Home » Android » Set camera focus at controlled fixed distance on Android

Set camera focus at controlled fixed distance on Android

Posted by: admin June 15, 2020 Leave a comment


My device has only two focus modes, AUTO and FIXED (as per getSupportedFocusModes()).
I want to set my camera at a fixed focus distance of ‘x’ (x being whatever I like, or whatever I can get from the camera..). (I’m aware of setFocusMode(Camera.Parameters.FOCUS_MODE_FIXED), but this seems to be fixed only on the farthest possible setting..)

Can this be done? (Android version 4.2.2)

How to&Answers:

Not trying to completely answer the question here, just trying to give it some direction.
So, what you need here is a driver support for that kind of operation. Then at some point you’d ask the driver from your application to set a requested focus distance.

Another question is: “if anyone really needs that kind of functionality?”.

Android documentation says:

public static final String FOCUS_MODE_FIXED
Focus is fixed. The camera is always in this mode if the focus is not adjustable. If the camera has auto-focus, this mode can fix the focus, which is usually at hyperfocal distance. Applications should not call autoFocus(AutoFocusCallback) in this mode.

Lets see what hyperfocal distance is.

Hyperfocal distance
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In optics and photography, hyperfocal distance is a distance beyond which all objects can be brought into an “acceptable” focus. There are two commonly used definitions of hyperfocal distance, leading to values that differ only slightly:

Definition 1: 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.

Definition 2: The hyperfocal distance is the distance beyond which all objects are acceptably sharp, for a lens focused at infinity.

The distinction between the two meanings is rarely made, since they have almost identical values. The value computed according to the first definition exceeds that from the second by just one focal length.

As the hyperfocal distance is the focus distance giving the maximum depth of field, it is the most desirable distance to set the focus of a fixed-focus camera.

So the focus is not set on the farthest possible setting, but is set to have all visible objects to be acceptably sharp.

Returning to the question.
If you happen to be a developer of this particular camera’s firmware, you can add any needed IOCTLs to you driver. But then you still going to need to call them somehow. This can’t be achieved without adding additional functions into the Android OS, and further recompiling of Android itself and it’s underlying Linux kernel.
So it seems like you can’t achieve this goal, not from the user space at least.


One potential approach to achieve that fixed focus distance is to call autoFocus at the start of the camera life-cycle. Keep calling autoFocus sporatically until a condition is met. Once the condition is met, then instead of calling autoFocus, set a flag and call takePicture instead.

This is one solution that I have come to in order to get the desired effect that you might be looking to achieve.

So within my thread that is taking pictures continuously, the code looks something like this:

else //Focus is not needed anymore at this point
    if(myCamera != null)

Once the condition is met, needsFocus is set to true. At this point, the focus is fixed at the place that I want it to be at. Then it won’t change throughout the rest of the activities task. The condition for my case was the appearance of a particular object detected with the OpenCV library.


I might be wrong, but the way you phrase your question seems like coming from a classic DSLR lens perspective.

On an android mobile camera, you don’t actually have to worry that much of a lens focal distance, unless your mobile camera allows that (which does not seem to be the case, as you mention it just allows auto or fixed, instead of infinite, macro, continuous-video, etc).

You can just set local areas on the camera to focus and let the sdk do its work. If the object touched on the camera image is far or near it’s the sdk work to calculate accordingly and focus for you.

For an example, try this open-source camera project.