How to master depth of field for landscape photography

Go the distance

Using our hyperfocal charts (or a smartphone app) gives the distance to focus at from the focal plane of the camera, so that everything between it and 'infinity' will appear sharp.

However, because depth of field stretches in front of the hyperfocal distance point, as well as beyond it, objects up to around half this distance will appear acceptably sharp, too.

So if you were to use a 50mm focal length focused at 14 metres away at f/5.6 on a full-frame camera, a subject between roughly seven and 14 metres away would also appear acceptably sharp – enabling you to get more benefit from the depth of field.

Software hyperfocal distance calculators

There are plenty of smartphone apps that will calculate the hyperfocal distance for you on both iOS and Android – we used free app HyperFocalPro on Android, downloaded from Google Play, which we found simple and straightforward to use.

You can input your camera model, focal length, aperture and the subject distance. With all of this information, the app generates a 2D diagram, showing the depth of field and the hyperfocal distance, for you to better understand the information.

Take pin-sharp landscape shots with these advanced depth of field tips

There is also a table view for the selected camera, and this can be simpler to use if you do not know the exact subject distance but want to estimate. The best thing about this app is that, once installed, it does not need an internet connection when out and about, making it useful for use in the field without racking up excessive data charges.

SetMyCamera is a good alternative app for people with iOS devices, and can be downloaded for free from Apple's App Store.

Reading hyperfocal charts

Here are tables for both fullframe and APS-C sensors. Select your focal length along the top, and your aperture down the side, to see how far from the camera you should focus, in metres, for maximum sharpness all the way to the horizon.

You'll notice that at very wide angles and narrow apertures, hyperfocal distance is much less than metre.

Take pin-sharp landscape shots with these advanced depth of field tips

Take pin-sharp landscape shots with these advanced depth of field tips