Scale focus

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Scale focus, or zone focus, is a type of focusing system used by many inexpensive cameras from the 1940s and 1950s. These cameras have an adjustable focus, but lack a focusing aid such as a rangefinder. It is necessary to determine the distance to the subject and set the focus using a scale printed on the lens. To get properly focused photographs with this type of camera requires accurate estimation of the distance to the subject, or measurement by other means, e.g. a tape measure.


Zone focusing fixes a depth of field, which can be read off of the DOF scale on the focus ring, as shown here – DOF is 1 meter to 2 meters, with aperture f/11 and focal plane at 1.4 meters.

Today the term "zone focus" refers to the technique of setting a fixed focal distance (turning off autofocus), and often a fixed aperture, hence fixing the depth of field, and then taking photographs at that distance; the DOF can be read off of the DOF scale on the focus ring, hence the term "zone". This is frequently used in street photography to allow rapid and candid "shooting from the hip" (shooting without composing in the viewfinder) and avoiding autofocus lag.[1][2][citation needed] Zone focusing is also useful for pet action photography, where the time delay of focusing may be unworkable.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zone Focusing, Markus Hartel, January 22, 2006
  2. ^ Zone Focus,, March 2004