In the “good old days”, long before AF system would allow to track people and animals while focusing, photographers figured that physics could do the job for them.
Kodak created the first camera with a rangefinder in 1916, long before the first Leica. The rangefinder is a small eyeglass that allows people to find the distance (actually the range because it’s not accurate enough to give an actual distance).
Leica made the rangefinder famous by integrating it in their Leica II camera in 1932, and Contax made the first rangefinder that was in the center of the viewfinder.
- It was not always accurate.
- At the beginning, it would only work with the 50mm lens on the Leica II and Zeiss Contax I.
- It was notoriously wrong when used with the Leica 90 f/4 Elmar. Leica had to make optical magnifiers for it and the 135mm.
So photographers like Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt didn’t really bother with focusing their images. They usually dialed in the hyperfocal, then took photos.
According to Wikipedia:
The hyperfocal distance is the closest distance at which a lens can be focused while keeping objects at infinity acceptably sharp. When the lens is focused at this distance, all objects at distances from half of the hyperfocal distance out to infinity will be acceptably sharp.
To find the hyperfocal, there are online calculators like: http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html.
On the Fujis, you don’t need it, you can set it with the viewfinder.
- Use a Fuji XF or a Fuji XC lens.
- Press Menu > 2nd item: AF/MF Settings > scroll down to page 2 of 2.
- In the depth of field scale to film format basis which is used to assess the depth of field for prints.
- Set the front SCM rotary switch to M for manual focus.
- Select the aperture.
- Turn the focus ring (or the dial for the 27mm pancake lens) until the right side of the blue depth of field bar (at the bottom of the viewfinder) reaches the infinity at the right end of the focus scale in the viewfinder.
- Turn the focus ring (or the dial for the 27mm pancake lens) toward the left. The goal is to move the distance mark (at the bottom of the viewfinder) as far left as possible, while the right side of the blue bar still touches the infinity on the right.
Then, there is no need to use the AF. Everything within that range (until infinity) will be in focus.
BTW, Ricoh with their GR cameras, implemented what they call: snap focus.
- A dedicated focus mode that allows you to shoot using one of six predefined focus distances (1 m, 1,5 m, 2 m, 2,5 m, 5 m or Infinity)
- Most people use it with a 2m/6½ft or 2½m/8ft distance. Which at f/8 gives them the hyperfocal distance and everything in focus between 1½m/5ft to infinity.