Focusing the View Camera: A Scientific Way to Focus the View Camera and Estimate Depth of Field. by Harold M. Merklinger. Merklinger’s method is less widely used, but is much easier to apply in the field. . Harold Merklinger describes his method for optimizing depth of field here. Harold Merklinger on Depth of Field. If you arrived at this page by a direct link, it will be helpful for background information if you read my article, More on Depth.

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Hyperfocal distances and Merklinger’s method in landscape photography

In mathematical terms, it’s a “necessary but not sufficient” condition. I aborted a print job shortly after it started.

The problem stated The problem, in essence, is to find camera settings — lens selection, aperture, etc. Moreover, this growth is non-linear. The eyes remain blurry, and that is the point. One can find an infinite number of ways to adjust a view camera that obey the Scheimpflug Principle but still do not put the image in focus.

According to the traditional approach, only in this case the size of the DOF area does not depend on the focal length provided the image magnification is maintained constant. The article is published on harolx web site.

A PDF-format article and five short QuickTime movies are haropd there to illustrate the combined action of the two rules. Is the traditional recommendation to focus the lens at the hyperfocal distance incorrect?

Under such conditions, the lamps were transformed into circles. In his opinion, it is better to describe DOF in terms of the resolution in the object field rather than concentrating on the characteristics of the final image. In merklknger article I’ve assumed a basic familiarity with photographic concepts such as aperture, exposure, and focus.


The traditional depth of field theory, developed over a hundred years ago, deals with the ability of the image to portray detail. Moreover, it is not that difficult at all to be substituted with an alternative that pretends to be its peer.

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In article [ 2 ] I showed how to derive the formula that describes fuzziness behind the focusing point. The show consists of 36 images taken in and aroune Fisherman’s Cove over the years to One more addition to Unusual Cameras on 15 Jan For the purposes of resolution it works perfectly. Theory of bokeh, ni-sen and other weird phenomena.

These images were all taken within minutes of one-another, but the lens focal length was changed slightly from merkinger to shot.

This distance was fixed during the experiments. The front limit of the DOF area equals the hyperfocal distance. A combination of unknown and obvious facts. Again, I have to remind you that all of the above is the classical theory.

The lens is focused at the distance djust where the object is located. The largest depth of field can be obtained if we focus the lens at the hyperfocal distance. You can find an explanation of this phenomenon on the Schneider web page. The power of the view camera is not so much in the method of previewing the image although some will argue that point but merklingeer the ability to focus precisely at multiple distances simultaneously.

This statement was also verified during my experiments.

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Applying a little high school algebra Harold realized that there was nothing wrong with the physical theory. You may ask another interesting question. The constant magnification means the size of the plate, which was attached to the curtain, must be the same in all photographs. This case is similar to the previous one. The idea looks vague, doesn’t it? The focus is set at infinity.


If one asks a slightly different question, one obtains surprisingly different answers. One of these is “aliasing” – which can occur when the optical image contains more detail than the image sensor can resolve. These three planes are the film plane, the subject plane and lens plane. We can discover this by plotting the resolution relative to the resolution achieved at the same distance if the lens were hyperfocally focused at the same f-stop using the appropriate circle of confusion parameter for 35mm and APS-C of 0.

If all our objects are located behind this point, the focus should be set at infinity. However, I am not going to describe any details of that verification, since both theories treat the subject in the same way.

According to Merklinger, the bigger the diameter of the cone at a certain distance, the fewer details can be resolved. Two downloadable spreadsheet files were added on 16 Aug 98 to assist view camera and other users to establish a consistent sharpness standard when lenses of several different focal lengths are being used.

With this aperture, and the lens focused at infinity, then features 5mm or larger will be distinguishable. However if we make a sufficient enlargement, it will not be difficult to notice that the DOF area is asymmetrical. The suggested solution is to focus close to infinity to maximize the detail in distant tree leaves for example whilst, the use of a small aperture will render good detail on close objects like blades of grass.