When discussing landscape photography at my photography workshops and seminars and the subject of depth of field comes up, often a participant will ask if I use a depth-of-field or hyperfocal length table or app to determine what will be in focus within the scene. My answer to them is no. It’s not because they aren’t useful or accurate, as most work quite well. My reason is that they slow me down in getting my shots and time is often in short supply when photographing at sunrise or sunset. Over many years of photography I’ve developed a methodology that works for me and that’s what I use. However, I recently learned about an innovative new app that has changed my thinking a bit.
The OptimumCS-Pro app is different from traditional depth-of-field and hyperfocal distance apps or tables. The name, OptimumCS–Pro, is short for Optimum Camera Setting tool, and that really is more of what this app does – it determines the aperture that will give the sharpest possible image based on the amount of depth-of-field that the photographer wants in the scene. Unlike traditional depth-of-field and hyperfocal distance apps or tables, this app takes into account the combined effect of defocus blur and diffraction when determining what aperture to use to get the sharpest image possible. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone if you don’t know what defocus blur and diffraction are; many photographers don’t. However, you don’t have to know anything about them when you use the app as it determines them for you, just that they’re two very important factors that determine how sharp an image will be.
So how does the OptimumCS-Pro app work? The photographer firsts decides which focal length lens they’re going to use and then looks at the scene that they want to photograph. They then determine what they want in the foreground and background to be in focus. Next they choose the focal length of the lens on the app’s “Focal Length” scale and set the foreground and background distances on the app’s “Distance” scale. The app then instantly determines the aperture to use to get the sharpest possible image and the focus distance. For example, you’re using a 20mm lens and want the foreground 0.6m in front of you all the way to infinity in focus. So you make those setting on the OptimumCS-Pro app and it tells you to use f16 and set your focus distance to 1.25m. (This example is shown on photo OptimumCSP 1) That’s all there is to it. The app is very quick, easy to use and gives excellent results.
OptimumCS-Pro has an uncluttered interface and configurable options to make the interface meet individual photographer’s preferences. There are user-definable focal length presets to allow quick focal length selection. Photographers can choose from three different distance scales: S1 emphasizes the far distances and is useful for work with long focal lengths; S2 is a general purpose scale; and S3 emphasizes the near distances and is most useful when using wide-angle lenses and when you want to include close foreground subjects. In addition, the app can be used with tilt-shift lenses and large format view cameras. To find out more about the OptimumCS-Pro app you can check out its website at www.georgedouvos.com.
The OptimumCS-Pro app is currently only available for Apple iOS devices, specifically the iPhone, but it also works on an iPad. However, the developer is hoping to produce a version for Android devices in the future. You can download the OptimumCS-Pro app from the iTunes App Store. At a cost of $6.99 it isn’t the cheapest app out there (as far as apps go), but its unique features and ease of use make it worth checking out.