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Old October 25th, 2013, 02:33 AM   #1
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Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

Its something that popped into my head recently and I can't find any footage online for it.

We know that unless you use a wireless follow focus, steadycam work is limited. You have to
a) keep the DOF quite wide (f5.6 or more for me)
b) keep the exact same distance from the subject in focus.

So, how come there hasn't been more made of the DSLRs with autofocus video for this? They can shoot more shallow, and be more flexible in terms of how they shoot various subjects in one take.

Or is the autofocus on these models a bit unreliable?
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Old October 25th, 2013, 07:37 AM   #2
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

The autofocus can be tricky and I don't recommend it for an unmanned camera, generally, because it might switch subjects. This has been more of an issue in low light for us, using the Canon 70D.

Honestly, using multiple cameras in fixed positions, I simply man one, and set the others in a way that allows me to switch between views, but I don't need them to stay in focus the whole time on each camera as long as I know at least one will always be in focus. And for vows, they don't move, so I don't worry about that.

For instance, bride's processional, I can set a camera in back, with the groom in focus. This shot will get used twice, showing him at the start, with her and her dad in the foreground, and again during the dad-groom hand off. Later I'll double check it to make sure it gets me my safety shot of the ceremony. Camera #2 will be a side shot of the aisle and I'll let the bride walk through the shot. Then I man a third camera.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 07:52 AM   #3
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

But despite the draw backs, I'd have thought that following a specific subject in center frame, would be reasonably straight forward for the autofocus?

Can't believe I can't find anyone online who has footage of the 70D on a steadycam!
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Old October 25th, 2013, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

There are not a lot of videos out there shot on the 70D yet. I think a lot of people really didn't see what a game changer this camera is. The video blogs are just starting to get some reviews and test footage up and I think momentum will increase. I have not touched my XA20 since I got my 70D.

I don't see any reason why autofocus wouldn't work just fine on a steady. The only issue I see is changing the focus point on the LCD screen could unsettle the steadycam. That is probably something that could be developed with practice. I do wonder though, if shallow DOF video on a moving steadycam might be a little dizzying.

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Old October 25th, 2013, 08:59 AM   #5
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

I found this video when I was looking for a ultra wide zoom for the 70D. It has some steadycam footage shot with the 70D but the lens is so wide that DOF is pretty deep.

Bob

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Old October 25th, 2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

I've tried autofocus on a steadicam using the FS700. It has face detect autofocus but still got confused a bit. It was better than nothing but a far cry from having a focus puller.

Understandable that having that person isn't always possible/practical though.

Be sure to have the ability to review your shots on something that can reveal any focus issues before you leave the setup.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 09:55 AM   #7
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

Videos like that just make me assume that the AF on steadycam doesn't work well. Why would you do loads of test shots super shallow and then go wide on the steadycam?

I'm annoyed!

I guess I may just have to buy it myself to answer the question! lol
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Old October 25th, 2013, 10:35 AM   #8
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

It should be possible if the lightconditions are good and if the camera doesn't get confused by other objects or people that appear in the frame, tapping the screen to refocus like in the above video you can forget on a steadicam. I would only try autofocus if you can judge the focus afterwards and redo the shot, especially if you want a shallower dof. I always set my focus manually and keep the same distance to a person during a shot, it's limiting but rather that then have a camera set it for you and mess up the shot completely.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

Thats a good point Noa, a lot of my steadycam shots are critical like bride getting out of the car, going down the aisle, entering reception.
Theres no chance for do-overs on those!
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Old October 25th, 2013, 11:45 AM   #10
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

I should have considered the section this question was asked in.

I completely agree for an event like a wedding that autofocus never be used on a steadicam. Set your focal distance and then set your shot accordingly. Squeeze the iris down enough to give you some wiggle room on that distance. Shooting Shallow DOF on a steadicam without a focus puller on a one time shot is too much risk for me to take.

If you are shooing something where there are multiple take opportunities I'll give it a shot.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 01:22 PM   #11
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

The autofocus on the 70D is as good as any camcorder I've ever used. Admittedly, that's less than ten but, if you would trust a camcorder's AF to a given situation, then you can trust the 70D. I am not a wedding guy but I think it would excel at something like following a bride down the aisle. I probably wouldn't shoot at f/1.4 but I think f/2.8-4 would work well depending on focal length. Can the AF be fooled? Sure, but spending some time testing and learning to use the camera will give you a good idea of when the camera might have trouble and how to avoid it.

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Old October 25th, 2013, 02:58 PM   #12
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

Quote:
The autofocus on the 70D is as good as any camcorder I've ever used
That all depends on what lens you use, there is no comparison between a regular videocamera and a dslr with a 24mm f1.4 on it, in any case a dslr will have way more shallow dof, even with slower lenses so focus will always be much more critical to just trust the dslr with it, even if it's just a bit off, you"ll notice it.
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Old October 25th, 2013, 08:03 PM   #13
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

I have used autofocus while flying at 1.8 at a dark reception. The lights on the dance floor were constantly changing. Did I get some good shoots? Sure. Did it get fooled? Lots of times. Would I do it again? No. It is not predictable enough. There is too great a chance of missing something important. With good lighting and moving slowly around the couple, maybe a better chance. However, I would rather take as much chance out of the equation as possible.
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Old October 26th, 2013, 08:58 AM   #14
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

We have shot a few weddings with our 70D in the mix. It will be another few weeks until I have those edited, though I will post when I have.

The live autofocus is great with any decent light. Shooting weddings, we've used it for tracking shots like when the B&G move over to the candle lighting, or the processional; or quick focusing like reaction shots of faces in the crowd.

At the receptions you're usually fighting low light AND a more crowded space (dance floor or receiving line) so we don't always use the auto-tracking, which gets confused too easily. In fact, we usually use the 70D on the big moments like speeches and first dance, and use our 5d Mark iis the rest of the time since we are rack focusing already.

If business continues the way it is, we do plan on getting a 2nd 70D. We are DSLR shooters with 2 5d Mark iis, and like having a pair of crop factor cameras with that autofocus.
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Old October 26th, 2013, 10:04 AM   #15
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Re: Does autofocus dslr video work on steadycams?

I've just been reading about the DSLR controller app for android. I see it now works WiFi. Not fast enough for focus pulling unless you are good at anticipating the shot. Might be a cheap option. DIY Solution Brings WiFi Control to Your DSLR ? And A First-Hand Account
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