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Old July 29th, 2009, 03:47 PM   #1
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Focussing Tips?

I am loving my EX1 and practicing with it every day, I have a wedding this Saturday and although this will be an additional camera and I will be using my XH A1 for the MUST get shots since I am more use to that I do want to practice with this camera too.

I am doing fine at focusing on subjects not moving, I use the expanded view, and peaking to make sure its good and sharp.

My question is for dancing at receptions or say the introduction where there will be movement and f stop will be down to the 1.9 for sure.

Do you use autofocus then, or just AF assist?

I am not sure MF will be the best choice through these parts of a reception.

Anyways, any EX1 specific focusing tips in these situations would be appreciated. The XH A1 does fine in AF mode as long as the subject is in the center and exposure is pretty even in the scene.

Thanks
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Old July 29th, 2009, 05:57 PM   #2
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For a reception, dancing, speeches, etc., I would not shoot with auto focus. If there is not time for focusing, then guess at it and set the lens accordingly. If you don't like setting the lense via guesswork, then focus on an object, any object, that looks like it is approximately the same distance as the people you will be shooting.

I shot about 200 weddings over a 3 year period (until I got sick of it), and this method worked great.
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Old July 29th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #3
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Red peaking (or whichever color you prefer) is surprisingly accurate. i use it all the time.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 12:50 AM   #4
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Most people avoid AF because it is slow and unresponsive. Only form of AF I may use once is while is MF assist on a stationary subject and still shot with at least a foot or two DOF. This is to check the camera's focus against my own.

Around 8 or more ways to run focus. In your situation with EX a combination of 3 things: peaking as Leonard says, the DOF bar and the distance scale.

Having the scale location closely match your visual estimation of subject to lens distance gets you in the park. The bar width shows how much leeway you have. With F1.9 not a lot obviously but if you get in close maybe your on camera light will push that.

If peaking is distracting to the eye and you prefer it off try toggling expanded focus on and off rapidy as youre moving while adjusting. This is more advanced but doable with practice. Of course rotate right is near and left is far you may know.

To summarize:

Peaking
DOF bar width
Scale position
Expanded Focus
Barrel Direction
Visual estimation

With the combination of these 6 one should do well. More techniques are added with the use of follow focus and a crank.

Hope this helps.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 02:14 AM   #5
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This is what I do to focus all the time.
Zoom in onto the talent as tight as your able. Use peaking, I use blue, make sure you see the peaking on the talent, pull out and frame the shot. Everything will be in focus at that spot. That's it.
Whenever the talent moves forward or backwards you will lose focus so repeat.
Play around with your gain and f stops to see how much distance is in focus or out.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 02:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denny Kyser View Post
I am loving my EX1 and practicing with it every day, I have a wedding this Saturday and although this will be an additional camera and I will be using my XH A1 for the MUST get shots since I am more use to that I do want to practice with this camera too.

I am doing fine at focusing on subjects not moving, I use the expanded view, and peaking to make sure its good and sharp.


Thanks
Denny,

If this is your first job with the EX1 then I would suggest sticking with the Canon XH A1 for the entire wedding. The EX camera is superb and you will love the results, but it takes a lot more working at to get to the same stage as the Canon. Once you have become comfortable with the EX the the results will leave other cameras in the shade by comparison.

I didn't want to try out my EX3 on a paid for wedding so I teamed up with a photographer friend and offered to produce a video - free of charge - This enabled me to find areas that I need to work on, without the pressure of "I musn't let the client down". The results were very good, although focusing was an area that needs to be worked on. For White balance I set the A button to 3200k and the B button to 5600k and this worked fine.

As I produce DVDs for weddings I shot in 1280x720p, this scales down to SD format without any major problem. I shot using 25p mode (for PAL) which wasn't as smooth as I would have liked, but I wanted to use overcranking for the confetti shot. Next time I will shoot at 50p (or 60p for NTSC) and then slow the footage down in my NLE for the confetti take. Although the EX1/3 are portable, they are not as easy to handle as the Canon, just due to weight. If you have a monopod then this will be useful for the quick shots, otherwise use a tripod. I also have the new DM shoulder mount (only for EX3) this also helps keeping handheld shots steady.

The final result was a good production, the bride and groom were delighted (they would be for a freebie) As a rule I don't work for nothing, but when trying out new gear I don't want to take any risks, especially when someone is paying the bill. This also avoids the situation of being sued if the shoot turned out to be a disaster.

Best of luck with your wedding, but keep your Canon handy.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 02:44 AM   #7
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Lots of good tips in this thread.
I also would recommend (particularly in fairly low lighting) full manual focus- zoom in & use peaking for focus, reframe & shoot. All the autofocus modes, including AF/Manual have a tendancy to pulse, or "breathe", more so in low light. Full MF does not.
And the EX is a bear to handhold. I've found it extremely difficult to avoid tiny bits of rotary motion- it looks O.K. on the camera LCD, but on a big monitor in post it's very obvious. A monopod is a very good solution for camera stability. You can run n' gun with it, pop the cam on & off quickly, and at it's best can look near tripod stable.
Good luck.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 03:12 AM   #8
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Lots of good tips in this thread.
I also would recommend (particularly in fairly low lighting) full manual focus- zoom in & use peaking for focus, reframe & shoot. All the autofocus modes, including AF/Manual have a tendancy to pulse, or "breathe", more so in low light. Full MF does not.
I would go along with this for most shooting situations, but on a wedding you have to work quick or you miss the shot and there's no going back. Zooming in and focusing and then zooming out to reframe could mean you miss the vital "I DO".

I found using MF with Assist Focus does help but it's not 100% reliable. I use Manual focus and keep one finger hovering over the AutoFocus button - just in case I need it. There is nothing worse than trying to manual focus a close up shot and tweaking the focus as your filming.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:13 AM   #9
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For the dancing, if you are using a camera light the Push to Autofocus button should work OK if you are starting and stopping the camera rather than panning. If you are using natural light (often too dark) use manual focus with the ring. If it is a DJ it may help to tell them to turn the lights up a bit. For the introduction there is usually enough light so autofocus will work if you position yourself so that they are walking toward the camera.

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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:23 AM   #10
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In my experience, wedding receptions are the single most difficult situation to worry about focus problems.

- Dance floor is generally fairly dark, which makes focusing difficult to say the least.
- You will be shooting CU shots of people dancing, and then pan and even walk with other people dancing and zoom out to a fairly wide shot, all in the same shot . . . there is literally no time to focus. My suggestion is to set the focus on about 6 to 8 feet and forget it. I have never shot auto focus in my life.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:32 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone, great tips.

I used to use only MF with my first SLR camera, but was 19 years old, young eyes.

I got used to very accurate canon af with the pro SLR bodies and had not used MF in years.

The canon XH A1 is pretty good at af, but now going back to MF with 45 year old eyes.

Luckily the peaking, and zooming makes this doable. I like knowing that there is no back focusing going to happen, and I can frame the shot the way I like not having to keep the subject in the middle.

I also love having the same f stop through the zoom range, unlike the A1.

I will not use this camera alone, only as a back up to the A1 this weekend, I will see how it does on things like the introduction when they are walking into the camera. Would you still try and MF even for subjects walking torward you. I am guessing with some practice this can be done for a short distance.

I do have a few good video lights, so will not get too dark.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:34 AM   #12
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When using AF assist, I want to make sure I am right about this. It only comes on when you hit the AF button correct. The rest of the time it is ful MF, this is how it is with the A1 and its good sometimes to get you close.
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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:52 AM   #13
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AF assist jumps in when you turn the focus ring. The lens then tries to find the correct focus point within a short range, i.e. it will not attempt to go to "infinity and beyond". Most of the time this works OK, but on some shots you may not agreee which is the correct focus point. Turning the ring again may improve the focus, but it can also drift back to where you don't want it. In short the Full Manual focus is the best option, but requires the extra work.

The Auto focus button only requires a single push and it will find the focus, unlike the Canon which requires you to hold down the button until the focus is complete. The Canon button can be hard to find, especially when the camera is in the shooting position, the Sony button is easier.

ps. Optrex is good for 45+ year old eyes
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Old July 30th, 2009, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Barkley View Post
In my experience, wedding receptions are the single most difficult situation to worry about focus problems.

- Dance floor is generally fairly dark, which makes focusing difficult to say the least.
- You will be shooting CU shots of people dancing, and then pan and even walk with other people dancing and zoom out to a fairly wide shot, all in the same shot . . . there is literally no time to focus. My suggestion is to set the focus on about 6 to 8 feet and forget it. I have never shot auto focus in my life.
I agree with Brian - pre-focus the lens and use depth of field (I was a still photographer for most of my life and used mostly manual focus...) Learn to judge distances and use lens barrel. Remember that the wider is zoom, the bigger is depth of field, even with f/1.9 (just turn on peaking and try to focus on wide zoom - it's quite impossible to get out of focus...)

Good Luck!
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Old July 30th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #15
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Remember that the wider is zoom, the bigger is depth of field, even with f/1.9 (just turn on peaking and try to focus on wide zoom - it's quite impossible to get out of focus...)

Good Luck!

I was thinking this was true with video too. I know at 16 mm 2.8 has a lot of dof, and at 300mm 2.8 eyes can be in focus and ears out.
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