Calculating Hyperfocal Distance

Last week we discussed using the Hyperfocal Distance to set our focus point so that we get the maximum depth of field possible from our lens using our selected aperture setting. This week, let’s talk about how you determine your Hyperfocal Distance.

I focused on the hyperfocal distance to ensure that everything was sharp from the close foreground all the way to infinity.

There are no markings on your lens nor settings in your camera to indicate the hyperfocal distance. This is something best determined before you head out to shoot. Older film camera lenses often had a window on the lens that gave a general indication of depth of field, but remember, digital cameras don’t have a consistent sensor size and the depth of field calculation changes depending upon the size of the sensor. 

The good thing is that almost every photographer has a device to help them calculate the hyperfocal distance - your smartphone. Just search the app store for your device and you’ll find a lot of helpful apps designed to help the photographer. Let’s take a look at a few.

Photo Pills 

Photo Pills:

Photo Pills is much more than a depth of field app but right now we’re only interested in getting hyperfocal information. When you’re done, check out the other features of this extensive iOS application. The app cost $9.99.

When you enter the DoF module, you can define the focal length of the lens, the shooting aperture, and the camera model. Remember that since we are only looking to maximize the depth of field in our shots, we enter the widest focal length, the smallest aperture (usually f/22) and the model of the camera. 

The resulting display will show the hyperfocal distance and the near limit of your depth of field.

DOF Master:

Over the years, this was my favorite app for focus calculations but I don’t think it’s currently being maintained. I use an iPhone and the app no longer works. The only reason I still mention it is because the website is still a great place for this information online.

Photographers Tools app: Hyperfocal Distance calculation.

Photographers Tools:

This nifty little app is great for calculating hyperfocal distance but also includes ND Exposure Calculator, Sunrise and Sunset timing and moon phase, rise and set times. It’s free but a $1.99 in-app purchase removes ads and unlocks some features.

pCam Film + Digital Pro

This app developed by Thin Man is the most extensive and has a price to match. At $29.99 it may scare off some buyers but for the serious photographer or videographer, it is quite a value. 

There are 25 bundled apps covering a variety of topics. But, of course, it is great for calculating the hyperfocal distance of any lens.

What app do you use?

Have you found an app that is useful for focus calculations? Use the comments to share your favorite app. 

Next week we'll take this hyperfocal distance and put it to work in the field.