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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old October 19th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #1
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vx2000 focus tricks ?

Hi,

I largely vtape martial arts action and post-bout interviews. Largely, I shoot with manual focus and use the auto-focus button to set the focus for major scene changes. This solves my focus hunting problem as the players close and separate. Though, I seem to have major trouble whenever I vtape in rooms with a white, cinder block background. No matter what, the VX2000 seems to like to focus on the back wall. Can anyone provide a description of the VX2000 focus mechanism beyond that which is found in the manual ?
For the cinder block wall, I tried draping a beige tarp over most of the wall. However, that didn't help much.

Thanks
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Old October 19th, 2005, 07:21 PM   #2
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I don't think you can do anything about it. The Autofocus in the Sony is very primitive compared to the autofocus in my Nikon D70. I find it to be almost useless. Unfortunately, you are probably going to have to use the manual mode.

One of the tricks I use is to place dots on the floor at various distances and focus on them between events. That way I know where the plane of the focus is before I start taping.
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Old October 20th, 2005, 03:33 AM   #3
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Ok. I'll try the dots because that is doable even in a dynamic environment.

Yeah, I love the focus on my Nikon D2H. Do any of the higher end camcorders have focus units like that?
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Old October 20th, 2005, 10:24 AM   #4
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I can only speak for Sony and say no.

Probably one of the problems is that (you've probably noticed this in your video at some point), the still cameras will project an IR pattern for focus purposes. This works for them but shows up in the video. Terrible effect at weddings and cannot be removed from the video.
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Old October 20th, 2005, 03:28 PM   #5
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Unlike Mike, I'd like to speak up in defense of the VX/PD auto focus. I find it faster than I could ever hope to be, it knows which way to go to get to focus, it doesn't rock 'n' roll when it gets there and it'll follow focus with amazing precision. It's an extremely fast and accurate idiot.

Why? Because of the one proviso, and that is it's a contrast based system - the camera is simply looking for the greatest contrast in the scene and will focus on that. So if you have a pretty face in closeup and behind said smooth face is a brick wall or leafy tree, the camera will focus on that, and ignore the foreground.

If plain sky is behind the face the camera will lock on with a superglue hold, follow focusing all day long.

tom.
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Old October 20th, 2005, 03:57 PM   #6
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Most systems work well in perfect conditions, Tom. When the autofocus is at all challenged, it doesn't work well. And, if you are in auto when something else with a higher contrast appears in the scene, the focus you expected is lost. Or if the contrast drops, then the autofocus starts hunting and never stops.

'Contrast' this with the autofocus on even the simplest new digital still cameras that 'understand' issues like middle of the field, spot and other measurement tricks.

So yes, the Sony works well for a simple system. Unfortunately, the need is for a more competent system. I'd bet the HDV systems haven't received a substantially better system than those that we have.
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Old October 24th, 2005, 02:57 AM   #7
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new addition to video-look : backfocus

I just finished watching "Open Water", which was discussed on this site many months ago. I'd like to make a new addition to the film look : proper focus.
Most of the faces in "Open Water" were out of focus because the video focus locked on the background. This is apparent to me within the first six minutes of the DVD.
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