A1 manual focus/IAF button technique at DVinfo.net

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Old March 21st, 2008, 08:39 PM   #1
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A1 manual focus/IAF button technique

I'm wondering about best techniques for focusing on the fly.

I'm still struggling with this. With one hand on the monopod, that leaves the one hand free for all adjustments.

I'm finding I'm relying more on the focus ring and using the IAF button far less as with my hand on the ring, I have to move it too unnaturally get to that button.

But in situations where you're trying to capture bits of conversation or action in various parts of a large room in a documentary style setting there are always a few seconds lost adjusting the ring. (or at least for me as I tend to pull it out of focus a bit more before I move into the correct position)

I'm thinking I may need to rethink my approach. I have a tendency to want it perfectly sharp - fine when you have time to set something up proper, not so good when you're on the fly.

Wondering if anyone has hints, tips or approaches to how they deal with this.

So far I've stayed away from Autofocus almost entirely (in fear of the dreaded focus hunting footage) but I'm not sure if this is too strict at the expense of getting the shot in unpredictable situations.

Or should I just retrain to have one trigger finger ready on the IAF button at all times.

any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Trish
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Old March 21st, 2008, 10:09 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trish Kerr View Post
So far I've stayed away from Autofocus almost entirely (in fear of the dreaded focus hunting footage) but I'm not sure if this is too strict at the expense of getting the shot in unpredictable situations.

Trish
Trish, I did a day out with an extremely pro camera guy who used my A1, he was manual for everything but anything instant/up close/handheld he went autofocus without blinking an eye.

Cheers.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 10:46 PM   #3
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Trish,

Are you using a wide focal length? Or are you zommed in a bit?
How far are you from the subjects?
Are you a lefty?
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Old March 21st, 2008, 11:00 PM   #4
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Trish, I feel your pain, I too am manual all the way, but for those quick shots its tough to quickly get HD for sure in focus. I have been trying to train my finger to find that IAF button but its kinda in a weird place. One solution I was thinking about was adding something to the button so it is more apparent to my fumbling hand.

It would be cool if the AIF button was on the manual focus ring.
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Old March 21st, 2008, 11:29 PM   #5
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Just remember the IAF button is just above the shutter wheel, which obviously has a distinct feel. After studying & getting used to all the different textures & locations of the buttons, etc., I can pretty much locate all blindfolded quickly. Pretty much I said :)
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 05:14 AM   #6
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Same problem too when using with my fig rig but worse: it needs two hands.
I don't understand why Cannon dropped push autofocus via a lanc controller on the A1.
My XL1 and Sony A1E did it.
:-(
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:07 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Richard Gooderick View Post
I don't understand why Cannon dropped push autofocus via a lanc controller on the A1.
:-(

I thought the ZR200 Lanc controller worked with the A1 - it's got push AF
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 07:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Trish Kerr View Post

But in situations where you're trying to capture bits of conversation or action in various parts of a large room in a documentary style setting there are always a few seconds lost adjusting the ring. (or at least for me as I tend to pull it out of focus a bit more before I move into the correct position)
Join the club. I'm practising picking it up and then finding the IAF button without looking in the hope I'll develop a better motor memory eventually. (Mind you that technique hasn't worked so far in finding the air con controls on my Seat Alhambra without looking so I'm not too confident).

If you go the wrong way first more often than not you could always try reversing the direction of the focusing ring.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 08:26 AM   #9
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I use a LANC controller which has foucus controls. Since this camera allows a manual overide in AUTO, I have never had a problem tweaking any slightly off focus with my VARIZOOM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Gooderick View Post
Same problem too when using with my fig rig but worse: it needs two hands.
I don't understand why Cannon dropped push autofocus via a lanc controller on the A1.
My XL1 and Sony A1E did it.
:-(
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 08:38 AM   #10
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Trish, I did a day out with an extremely pro camera guy who used my A1, he was manual for everything but anything instant/up close/handheld he went autofocus without blinking an eye.

Cheers.
So in this case, the method is flip between the manual focus ring and right to full auto focus. (no mention of the IAF button) This seems like a viable option. Does anyone else use this method?? Or go autofocus all the way in certain event situations?

Sounds like most people are sticking to manual and are utilizing the IAF button far more than I've been. At least the subject would gracefully come into focus with this approach - I'd better start working harder at locating it blind. The button would have been great on the ring indeed!

Colin
I am going to try practicing turning the ring opposite.

Shiv
Fully zoomed out it's not as much of a problem focusing - it's more if you are quicky zooming in to a med or more shot from say 5-10 feet away.

Fig rig - is the ZR200 the best lanc control as of now? I didn't think any of them worked on the IAF button.

thanks for all the tips and comments so far everyone. Very much appreciated. I'm finding the more I film, the more picky I get. : ) Originally it was enough just to hold it straight.

trish
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 10:31 AM   #11
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Lou,
which Varizoom do you use?

I have never used a zoom control, but intuitively they seem they would work well for ZOOMING in and out...

However, I just haven't convinced myself that very fine gradations in focus, especially HD could be done using a LANC... would you please elaborate?

(there just seems to be something so organic about grabbing a lens and smooth focusing - can you do this with a LANC - that smooth slow or ramp focus?)

Thanks Lou,
Lonnie
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 02:52 PM   #12
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Lonnie,

I am using the VZ STEALTH attached to my DV RIG. I can assure you that it works like a charm.


We are lucky to have a camera that allows the AF to be overidden manually. All I do is slightly tap the focus control if I am a "little" out of focus and I can get a PERFECT focus. When using the peaking and magnifier it really helps....but I only use the peaking feature.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 03:06 PM   #13
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forgive if this is a dumb question - haven't used a controller yet - do you keep the camera on manual focus when the lanc is attached or does it disable all related functions anyway once connected?

Trish
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 03:40 PM   #14
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Hi Trish

You can keep the camera set up just as you like it, the lanc doesn't interefere with existing settings, it is just used in addition. You can go back to using the on camera controls even with the lanc attached. The best thing with a lanc is that you don't get a judder when pressing the record button, the way you often do if you press the on-board record button with the camera on a tripod. My ultra-cheap lanc stopped working (after five years) and I can see immediately which shots were taken after it stopped working. Now I have to decide if I get another cheap one, or dig out some spare cash for a more sophisticated one.
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Last edited by Annie Haycock; March 22nd, 2008 at 05:02 PM.
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 05:52 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Trish Kerr View Post
Fully zoomed out it's not as much of a problem focusing
Right, that's was I was getting at :).

I think you should practice with both auto as well as manual. Most conditions indoors will allow manual focus to work just fine especially when wide or medium (I've found). It's when the iris is stopped down due to bright light that the auto focus has a hard time.


Besides, you can still use the IAF button when autofocus is on. So you get the best of both worlds.
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