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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 15 Feb 2010 (Monday) 15:21
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Help with photo lingo translation

55 posts
Joined Jan 2009
Location: Macomb, IL
Feb 15, 2010 15:21 |  #1

I just finished reading Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and there is a phrase that he uses in a lot of his captions under the photos he has in the book. The phrase is (he is describing what he did to take the photo), "I used an aperture of BLANK and preset the focus via the distance setting on the front of the lens" That last part is what I'm having trouble understanding. What is the distance setting? and how/why do you preset the focus? Any help would be appreciated! TIA!

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dumb remark memorialized
28,998 posts
Likes: 976
Joined Dec 2006
Feb 15, 2010 15:25 |  #2

manual focus lenses have a printed scale on them so that if you wanted to focus on something 10ft away you just dialed in the 10ft setting on the scale. Obsolete on autofocus lenses. No need to worry about it

Fatal attraction.
13,411 posts
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Joined Apr 2005
Location: Gesher Haziv, Israel
Feb 15, 2010 15:57 |  #3

Understanding Exposure was written many years ago and some things in it are not applicable to some modern cameras. This is one of them.

Elie / אלי

Senior Member
390 posts
Joined Jul 2009
Location: Northeast Georgia, U.S.
Feb 15, 2010 16:40 |  #4

There are actually still times when presetting your focus can help a lot, but you can still autofocus to do it. I often prefocus to a spot on the ground toward which any moving object (usually my son or daughter) i nearing, then there is (hopefully) time to recompose while keeping my focus locked, then shoot when the subject comes into focus.
Also when shooting at night I use my cell phone to create a lighted "focus assist device" use the autofocus, on the lighted screen of the phone, then switch the lens over to manual focus, remove the phone from my shot and shoot away.
Many ideas that seem antiquated are still quite useful in digital photography.

You will find no more zen at the top of a mountain, than the zen that you bring there with you.

~zen proverb~

Senior Member
840 posts
Likes: 1
Joined Apr 2007
Location: Atlantic Canada
Feb 15, 2010 17:14 |  #5

A number of current lenses still have the distance scales on them but the information they display is rather limited. In general, they show only the focus index (the distance at which the lens is actually focused) and the depth-of-field scale for just one aperture setting (usually f/22). Both still have their uses - albeit the DOF scale more than the focus index - and it's unfortunate the lens manufacturers have, for the most part, deemed them obsolete. However, there are other means of accomplishing the same tasks, as noted by Digital_Zen.

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Cream of the Crop
6,231 posts
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Joined Sep 2007
Location: Sitting atop the castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Feb 15, 2010 18:22 |  #6

Presetting focus is still a very useful procedure especially for landscape photographers.

They can use it to maximise the DOF by the use of hyper focal distances. Unfortunately it is something lens manufacturers have decided to omit so we now have to use DOF calculators

Having a camera makes you no more a photographer than having a hammer and some nails makes you a carpenter - Claude Adams
Keep calm and carry a camera!
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Reader's Digest Condensed version of War and Peace [POTN Vol 1]
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Joined Aug 2005
Location: Belmont, CA
Feb 15, 2010 18:50 |  #7

Apart from the issue that the Distance scale has so few distances marked on them, sp as to make DOF scales useless on modern AF lenses, the other reason the DOF scale is useless in the context of digital SLRs with fixed FL lenses is the fact that they apply only to FF cameras, but not to APS-C cameras!

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1,115 posts
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Joined Sep 2006
Location: Kansas City, MO
Feb 15, 2010 20:06 |  #8

AF has changed the way we used to work in many ways. Most AF lenses have very short throws, meaning that they focus faster. Back in the old days, precisions focus lenses often took more than one turn of the barrel to focus. I remember the Alpa 50 macro was like 3 turns from infinity to macro range. Some of the less expensive lenses in the Canon line don't even have a distance scale.

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55 posts
Joined Jan 2009
Location: Macomb, IL
Feb 15, 2010 23:44 |  #9

I understand now, thank you!

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Help with photo lingo translation
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