What Is Hyperfocal Distance In Photography? And How To Find It?

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hyperfocal distance

If you are someone who is just getting started in the world of photography and you have decided to do some research on various terminologies that are used in photography then you will honestly find yourself overwhelmed and surprised, as well

Today, we are going to discuss what is hyperfocal distance because this is one thing that has managed to come up a lot more than one would think and while many people might already know how it works, we are going to explore every aspect of it here.

Let’s get started.

What Exactly Is Hyperfocal Distance, And How Does It Work?

So, what exactly is hyperfocal distance, and why are people so concerned about finding it out? Well, you would be surprised to know that the answer is rather simple.

Hyperfocal distance refers to the distance between a camera lens and the closest object that is in focus when the lens is focused at infinity.

This means that if you go ahead and set your lens to infinity, then the distance between the lens and the closest subject that you can clearly see in focus will be called hyperfocal distance.

However, things are a bit more complicated, as the ‘infinity’ here refers to any distant object; it could be the horizon, the stars at night, or the moon, for that matter.

An infographic of how hyperfocal works

Now, for those wondering how does hyperfocal distance work, then understanding that is not at all complicated, to be honest.

As a matter of fact, it is a lot simpler and straightforward, but in most cases, it entirely depends on whatever is considered acceptable, and of course, that is subjective.

The hyperfocal distance is entirely reliant upon whatever level of sharpness is considered to be acceptable by the photographer. I do understand that it only complicates the process for a lot of people.

Additionally, there are actual formulae that can be used to determine this as well, this is useful, especially if you are looking to get the best possible answer with ease.

Now, it is also important to note that if you are just starting out, then having an understanding of hyperfocal distance might not be as important.

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How Can You Measure The Hyperfocal Distance?

Now that we have talked about what hyperfocal distance is, we are now going to take a look at how you can measure it in the first place.

Now, the good thing is that there are a number of ways through which you can do a successful measurement, so let’s not waste time and have a look at how it can be achieved, shall we?

#1- Use The Distance Scale On Your Lens

Most of the manual focus lenses that you see in the market actually come with a distance scale on them that helps you measure the hyperfocal distance or distance in general.

It might be difficult and overwhelming for you at the start, but with careful adjustments and proper research, you will be able to use the scale with ease.

Showing the Distance Scale On camera Lenses

I know it is archaic, almost. But hey, this is a great way to get started that does not require a lot of specialized equipment, and the answers are always accurate.

It could be overwhelming at the start, but I can assure you that once you are getting better at it, you will have absolutely no issues with it.

#2- Use A Digital Laser Distance Measure

Moving further, another way that you can get the measuring done is through a laser distance measure. Now, this is where we are stepping into a more advanced realm, and I have to mention that it is not necessary that you use it because, of course, there are alternatives available in the market, but having access to something like this is always better as it gets the job done.

With that out of the way, always look into the digital laser distance measure and see if that is something that can get the job done for you and if your requirements are properly fulfilled. These tools are easy to come by, and using them is not going to be that difficult, either.

#3- Use An Accurate Measuring Tool Such As A Tape

The next method that you can use to measure the hyperfocal distance effectively is by using a measuring tool such as tape.

I know it does sound like a strange way to get the measurement done, but in reality, the results you are going to get from it will always be accurate. So, you really do not have to worry about getting things out of the hand

With that said, if you do not know how to measure using a tape, get a measuring tape instead; those are a lot easier to use, have clear markings, and will work without any issues that might come in the way otherwise. The point here is that if you are looking for some convenience, this is a great way to get started.

#4- Use PhotoPills

If you are looking to get even better results with the help of some digital magic, I would highly suggest that you are using PhotoPills.

For those wondering, this is an app that has been around for some time. You can actually go ahead and download the app on your smartphone and get started.

PhotoPills main screen in android

Using apps is something that a lot of people might not be in favor of, but when it is guaranteed that you are going to get good results out of the process, then why not go ahead and use it, right?

Things can easily work for you, and you will not have any problems, either. Just take your time learning the app, and in no time, you will be able to master it with ease.

#5- Use Your Body Measurements

Another great way to go ahead and measure hyperfocal distance is through body measurements, and I know it is not something that is going to work for everyone, but hey, the best thing is that you will be in the right hands in no time. Just take your time with the learning process, and you can easily master things the way you want.

Most of the times, things can be difficult, but it is not at all something that should be a problem for anyone who is willing to learn.

The more time you take, the better it actually becomes and allows you to master the whole technique with ease. Never back down from this.

#6- Using A Hyperfocal Distance Chart

The last method that I can tell you about measuring hyperfocal distance is a rather easy one, to be honest. You just have to go ahead and start using a hyperfocal distance chart. These charts are available easily and are very accessible.

PhotoPills Hyperfocal distance chart

I do understand that getting the proper understanding of this chart might take some time, but once you have mastered it, there won’t be any issues, and you will be able to get everything sorted in no time.

Again, if you cannot figure out how to use a single method, you can more than go ahead and opt for something else that works for you.

What Factors Determine Hyperfocal Distance?

Simply put, a lot of times, people find themselves wondering about the factors that can determine the hyperfocal distance, and you would be happy to know that there are a few factors, and it is not at all difficult understanding them. Still, we are going to take a look at these factors, so you have a better understanding.

  • Aperture: The first thing is the aperture setting. A wider depth of field would mean that you can focus on the closer subjects and still have the background sharp. Smaller the aperture you are using, the closer the hyperfocal distance is going to be.
  • Focal Length: Next up, we have the focal length, the smaller the focal length, the wider the angle of view, and that would result in the hyperfocal distance being closer.
  • Size of the Sensor: Moving further, the final factor is the sensor size; the larger the sensor size, the closer the hyperfocal distance you will have to deal with.

Simply put, these are a few things that you should keep in mind whenever you are in the process of

When Should You Use Hyperfocal Distance? And When Not To Use It?

The next important question that a lot of people normally have is asking us just when they should use hyperfocal distance in the first place.

To be honest, the hyperfocal distance is most useful when there is no particular part of your image that you want sharper than others. In such cases, it is a handy tool and better to use it.

However, if there is a certain part in your photo that you want to have sharp, you should not be using the hyperfocal distance because then it would not result in the best image.

Mountains and flowers in sunset time
Credits: Mark Harpur

Additionally, if you are also going to need all the parts of the picture to look extremely sharp, you should also avoid using hyperfocal distance.

If you set your focus exactly at the hyperfocal distance, then you are putting the most distant parts of your photo at the farthest edge that is sharp, according to you.

Simply put, it can be a confusing ordeal to get the hyperfocal distance right, and it will take you some time before you actually figure it out. Remember, consistency is the key and perhaps the best way to get the right answers.


The point about hyperfocal distance and learning about it is that if you are new to this, there can be a lot of confusion involved in the process that would make matters difficult.

With this article, we only hope to make things easier and simpler for you to understand, so you do not have to stress over things not going your way.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

#Q1- What is the hyperfocal distance rule of thumb?

Answer: Now, I do understand that getting to know the entirety of hyperfocal distance and how it works might be challenging for some people. So, having a rule of thumb is something that can help a lot of people with ease.

If you are wondering what it is, then the rule of thumb suggests that in any scene where you want most of the image to be sharp, it is better to focus on something that is one-third of the way.

#Q2- What does the hyperfocal distance tell you about focus?

Answer: The hyperfocal distance tells us that the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping the objects at infinity acceptably sharp.

I do understand that it can be confusing for a lot of people, but after some research, it becomes easier to understand.

#Q3- What is the difference between the depth of field and hyperfocal distance?

Answer: For those wondering, depth of field refers to the range of sharp focus in front of and behind your main subject.

Whereas hyperfocal distance is a way to make the depth of field much simpler when shooting pictures. This is perhaps the biggest thing that you need to know.

#Q4- What is the best hyperfocal distance app for iPhone?

Answer: If you are trying to figure out the best app for iPhone, then I would suggest using PhotoPills, as a lot of people have been using that app to get the job done with ease.

#Q5- How do you put a hyperfocal on a camera?

Answer: If you are trying to get the hyperfocal distance on your camera, you can use the distance measurement that you can find on your lens.

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