A Guide to DOF and Hyperfocal Distance  with Tables and Calculator
J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on September 11, 2012
Keywords: fundamentals, camera, basics, guides, tips, tricks, dof, depth_of_field, hyperfocal
Depth of Field (DOF) and Hyperfocal Distance
You may have wondered "How do pros make those wonderful landscapes where everything seems to be in focus?" Well, it is not merely by closing down the aperture of superb wide angle lenses. They maximize DOF (depth of field), the region of acceptable sharpness, by focusing at the hyperfocal distance. A simple function of lens focal length, aperture and the diameter of the Circle of Confusion.
The wider the angle of a lens, the shorter its focal length and deeper depth of field. So, as an example, an 18mm lens will have deeper (longer) depth of field than a 105mm. Also, the smaller the aperture you use the bigger the depth of field; i.e. in any given focal length lens, one gets more depth of field with it at f/16 than at f/4, for example. You may want to check a most practical and well illustrated guide on the subject of DOF and aperture here.


The Circle of Confusion (CoC) has nothing to do with other camera brand users. It is the largest onfilm or onsensor circle that you can see as a well defined point on an 8×10 print at arms length; that is, when viewed at from a "normal" viewing distance of 2 to 3 feet. Anything larger is seen as a small circle, not a point and is therefore perceived as out of focus. For 35mm film and FX format the diameter of such circle is 0.025mm. Often rounded to 0.03, the exact number used here is 0.02501. For the Nikon DX (APSC) digital sensor format, the number used here is 0.0200.
The calculator in the next page allows for you to use any CoC of your choice, via a drop down menu.

These two sample images were shot at f/16. The one on top was made focusing at infinity, the image below was produced with the lens focused at its Hyperfocal Distance.
Take notice of the sharpness of the bush on the right hand side of the frame and the expanded DOF all the way to the horizon when using Hyperfocal Distance. 

Please forgive me the decimal fractions in the table below for 35mm film and Nikon FX format. It is hard enough to approximately set any distance on a lens. As long as it is close, it will look good.
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To download a printable pdf file of Hyperfocal tables for 35mm Film or FX format from 17mm to 1000mm, click here
However, bear in mind the formulas were derived for the ultimate theoretical simple lens, not the sophisticated zoom and telephoto lenses we now use. Nevertheless, the Hyperfocal Distances calculated from the formulas are pretty accurate for wide angle lenses.
For typical wide angle lenses on a DX format Nikon or Fujifilm Digital SLR, you may download a table here for your bag.
For other focal lengths or apertures, both DX digital and FX film, you may use the H & DOF calculator
Try not to use the smallest aperture in your lens (f/22, f/32) to avoid diffraction  a sharpness killer.

Hyperfocal Distance focusing at work. Nikon D2X with 1224mm f/4G AFS Nikkor
The Near Focus Limit is at my feet in this sunrise at the Badlands, South Dakota. 5th ANPAT 
Depth of Field (DOF) and Hyperfocal Distance Calculator
PDF Printable Hyperfocal Distance Tables & How To Set it in Your Lens
You may print our 35mm film or Nikon FX DSLR format Hyperfocal distances tables from here.
For typical wide angle lenses on a Nikon DX DSLR format SLR, you may download a table here for your bag.
You can obtain here the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

2nd ANPAT. Near the Sand Dunes, Monument Valley, Arizona. . 
For a hyperfocal distances table of typical wide angle focal lengths on a Nikon or Fujifilm digital SLR with DX format, click here

8th ANPAT. Yosemite National Park, California . 
"Ok. Now that I know the number, how do I set that Hyperfocal Distance on my lens?"
The short answer is: you don't. Modern lenses don't have room in their barrels for the set of markings required, specially superwide angle zooms. So it is best to estimate the distance, focus there and lock it. As long as your are approximately there, you'll get great results. That is how all of the samples in these pages were accomplished.
Our big thanks again to Don Fleming of dofmaster.com and to The Javascript Source for their courtesy to provide you with the DOF Calculator
The Formulas
You may want to understand the relationship of the variables or make your own computations, so below you can find the equations.

2nd Nikonians Photo Adventure Trip. Sand Dunes, Monument Valley, AZ 
Hyperfocal Distance
As mentioned before, setting focus at H, the Hyperfocal Distance, gives maximum depth of field from H/2 to infinity.
H = (L x L) / (f x d)
Where:
H  =  Hyperfocal Distance (in millimeters)  
L  =  Lens focal length (i.e. 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45mm)  
f  =  Lens aperture fstop  
d  =  diameter of circle of confusion (in millimeters)  

NEAR FOCUS LIMIT
This is the distance from where acceptable focus starts, when you focus at a given distance, whether that distance is the Hyperfocal or not.
NF = (H x D) / (H + (D  L))
Where:
NF  =  Near Focus Limit (millimeters) 
H  =  Hyperfocal Distance (in millimeters, from above equation) 
D  =  Distance at which the lens is focused 
L  =  lens focal length (i.e. 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45) 
FAR FOCUS LIMIT
This is the distance where acceptable focus ends, when you focus at a given distance, whether that distance is the Hyperfocal or not.
FF = (H x D) / (H  (D  L))
Where:
FF  =  Far Focus Limit (millimeters) 
H  =  Hyperfocal Distance (in millimeters, from above equation) 
D  =  Distance at which the lens is focused 
L  =  lens focal length (i.e. 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 45) 
DEPTH OF FIELD
The distance between the farthest and nearest points which are in focus
DOF = FF  NF
Where:
FF  =  Far Focus Limit (millimeters) 
NF  =  Near Focus Limit (millimeters) 
Notes:
 Circle of Confusion diameters used here are based on acceptable sharpness
while viewing an 8x10 inch print at arms length.
 Multiply inches by 25.4 to convert to millimeters.
 Divide millimeters by 25.4 to convert to inches.
 True fstop value of apertures was used in the calculator as per this table:
f/1  f/1.4  f/2  f/2.8  f/4  f/5.6  f/8  f/11  f/16  f/22  f/32 
1.0000  1.4142  2.0000  2.8284  4.0000  5.6568  8.0000  11.3137  16.0000  22.6274  32.0000 
For your camera bag or your wallet, a set of tables for wide angle focal lengths on DX format Nikon digital SLR's, here
The Apps
Or you can install a DOF Calculator in your Blackberry
Also available as DOF Calculator for iPhone, iPad, or iPod
Have a great time!
16 comments
Roy Kaye (Roy Kaye) on November 28, 2015
Concerning the DoF table for FX, I am really not sure the figures are useable I have an FX DoF table (not sure where from) I also have an FX DoF table from Carl Zeiss as I also own a Zeiss 25mm prime lens. For 25mm at f/8, the first table shows Hyperfocal distance as 2.63 metres, and the Zeiss table shows it as 2.9 metres, which seems to agree with the above table However, I feel that I should throw a couple of things into the mix: 1) Using a HyD of 2.9m for 25mm / f/8 produced focus that certainly unacceptable 2) So I phoned Carl Zeiss and asked why their FX DoF Table for their 25mm lens just wasn't right. They said (and I've also read this elsewhere) that I should use their DoF table at two Fstops more critical (ie: use the HfD or f/4 etc). I should have asked why they didn't produce a correct FX DoF table in the first place, but it's possible I suppose that this could be their table for DX. I now use their table but use f/4 for f/8, f/2.8 for f/5.6 etc. But I also often focus on infinity and back off a little, which is also fine, and sometimes just focus on something that might be important, and also sometimes, if say there is nothing important in the first few metres but I want more of a lovely sky I'll lift and/or tilt the camera up so those first few metres are not in the frame so focus there does not matter It would be interesting to get feedback on this, as many photographers just accept these tables and wonder why their DoF isn't as good as expected
david stanley (idjsphoto) on February 20, 2015
like many I miss the hypofocal distance markings on modern auto focus lenses. i use an iphone app which gives me all the info i need based on make/model of camera, Fstop,distance, and focal lenght . It suplies area in focus,minimum to maximum and overall focus area along with hyperfocal focus point and even a custom sensor size option. my way of using the information is to use the nearest point of focus within the total hyperfocus envelope as the reference ie D30028mmF161.24m to infinity, simply anthing more than 4ft away is in focus. With distance infomation already used by the camera as part of exposure (indicting which focus points are in focus) and flash exposure distance. it would only require a simple software program to have the lens focus point zoomed to the distance relating to fstop and the focal lenghts hyperfocal focus point. One extra menu item and the ability to programme a button gives a modern and more acurate solution ,the hyperfocal area could even be indicated using the focus points on the view finder display. unfortunatley i have my doughts that the manufactureres will see hyperfocal as anything other than a bygone from the film days,
Tom Egel (tegel) on February 15, 2015
This is terrific info! I thought it would also be handy to have a way to print a pocketsize table for the different Nikon formats (FX, DX and CX), so I create a spreadsheet in Google docs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmDqwNsykc7EdHYxanctellId0pPa0pKaGQ2MXNfSnc&usp=drive_web#gid=0 I made the default for FX. To change it you will need a writable version. If you have a Google account you can save to a local copy for editing. If not, you can download to Excel format. You will see a pulldown menu for CofC (cell A1) and camera format (cell B1) on the first sheet (I couldn't figure out how to combine these selections into one). I created sheets for English and Metric units combined and for each individually and formatted the text to print to a nice wallet size. The Notes sheet has some explanation about how the numbers were computed. I hope others find this useful. Feel free to post this on Nikonians as you see fit. I'll also post this in one of the Forums. Tom
J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on October 24, 2014
Modern lenses now don't have markings for various distances, so an approximation, or estimate is enough. It doesn't need to be precise. Another useful practice is to focus with the lower AF brackets in the viewfinder because sometimes you are shooting in the dark, like at dawn (pre/sunrise). I believe it is mentioned in the article. In the Landscape forum you may find many examples of this practice.
Olga Celle (CatLady51) on October 17, 2014
Sr. Garza, Ya encontre la respuesta a mi pregunta!
Olga Celle (CatLady51) on October 17, 2014
Dear Mr. Garza, My question is in regards to the hyperfocal distance. How do you do it in the practical on the ground practice? I just used the formula for my FX 1424, it tells me 2 meters. Sometimes, one does not have a measuring tape to go to measure 2m. Moreover, often one is at the edge of a hill...So, a friend of mine suggested to make the measurement at f/8 for 2 meters and mark the lens body with a white pen...But then comes another problem, if we are doing, say, a long exposure, we often change the f/ So...how do you it? Thanks in advance for your response.
J. Ramon Palacios (jrp) on March 15, 2014
Michael, You made me smile with your question. The tables are made for a single element perfect lens, not for modern lenses; so any approximation should suffice for good results.
Michael Shake (Mike_Shake) on February 21, 2014
Opps...my bad. I see now that the MM is for the focal length only. Still wondering where to measure the distance from.
Michael Shake (Mike_Shake) on February 21, 2014
The link works but I found a mistake on the DX format for the feet. Although it says feet at the top on the chart it has "Lens Focal Length (mm)" on it. I know it's approximate but where would you measure on the camera for the distance, from the front of the lens or the mark on the camera body for where the sensor is?
Roman Slusny (nikors) on February 19, 2014
Links to printable pdf tables and images have been just fixed
Harry Chen (charry3892) on January 28, 2014
Yes, just tried and didn't work at all. The result came back to this page.
Carlo Dormeletti (onekk) on January 4, 2014
Link to printable table dont' work.
Tom Disyak (tolya63) on December 30, 2013
Great info...but I'm having trouble downloading charts. Am I overlooking something that needs to be done? Tolya
Dave Kelleher (davekelleher) on September 28, 2013
the Links to the Printable table is not functioning just bring you back to this page
Tom Egel (tegel) on September 10, 2013
Thanks for the article. The links to the pictures and PDF seem to be broken. Can you update the links? Thanks Tom
EH Human (Ridlin) on August 17, 2013
Thank you for the DoF calculater as it is very usefull for especially Nikon prime lenses