For most of our cameras featured thus far, we have been aided with the use of viewfinders/rangefinders with either auto-focusing or manual focusing functions. However, there comes a time where we encounter a certain camera which does not have the above capabilities! In those situations, we really had to consider how to focus on our photo subjects well without such focusing functions… and that’s where zone focusing fills in that gap!
Some of you might find it odd that a camera would not have a proper view/rangefinder that would be able to perform either manual or auto-focusing. However, this can be a common issue for modified cameras where the view/rangefinder is no longer usable due to an overhaul of the focusing system. For example, the Modified Instax 7s we are going to introduce has had the factory-standard plastic lens removed and completely replaced with a Yashikor f/3.5, 80mm lens extracted from a TLR Yashica 635 model (made in 1958!)
As a result, the focusing system in the Instax 7s clearly cannot work with the Yashikor lens, and therefore zone focusing is the only reliable means of focusing and capturing subjects. As described succinctly by Digital-Photography-School:
“Zone focusing is pre-focusing your camera to a certain distance away, say 10 feet, guessing the depth of field that you will have at that distance with the settings you are using, and then photographing subjects as they enter that range, and hopefully as close as possible to the actual focus distance on the camera.”
While zone focusing is used mainly for street photography (where photographers may be attempting to subtly take photos of passers-by without getting their attention), we have had to use zone focusing in order to use the modified Instax 7s! With (most of) the words out of the way, let’s introduce the modified Instax 7s (created by @cupcakeg2)!
Modified Instax 7s (Winnie the Pooh)
Our First Shots
Getting Used to Zone Focusing…
There are some basic knowledge about zone focusing that will help anyone (including us!) to master it:
The smaller the aperture, the larger the depth of field will be; as a result, this compensates for marginal errors in guessing the distance of the subject from the camera;
The further the subject, the smaller the depth of field will be; and
The wider the focal length, the larger the depth of field; unfortunately we have had to improve our accuracy in estimating the distance (as the focal length of the modified Instax 7s is 80mm).
As a result, to avoid errors in guessing the distances, we rely heavily on the laser distance meter, which gives an accurate reading of the distance from the laser pointer to the subject. Obviously, we cannot really do this when taking people (whom we don’t know), so therefore we have had to revert to ‘guessing’. Since the Instax film has ISO 800, we are able to reduce the aperture (the Yashikor lens ranges from f/3.5 to f/22) to increase the depth of field in the daytime.
We are definitely still learning how to zone focus, and are by no means skilled in that complex technique. However, we have the aid of the distance meter (at least for inanimate objects/willing participants), and so we hope to improve further! If you have any tips for us, do drop a comment below!