How to never miss another shot with the Fujifilm X-E1: Zone focusing

How to never miss another shot with the Fujifilm X-E1: Zone focusing


This is a quick guide on how to set up your Fujifilm X-E1 for general street photography:
Amazingly easy with the 14mm, since all we have to do is switch to manual focus mode, and check the “zone of acceptable sharpness”, indicated on the DOF scale for the chosen aperture. This caused confusion because the digital indicator does not correspond to the markings on the 14mm and some of you emailed, wondering if you were reading the markings incorrectly. More after the break

Fujifilm X-E1 with 14mm, zone focus

For a given image format, depth of field is determined by three factors: the focal length of the lens, the aperture and the camera-to-subject distance.
On the Fujinon 14mm, at F16, when focused near the 1m mark, the markings on the lens barrel indicate an acceptable focus zone from infinity to approximately 0.5m. This covers quite a range and I found it to be a realistic estimation of what I consider “sharp enough”, your mileage may vary, since the acceptable circle of confusion varies relative to the amount of magnification of your image.
The digital DOF indicator shows a much shorter zone when focused near the 1m mark, from about 0.75m to approx 2.5m. (If you are super critical or make huge prints or projections, this might be the scale to go by) which corresponds roughly to the f8 on the lens barrel.

digital DOF scale on 14mm

When shooting with the 18mm at f5.6 for instance, I found the DOF indicator very conservative and in general assume when focused around the 3m mark to get everything from 2m to approx 5m in focus, the digital scale indicates about 1/2 of that. The only gripe when zone focusing on the 18mm is the lack of a focus lock, see the image below for my solution:)

It is very easy to accidentally turn the focus ring and ruin your capture, the rubber band holds the focusing ring in place. Not a problem on the 14mm, since we can check the focus setting right on the lens and don’t have to look at the LCD or through the EVF, which allows us to set focus BEFORE we lift the camera to frame the shot.

The way Fuji implemented manual focus, in addition to the small size and light weight, makes the Fujinon 14mm a real winner in practical shooting situations.

Fujifilm X-E1 with 18mm, zone focus

First impressions, part I review of the Fuji 14mm, click here

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6 thoughts on “How to never miss another shot with the Fujifilm X-E1: Zone focusing

  1. Tony

    Mike, thanks a lot for the zone focusing pic. I have a new XE1 and loving it. Its been a while since I shot manually and this is a great guide.

  2. dereck

    Ha! Nice solution. Pity for me that I s*ck at anything DIY. I would likely scar my lens and myself attempting that. I spell ‘Do it Yourself’, “VISA”!

  3. dereck

    I really appreciate this post. I am anxious to now do some street tests myself with my 18mm, but I have a silly question; where did you get that black rubber band to stop the focus barrel? I have looked around, but no luck. Any info you have would help – thanks!

  4. Cognoscenti

    Sometimes you will miss the moment anyway even with zone focusing due to the incomprehensible delay of the full shutter response when the aperture is stopped down. X100 is faster in this respect thanks to the leaf shutter.

    As street camera to capture face expressions which doesn’t last very long X-E1/X-Pro 1 is less ideal choice than X100. And X100 a lesser choice than a DSLR with their big flapping mirror (!) if it solely comes down to the full shutter response.

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