Tutorials & Guides

Scale/Zone Focusing – A Tutorial

vito b scale focus

Scale/Zone focusing is a very simple method of getting sharp photos without relying on auto focus or any viewfinder-based manual focus aid such as a rangefinder. It’s a method of focusing your camera before the camera is even pointed in the right direction. This has the distinct advantage of dramatically increasing the speed at which you can take the photo once the camera has been pointed in the right direction.

Many compact cameras from the middle part of the 20th century were completely reliant on this method of focusing, so to illustrate how to zone focus I shall reference my trusty Vito B, my favourite compact camera from this period!

Firstly, lets take a look at the camera’s controls, the following should be fairly familiar:

Voigtlander Vito B

This scale will also no doubt be familiar, but if you don’t know what it’s for or why it is there, you are in the right place!

Voigtlander Vito B

Here we can see that we have the aperture set to f/8. We can also see that the camera is set to focus at 2 metres.

Voigtlander Vito B

With the aperture set to f/8, we refer to our depth of field scale and the little red numbers. Where the little red 8 numbers line up with the distances on the focus scale, this gives us a ‘zone’ of what will be in focus when set to f/8. In this case we can see that at f/8 with the camera focus set at 2m, we have everything between just less than 1.6m and 3m … We can see an illustration our Depth of Field!

Voigtlander Vito B

With this knowledge, a basic concept of distance and an understanding of the “sunny 16 rule” there is no reason you can’t go out shooting with a wonderfully simple camera like a Vito B completely unaided.

Cheers for reading

Hamish

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