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Old January 3rd, 2010, 04:13 PM   #1
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Focus on a stedicam:auto?

Hi guys i met a DOP that suggested to use alway the auto settings on the focus when using the steadicam.
What are your opinions?
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 05:21 PM   #2
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If a camera has autofocus, it's going to have 1/2" chips or smaller. In this instance, you are better off setting it at the hyperfocal for a given shot and working within those parameters. The smaller the chip, the easier this is as there is greater depth of field. Autofocus might work for specific shots, but I would be wary of it searching/hunting and making things worse. Best to try a take and play it back on a good sized monitor to ensure that it is doing the right thing.

The fact of the matter is that so many people are using DSLR's and 35mm adaptors these days that the in-and-out of focus look is becoming "sexy", lord help us. So a little momentary buzz doesn't seem to have the stigma that it once had. One must be careful with autofocus that unexpected things don't derail your efforts, like walls and doorways and foreground elements. The last thing you want is to discover in the edit suite that the focus is in the wrong place and no-one knew it.
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 09:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Papert View Post
If a camera has auto focus, it's going to have 1/2" chips or smaller.
Right. When I fly these types of cameras, I:
Never use Auto Focus.
Frequently use Auto Iris.
Never use Image Stabilization (OIS).
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Old January 3rd, 2010, 10:17 PM   #4
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I hear rumor that there will be some nice electronic focus tools for the Canon DvSLRs before long. That's part of why I've started a home built steady rig project. If the rumors are true (I have no inside info), it could be less expensive to buy an electronic focus control than a good quality mechanical follow focus. Could be sweet!
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Old January 4th, 2010, 09:34 PM   #5
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I'd add that some cameras' autofocus are particularly slow...the HVX200 is notoriously laggy in the 720P modes. This can absolutely clobber your attempts to keep focus with that technique. I've seen that concept fail spectacularly on a jib. The 200 can hunt for focus for a second or more sometimes!

But even if it were snappy, you'd still have the problem of always having to keep your main subject in the center of frame, lest the autofocus find something else it wants to place in focus. Recipe for boring composition...a classic tail wagging the dog.

The advice Charles gives is the technique I generally use. I light to a fairly fat stop, and either set the lens to the hyperfocal distance, or center the focus on the range of distances in which the talent will be working during the shot (2/3 of the DOF behind the subject, 1/3 in front.)
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Old January 22nd, 2010, 10:02 AM   #6
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Hola , in my case the camera is a Sony Z1....so what are your recomendations?

thx
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