Usability of Zone Focusing

Started Oct 22, 2020 | Questions thread
Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 2,982
Re: Usability of Zone Focusing

Gurusathiy wrote:

My problem is when my friend enters the scene, auto-focus takes time to lock focus on my friend while my other friend snaps up easily in his mobile. That is the reason i told "slow".

Then yes, zone focusing (or perhaps I should say pre-focusing) would solve your problem.

There are other ways around this. If you're concerned about sharpest possible focus -- well, let's say your subject is mountains way, way, way in the distance. So now, at f/11, you might pre-focus like this:

Now the sharpest focus point is at infinity, but because you're at f/11, everything down to just under 10 feet (probably closer to 8) will still be acceptably sharp. If you don't need anything that close, you could stop down to f/8 or even f/4 and save yourself a little time.

Keep in mind this is a 28mm lens so it has very deep DOF. With a 50mm, prefocusing at infiniti would only get you down to about 25 feet or so at f/11. At 135mm & f/11 your closest-focus distance is around 100 feet.

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.

Gotta disagree just a wee little bit here -- forgot if I mentioned this earlier, but I often use zone focusing when shooting my manual-focus 28mm lens, particularly if there's a lot going on or if I need to be stealthy and don't want to bring the camera to my eye. I'll generally pick the aperture that will give me the lowest acceptable shutter speed (1/60, maybe 1/30 in a pinch) and pre-focus using the zone scale. That way I can just point-and-shoot.

At f/22, I've got 2' to infinity, and at f/16 I'm just shy of 3'. So I just need to be at arm's length. If the subject is closer, I'll just give the lens a little twist so that something in the frame is in focus. I get great results.


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