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Old May 18th, 2006, 04:33 AM   #1
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focusing with canon manual lens??

okay i know this is probably a stupid question. anyways, what is the big advantages of the manual canon lens?

mainly want to know if in "real" films, do they always focus manually? if so, does the manual lens help focus faster and better? if a character is walking towards the camera i always assumed the cameraman would manually focus as they moved, is this true? Just seems real hard to manually focus as a character moves.

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Old May 19th, 2006, 04:30 AM   #2
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In real (reel) film they have a focus puller. a separate person who handles focusing. Also professional (e.g., broadcast) video by and large uses manual focus. In film or staged shoots you can practice the moves and focus changes before the shot and then make several takes to be sure you get it right.

Manual focus lenses are immune from the focus hunting and sudden changes of focus (e.g., when something moves through the focus zone at a different distance) that often plague auto focus systems. and focus changes can be made more rapidly. Also, focus can be shifted from foreground to background as an intended effect, and can be snapped precisely between two distances.

Manual focusing takes practice, especially if trying to track a moving subject while managing image framing, exposure, etc. But profesionals do practice to perfect their art and get quite good at it. Unintentionally out of focus images are mainly reserved for Joe and Jane Six-Pack's work shown to their bored friends.

Auto everything in camcorders is an accommodation for consumers who do not have the time or inclination to learn to use manual controls effectively. And it works surprisingly well in most instances.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 06:40 AM   #3
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Don is right ... practice. As for the lazy white lens on the XL, you will want to avoid the autofocus completely. All 3 of my lenses have tape on the AF/M switch to keep them permanently on manual. It's a bunch easier to focus with the new viewfinder on the XL2, but for any shot worth keeping you always want to rack in focus and pull back. Even the push af button is useless unless you are in tight completing your focus setting.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 02:47 PM   #4
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okay so, basically manual is best. which i do understand. what i have been doing is, zooming in to the subject and focusing and then zooming out, then rolling film. the part about moving subjects and keeping them in focus is the hard part for me. i am getting a bit better i think. another thing i am trying to grasp is the apture and how it effects the distance things are in focus. like for example. i have a person say about 3 feet away. i focus on them. the light is somewhat low so i open the apeture up more which in turn makes things further away not in focus. so then i have this problem between light, and focus. if all that made sense...can you give me an idea to what i should do?

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Old May 19th, 2006, 04:44 PM   #5
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Smaller aperture (higher number f-stop) means more depth of field - a fact of optics. Add more light, increase gain, or use a slower shutter to allow smaller aperture if you need more depth of field. But there are trade-offs no matter which solution you take.

There are past threads here on the issues of depth of field (focus) aperture, light levls, etc. Search on depth of field here and and and Google it. Also, checking out a book on basic photography, it should be covered there in some depth far better than I could type it here.
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Old May 19th, 2006, 04:57 PM   #6
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To keep people in focus as they move toward/away from the cam, you will actually need another human being to operate the focus ring, while you/the cameraman operates the camera (pan/tilt, etc.). It's not all meant to be done by one person.
There are special (and expensive) rigs that integrate with the focus ring, and are used to turn it with a series of gears--this is called a follow focus rig.

On the cheap, you can simply have someone else literally grasp the focus ring (lightly, you don't want them interfering the the cameraman's operation of the camera) and turn it as needed. With a manual lens, the focus ring has markings that tell you at what distanced it's focused, however it's turned (50ft, 20 ft, etc.). You will have to measure your subject distances from the camera, from the start of the subject's movement 'til the end. For instance, let's say you have a subject 20 feet away from the camera, and he walks right up to the camera, say, two feet away. So you'll have to either just have your focus puller memorize those distances, and turn the focus wheel from the 20ft mark to the 2 ft mark, or actually take some sort of erasable marker, and mark on the lens itself, which is the starting focus point, and which the end ( you might use a "1" and "2" mark, if they'll fit on there. The process is the same no matter how many different distances there are from the lens. Now, one thing, your focus puller will have to do is learn to turn the focus ring AS the person is moving from one mark to another, and pretty much time the speed of the subject's movement to the turning of the focus ring.

Now as for the iris/low light thing--either appreciate the shallow depth of field (often much sought after in video), or start using pro lighting techniques and closing down the iris to gain more depth of field. This would also help your focus issues. . .if you really lit the hell out of your scenes, you could shoot at some crazy fstops like f8, f11, f16.
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