DSLR Photography Tips: How To Manually Focus The Lens To Infinity The Correct Way

Beginner, Photography | 04 Sep, 2012

Short and to the point, this photographytutorialwilldispel some common confusion which involves the manual focusing of a lens to the ‘infinity’ setting. The ‘infinity’ setting is commonly used at night time for example when a photographer would like to shoot a night landscape photo maybe on a 15 to 30 second exposure they would use the manual ‘infinity’ setting on the camera’s lens because the auto focus will not operate.

What this tutorial clears up is the confusion regarding the sentence, ‘Take the lens setting all the way up to infinity and then back up a little’. Now what he rightfully explains is that not all lenses are the same so in his first example he uses the swivel focus ring on the lens and guides the marker lines to go all the way to the ‘infinity’ mark, but oh wait, the marker goes past. He then ‘backs up’ to re-align it with the ‘infinity’ sign, so it is by doing this which clears up the sentence in question. There is a however, and that is the other lens like for example some of the newer Nikon dslr onesyou cant physically go beyond the ‘infinity’ sign so if you were to ‘back up’ you would quite simply not be on ‘infinity’ but on a different setting all together!

So there you have it, hopefully the confusion is cleared and you can now understand that not all lenses are the same and that it is important to understand the kit you have or intend to buy.

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    1. When you get everything in focus that’s in front of you. Auto focus doesn’t work in dark so you have to manually focus the lens. Since I was doing mostly landscape stuff in the video I posted, I went with infinity focus.

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    2. I don’t own a kit lens but if the lens doesn’t have manual focus then I’ll have to do another video using a flash light to focus on a subject near by instead of a landscape. In that case auto focus will work. Once it’s focused, turn off the flash light and press the cable release.

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    3. you could crank the f stop to a high number so you dont have to worry about depth of field but then you’d have to do a longer exposure shot if this were at night, or you could use a flashlight to help the camera focus. otherwise, I don’t see how anything else could work because. as you said. there’s no infinity symbol. I have the same camera/lens.

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    4. kit lens 18-55mm and 18-105mm dont have infinity symbol, except for 18-200mm. you got to have the little window on your lens to see this. just in case you don’t see the infinity symbol put your f-stop to higher number f16 or f22

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    5. AF lenses suck! It seems like a lot of people are having problems because their focusing ring don’t have distance markings, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I suppose you all should just rotate it until it stops, or else test the lens in a bright day at a far away subject like a mountain with the lens on it’s most tele focal lenth to see where exactly is it. This is done mostly in larger focal lenth lenses because of posible dilation due to the material’s thermal expansion coefficient.

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    6. Those who own a kit lens and don’t have infinity sign. Set your lens to wide angle. 18mm. Then go out and focus on something that’s really wide like a landscape. There shouldn’t be anything near the lens for it to focus on. When you focus on a landscape the lens ring will move to infinity direction automatically. Just remember that direction. Next time you want to focus the lens manually to infinity, simply set the lens to manual and move the ring all the way in that direction which is infinity

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    7. I have a D60 can i still use the 50mm f/1.8D AF Standard Auto Focus Nikkor Lens? cause i read that this lens wont auto focus. and i wanted to know if it was compatible before purchasing and if it Will that affect the picture quality of my images? thanks!

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    8. It will not auto focus. AF lenses don’t have built in auto focus motor. You’re going to need 50mm AFS 1.8G lens. I have reviewed this lens and compared it with 1.8D lens in case you want to watch that video. Go for 1.8G as it’s sharper and colors are also more vibrant.

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    9. my big problem is “i can’t focus on my object” D:i have some questions, i really do hope that you can help me with this problem hehe1. when i set to AF, there will be One Shot, Al Servo and All Focus or sth. the question is what are the differents of ’em? what part are they different?2. when i set to MF, i still get my object blur eventhough i have made the red point on to my object. for example, i get the red point only to the object like face and i want the bg blur but i get all blur (c)

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    10. my big problem is “i can’t focus on my object” D:i have some questions, i really do hope that you can help me with this problem hehe1. when i set to AF, there will be One Shot, Al Servo and All Focus or sth. the question is what are the differents of ’em? what part are they different?2. when i set to MF, i still get my object blur eventhough i have made the red point on to my object. for example, i get the red point only to the object like face and i want the bg blur but i get all blur (c)

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    11. The reason the focusing ring goes beyond infinity mark is the scale is poorly aligned (being A/F Tokina they don’t care). The infinity focus could still be with the ring all the way to the left. The truth is, you should use hyperfocal distance focusing instead. Greatly oversimplified, you move the ring to infinity and then (that’s right) back up a little, regardless of the scale alignment. Simply moving the ring to infinity may not always work. Hyperfocal focusing works every time.

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    12. a bit confused. in the beginning of the video you say not to move the focus ring, and then there a click sound, does that mean this video only applies to manual focus?what about one a kit lens 18-105mm for the d5100? how would this apply?thank you so much for sharing!! really helpful!!

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    13. I notice you use ISO 400 a lot for these photos. Why not lower the ISO to 100 to reduce noise and just use the tripod so that you can allow for longer shutter time? I’m just curious because I don’t do landscapes and scenery and I would like to start but would like to know your reasons for your exposure choices. Thanks. I really enjoy your videos and I am a subscriber.

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    14. Thanks man! I’m not sure which pictures you’re talking about because I didn’t use any picture in this video. The only time I used ISO400 doing long exposure was when I was in the cemetery and I wanted to cut down the time by 2 stops to save me time as I was there illegally. If I do 4 minute exposure at ISO400 that means it would take me 16 minutes to do that at ISO100. So to save time so I don’t get in trouble I did that.

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    15. I think I went back by accident but it was a shoot you did called “Photographing old buildings.” There was a spot in the video where you took a picture down a long hall area with your tripod. Sorry about the confusion. Something else I would like to see you do a short video on is when to use single frame vs continuous frame shooting. People have told me its best to keep the camera on single frame but what would continuous frame be used for?

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    16. That’s so weird… exactly 5 days ago i was also in a cemetary quietly and discretly trying to shoot. I had trouble getting inifity as i was close up focussing on a cross tombstone (shallow D.O.F) and the church cemetary blurred in the background. I’m guessing you were doing something Halloween theme-related ?

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    17. Has a lot more to do with the depth of field than the setting on camera. Though there is a debate out there surrounding why some cameras go past the marked infinity sign, the reason you back it off the stop is to ensure that your entire depth of field is in the being used…the so-called hyperfocal distance.

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    18. I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with the camera. It has to do with the lens like I explained in the video. Backing up is not related to hyperfocal distance because you can still calculate the hyperfocal distance even if you’re not at the infinity sign. Thanks for watching!

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    19. My camera lens dosen’t have those labels! 🙁 So how would I set it to infinty then? Or is there something I can buy that I can put around the focus ring to tell me all those fancy numbers? I have a nikon d3000 18-55 mm lens

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    20. Also, lenses like the 16-35mm f/2.8 L IS Canon lens has a L icon before it. (Rotated 90deg)Within that area is the infinity focal point. I will change depending on atmospheric conditions and could be anywhere along that line

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    21. Hi. I notice that DX format lenses don’t come with the focus meter (or maybe it’s just some). Either way, why is that and how do I set my focus to infinity with those lenses. Like, for example, I own the Nikon 35mm 1.8G DX lens. What do I do?

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    22. I am a beginner. I have a 450D and a Tamron 17-50mm… I tried this infinity but the sharpness is just terrible … even tried the chart of the hyperfocal distance but still not even up to par standard in terms of sharpness… @PhotographersOnUTube, sir, will you please post some of your landscape and show us your lens, settings, especially using infinity… Just wanna know if I would use your type of landscape lens then… am for sharpness and stuff…

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    23. thnx for sharing this, i did a time lapse during the day and set to infinity and the images came out blurry. So now i know that infinity is for night shoot cause time lapse tutorial don’t explain this, they just say set to infinity.

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