Easy Peasy Zone Focusing


Want to shoot from the hip and get most of you photos in focus without making it obvious you are shooting? Want to learn what the marking on the lens mean? I’ll tell you.

David tried to teach me this technique in January. It’s taken me this long for the concept to click into my brain. Ok can’t help being a little slow.
Zone focusing is a phrase that is tossed around quite often but how do you do it?? Here I have tried to make it simple using my old Smena 2 Camera. It works on all cameras with the Distance and aperture markings on the lens or body.

There are a few methods of Zone Focusing, one being mathematics… Hmmm I can’t do the double wavy symbol but it looks sorta like this
H~ f2/Nc
where N is the lens f stop,
f is the focal length and c is the circle of confusion.

Ok too hard already at we can use a search engine to look up the circle of confusion for each camera… But who wants to? This is lomography don’t think just shoot.

Next method is to use the numbers on your lens.
I have a Cmena 2 and so will use this old lady to try to show you. ( I was going to use a zorki-C but the numbers are so very tiny that you would never see them)

1.Look at your lens and set it to infinity focus. I had the Cmena set to f/11 so let’s use that. At infinity focus, f/11 has a close to depth of field ( or near to) of 4.5m ( on this camera, your may be different. A 50mm may be closer to 6m)
This is handy, but my husband and child are sitting closer than 4.5m away .. What to do?

(A little hard to see but infinity is set to f/11)

2. We must increase our close to DOF to do that, we move the infinity to the f/11 mark on the focus ring. So now the camera shows me that the focus is set to 4.8m this is the hyperfocal distance of this lens. Now, looking at the f/11 marking on either side of the lens, you see 2.2m and infinity.
This means that everything within 2.2m to infinity will be in acceptable focus.

Credits: woosang

Of course something close to the boundary, at the 2.2m mark, will probably be out of focus to try to not have your focal point close to the end of the limits of the zone. Also with very old cameras the distances may not be accurate but this system works for all cameras with a scale.

Let’s try f4.5 on this lens

1. Set to infinity and see that f/4.5 reads just over 10.2m
So is we left it here, everything over 10.2m will be in focus huh that’s far away…

Credits: woosang

2.now move the infinity to f/4.5 and read the hyperfocal distance which is almost exactly 10m wow! That’s still far but the other end of the scale reads 5m that’s better

Credits: woosang

So for the Cmena 2 at f/4.5 the zone of in focus is 5m to infinity with the sharpest focus being 10m

Credits: woosang
Credits: woosang

So once you set your aperture, and set your zone, don’t touch it and shoot from the hip. You can now raise your camera and shoot without worrying about setting it up. Good for street photography.
If you wish to adjust your exposure just use your shutter speed. :-) This of course will give you acceptable focus only and this peters out as you approach the boundaries of the zone.

To get pinsharp.. we move into digital.. and we don’t wanna do that do we???

any questions leave me a message :-)

written by woosang on 2011-05-30 #gear #tutorials #camera #street-photography #tipster #ho-to #tutorialfocusing-old-cameras-lens-marking-hyperfocal #zone-focusing


  1. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    To make things simple: the farther the distance you set, or the smaller the aperture you set, then it means the more DOF you achieve, The more likely you shoot your subject in focus when you act fast like hip shooting. Very practical article...<:)

  2. simon-hedge
    simon-hedge ·

    Good article. And I like that Smena 2 as well!

  3. woosang
    woosang ·

    @wuxioug Yes :-)
    @simon-hedge thanks

  4. ahleng90
    ahleng90 ·

    cool :) thanks for sharing this

  5. tetrahexadecabyte
    tetrahexadecabyte ·

    Very useful !
    I have a Smena 1 and the only thing i didnt knew how to use was the focus.
    Actually most of my photos are out of focus.

    Thanks !

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