Old 02-26-2015, 02:06 AM   #1
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Question Using a distance finder to help you set DOF

I was wondering if anyone uses a distance finder to help them set their focus point so they get the proper DOF. It seems to me that it could be a useful tool to assist you getting the shot right. The DOF Master app is useful to find the hyperfocal distance for your lens setting but then you need a reference point. That's where the distance/range finder would come in handy.

If you do use one, can you recommend a good one for photographers?
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Old 02-26-2015, 12:34 PM   #2
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Yes and no. My 1942 Leica has a built in rangefinder, as does my 1951 Rolleiflex. Those are distance finders. I do have a Zeiss rangefinder, hand held, from the early 1930s--the era where you could add a rangefinder to the accessory shoe (now called the "hot shoe") on top of the camera. I do not use rangefinders with modern cameras. The reason is I simply push the little button on the front of my Nikon called "DoF preview" and use that. It's more accurate and it's a "what you see is what you get" deal. More accurate and simply a lot faster. I don't use hyperfocal. The reason is rarely is it really sharp. Hyperfocal was originally used to make focusing faster, but with modern AF that becomes moot. I'm mostly using a Nikon D800E for RR photos, and there's already an adequate amount of DoF with that small format. There's an additional stop of DoF if you are using a DX camera, which is a great advantage for this kind of shooting. So no, I don't use a rangefinder with modern cameras, and don't use hyperfocal with any camera (other than my Brownies where that's unavoidable.!)


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Old 02-26-2015, 03:54 PM   #3
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I only felt a need for a distance finder when doing nuclear-blast flash shots (the results of which are unlikely to be seen anywhere online ).
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Old 02-26-2015, 05:42 PM   #4
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f/8 and be there!
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Old 02-26-2015, 05:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
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f/8 and be there!
My first thought.
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Old 02-26-2015, 07:51 PM   #6
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f/8 and be there!
Pffft - yeah, if you live in the West!

Around here (Philly), it's f/2.8 and be there at ISO 1250...

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Old 02-26-2015, 09:14 PM   #7
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f10 for the win with my new lens.

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Old 02-27-2015, 03:27 AM   #8
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Like everything in photography, there is a trade off when you stop down a lens. Yes, you increase the zone of focus as you tighten the aperture. I.e, more is in sharper focus in a 3D composition. OTOH, as you stop down you will start running into diffraction after f8 (f5.6 on my Nikon D800E.) Diffraction robs sharpness, and the loss increases geometrically as you stop down. This is why many lenses don't have f22, but only f16. Yes, they could make the iris so it could go really tight, like f32, but that lens is considered "diffraction limited" at f16. In other words, the manufacturer feels the sharpness suffers so much they cut it off at f16. My Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART only stops down to f16. My Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR will stop down to f22, and my Nikon 80-400mm AFS-G stops down to f40. I have a few large format lenses that will stop down to f128! What's the difference? Partly, it's the physical size of the "hole" (aperture), and partly it's a judgement call by the manufacturer. I generally try to keep my f-stop around f8 on my Nikon D800E, and around f22 on my 4x5. With either system, I avoid stopping down more than I need to as it can be counter productive.


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Old 02-27-2015, 12:12 PM   #9
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We're taking pictures of trains. No need to overanalyze it.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
We're taking pictures of trains. No need to overanalyze it.

It does help the enjoyment to know a few basic things though. The take-away is that just as too wide an aperture can hurt you, so can a too tight one.



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Old 02-27-2015, 04:22 PM   #11
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The traditional daylight wedgie is shot at such a focal length, distance and aperture that the image is in focus from 25' to infinity.

In my former career as a movie camera assistant, I was often called upon to maintain focus on an actor's face where the DOF was measured in 1-5."

Trains? Piece of cake to focus.
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Old 02-27-2015, 06:35 PM   #12
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I like trains. I took lots of pictures of them in snow this week. I focused well.

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Old 02-27-2015, 07:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
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We're taking pictures of trains. No need to overanalyze it.
Amen. How many photos have I taken in the past 10 years with a dSLR using autofocus with a blown focus? Less than the fingers I have on one hand.

No need to nerd out over DOF...
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Old 02-27-2015, 09:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis A. Livesey View Post
The traditional daylight wedgie is shot at such a focal length, distance and aperture that the image is in focus from 25' to infinity.

Trains? Piece of cake to focus.
This.
.......
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Old 02-27-2015, 09:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
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This.
.......
Sometimes I want everything in focus, and I also want it SHARP. Hence the looking for the "Goldilocks" f-stop. (Not too open, not to tight, but just right.) But sometimes I don't -want- everything in focus. I sometimes want to blur the background so the subject pops out better, portrait style. I've been experimenting with shooting trains at f2, or using an achromatic doublet lens from the 1890s. On those older lenses only the center is rendered sharply.


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Old 02-27-2015, 11:26 PM   #16
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But you've been shooting long enough that it should be second nature by now, especially when the subject is a train.
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:00 AM   #17
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Quote:
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But you've been shooting long enough that it should be second nature by now, especially when the subject is a train.

Well, sure. I use the DoF preview and everything is golden. There is a complicating factor for me, and that is I use different formats. I still shoot a D7100 some (DX,) mostly shoot D800E (FX,) and lately have been using my Chamonix 045n (4x5) for night shots. All of these formats have differing amounts of DoF for a given f-stop. I do have to stop and think, and check it. And.........I deliberately try new things all the time, so I don't fall into a rut.


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Old 03-01-2015, 09:28 PM   #18
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Well, I actually did come up with a use for a rangefinder. Last night I was back out again along the RCPE tracks at the SD/MN border. Two trains were coming fast for a meet, and I needed to set up three flash in a hurry to light a trestle about 100 yards out. It was around midnight and very dark. Not enough light for my D800E to focus on anything. I usually place a small flashlight on the tracks and focus on that, then remove it. I would be running the 400 yard dash to do that and there wasn't time. If I had a rangefinder, I could have got a distance reading and dialed it on my lens. That's assuming the rangefinder could operate in that low light, and the distance scale on my lens was precise enough to actually work.

There's almost always an alternate way with photography. I moved my car about 100 yards down the yard, left the tail lights on, ran back to my camera and autofocused on the tail lights. (Only needed to run about 100 yards instead of 400, and it was on even ground.) I then switched AF off and swung camera back to the trestle. Nailed the shot.


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Old 03-01-2015, 09:39 PM   #19
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How's my DOF?



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Old 03-01-2015, 10:06 PM   #20
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It looks like the drop ready to fall reflects everything upside down. Wearing heat absorbing black eh Loyd?
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:28 PM   #21
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I am the man in black.

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Old 03-02-2015, 12:33 AM   #22
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Great image quality on the ice.
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Old 03-02-2015, 02:28 AM   #23
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Quote:
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I am the man in black.

Loyd L.

Black absorbs the most heat from the sun, at least when it's out.

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