Monday, January 25, 2010

Zone Focusing - Street Photography Part 2

When shooting street photography it is often important to be able to fire off a shot without any delay or hesitation, from yourself, or your gear, to capture that moment of shown emotion or humor or who knows what.

Street Photography Series

  1. Previous Attempts
  2. Zone Focusing
  3. Hyperfocal Distance
  4. Progress?
  5. Tips and Tricks from the Web
Zone Focusing Overview
    One of the techniques you can use to ensure there is no delay from your equipment is to pre-focus using the zone focusing technique. What this requires is a good estimation of distance ahead of time. The general idea is to set the focus to a given range (or zone) ahead of time, and shoot within this zone. This technique is very effective with older manual focus lenses but can also be used with autofocus lenses, set to manual focus mode.

    How to Focus on a Zone - DOF Scale

    Many (in fact all the ones I own) older lenses will have a handy DOF scale or guide built into the focus and aperture rings on the lens. This article has a fantastic shot and explanation of how the guide on your lens can help you. As I've said, you need to have a reasonably good judge of distance to use this method, but if you don't, try it out, because you will soon learn to be able to judge the distances better.

    Without a DOF Scale

    If you are using a lens which does not have a handy DOF guide (most newer lenses do not) you can still use the zone focusing technique, however you will need to pre-calculate your DOF (use the online calculator here), or use an application such as Photobuddy to help you out (this is the what I do).

    Does It Work

    I have used this technique in the past with my 50mm lens. I set the aperture to f8.0, then focused to 8m on the focusing scale. This gives a DOF of 11m (5.3m to 16.3m) on my K200D (the sensor crop factor does play a factor here!). Then when shooting all you need to do is pick your subjects within that range.

    Good luck with your Zone Focusing!

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