Camera Basics: Understanding Hyperfocal Distance, Depth of Field, and How Focus Works (VIDEO)

Just because you have a camera with a fast and accurate autofocus system, and a bag of lenses to match, that doesn’t mean you should simply depress the shutter button half-way and wait for the green LED to light up. As you’ll see in this tutorial, there’s a lot more to sharp photos than that.

Whether you always shoot in the AF mode, occasionally switch to manual, or use older manual focus gear, the video below provides some very helpful information on how focus works and a few tricks you may not know. You’ll gain a better understanding about what’s going on under the hood, with both your camera and the lenses you use.

Swedish photographer Micael Widell created the video below to help photographers understand the concepts of hyperfocal distance, depth of field, and the distance scale found on lenses. There’s something in this tutorial for every photographer, but if you use older manual focus lenses on a modern digital camera, you’ll find Widell’s tips particularly valuable.

Back in “the old days” of manual focus 35mm cameras, the concept of hyperfocal distance was an essential one for landscape photographers and others concerned with maximizing the zone of sharpness in an image. It’s just as important today, and Widell demonstrates how to use the distance scale on a lens to take advantage of this technique.

Widell explains a number of equally valuable focusing tips, all illustrated with simple animated graphics. And as you’ll see, there may be a lot more that goes into sharp images than you previously thought.

Check out Widell’s YouTube channel for more helpful advice. You may also want to look at his other tutorial we posted recently, with five tricks for simplifying your editing workflow in Lightroom.