By moving objects around the camera I can see that they get very blurry at 10cm and less sharp at 3-4m away from the camera but how can I measure the exact range of focus? If I check the sharpness of document at different distances - when it's too close it's blurry but when it's far it's not sharp probably due to the limited resolution.

(Actually this webcam is manual focus so basically I want to calibrate it).

I only know the horizontal view angle (60 degrees) and can guess the sensor size (1/2.3-1/4.5").

I am also curious to know whether it's possible to measure focal length or


I can't compute the focus range and the DOF as I don't know the focal length and the f-number. My question is how can I empirically estimate the sharpest focus length in the least subjective way (I can take several pictures but analyzing them depends on my visual acuity).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your question contains its own answer. Everything depends on the amount of blur your accept, and since to figure out the parameters for the math you have to take measurements, you can instead take several shots at different distances and see which is the best compromise for your use, this will also take in account other factors such as lens resolution, distortion, vignetting, etc... \$\endgroup\$
    – xenoid
    Apr 1, 2021 at 14:58

2 Answers 2


The concept of depth of field is really just an illusion, albeit a rather persistent one. Only a single distance will be at sharpest focus. What we call depth of field are the areas on either side of the sharpest focus that are blurred so insignificantly that we still see them as sharp. Please note that depth-of-field will vary based upon a change to any of the following factors: focal length, aperture, magnification/display size, viewing distance, etc.

There's only one distance that is in sharpest focus. Everything in front of or behind that distance is blurry. The further we move away from the focus distance, the blurrier things get. The questions become: "How blurry is it? Is that within our acceptable limit? How far from the focus distance do things become unacceptably blurry?"

What we call depth of field (DoF) is the range of distances in front of and behind the point of focus that are acceptably blurry so that to our eyes things still look like they are in focus.

The amount of depth of field depends on two things: total magnification and aperture. Total magnification includes the following factors: focal length, subject/focus distance, enlargement ratio (which is determined by both sensor size and display size), and viewing distance. The visual acuity of the viewer also contributes to what is acceptably sharp enough to appear in focus instead of blurry.

The distribution of the depth of field in front of and behind the focus distance depends on several factors, primarily focal length and focus distance.

The ratio of any given lens changes as the focus distance is changed. Most lenses approach 1:1 at the minimum focus distance. As the focus distance is increased the rear depth of field increases faster than the front depth of field. There is one focus distance at which the ratio will be 1:2, or one-third in front and two-thirds behind the point of focus.

At short focus distances the ratio approaches 1:1. A true macro lens that can project a virtual image on the sensor or film that is the same size as the object for which it is projecting the image achieves a 1:1 ratio. Even lenses that can not achieve macro focus will demonstrate a ratio very near to 1:1 at their minimum focus distance.

At longer focus distances the rear of the depth of field reaches all the way to infinity and thus the ratio between front and rear DoF approaches 1:∞. The shortest focus distance at which the rear DoF reaches infinity is called the hyperfocal distance. The near depth of field will very closely approach one half the focus distance. That is, the nearest edge of the DoF will be halfway between the camera and the focus distance.

For why this is the case, please see:

Why did manufacturers stop including DOF scales on lenses?
Is there a 'rule of thumb' that I can use to estimate depth of field while shooting?
How do you determine the acceptable Circle of Confusion for a particular photo?
Find hyperfocal distance for HD (1920x1080) resolution?
Why I am getting different values for depth of field from calculators vs in-camera DoF preview?
As well as this answer to Simple quick DoF estimate method for prime lens

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for these clarifications. Based on given parameters of a lens I understand now netter the DOF concept. However without any data what can I do to determine the sharpest focus length when my eyes are not trained and my visual acuity is not great? \$\endgroup\$
    – OMGsh
    Apr 1, 2021 at 16:39

The exact range of focus is 0. The range is deeper if you allow for some blur, the depth increasing with the amount of acceptable blur. This is called depth of field and the equations can be found on Wikipedia.


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