Presetting distance

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by art boyd ii, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Hi all. In these forums, I've often heard the term "presetting the
    distance". How do you go about presetting the distance on a camera?
    And can you preset the distance on a digital camera like you can with
    a film camera?

    Many thanks in advance,
  2. With manual focus and SLR lenses, there is a distance scale on the lens. You simply align "20 feet" with the a white line on the lens. You can also use AF and focus on an object at the distance you want and while holding the shutter halfway, pan the camera to the desired spot (this can be a little tricky with some cameras).

    With P&S cameras, this may not be possible. Which digital do you have?
  3. If your digital camera has a manual focus option you can use this technique. Presetting the distance also makes digital cameras a bit more responsive. Setting manual focus on my Canon G2 is ugly, but it works.
  4. If you really want to do it right, make sure the camera has manual focus.
  5. Besides simply setting the distance, it might be better to also set the aperture to a specific one, like f/8 or f/11, and then use the DOF marks on the lens to set a "zone" of sharpness. This way instead of being locked into an exact distance of say 8 feet, you can cover a zone of that the subject would most likely be in.

    For example, with my 35mm lens set to f/8 and focused to 6 feet, a zone of about 4 1/2 to 10 feet will be covered with acceptable sharpness. As long as you can visually guess that range, and get the subject into it by moving yourself up or back, you can shoot very quickly.

    The one problem these days is the lack of things like depth of field marks on modern gear.
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    If you really want to do it right, make sure the camera has manual focus.
    I disagree with this. I do it all the time with a Konica Hexar. It's pretty easy to find something at the right distance, push halfway down, and hold the focus until the shot happens.
    Many of the photos in this gallery were prefocused with a Hexar. It just takes practice and knowing what you are doing.
  7. Modern AF SLRs (EOS mostly, also newer nikons) will also let you take autofocus off the shutter button. so you can "prefocus" and then hit the button whenever you want. You don't have to sit there holding the shutter button down halfway until the shot happens. This is a really handy way to work. The AF generally hits focus faster than I can by hand, and yet leaves me in total control.

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