There is no denying that a solid focus is one of the most important aspects of photography, but we all know how time consuming it can be to get this manual focus right.
When we shoot in situations where we are looking for quick, decisive, and honest shots (think street photography), time is of the essence.
There is a technique called Zone focus becomes invaluable.
What is zone focusing?
Also called “Scale focus, ” Zone focusing is a technique that allows you to pre-focus your cameras at a certain distance Using the aperture setting, you can quickly take a sharp photo with the subject falling close to this preset distance.
This prevents photographers from having to take the time to focus manually and relying on autofocus when the opportunities for good shots are fleeting.
Quickly, we would like to add that zone focusing can be seen as the opposite of another term you may have heard – hyperfocal distance. While the extreme limit of hyperfocal distance is infinite, the extreme limit of zone focusing is much closer to the photographer.
This focus zone can be set to a specific area selected by the photographer. For example, with certain settings, everything that falls within this range 4 to 8 feet from the camera will be reasonably focused.
If it is useful
As much as the auto focus systems of modern cameras have improved over the years, they are not always perfect. This means that in certain situations, using zone focus will give you more successful photos than if you only relied on autofocus.
Street photographers, in particular, love street focusing because autofocus tends to react too slowly to capture a certain moment – the “crucialMoment; You will often hear it called.
Zone focusing is also useful for:
- Any situation in which you want to take honest pictures or remain inconspicuous because you don’t necessarily have to hold the camera in front of your eye to take pictures.
- If you only concentrate on the composition and want to forget the focus.
- Times when quick action is required and manual focus or auto focus would waste valuable seconds.
Bring the zone focusing technology to the street
1. Use a wide angle lens.
For maximum flexibility, you want to target a wide focus zone. This allows for more forgiveness if we don’t guess the distance of a subject from the camera.
In general, street photographers prefer wide-angle lenses anyway because they can take up a larger amount of live action. For example, 28mm or 35mm lenses are good for you.
2nd Set your focus zone.
It may sound intimidating to determine what your focus zone should look like and to set that focus zone, but it’s easy. You can use:
- A depth of field scale: Depending on the type of lens you are using, you may want to set a depth of fieldDistance scale”On the lens itself. Adjust your aperture to the closest limit of your focus zone, and the scale gives you the far limit and the focal plane.
- Online spreadsheets or mobile apps: Many photographers prefer the ease of use and precision of zone focus tables, which are easy to find online or in apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. Include information such as the camera you are using, the focal length of your lens and your aperture to calculate the depth of field.
3rd Understand and practice alternative methods.
A secondary, easier way to use zone focusing for street photography is to settle at a point and roughly determine the distance most of your subjects are from you. Then manually focus on an object at the same distance before you start recording. Your camera will then be pre-focused for the zone you have selected.
4th If everything else fails, remember:35, 6, 11“.
If your lens does not have a depth of field scale and you are currently caught without your smartphone, you can remember three numbers for optimal settings. Set a focal length of 35 mm, a focal length of 6 feet and an aperture of 1:11. In general, this gives you a total of 8 feet that is 4 to 12 feet away from you.
This is generally an ideal focus zone for street photography!
4th Don’t take photos that aren’t perfectly sharp.
Many of us are perfectionists, and that’s okay! However, it can be tempting to underestimate photos that aren’t quite sharp. For example, if your subject is a few meters above your focus zone, you won’t get a clear shot.
However, many photographers and viewers appreciate the inclusion of components that are slightly out of focus, especially in street photography. So don’t get too involved in the range you set for your focus zone, and let yourself be shot out of the field if you suddenly feel inspired.
It takes some practice to find the right zone focusing technique, but ultimately it is such a useful tool that we cannot stress enough how rewarding your efforts will be.