Have you ever found yourself struggling to get the perfect shot because your autofocus just won't cooperate? Whether you're new to photography or a seasoned pro, by taking control of your focus with zone focusing, you can capture the moments as you see them. All it takes is a little bit of knowledge and a small amount of practice and you can ditch the sluggish autofocus and capture clear, sharp images that truly stand out.
What are the numbers?
Manual focus lenses have several sets of numbers printed along the side of the lens body that assist with zone focusing. At first glance these can be confusing, but understanding what these mean is the key to mastering this useful technique.
Each lens manufacturer may present them in their own way, but the principle remains the same. The aperture control ring, depth of field scale, and distance scale can be used to control the area, or zone, that will be in focus when a photo is taken.
The aperture control ring allows you to adjust the aperture of the lens. In digital cameras this is often done on the camera itself, but with vintage manual lenses it’s much more common to appear on the lens itself.
The depth of field scale shows you a vertical line indicating which aperture value is selected and shows markings for some common apertures. The higher the aperture value, the larger the depth of field and the greater the distance between the corresponding values on the depth of field scale.
Finally, the distance scale shows the distance from the film plane in both feet and meters. At the very end of the distance scale is the infinity symbol (∞) which can be very useful when photographing outside.