Usability of Zone Focusing

Started Oct 22, 2020 | Questions thread
DeathArrow Veteran Member • Posts: 3,388
Re: Usability of Zone Focusing

Gurusathiy wrote:

Hello All,

A newbie here!! I'm an enthusiast landscape photographer and request inputs from members here on my confusion regarding manual focusing vs auto focus conundrum:-( I've read many articles on this but don't find a direct answer to my dilemma and hence posting this:

  1. I use Sony A6000 with a Zeiss auto-focus lens. I want to set focus once for all (either auto-focus lens/Manual focus only lens) and forget about focusing issues. I find auto-focus slow to my liking

I can't see how auto focus can be slow for static scenes such as landscapes.

  1. When I shoot a landscape (typically mountains), I want sharp pics whether a subject comes in front of the camera or not without changing the focus ring. I know i need to focus on the subject to get it in focus but my primary necessity is to fix a focus and keep clicking whether there is a near subject or not.

You can use autofocus once to focus on the subject and switch to manual focus after. The subject will be in focus as long as the distance doesn't change.

  1. I've read a lot about "Zone/Hyperfocal" techniques and they all talk about "acceptable" sharpness while I want pin sharp photos. how to achieve this?

For each aperture there will be a hyperfocal  distance. Setting the focus to that distance is said to have things appear as "acceptable sharp" if they are in a range called DOF. The only things sharp would be at the focus distance and "acceptably sharp" is subjective.

In practice, I believe the best results are when you focus on the main subject.

Zone focusing is a technique devised for cameras with slow or no AF or for moments people want to shoot without achieving focus.

It mostly means using a small aperture for a larger DoF, focusing at a distance and shooting when the photographer guesses the subject is near that distance. It doesn't give the best results.

  1. If I use a high quality manual focus lens with DOF scale printed, set it to 10' to Infinity and leave it there, will it help in achieving sharp photos without any need to recompose and focus again? (please don't route me to point & shoot)

You can set the focus to a range of distances. You have to set it to one distance. Only things at the focus distance will be sharp. Other things might as well appear as sharp if: aperture is small in relation with sensor size, focus distance is far enough, those things are close enough to focus distance

  1. Will the above trick help in snapping up moving subjects within that range as well?

Moving things will appear sharp if they are at or near the focus point, and your aperture is small enough. Your shutter speed also has to be high enough no prevent motion blur.

Do the reading Gerry suggested, play with the simulator he linked and go out and shoot as much as you can. Since the mountains won't run away, you have plenty of time to use different apertures, focus at different distances, change the distance between the camera and subjects. Come home, open the files and see how all that is affecting what is sharp and what is not.

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