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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old March 1st, 2006, 10:52 AM   #1
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"Push Auto" Focus for A1U

Long time lurker, 1st time threader:

I've read about this issue a couple times and I've yet to hear a definititive answer:

Does the A1U have a "Push Auto" focus button?
If not, can you use the "assignable" button for this purpose?

thanks in advance.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 11:25 AM   #2
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No, there is no button on the camera to 'auto-focus,' but you can click the switch forward into 'auto focus' and then back, forcing it to, like a button might. I was hoping you could use the assignable to do this, but unless I missed it, no. I assigned the button to white balance.

Sort of lame.

However, I believe there is hope: I was reading on this forum last week about how certain wide/telephoto-start/stop recording 'remote' control devices like the ones from Manfrotto or others will allow an 'auto focus' to be triggered with a button.

I have to admit I breezed over it thinking I would go back and find it, so maybe this thread will unearth the info for us.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 11:57 PM   #3
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Though the A1U does not have a one-button focus, the spot focus feature does work when the focus is in manual mode essentially giving you that type of control. Unfortunately, the spot focus feature is not assignable to the ASSIGN button. However, the function can be placed on you personal menu which minimizes the number of touches required to activate it.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 02:44 AM   #4
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Sony has PUSH AUTO for decades. Now they release an HD camera that often really needs AF and feature is removed!

Either they are nuts or there is a reason. Perhaps AF is so slow that Sony thought folks wouldn't press the button long enough?

By switching in AF -- it is always tracking.

But, it is a real pain!
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 11:34 AM   #5
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It is a shame that it doesn't, but you can just use AUTO FOCUS continously. It would be nice to have a button for it, but sliding the button to it and back to manual again isn't going to break your finger.

I did hear that the Varizoom Stealth lanc controller has a button for Auto-Focus in it. Some people say it does work with the A1, some are saying that it doesn't. Would be nice to find out.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 01:36 PM   #6
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I don't know about the Varizoom lanc, but I can confirm that the auto focus button on the Manfrotto 521Pro works with the A1U.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Karol
It is a shame that it doesn't, but you can just use AUTO FOCUS continously.
You miss the point of Auto Push. You do not want AF during the shot. Only for a few seconds before the shot.

And, if a switch is ok -- why for 20 years has sony provided a button?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 02:42 PM   #8
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Sorry, I'm still confused about the purpose of Push Auto Focus. What exactly would it do (doesn't it just put the camera into auto focus mode until you let go of the button?) Why would you only want AF a few seconds before the shot?
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 06:03 PM   #9
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Push button auto focus is used when running the camera in Manual Focus. With a HDV camera that is so sharp, exact focus is critical. What we are trying to do is leave the camera in Manual Focus (so that the focus does not continually drift or change) but use the power of auto focus to set up a shot. Its great for filming in low light or framing a shot where the focal point is NOT dead center in the screen.

At least thats how I use it!
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Old March 4th, 2006, 12:50 AM   #10
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Patrick, thanks for the explanation. It helps a little, but I am still confused. What do you mean by "set up a shot?" How, exactly, would Push Auto Focus be used to set up a shot, or in other words, what excatly does Push Auto Focus do and why would that feature be useful in setting up a shot? I understand the manual focus/not drifting focus thing, but am confused about auto.

Also, how does Push Auto Focus help if the focal point is not dead center or you are shooting in low light? Sorry, many of these features are very new to me, one of them being, of course, Push Auto Focus. Up to a few months ago, I was more of a point and shoot person, only recently starting to play with some of the more advanced options beyond hit red button to record. Thanks for the help.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 12:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Patrick, thanks for the explanation. It helps a little, but I am still confused. What do you mean by "set up a shot?" How, exactly, would Push Auto Focus be used to set up a shot, or in other words, what excatly does Push Auto Focus do and why would that feature be useful in setting up a shot? I understand the manual focus/not drifting focus thing, but am confused about auto.

Also, how does Push Auto Focus help if the focal point is not dead center or you are shooting in low light? Sorry, many of these features are very new to me, one of them being, of course, Push Auto Focus. Up to a few months ago, I was more of a point and shoot person, only recently starting to play with some of the more advanced options beyond hit red button to record. Thanks for the help.
You actually point your cam at subject you want in focus, press auto focus button. When it comes into focus, release auto focus button, and then point and reset your shot-- even with main subject offset from center, it will remain in focus.
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Old March 4th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #12
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Thanks, Chris. Sorry for these dumb questions, but when you say "point and reset" do you mean you point the camera so that the subject is no longer in the center? And reset what? I was under the impression that most video cameras don't have a shallow depth of field, which is why there are lens adaptors (like the Micro35?). I thought that video would mostly be more or less all in sharp focus. Could you tell me more about this, because I am sure I am wrong somewhere?
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Old March 4th, 2006, 04:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Thames
Thanks, Chris. Sorry for these dumb questions, but when you say "point and reset" do you mean you point the camera so that the subject is no longer in the center? And reset what? I was under the impression that most video cameras don't have a shallow depth of field, which is why there are lens adaptors (like the Micro35?). I thought that video would mostly be more or less all in sharp focus. Could you tell me more about this, because I am sure I am wrong somewhere?
But some sharp fous is sharper than others. And the difference becomes more evident in HDV. What I meant by reset was you you set your crtical focus by pointing camera directly at the subject you want in sharpest focus. You push the auto focus button and the camera set that at best focus. Then you release the auto focus button and can now reset the camera, framing as you see fit. Whether that main subject is now in center or at side of frame, it will be in best focus.

You are right, video generally has a deeper depth of field than film cameras, but has its own in focus, out of focus zones. You can test this by shooting with your camera very close to a subject, and focusing on that subject. Your background should not be in very good focus. That will even be more pronounced if you F stop is wide open (like F 1.4 or 1.8).
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Old March 4th, 2006, 08:26 PM   #14
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A "pro" camera with auto-focus ability, but no push auto is really pretty lame (it's not like it adds more than a dime to the cost of production, or anything akin to more than a few minutes more work in the design phase). I like my HD10U, but that's one of the pro touches missing on what JVC calls a "pro" camera also. With the HD10U, it also strikes me as odd that they paint "Professional DV" on the camera, rather than "Professional HDV." Somebody in the marketing department was snoozing through that decision. The HD10U was obviously designed by the consumer division without a ton of input from the pro division, and I hope that doesn't turn out to be just as true of the A1U from Sony, because I am interested in the A1U as a possible second camera (and backup) to my FX1.
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Old April 4th, 2006, 12:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pasarela
I don't know about the Varizoom lanc, but I can confirm that the auto focus button on the Manfrotto 521Pro works with the A1U.
I can also confirm that the Manfrotto 521Pro's Push Auto Focus button does work with the HC1 when in manual focus mode.
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