Focus to infinity is a common term when people are taking photographs of landscapes, the sky, or the stars. It is relevant when you are shooting pictures of subjects that are far enough away that you can’t really use the autofocus feature.
Be aware that some lens adapters, HD filters, and macro filters will prevent you from using infinity focus, and other modern lenses do not have an infinity option on their focusing ring.
While some cameras have an infinity indicator, the Nikon 18-55mm does not, so it is important to understand how to focus to infinity without the indicator.
Focus to Infinity Without an Infinity Indicator
You can focus to infinity with your Nikon 18-55mm lens. Look through the lens to find an object that is at least 100 feet away. It could be anything from a house to a tree or anything that has light on it. Then turn the focus ring until you can see the distant object clearly. You should have a crisp, clear image through the lens.
You need to be careful that your autofocus lenses doesn’t change the setting once you move away from this object. You can disable it in manual focus mode or use the AF-L button to lock focus or set your camera’s AF-ON button to focus (and turn off focus activation through the shutter release button), then keep your thumb away from the button after you are in focus.
In addition, if your lens doesn’t have an infinity symbol or a focus scale, switch to Live View, zoom in on a far-off object, then manually focus the lens. The lens should be focused to infinity if you are concentrating on something that is very far away.
For example, if you are photographing an arrangement of rocks on the beach, you can focus on them and take the photo. On the other hand, you can focus on the hills in the distance behind the rocks and still take your picture. This is called focusing to infinity.
When to Focus to Infinity?
The concept of focusing to infinity can be difficult for many to understand. When you want to isolate a subject such as a flower or a person, you will open your aperture to create a narrow area of focus. This allows your subject to be the primary content in the photograph.
When you focus to infinity, you are essentially doing the opposite. You choose a subject off in the distance so that you can create a much wider field of focus. This way, everything that you see in the frame will be in focus, regardless of how far away it is.
However, it is important to understand where your focal point starts. When you look through your lens, the area that goes from your lens to the area that is in focus is called your hyperfocal distance. If you are focusing to infinity, you need to make sure that you don’t have any other objects inside of the hyperfocal distance that show up in your image. These objects would show up blurry, even though everything that is beyond your focus point will be clear and sharp.
How to Focus With The Lens
If your lens has the infinity sign on it, you can easily line your lens’s focus ring up with the infinity symbol. It is much easier with a manual focus lens. When you have an automatic focus lens, you can follow the process for the Nikon 18-55mm lens. Find something in the distance at least 100 feet away, open your lens all the way, and lock it.
When Do You Use This Setting?
People generally focus to infinity when they want to take a photo of something in the distance, but you can use it anytime you want to. There are a few instances where most photographers prefer this tactic.
Often they use it when shooting landscapes. These types of photographs are more interesting when they have more detail, and focusing to infinity allows the most detail in landscape photography. People also use it when they shoot wildlife. Wild animals are unpredictable, so you can use it to make sure that the animal stays in focus regardless of where it ends up in the frame.
Using infinity focus is similar to making a wide depth of field. The infinity setting technically does not offer complete focus at an infinite distance. A nearly in-front object will not actually be in focus because the infinity focus point actually starts some distance in front of your camera lens.
Another time to focus to infinity is when you are taking photographs in low light situations or during night photography. It is easier to set your lens to focus to infinity than it is to focus on specific objects that you can’t see very well. If you need to set your lens at night, you can use a far-off bright object such as the mood to make sure that everything in your focus stays clear.
What Is the Hyperfocal Distance?
Hyperfocal distance is another important concept to understand. The best way to understand it is that it is the nearest focus distance at which the distant object is sharp enough and appears to be in focus. The camera lens can focus while it keeps everything in the distance clear.
Anything beyond the hyperfocal distance is going to be in focus, but objects that are within this distance will be blurry. Aperture, focal length, and the camera’s crop factor are some variables that determine hyperfocal distance. But in all situations, everything should look in sharp focus from the point of infinite focus and beyond. For many landscape photographs, finding infinity focus is crucial.
For example, if you are shooting wildlife, and a branch from a tree falls in the hyperfocal distance, this branch will appear blurry. You might want to adjust your position so that nothing interferes with your photograph.
How to Get Good
The best way to get good at focusing on infinity is to practice. There are many moments when you could get an amazing shot of something in the distance, and perfecting this technique will allow you to get some amazing photographs. Whether you want to capture a beautiful mountain range off in the distance or the night sky, you can practice so that it is easy for you when you need to capture a great shot.
When you use a lens such as the Nikon 18-55mm and it doesn’t have the infinity setting, you can still focus to infinity. You basically choose an object that is 100 feet away and turn your lens until it is clear. This allows you to capture photos of landscapes in the distance, and you can get more details because your camera has a wide depth of focus.