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how to make everything in focus???

Daniel Lillie , Feb 20, 2008; 07:31 p.m.

Im using my M.P.P to take photos of some landscapes and I want everything from the camera position to infinity to be in 'acceptable' focus. I've stried stopping down to the smallest aperture but thats not enough. Would I have to tilt the lens panel forward until in intersects with the film plane and focus line for the scheimflung rule to become apparent and for everything to be in focus?

Many thanks


Sergio Ortega , Feb 20, 2008; 07:58 p.m.

Yes, you're on the right track. Use the scheimpflug principle, stop down to the proper aperture and try using wider angle lenses and you can achieve acceptable focus from near to far, within limits of course.

Bruce Cahn , Feb 20, 2008; 08:12 p.m.

Sometimes just tilting the back will do it.

Michael Briggs , Feb 20, 2008; 10:14 p.m.

It isn't always possible to get everything in focus. I will give a very brief summary of methods. The first step is to select the plane that best approximates the subject, then use either front tilt or back tilt to tilt the plane of focus to match. The difference between the two is that back tilts and swings change perspective, i.e., the apparent shape of objects, while front movements don't.

Then figure out the two points farthest from the plane that you want to be in focus -- the nearest and farthest. In this case, the objects that are nearest and farthest from the plane, since you want everything in focus. Focus first on the nearest object, then on the farthest. In each case note the position of the standard. Make your final focus position halfway in between -- this is the optimal focus position. Using the optimal focus position will help a great deal.

Next, use the distance in mm between the two focus positions to figure out what f-stop to use. Tables are available. They are independent of the focal length. If the focus spread is too great, then you won't be able to get everything in focus. Then you need to rethink: did you really pick the best plane to approximate the subject? do you really want everything in focus? sometimes it is better to be selective about the focus. Or maybe you need to change the camera position so that the closest object isn't so close. etc.

Here are articles about setting up tilts: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/how-to-focus.html and http://www.largeformatphotography.info/articles/bond-checklist.html; and one about the focusing / stopping down method that I described: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/fstop.html.

Bruce Cahn , Feb 21, 2008; 01:48 a.m.

Not to disagree with Michael, who is technically very knowledgeable, but if you tilt the upper back of the camera a little towards you in most cases the more distant part of the landscape will become focused. If you use a camera with asymmetrical tilts the rest remains in focus, and the whole thing is done in a few seconds. This works most of the time but may not be the best soolution if the background is a very big dustance from the foreground.

Colin Carron , Feb 21, 2008; 04:06 a.m.

David, a 'normal' camera without movements will give you a plane of focus that is parallel to the film plane, yes? Other things in front of, or behind, that plane of focus will be more or less sharp, maybe sharp enough to look OK in a print.

A camera with movements is the same except that you can alter where that plane of focus lies - up, down, sideways, or tilited, swung etc.

To try getting a more or less horizontal plane of foocus with a flat landscape in front of you set up your MPP and adjust the focus so that the far away parts are sharp. Then release the four back screws and very gently with your findertips tilt the top of the back a few millimetres towards you while checking your ground glass screen for sharpness. (Use a loupe for this). You should see the nearer part of the landscape at the top of the screen becoming sharp. Once that is sharp lock off the top screws. Refocus the distant parts of the landscape again using the focus knob to get the bottom of the screem in focus again then have another look at the near part at the top again and do the tilt business again. A few cycles like this and you will have the whole thing in focus.

Depending on the tye of your MPP you can also use the front to do the same thing. The Mk VIII front tilts forward to give the same effect. The Mk VI and VII do not have forward front tilts so you have to use the back instead with these types.

good luck!

Tim H , Feb 21, 2008; 09:41 a.m.

Michael is exactly right. The chances are that front-tilt-forwards will improve matters but only if the resultant focal-wedge intersects the scene in appropriate places. By stopping-down too far you might be losing sharpness through diffraction.

You might find the doodle in my writeup on how to take sharp landscape photos useful.

Michael Briggs , Feb 21, 2008; 11:22 a.m.

Sometimes getting everything in focus is easy. In some cases, where all of the subject is distant, a vertical plane is suitable and you don't need any movements -- just use the second half of the procedure I described. In other cases a tilted or swung plane is a sufficiently good approximation to the subject that you don't have to bother with the second half of the procedure. With experience the photographer will know that stopping down will easily get everything in focus. But Daniel has a challenging request, which may not be possible: "I want everything from the camera position to infinity to be in 'acceptable' focus". I suppose he wants everything from the ground (and plants etc.) just in front of the tripod to the horizon in focus. This may not be possible. For the most challenging situations, using the full procedure is worthwhile.

In a more typical landscape photo, where the closest object is farther away than the tripod leg pointing towards the scene, a tilt will frequently go along ways. Usually only a couple of degrees is all that is needed. In that case my point about the difference between front and back tilts doesn't matter for a landscape photo because the difference will be very subtle. On a camera with asymmetric back tilts (not a M.P.P.), a back movement will be more convenient, as Bruce mentions.

Nas Singh , Jan 26, 2010; 07:38 a.m.

I have a similar issue, I am trying to take photo's of toys and army characters but am having the problem of focus. If I focus on the characters back arm (the character is standing at 45 degrees to the camera, then the front arm (and anything infront of the the back arm) is out of focus and vice versa. I have really struggled to find out how to solve this. Even advise from my local Jessops manager has proven ineffective. What to do? Thanks in advance for any advice or tips! Nas

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