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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 August 3rd, 2008, 09:02 PM   #1
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Need Focus Help

I've had my A1 for a few months now and while I'm still an over all noob I've been navigating the camera pretty well. My film major friends are pretty much jerks and wont give me any focusing tips. I do fine getting the whole fram in focus but getting one figure on the other hand... I'm terrible.

Does anyone have any tips, tricks, and/or advice that they could pass on to me? Again anything is appreciated.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 09:20 PM   #2
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I assume you mean you can't get one subject in focus, say in the foreground, and everything else out of focus? If so, then you've hit the large depth of field issue which occurs with all small sensors. This is why people purchase gizmos like the Letus which allows them to use 35mm camera lenses and obtain the shallow depth of field which can give the selected focus you're after. If you have lots of light, you can zoom in (which reduces depth of field) and open the aperture as wide as possible (which reduces depth of field). You may need to use the built-in, and even external screw-on, ND filters to reduce the amount of light getting to the sensor for a properly exposed shot.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 09:21 PM   #3
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The quickest way to get a good focus is to zoom in 100% on your subject, focus, and then zoom out to your shot. As long as the camera doesn't change distance to the subject, it will remain in focus regardless of how you zoom in or out.

When using manual focus on the A1, you can use its focus assist to help you get that initial focus just by pressing a button. It's on the left, front side of the camera. I don't have the camera out right now so I don't remember exactly what it's called, but it can make focusing on the fly a lot easier without resorting to auto mode.

If you're trying to create DOF without a 35mm adapter, move the camera as far away from the subject as possible, then zoom in and focus on the subject. The background will be out of focus.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 10:18 PM   #4
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Thanks marcel, I've been trying that and it has been going ok all of my problems occur during movement, which I probably should've said earlier. Upon meeting with my colleagues I'm pretty sure I'm going to purchase one of the Letus adapters.
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Old August 4th, 2008, 09:06 AM   #5
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If your focus is changing when you move out, you may have the auto focus on.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 05:41 AM   #6
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Unless it's about keeping the subject in focus when they are moving around in space - or you are having to move the camera as well - which is harder

I've started to try and use that quick focus button more in those situations - before I was relying heavily on the ring - does anyone use the focus ring on the fly successfully?

trish
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Old August 7th, 2008, 06:15 AM   #7
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The User Guide recommends Normal Auto Focus with wide angle adapters because it only focuses TTL ( through the lens ) and disables the Infared sensor. It doesn't seem to "hunt" as much as the IAF.

I normally have it on manual focus. It's getting better with practice! the PEAK and MAGNIFY help a lot.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 07:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Patrick Murphy View Post
Upon meeting with my colleagues I'm pretty sure I'm going to purchase one of the Letus adapters.
Which will make it even harder for you to focus!
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Old August 7th, 2008, 10:13 AM   #9
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I've only had the camera for two weeks now, but I've not once used auto-focus. I'm forcing myself to use manual focus, even for run 'n gun, to get better and quicker at it. I've found the peaking and magnify functions to be very helpful. One nice thing (about the only nice thing) about a large DOF is that you can use manual focus in run 'n gun situations and not be totally screwed if you are just a hair off with it. I've also relied very heavily on the distance markers for the focus--I set mine to feet and I use those a lot when judging focus. I was formerly in construction and got really good at judging distances in feet. I also hit up Lowe's for a cheap $25 laser measuring tape which I can stick in my pocket. I use that at random times to double check my distances and help to hone my guessing skills. Of all the focus assist functions on the XHA1, I'd have to say my favorite is the distance meter and my next favorite is peaking.
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Old August 9th, 2008, 02:07 AM   #10
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The best way I have found to focus with the A1 when the auto focus is not doing it for me is to first frame my shot to how I want it, switch to manual focus, then quickly move the camera over so that the subject I want in focus is in the middle of the frame and then press the 'Push AF' button until subject is in focus, let go and move the camera back to it's original position and start filming. This works great for moving shots. The trick to this approach is being able to press the 'Push AF' button is without having to look - once you master that it works great. Or if you need to shift focus several times in one shot to focus on different subjects, just keep your finger on the 'Push AF' and press as needed (this works best if you have your focus speed set to max).

If this does not work for you I'd have to say the ultimate way to focus on the A1 is manual + peaking/magnify. I use both methods - just depends on the shot.
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