Saturday, February 25, 2017

Auto Focus and the Crazy Temptation to Be Lazy with Film and Video

Focus tracking is becoming more sophisticated every year. Nikon and Canon both have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have good focus tracking, but this is an area where Canon excels. I still prefer Nikon for things like landscapes, but if you are in the sports photography/video racket, or thinking about going into it, I would definitely go with Canon if you need focus tracking for fast movement. The fast auto focus on both of these cameras has made things like rack focusing on a run and gun much easier; especially, when you're a one-man band.

However, you must still be careful. These functions are great, but relying on your camera to make all your focusing decisions can still be tricky. I have had some slightly fuzzy shots from the Canon's auto focus at work. These technologies work amazingly well, but they still aren't perfect. I would still recommend taking the time to do a manual focus on video shoots just to be on the safe side. You don't want to totally rely on your camera for focus out in the field, and then realize that it let you down when you review the footage in post.

For those of you who don't generally do this, or are new to it, select your talents eyes with the focus point in live view, and enlarge that point with the magnification button. Make sure that your talent's eyes are sharp, and then go back to your normal view. If you have a production camera with a built-in zoom lens, or a really expensive T-stop cinema lens, you can generally zoom into the eyes, focus, and then zoom back out without losing the focus. WARNING: Don't try to zoom in and focus and then zoom back out with a cheap zoom lens. You will generally lose the focus whenever you zoom back out. With these lenses use the method that I described for live view.

Feel free to share if you have any horror stories with this.