out the HTML after signature
    Jeff Griffin
    Jeff Griffin
    Participant
    Posts: 11
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #6 on: July 7, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Not  a MF user but here is my approach to focussing.

    Now that we are in the digital age I set my camera to manual focussing and use the peaking feature in live view combined with depth of field preview together with a loupe for viewing on the monitor.

    Also good for flowers & architectural shots as well.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Jeff Griffin.
    Dave Chew
    Dave Chew
    Participant
    Posts: 25
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #7 on: July 7, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    I have a new focus process I’ve been playing with when using tilt:

    1. With the lens wide open, dial in 1 degree of tilt, regardless of focal length.
    2. Zoom in and focus on the thing up close in the frame (usually at the bottom). Note where the helical is.
    3. Zoom in and focus on the thing in the distance (usually at the top). Note where the helical is.
    4. Set a new focus point right in between the two focus points (i.e. split the angle in half).
    5. Zoom back into the thing in the front (at the bottom).
      1. If you had to dial out to a farther distance for that thing in the distance (at the top), add more tilt until the thing in front comes in focus.
      2. If you had to dial in to a closer distance for that thing in the distance, subtract tilt until the thing in front comes in focus.
    6. Check the thing in the distance. It is usually spot on. If not, repeat.
    7. Set the lens at the f-stop you want and shoot!

    The easy way to remember Step 5 is, “Focus out, tilt out; focus in, tilt in.”

    Except for macro work or the camera very close to the ground, I haven’t found a case yet where I had to repeat or fine tune anything. There are a few reasons why I think this works regardless of focal length: First, even though 1 degree has a much lower Scheimpflug line with longer lenses, the longer lens’ narrow view doesn’t see the ground until way out in front of the camera, so there is plenty of room for the plane of focus to penetrate up through the ground by the time it enters the field of view. Second, since more tilt decreases DoF, it helps to have as little tilt as possible.

    Dave

     

    Hugh Sakols
    Hugh Sakols
    Participant
    Posts: 21
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #8 on: July 11, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Based on the concept of hyperfocal distance, I have focused at my near noting where it is followed by focusing on the far.  I will then manually focus to the middle point.  This may not be perfect but had worked well for others.  Still, it is nice to have a hyperfocal chart but I rarely pull one out in the field.

    Brad Smith
    Brad Smith
    Participant
    Posts: 9
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #9 on: July 19, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Hugh, using your method…….

    OK.  Near = 5 ft, far = 10 ft.  Focus to the middle = 7.5  That will work.

    On the other hand……..Near =5 ft.  Far = Infinity.   Now where will you focus using your method?????

     

    Brad

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by Brad Smith.
    Hugh Sakols
    Hugh Sakols
    Participant
    Posts: 21
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #10 on: July 21, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Brad,

    You are right.  However, I’m coming from a landscape background where I don’t pull out charts.

    On the other hand……..Near =5 ft.  Far = Infinity.   Now where will you focus using your method?????Shooting a 24mm lens at f16 this works pretty well, but no it is not perfect. I typically take multiple exposures using different focus points to find what works best.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by Hugh Sakols.
    Graham Welland
    Graham Welland
    Participant
    Posts: 2
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #11 on: July 22, 2019 at 2:38 am

    In my experience, focus on the most important element in the scene and let everything else fall where it may.

    Suzanne Mathia
    Suzanne Mathia
    Participant
    Posts: 1
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #12 on: July 26, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    I use and teach hyperlocal focusing in the Landscape Photography workshops and this methods works for most cases.  Finding the closest point that your camera  can focus while still maintaining acceptably sharp focus to infinity. The only time I will resort to focus stacking is with macro (obviously) or if my closest object is closer than my lens capabilities.  I have charts and apps and all sorts of methods for determining hyperlocal point but I usually just find the closest object and double that distance. The optimal focus point is always much closer than you would think.

    Things in the far background of a landscape image should, in my opinion not be a tack sharp as the foreground.  Acceptably sharp focus is not on acceptable but more natural and pleasing.

    Of course the current apps and charts need a lot of updating with new cameras and sensors that’s why I have created by own.  Still use the same mathematical formula but correct the COC (circle of confusion) for current cameras.

    Jim Sanderson
    Jim Sanderson
    Participant
    Posts: 3
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #13 on: July 26, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    I have a new focus process I’ve been playing with when using tilt:

    1. With the lens wide open, dial in 1 degree of tilt, regardless of focal length.
    2. Zoom in and focus on the thing up close in the frame (usually at the bottom). Note where the helical is.
    3. Zoom in and focus on the thing in the distance (usually at the top). Note where the helical is.
    4. Set a new focus point right in between the two focus points (i.e. split the angle in half).
    5. Zoom back into the thing in the front (at the bottom).
      1. If you had to dial out to a farther distance for that thing in the distance (at the top), add more tilt until the thing in front comes in focus.
      2. If you had to dial in to a closer distance for that thing in the distance, subtract tilt until the thing in front comes in focus.
    6. Check the thing in the distance. It is usually spot on. If not, repeat.
    7. Set the lens at the f-stop you want and shoot!

    The easy way to remember Step 5 is, “Focus out, tilt out; focus in, tilt in.”

    Except for macro work or the camera very close to the ground, I haven’t found a case yet where I had to repeat or fine tune anything. There are a few reasons why I think this works regardless of focal length: First, even though 1 degree has a much lower Scheimpflug line with longer lenses, the longer lens’ narrow view doesn’t see the ground until way out in front of the camera, so there is plenty of room for the plane of focus to penetrate up through the ground by the time it enters the field of view. Second, since more tilt decreases DoF, it helps to have as little tilt as possible.

    Dave

    I’ve seen that method mentioned before. I’ve been using Lumariver DOF app. Not only does it give you a starting point for the amount of tilt, but also focus wedge angles for whatever aperture your using. It also lets you enter sensor size and pixel pitch for different cameras and lens information to give you Hyperfocal distances.

    I’ve been using Hyperfocal distance as a means of focus on GFX100s for landscapes till I become more familiar with the various lenses I have for it.

    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Participant
    Posts: 192
    Re: Focus technique for MF landscape work. . .
    Reply #14 on: August 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    On my (Android) phone I use Hyperfocal Pro to calculate distances, etc. In its camera list it has the Leica S2 and the Hasselblad X1D but no Fuji G cameras or Phase One. However, it uses the camera model to set the CoC and there’s a custom CoC option for whatever camera you have.

    Mike.

    _____
    Mike Nelson Pedde
    Victoria, BC
    https://www.wolfnowl.com/

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