I used to use manual-focus lenses (including a zoom) that had detailed DOF scales on them. It was easy as pie to preset the DOF. I'm very disappointed that my new, autofocus lenses (Nikkors) offer much less information about the DOF, thus making it harder to preset it. I can use the DOF preview, but I miss the thrill of getting to set the lens so that everything looks out of focus, and then receiving slides that are sharp front to back. Does anybody else here miss that?
Not really. The DOF scales on lenses were designed around film available 50 years ago, film that has low accuity (0.03 mm resolution, or 22 line pairs/mm at 50% MTF, roughly equal to the accuity of Tri-X film; modern slide films double that resolution, and TMX quadruples it). Modern films are much better than that, and enlargments have increased in size a great deal, which makes the DOF scales on 35mm lenses much too wide (or you must compensate by narrowing the indicated "region of sharp image' by about half to give what we now consider a 'sharp' image).
for more information.
I really wish that they'd update those scales and put them (in detail) on modern lenses. Presetting the DOF was one of my favorite things about 35mm photography (I could do it with my 4x5, but haven't needed to). It was like magic how fuzzy turned sharp.
Yes, f/22 is there, but I loved being able to say, "I want this rock and that tree to be in focus, and everything beyond them out of focus," and then setting it up in a matter of moments. I enjoyed that level of control. I could do that kind of thing with 4x5, but it's not as quick and easy. Maybe I'll put a DOF scale on my 4x5 and see whether or not I feel the same thrill.
Do-it-yourself DOF scales:
A knob-style DOF scale system:
A very nice survey of current DOF systems:
A printable DOF scale customized to your exact requirements:
And lastly, a plug for a bit of software I wrote, if you have a PocketPC and you are willing to buy SprintDB Pro ($20), what I call The Photographers Assistant, does DOF calculations, among many other things:
In addition to b.e.Wilson's program you can also go to to:
and you can find many programs which will calculate DOF for you. That if you own a palm device...
I appreciate the links. The one that b.e.wilson recommended, http://www.largeformatphotography.info/dofknob, is the one that I was thinking of.
Some time ago I downloaded VadeMecum ( http://www.bobwheeler.com/photo/Software/software.html ) for my PDA. I haven't used the software, though, and I don't think that I will. This isn't to say that these programs aren't useful; when I'm photographing I, personally, want to photograph, not play around with another computer (I use a computer way too much, already). I might use one of these programs for a limited time to become further acclimated to the DOF of LF.