Fuji 23mm Distance Scale

Started Mar 30, 2014 | Discussions thread
Ray Sachs
Ray Sachs Forum Pro • Posts: 10,580
Re: Fuji 23mm Distance Scale

nixda wrote:

Ray Sachs wrote:

zenpmd wrote:

Can someone tell me how this works? I want to get into zone focusing. Thanks!

First of all, use the DISTANCE scale on the lens barrel, but pay absolutely ZERO attention to the depth of field chart - it's extremely conservative. It's probably OK for critical focus but for zone focus and acceptable sharpness on the street, it's not worth a second glance. If you try to rely on it, you'll use a much smaller aperture than you need and then, except in the best light you'll have to use some combination of too low a shutter speed and wickedly high ISO and you'll get motion blur in your shots rather than slightly imperfect (but generally quite acceptable) focus.

I'd spend some time with DOF Master (find it on Google) or some other depth of field calculator, enter your camera and lens information, use six feet or two meters as a starting focus distance (assuming this is for street photography), and then plug in different apertures and get a feel for what looks like an acceptable "zone" of in-focus area.

Then go experiment out on the street. Try focussing at two meters or 5-6 feet and do a series of shots at f8, then at f7.1, 6.3, 5.6, etc. Even try f4 and f2.8 as an experiment. Keep your shutter speed high - when I'm moving and my subject's moving, I usually shoot at 1/500 or faster - I use the auto-ISO settings to manage this, but there are other ways to do it.

And then when you download your shots to your computer, keep an eye on what apertures produce photos that are sharp enough for your liking. You might be surprised at how much leeway you have. I shoot this way more with the 14 and 18mm lenses than the 23, but I find that when necessary, I can shoot with the 18 as wide as f3.5 and with the 14 wide open at f2.8 and still have a deep enough zone of focus to get mostly keepers For subject in the 4-10 foot range. The previous poster suggested using f8 on the 14mm lens, but he must be relying on the DOF scale on the lens. I'd never shoot smaller than about f5 or f5.6 with that kens And, as I noted, have gotten plenty if good low light shots at f2.8 with that lens.

You just have to play around and see what works for you. The distance scale on the lens (or on the display for lenses that don't show it on the barrel) is a critical tool for zone focus. But you need to come up with your own DOF tables because Fuji (and pretty much every other brand - Ricoh being an exception with SOME models) uses DOF assumptions that most people find way too conservative for street photography...

I believe the DoF scale on Fuji's lenses is much less conservative than that used in the camera. It all comes down to different values of the Circle of Confusion (CoC) used in the calculations of the DoF. And CoC critically depends on how images are viewed in the end.

So, I second the advice to go out and 'calibrate' each lens according to Ray's suggestion, but keep in mind that the requirements for a sharp image could change quite a bit if one decided to print a photo to hang on the wall vs. showing it on a TV or on the web.

Agreed, it's down to individual preference, display size, etc. My standard is for street photography (which is 99% of what I use zone focussing for). And I regularly print to about 12x18" with photos taken with a much less conservative interpretation than Fuji tends to use. If I was trying to get critical focus for a narrow DOF portrait or macro it would be a different story, but then those are not the kinds of things you'd ever be using zone focusing for in the first place...

I honestly hadn't noticed the difference between the lens barrel and the display DOF scales - probably because I stopped relying on them years ago. Everyone's best bet for zone focussing is to learn their DOF scales based on a couple of easy starting points and then refining it with their own experience...

We judge photographers by the photographs we see. We judge cameras by the photographs we miss - Haim Zamir

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