Improve my landscape photography.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by PantelisMor, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    Good Evening,

    Recently i bought Oly 12-40 2.8, a polarized filter and an ND big stopper. I start to improve my landscape photography.

    I have some questions for OMD settings.

    Usually i use below settings

    Manual with small aparture f8 and shutter speed Live view
    Low iso
    WB auto
    single exposure
    Raw files
    IS OFF
    Anti-Shock ON
    Keep Warm Color set to OFF

    Metering what is best option for landscape ? Matrix, center or spot ??

    The hard part is the Focus. I don't know where to focus in order the whole picture look in focus like yours.

    For example in the below picture where is the right to focus ? on the building ? on bicycles ? on the street ???

    *image deleted by moderator due to copyright permissions*

    Another one example. where is the right to focus ? on buildings ? on the bridge ? or on the water ???

    *image deleted by moderator due to copyright permissions*

    Thx alot, sorry for my bad english.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2015
  2. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    One thing that comes to mind is turning your "blinkies" on (highlights and shadows indicators). That helps a lot in figuring out where over and under exposure is occurring.
  3. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Real Name:
    Jan (John) Kusters
    Where to focus is partly depending on what lens and what aperture you are using; it is called DoF (Depth of Field; how deep is the 'sharpness zone').
    A higher number (like 8 or 11) means a larger part of the picture will be in focus. A lower number (like 1.8 or 2) means a smaller part will be in focus.
    And with a shorter lens or zoom setting (like 12 or 17mm) more will be in focus, while a longer lens or zoom setting (like 45 or 60mm) will have less in focus.
    Of the entire distance that will be sharp, roughly 1/3 is in front of the focal distance, and 2/3 is behind it.
    There are detailed DoF calculators online (, but in general a few basic numbers for some lenses or zoom settings are enough. Those DoF Calculators also give a distance that would be used to focus on.
    Both examples you show are taken with a very wide lens (large DoF to begin with) and probably use something like F8 or F11. In the first one I would focus on the street just in front of the bicycles, with the second I would focus somewhere halfway the railing on the right or the right side of the bridge.
  4. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    For large landscapes to be in focus front to back, you need to use a smaller (higher number) aperture than f/8. Try f/11 - f/16. For really vast depths, you might need f/22, even though you may start to have refraction problems. Although you can use a DOF calculator, a good rule of thumb is to find a spot to focus on that is about 1/3 of the way into the scene.

    Your photos above are pretty good. I'd probably set my focus point on the first one on the bike racks as a start. For the bridge shot, I'd probably start out by locking my focus point on the near side bridge abutment but be prepared to try again with another point after the first shot. Either move the focus point to the desired location or lock focus on it and then recompose the scene as you want it. I almost never use Auto WB, preferring to set the correct WB for conditions. I assume you are using a cable release or the self timer to get your hands off the camera during exposure.
  5. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Is f16 ever really required when shooting m4/3?

    Sent from my Nexus 6 using Mu-43 mobile app
  6. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    Maybe, maybe not. If the OP is using f/8 plus a Big Stopper, a few more stops on the lens can only help. I learned my photography 40 years ago and old habits that still work are not easy to break. My go to for daytime landscapes tends to be whatever I have tested out as the sharpness sweet spot, which is around f/9 - f/11 or so on my favorite landscape lens.

    Maybe that is excessive. On the other hand, it won't hurt anything. Diffraction is unlikely to kick in until f/14+. Going too shallow will hurt.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2015
  7. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Ideally, you should focus to hyperfocal distance. But it may be easier to focus further than that and give up a little bit of near limit.

    For example, the bridge shot (
    Lens parameters: 12mm at f/8.0
    Hyperfocal distance to focus on: 1.21 m.
    Hyperfocal DOF: 0.6 m to infinity

    If you focus to 10 m (about right bank of bridge) then DOF (12mm, f/8.0) will be from 1 m to infinity.
    0.4 m in near limit is not much to cry about, especially for that shot.

    Good rules of thumb for m43 cameras and 12-40 lens:
    at f/2.8 focus at roughly x1000 of focal distance, (e.g. 12mm -> 12 m, 40mm -> 40 m)
    at f/5.6 focus at roughly x500 of focal distance, (e.g. 12mm -> 6 m, 40mm -> 20 m)

    For further reference:

    As of metering - histogram is your best friend. Expose to the right without clipping (or much of it, since RAW will give you some opportunity to fix clippings).
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
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  8. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    Thx a lot all of you for your advices, first i want to mention that these photos aren't mine

    i try to understand all these you said.

    I try DoF calculators online (,

    I have some queries .. Lets suppose that we are in he first picture. and bicycles are about 3 meters. I want to use my oly at 12mm with f8. how i use the above calc ? i am comfused with all these .....
    Online Depth of Field Calculator.
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia

    1- Yes, those cameras are the same as OM-Ds. What counts is the sensor size (dimensions, not megapixels) and one M43 camera is the same as any other when it comes to sensor size.

    2- Focal length is the focal length marked on the lens. If you have a 12mm lens you enter 12mm, not the full frame equivalent focal length of 24mm. What counts is the actual focal length.

    3- The distance you enter is the distance to whatever you want to focus on.

    4- The depth of field section shows you how far away the closest thing in focus will be at your chosen aperture and the subject distance you entered, the most distant thing that will also be in focus, and the distance in front and behind the focus distance that those things will be respectively. So what this is saying is that if you focus at 3 metres and f/8 with a 24mm lens (what's shown in your screen capture) the depth of field will extend from 1.85 metres, 1.15 metres in front of where you focussed, to 7.89 metres, 4.89 metres behind where you focussed, and the total depth from front to back of the area which should look acceptably sharp, i.e. from 1.85 metres to 7.89 metres, is 6 .04 metres.

    5- The hyperfocal distance is the distance you need to focus on if you want the depth of field to extend from half that distance all the way back to infinity and of course this is for the aperture you enter so for that 24mm focal length and f/8 shown in the capture, if you focus at 4.82 metres the depth of field should extend from 2.41 metres all the way back to infinity.

    All of these questions are answered and the basics explained in the information contained below the calculator section on the page you linked to.
  10. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Look at picture below, it's very well self-explanatory:

  11. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    The other issue to take into consideration is the sweet spot for you lens at a given preferred aperture in regards to f stop and also diffraction artifacts associated with sensor sized. Try as much to use the sweet spot of your lens for end to end sharpness.

    With a 43 sensors you natural get a bigger depth of field out of the gate due to the sensor crop.. Personally, with a 43s camera, I'd not push it beyond f5.6 typically as your getting good depth of field and limiting diffraction etc. at f8 and beyond, you could start degrading iq. But that's just me.

    As for ISO low, that is not a native ISO but a pulled down one from iso200... Again I'd only due it if necessary to control shutter speed for a given scene or exposure.. I'd stick with iso200 as a rule. For all purposes it's the same iq as 200 but still for me I'd stick with 200 unless you were getting over exposure in highlights you wanted to keep control of.

    Look into ETTR and raw, could help you pulled back some iq by nearly saturating the sensor with available light.

    Why turn off IS? Unless you're tripoding or have a very fast shutter speed (at least 2.5 times 1/full frame equiv) or your very good with with shutter and stability I'd keep it on.

    As for metering, depends on the scene and what you want the exposure setting for. Typically, zone is just ok but meant as as average for overall so if you want to highlight it will provide a under exposure.. So try adding exp. compensation shot as well just in case.

    As for filters, just remember every added glass elements can introduce artifacts, lower iq etc. they should only be used with a specific purpose that can't be overcome in body. Polarizes are great but you need the right incident light to make them work, otherwise just degrading iq. Stoppers have purpose but look at review comparison of brands and see how impact the degrade iq. Use wisely.

    Most of the brilliance can come from post processing with selective sharpening, gradiant mask etc. no matter how good a shot, pp helps a tremendous amount in making it pop. Good pp usually involves a good monitor ie ips, color calibration and working in a dim room and then a lot of practice on sharpening, noise removal techniques and getting really good at layer masking.

    People on forums pay to much attenuation to gear and not enough to the art part of it which means nailing the sweet spot of your gear and then bringing out the magic in pp. good pp can turn dull photos in works of magic.. Rarely does a better lens or better body do that...

    As for the actual image, I find to sharpness across the frame sometimes distracting and not a desirable trait. Some front and back of image out of focus helps draw your eye into the image...and even overexposure creatively used to do the same. Gear review sites obsess about ISO noise, dynamic range etc.. But keeper images are rarely about that and more about subject matter, mood and balanced subject matter.

    Some of the best most desirable lens by Leica are not super sharp edge to edge. It's the rendering and smoothness back to front that sets them apart. Then again, I loved their ccd cameras at base ISO, just like I liked the micro contrast of a DPx sigma fovean.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
  12. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    First of all thx all of you for your time you spend to help me.

    I attach one pic from DOF.
    αρχείο λήψης.

    So i focus at 3 metres and f/8 with a 12mm lens. When i do this i will have a picture in focus from 2.1 mm in front of where i focused to infinity. Am i right ??
    Hyperfocal distance what's mean here ? i am comfused about this..
  13. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Hi, according to the picture, your subject is at 3m, but you would focus at 1.21m, and everything from 0.9 -> Infinity would be in focus (for reasonable print size).

  14. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    OK, on the right side of the vertical black dividing line you are being presented with information about 2 different focussing options. The first option is what happens when you focus on the actual subject at 3 metres distance. The second option is what happens if you focus at the hyperfocal distance. It's a choice you make. The hyperfocal distance data has nothing to do with what happens if you focus on the subject at 3 metres. The data relating to depth of field if you focus on the subject has nothing to do with what happens if you focus at the hyperfocal distance. They're 2 completely different situations.

    So, what it boils down to in the example you've provided is this:

    1- you can focus on the subject at 3 metres and everything from 0.86 metres (2.1 metres in front of the subject) all the way back to infinity will look acceptably sharp.

    2- you can focus at the hyperfocal distance of 1.21 metres and everything from 0.6 metres back to infinity will look acceptably sharp.

    Your choice. Either way in this case everything back to infinity will look acceptably sharp. The difference between the 2 options in this case is what happens in front of the subject.

    Now what isn't clear here are some general rules about the relationship between hyperfocal distance and subject distance. There are 3 possibilities which are the subject can be further away than the hyperfocal distance as in your example, precisely at the hyperfocal distance, or closer than the hyperfocal distance. It makes a difference to how the depth of field will work.

    Let's get the easy one out of the way first: the subject is precisely at the hyperfocal distance. In that case there's absolutely no difference between focussing on the subject or focussing at the hyperfocal distance and depth of field will be precisely the same in each case.

    Next, if the subject is further away than the hyperfocal distance as in your example you can see from the calculator's results that if you focus on the subject the depth of field will extend all the way back to infinity, and it extends to infinity if you focus at the hyperfocal distance. What that means is that if the subject is at the hyperfocal distance or further away you can't blur the background behind the subject because everything behind the subject is going to look acceptably sharp no matter how far it is away. The only place you will notice a difference in depth of field is in front of the subject and you will get a bit more depth of field in front of the subject if you focus at the hyperfocal distance.

    Now if the subject is closer than the hyperfocal distance things will be different. If you focus on the subject you will get a bit more depth of field in front of the subject and less behind the subject because things will no longer be acceptably sharp all the way back to infinity if you focus at the hyperfocal distance. The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which you can have acceptable sharpness all the way back to infinity. How far back acceptable sharpness will extend if you focus on the subject, and how far forward it will extend in front of the subject, is going to depend on how much closer the subject is to you than the hyperfocal distance. If the subject is a lot closer than the hyperfocal distance then you'll start to see out of focus backgrounds provided the background is far enough behind the subject and what's "far enough" depends on the aperture you choose. You'll also get a smaller out of focus zone in front of the subject.

    And the big lesson to take from that is that you want your subject closer than the hyperfocal distance if you want to get a blurred background and there are 2 things you can do in order to get the subject closer than the hyperfocal distance. The first and most obvious is to move in closer but you may not be able to get in close enough for that in some cases. In your example, for instance, you'd have to get closer than 1.21 metres to the subject and even then you may not be able to get the background to blur if the background is close to the subject. The other thing you can do is to use a wider aperture. Opening the lens up not only reduces the depth of field but it also moves the hyperfocal distance back and that means it increases the distance the subject is in front of they hyperfocal distance even if you don't move closer.

    So that should give you a better idea of what hyperfocal distance is useful for. It tells you what the minimum distance is if you want everything in focus back to infinity, and comparing the hyperfocal distance to the subject distance gives you useful information on how hard it's going to be to isolate the subject from the background by putting the background out of focus.
  15. PantelisMor

    PantelisMor Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 14, 2013
    Thx alot all of you. David A i think you were very detailed. I think now i have to pratcice...... i have one question about how many of you use DOF calc in the field ? do you use or you take pictures with experience ??

    Sorry for my bad english...
  16. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Doing landscape in the field, I tend to focus on the subject and to use f/5.6 or f/8 if there's enough light. Ive never ended up thinking I didn't have enough depth of field for what I was shooting.

    It often comes down to some simple facts. One is that the most distant thing in your viewfinder is often a lot closer than infinity, for example there could be a hill behind the subject. Another is that you may be interested in a subject with nothing but sky behind it. Alternatively, if what you're interested in is really a long way away so that it does count as being at infinity, you're often not interested in what's in the immediate foreground. In practice you simply don't need maximum depth of field a lot of the time and micro four thirds gives you a lot of depth of field at smaller apertures. When you do want maximum depth of field, f/8 or f/11 will usually suffice, at least in my experience.

    You can read about the old landscape photographers like Ansel Adams needing to use f/64 to get enough depth of field for their shots but you have to realise that they were using view cameras with 8" x 10" negatives. People talk about the shallow depth of field of full frame cameras but that's a negative size of only 36mm x 24 mm, less than 1.5" x 1", and you need to double the focal length to get the same field of view on a full frame camera as you do on a micro four thirds camera. A normal focal length lens on an 8" x 10" camera is probably around 300mm in focal length and the shallowness of the depth of field makes full frame look like it's got depth of field to spare. All of the mention of really small apertures that you see in a lot of discussion of landscape photography relates to larger formats than micro four thirds, often much larger formats. With micro four thirds you rarely have to stop down below f/8, which is equivalent in depth of field to f/16 on a full frame camera using a lens with equivalent field of view, and to f/64 or smaller if you were using one of Ansel Adams' view cameras. Basically depth of field is rarely an issue for us if we shoot at f/5.6 or f/8. Our depth of field problems come at the other end when we're trying to get shallow depth of field in order to isolate a subject from the background.

    So, worry less about depth of field and shoot at f/5.6 or f/8 when you want to get deep depth of field. Worry more about your framing and composition, and the light. Those things are going to have a much bigger impact on your results than worrying about depth of field will have.
  17. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Depending whats in the horizon or foreground, I can't imagine what in m43s would need to be shot at f8 or smaller f stop. I'd keep it at f5.6 max if highest level of iq.
  18. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Real Name:
    I've not done real controlled testing, but from playing around diffraction at f8 is so negligible as to not be an issue, but at f11 it can sometimes just be starting to have an impact.