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"Snap Focus" in the Nikon DSLR World

Jim Mohundro

Seattle, US
450 posts

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Jim Mohundro Silver Member Nikonian since 23rd Jul 2008
Wed 29-Jan-14 06:40 PM | edited Wed 29-Jan-14 06:41 PM by Jim Mohundro


I've read a description of so-called "snap focus" on another forum attributing a "new" method of focusing for non-DSLRs. It appears to me that the theory is to take advantage of the relatively larger depth of field available on M4/3 cameras and other non-DSLR variations because of (usually) smaller pixel sizes and physically shorter focal lengths, at least for those cameras' wide angle and "normal" lenses.

It also seems to me that this "new" technique or attribute for the non-DSLR bodies and lenses is nothing more than than the zone focusing we old timers learned to do in our film shooting days when nearly all lenses for anything between the Robot and 8" x 10" view cameras had depth of field scales on the lens mounts, and we were able to work with hyperfocal distances fairly easily.

Now we're immersed in digital technology which includes, as I understand it, the effect of pixel size on depth of field in addition to aperture, focal length and subject distance, and the advent of the AFS G-type Nikkors (I have a couple myself, the f/1.8G 28mm and the 24-120mm f/4 VR).

It seems what I would do to emulate the principal of snap focus would be to set the aperture and focus distance at the hyperfocal distance, put my Nikon in full manual mode, e.g., turn off autofocus in all of its available iterations, and shoot wholly manually and I would be "snap" or "pre"-focusing and shooting from the hip (perhaps even being a bit hip), a style or process well suited to street or family (small, very ambulatory children especially) photography.

Here are a couple of challenges: Nikkor G lenses have no depth of field scale and I understand that even whete depth of field scales are present for a particular lens, that interchangeable lens will have different depths of field characteristics depending on the sensors in the camera body on which it is mounted.

How do we or can we effectively deal with hyperfocal, zone-focusing with our current camera bodies and many current lenses?

I'm posting on this forum because, while I'm a current D700 and D300 owner, I've found, as a septagenerion, that those bodies have become just a bit too heavy to hump around all day and I'm on the cusp of trading both in on a D610, the ergonomics of which feel good to me.


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