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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old June 18th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #1
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Zooming in to focus... can I get a confirmation?

Hey gang, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I am just now starting to go full manual focus for my shots. One thing I've read somewhere is that to get the most accurate focus, simply zoom all the way in to the subject that should be in focus, set your focus, then zoom out to the zoom level you want to record at, and your focus should be spot on. Does this ALWAYS work?

I have an A1 and sometimes if I am shooting a full-length portrait type shot, I'll try that technique and zoom all the way in to the subject's eye and set focus on that, then zoom out wide to fill the frame with the full body of the standing subject. It's so hard to tell on the tiny LCD, but sometimes it looks like the focus changes.

So what I am really posting this for, is to get a confirmation that my technique is correct for setting focus. That it is perfectly acceptable to zoom all the way in to the subject, set the focus, and zoom out to ANY level for recording, and that area I set focus on at full zoom will still be in focus... correct?

Thanks for your help and guidance!
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Old June 18th, 2008, 05:11 PM   #2
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That is correct, just make sure that the camera is in manual focus when you do that, when you zoom all the way in, you can also hit the magnify button so that it is easier to make sure that it is focus before you pull out.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 05:13 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the confirmation Khoi...

One other question...

If I zoom in to set focus... then zoom out... can I still then adjust my aperture? Or would adjusting your aperture (exposure) after setting focus shift the focus? Thanks!
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Old June 18th, 2008, 05:19 PM   #4
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Yeah you can adjust your aperture and it won't affect your focus.
One thing that helps if you are going with manual focus is to adjust your lcd sharpness to max and turn on your peaking, you will be able to tell quickly if you are in focus or not.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #5
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Hey Khoi... thank you so much for your help.

Do you happen to know if the LCD is better for setting focus or if the Viewfinder is preferred? And also, do a lot of you leave peaking enabled as you shoot? I would think it would be near impossible to focus accurately using either the LCD or viewfinder when the action is quick or you have moving subjects, that is, without peaking on.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 06:02 PM   #6
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Hi,
i also had some problems with the manual focus on my A1. The LCD and the viewfinder are really bad, took me a lot of time to get use to them.

I'm not sure about focusing on zoom, maybe it's my camera only but i'm not happy with the pictures i get with that technique. Did a lot of that with Z1 and it always worked.

As for my way of doing things... i have black&white ON function setup on the custom key and i often use that when i'm using manual focus i think it really helps. You get better contrast, which helps on the low quality LCD/viewfinder. Oh, and i don't like peaking ;-).

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Old June 18th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #7
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For me, LCD is easier, and I leave peaking on all the time, if the action is fast it is very hard to focus, I just have to guess how far they are from me and set the focus with the distance readout and try not to zoom in so much, or if I'm not zoom in at all then I put it back on auto focus, I also use auto focus when I have to zoom because A1 can not zoom and manual focus at the same time.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 08:32 PM   #8
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I use the viewfinder and find it sharp enough. There are times when the camera may be in a position where I can't get to the viewfinder, like up high on the tripod; so I tilt down the LCD, zoom in and use the magnifier and it works great. I rarely use the peaking, but there are situations where it might be useful.
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Old June 19th, 2008, 04:38 AM   #9
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I'm usually following a moving subject, either panning, zooming or sometimes both, so I use I.AF a lot of the time. I've been very impressed with how reliable it is, even in situations where my old XM1 would have been confused; for example, when nearby overhanging branches stray into the edges of the frame when the real subject is in the distance. It's not psychic, of course, and has all the same basic features of any AF system, but it's less inclined to be "put off" than other AF systems I have worked with.

When I do use manual, I zoom in all the way and then back just a fraction. It's a habit I got into many years ago while using a Panasonic S-VHS camera that went out-of-focus at the very end of the zoom range. I find the magnification button very useful. I'm not so sure about the peaking function - I don't always find it helpful and I've never tried leaving it on when shooting.

A lot of the time, my subjects are a fair distance away (typically >100m). If AF is going to struggle, I sometimes use a slightly wider zoom than I otherwise might, set the focus to infinity and set the ND filter to give an apperture of f4 or higher (narrower). With these settings, the depth of field is such that everything I'm interested in will be in focus.
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Old June 19th, 2008, 07:22 AM   #10
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Thanks for the great responses guys. For those of you who say you don't use the peaking function... is there any particular reason? Is it just you feel you don't need it... or do you actually believe it is counter-productive?
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Old June 21st, 2008, 12:59 PM   #11
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I'm actually the opposite - I basically leave peaking on all the time because otherwise the image looks so soft on the LCD that I can't see focus clearly. With it on, and zooming in first as you've described, I've never had a problem nailing focus using the LCD alone.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 01:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan Donn View Post
I'm actually the opposite - I basically leave peaking on all the time because otherwise the image looks so soft on the LCD that I can't see focus clearly. With it on, and zooming in first as you've described, I've never had a problem nailing focus using the LCD alone.
Ditto. I have gotten used to peaking... I definitely prefer it over the normal lcd display of the A1.

I have also gotten a good technique going where I have my index finger on the focus ring, my middle finger on the zoom ring, and my thumb on the temp auto focus button... If I am in a situation where I can't get a good focus with my index, I press the temp auto focus button with my thumb.

Peaking on the A1 is good, but I am kinda a fan of the peaking on my HDR-FX7... Sony made peaking on the FX7 really nice for visual confirmation of focus (these red line-thingys)... Comparatively, peaking on the Canon is a bit harder to see (maybe it would be better if the LCD were a tad bigger.)

I need to check the sharpness setting on my A1... Maybe that would make a good thing even better! :)

Last edited by Micky Hulse; June 25th, 2008 at 01:58 PM.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 04:12 PM   #13
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Learn to use the 2x mag button on the side of the camera...that's a much better way to get good focus. You can only use it to set focus before you record, however, it doesn't work while recording, but it will sharpen things up for you considerably...that zooming in thing doesn't hold focus with your best possible accuracy.
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Old June 27th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meryem Ersoz View Post
Learn to use the 2x mag button on the side of the camera...that's a much better way to get good focus. You can only use it to set focus before you record, however, it doesn't work while recording, but it will sharpen things up for you considerably...that zooming in thing doesn't hold focus with your best possible accuracy.
Hey, thanks for info.

Could you elaborate? What is diff between the two zooms? Zoom is zoom, right?

Thanks! :)
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Old June 27th, 2008, 11:10 AM   #15
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I'm not entirely sure what you are asking, but the 2x mag button magnifies the image that you have already set...it doesn't zoom anything. It just magnifies the image, so that you can see the pixels more clearly than the way that they originally appear on the small LCD. Does that make more sense?
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