What is zone focus ?
When out for street photography, I like to use zone focusing, and set my lens to the hyperfocal distance. With the Fuji X100F, and an aperture of f5.6, the hyperfocal distance is at 5 meters. So if I prefocus my camera to this distance, I know that everything between 2.5 meters and infinity will be in focus.
That’s the theory…
But when I got the X100F, I had to figure out how to apply this on the field…
How to use zone focus with the fuji x100F ?
I tried first to use the camera manual focus. But this did not work for me because the focusing ring is very sensitive on the X100F. When the camera was hanging at my neck, the focus frequently changed after a few streets, without me knowing it. And working with the zone focus is a matter of trust and speed… I had to find another way…
So here is what I do now : I set the camera to single AF mode, use the AEL/AFL button as a back button and set its lock-mode to switch. This way, when I set the focus with the back button, the focus stays active. The shutter does not refocus when pressed or half pressed. Important detail : I do not enable the AF+MF feature so that the manual focus ring is not active in single AF mode. Otherwise, we are back to the beginning of the story…
That’s it ! Before starting to take pictures, I point the focus point to an object that is at the hyperfocal focus distance, and focus on that object with the AE/AFL or whatever the back button is. This locks the focus. The little focus square in the EVF becomes green, and I’m good to go.
I know that some interactions with the camera will unlock the focus, as for instance displaying pictures, going in the menu or the Q custom settings… This is where becoming friend with the camera comes into play !
Here are my settings:
Focus mode : single AF
AF/MF Setting :
AF MODE > SINGLE POINT
AF+MF > OFF
Set up :
BUTTON/DIAL SETTING > FUNCTION(Fn) SETTING > AELAFL > AE/AF LOCK or AF LOCK ONLY
BUTTON/DIAL SETTING > AE/AF-LOCK MODE > AE&AF ON/OFF SWITCH
POWER MANAGEMENT > AUTO POWER OFF > OFF
Coming from the Ricoh world where zone focusing is completely another story thanks to the snap mode, I had to dig into the manual and all the options of the X100F in order to become friend with it. I wanted to share !
That’s all for today. Enjoy you walks with your X100F buddies ! I think I just fell in love…
I’ve been shooting a lot now with the Fuji X100, either in urban streetphotography or when traveling. So I thought it’s about time to give you my updates about the back focusing method with this camera.
Although my way of back focusing remains the same, I do not use back focusing any more !
Backfocusing was my way to shoot sport and quick photography with my old camera buddy which was a Canon 5dM3. It’s been gone for a while now, and and changed my shooting automatics…
How do I shoot now ?
Nowadays for streetphotography or when shooting sport photography, I use the camera focusing system and the shutter button. I do not use the back focus button at all. The habit has quickly gone.
Why don’t I use back focusing anymore ?
For several reasons in fact :
- Back focusing relies on the single point focus and not on the zone focus. And I noticed that the focusing system is far more accurate with the zone system. So I prefer to stay in a mode where I can use the zone focus, that is either single AF or continuous AF and not manual anymore.
- Single AF and continuous AF with zone focus are real quick. I’ve got another habit now : I move the focus area with my thumb instead of keeping it on the back focus button.
What about the fuji x-t2 ? How to zone focus with fuji x-t2 ?
I do the same with my fuji x100F and the fuji x-t2. That’s real great because the learning curve, in fact the get-the-reflex-back curve is very small…
Here is a post where I show my setting for streetphotography.
FAQ about zone focusing
What is zone focus?
Zone focusing is a technique which has been widely used for street photography and reportage. You preset your camera to be reasonably sharp between a distance A and a distance B from you.
Depending on your camera, the setup for using the zone focus system may vary. I describe in my post how to use zone focusing with the Fuji X systems.
How do I calculate the zone focus in streetphotography ?
First you evaluate the distance between you and the subject. The focal length of your lens and camera sensor allow you to calculate at this distance the zone before and the zone after this distance that will be reasonably sharp.
For instance, with a Fuji X100F (lens is a 23mm) at f5.6 if you focus at 3m, the zone focus will be between 1,20m and 5,20m.
DOFmaster is a calculator that will help you find those charts for your lenses.
On my smartphone, I use DOF Calculator.
What is the difference between zone focus and hyperfocal ?
When you setup your camera for zone focusing, you select an aperture and choose a focus distance which give you an area where subjects will be acceptably sharp. For instance between 3 and 5 meters from you.
When you setup your camera with the hyperfocal, you select an aperture and a focus distance equal to the hyperfocal, which will give all subjects between half the focus distance and infinity reasonably sharp.