How to Calculate Working Distance

Written by ryan menezes
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How to Calculate Working Distance
Different lenses work with different working distances. (digital camera 6 image by Harvey Hudson from Fotolia.com)

In photography, the working distance measures the distance between your lens and the object you're photographing. You often can't choose your working distance, and you choose a lens that best suits your set working distance. If you must use a lens with a particular focal length; however, you can calculate the ideal working distance for focusing on your subject.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Calculator
  • Camera specifications

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Add the subject's width to your charge-coupled device chip's width, which your camera specifications should list. For instance, if you're photographing an object that's 20 inches wide, and your CCD chip is 0.35 inches:

    20 + 0.35 = 20.35

  2. 2

    Multiply your answer by the width's focal length. For instance, if the focal length is 0.8 inches:

    20.35 * 0.8 = 16.28

  3. 3

    Divide the answer by the CCD chip's width.

    16.28 / 0.35 = 46.5 inches = 3 feet 10.5 inches

    This answer's your working distance.

Tips and warnings

  • This calculation uses your width's focal length, the subject's width and the CCD chip's width. Alternatively, use the height's focal length, the subject's height and the chip's height.

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