Auto or Manual Focus? at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 28th, 2006, 02:20 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hamden CT
Posts: 470
Auto or Manual Focus?

What focus settings does everyone use at weddings when using small camcorders like the pd170 and vx2100?

I use autofocus but my boss wants me to stop because I had soft focus on the bride and groom during the recessional.

However when I edit the other shooters at my work who use manual focus I find that they have many more focus issues than I do so I figure my way is better. But I could be wrong.

How would I use manual focus during a recessional? If I hit the autofocus button when in manual focus shouldn't I just use autofocus since that essentially is what I am doing?

Most shooters at my work who use manual focus have shoulder mount camcorders so maybe it is a difference of technique because of the camera difference. Could that be true?
Richard Zlamany is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 28th, 2006, 03:54 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Generally with my 150s I use manual focus and during pro/recessionals I focus to an area-called zone focus. For me the auto focus on the 150/170 is a bit slow to grab and has a chance to hunt especially in a high contrast situation.
With my JVC5000 again I zone focus and it seems that no matter what lens I might try on that camera (as with my other old cameras with professional lenses) that a professional lens seems to grab focus faster than the electronic lens on the smaller cameras-also it helps to have a large viewfinder (1.5") to see whats going on.
The auto focus on the 150/170 can work well just watch the contrasty situations and be careful when using the focus button to be on target and that they are walking into you which will change the focus point.

Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 28th, 2006, 05:41 PM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hamden CT
Posts: 470
Thanks for the help.

I really don't want to use manual focus because I see more issues with it at my company in the editing room then with my footage but I have to listen to the boss.

I will try zone focus for the pro/recessionals. Since that is the area that my boss complained about. Hopefully, my boss will see that as a good compromise.

Last edited by Richard Zlamany; January 29th, 2006 at 02:23 PM.
Richard Zlamany is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 28th, 2006, 06:08 PM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 2,933
I use GL2's, and I usually only use manual focus during low light situations because in those situations the camera will often search for focus. I don't know how that might apply to your cameras.
__________________
Black Label Films
www.blacklabelweddingfilms.com
Travis Cossel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 29th, 2006, 04:07 AM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Aus
Posts: 3,884
I use Focus Assist during progressive shooting (SLOW on the DVX but once i find focus i go manual), and Auto focus with manual override when im shooting interlaced (The DVX prolly has one of the fastest (although not as accurate) auto focus systems, but once u find focus, u turn it off.

The Z1, being HDV required precise focussing, so going auto and switching to manual is also a common practice. The zoom focus assist helps (it zooms the frame u focus, then it zoom out again without actually changng your zoom range. The Zoom Focus is a digital way to pinoint an area which helps with focussing. without it, your susseptable to soft shots.. expecially with HDV resolutions..

Alot of cameras in this "prosumer" range have backfocus issues, be aware of that when shooting through an EVF
Peter Jefferson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 30th, 2006, 10:23 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Bloomington, IL
Posts: 636
One consideration is that even though auto focus may appear sharper most of the time, in general, it also makes the material appear less professional. People see the quick searching of the focus and they know that it's in auto. Your boss may feel that clients will percieve it to be less than professional. When your in manual focus, even if it's a little soft, it looks more professional because it shows that your controling the scene. It conveys more confidence in the material and how your capturing it. Even if there are times when it's softer than auto focus.

It's difficult to explain, but understand that you'll be better off using the manual focus at all times. A clean, crisp focus, isn't desired for every frame of video. The soft focus points and the lag time in the material from manually adjusting the focus as the scene changes allows for a more artistic element. You'll open up some new avenues if you start to use the focus as a tool, rather than a single dimensional element of the camera.

Also, if your boss wants it, do it ^_^

Ben Lynn
Ben Lynn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 30th, 2006, 06:32 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hamden CT
Posts: 470
What can I say you are right.

I've been studying everyone's footage at work and even though at 1st look I see the manual focus users adjusting their focus more often than the shooters who use auto focus the manual focus looks better.

I am not instinctive with manual focus so I am a bit worried. Practice is my only defense.
Richard Zlamany is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 31st, 2006, 07:46 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Aus
Posts: 3,884
a "professional" look?? sorry but that made me giggle.. if ur making money from the footage youre shooting, then its professional regardless...
One thing about shooting manual is that the constant hunting of auto focus isnt there, so u DO end up with a sharper image IF you find focus...
If u dont find focus or your images are too soft, then dont expect to be called back by "the boss" coz in any sense of the word, soft focus is not exceptable (not in my line of broadcast work anyway... )

Focus is a wierd and wonderful thing and when used accordingly, u can get some good "soft" results, so long as its deliberate and the editor knows what your trying to convey to the audience. But if your focus hunting and you believe that this is artisttic or ok, then i would strongly recommend to anyone, that u review your shooting technique coz noone i know will ever accept ongoing focus hunting.
Theyd rather u let the machine decide for you as opposed to missing a shot simply because you feel you should feed your ego by going manual.

I know the people i train, i start them to shoot auto with manual overide.. they learn distances and focal points, they learn rack focussing etc etc hell they learn how to get that vertigo effect while shooting handheld...
From there i get them to go assist mode, using auto when needed and only adjusting as needed then turning off auto once they have their shot.
Then once their confidence is up, theyre allowed to go manual, and only when they can prove to me that they can..
With an ENG camera, its much easier as the EVF is far more accurate due to CRT resolution, but with LCD EVFs focus can be a difficult thing to master..

In the end, if your shot looks good, THATS all that matters, and id rather my shooters lose face but GET THE SHOT, as opposed to trying to get the shot and missing it altogether as theyre too busy fekking about tryin to find focus.. .. with these infinite focus rings on these 1/3 cameras, it can be a bitch to deal with
Peter Jefferson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 31st, 2006, 10:01 PM   #9
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 190
Let's talk about low light for a bit. Ever try auto focus in low light? Forgedabboudit.

Unless you are really hard core run and gunning it learn manual and love it. This does not mean you can't lean on the auto every now and again, just don't rely on it because it will burn you at the wrong time. There really is no right or wrong, each one has its place. IMHO I can't see too many reasons to use auto during a wedding.

Mike
Mike Cook is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 12:39 AM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Aus
Posts: 3,884
id never pay a newbie to shoot for me fullstop, not until they know the camera inside and out and that includes focussing manually...

as for getting paid, id never pay someone whos never touched a camera (as youre implying) 30bux to shoot 5 minutes.... to me, 5 minutes can either make or break a shot and total lack of understanding of the job just doesnt cut it for me. when im making 10 grand a pop for a 30second ad, it just doesnt sit.
It HAS to be perfect.

I dont think you guys are actually understanding the post about f/assist. Manual is obviously ideal, but for those learning, and in other situations where theres constant change of focal depth, focus assist DOES come in handy. Obviously thres a time and place for it, but this argument is moot considering ive seen so many so called professionals who cant even get a shot right, let alone find focus. The argument can go on forever and to be honest i cant be bothered.

As far as im concerned, people should do what looks right to them. wether its using auto or manual, or a cross of the two, who cares. so long as the customer is happy is all that matters
Peter Jefferson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 12:41 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Hamden CT
Posts: 470
Peter thanks for the post. It was helpful in learning your technique in weaning your employees off auto focus.

In the editing room it is easy to see how some shooters roll footage and then focus manually which makes it harder to edit because you have to edit out the focusing footage or use an insert.

Shooters who use autofocus have footage that is easier to edit. So it is easy to mistake which one is better. My conclusion is each focusing method has its place.
Richard Zlamany is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 02:05 AM   #12
Old Boot
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 3,528
Just two words: "PUSH FOCUS".

I have this remarkable facility on my Manfrotto 521PRO. I use it on my DvRigPro AND my tripods. It is just thebeesknees - PERIOD!

Using PUSH FOCUS/MF all the time, I zoom in HARD to get the furthest point - PF - OR Target PF or whatever, then zoom out, re-frame shot and HIT the Big Red! Often, in not wanting to loose the shot, I just let the camera roll and cut out the cr%p when on the edit deck.

Works for me.

Grazie
Graham Bernard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 02:47 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 419
dito....push focus is the only auto focus worthy.......more for zooming than anything. what it comes down to is....you really need to know your camera or know cameras......practice a lot.......stay off the auto features as much as possible unless your conditions are changing rapidly to where you cant keep up.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Bernard
Just two words: "PUSH FOCUS".

I have this remarkable facility on my Manfrotto 521PRO. I use it on my DvRigPro AND my tripods. It is just thebeesknees - PERIOD!

Using PUSH FOCUS/MF all the time, I zoom in HARD to get the furthest point - PF - OR Target PF or whatever, then zoom out, re-frame shot and HIT the Big Red! Often, in not wanting to loose the shot, I just let the camera roll and cut out the cr%p when on the edit deck.

Works for me.

Grazie
Joe Allen Rosenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 03:18 AM   #14
Old Boot
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: London UK
Posts: 3,528
Joe Ditto ditto . .PLUS! Push Focus is MUCH faster than I could do it with me hand around the "ring", so to speak, LOL!

Long story short: There ARE some valuable devices, not too expensive, out there that may/could/will take your work to a higher & easier level - one of these - IMHO - is a Manfrotto 521Pro Lanc controller.

If your camera hasn't a PF option, test drive one of these puppies and you'll understand JUST what you wanted to frame . .. I mean this!

Grazie
Graham Bernard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 1st, 2006, 03:29 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 419
i actually use the PF on my pd150 from time to time, when im shooting in a particular "style"....similar to the way they film "the sheild" or "24"....it helps since i am moving the frame so organically. cool, thanks for the info on the lanc controller.

cheers!





Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Bernard
Joe Ditto ditto . .PLUS! Push Focus is MUCH faster than I could do it with me hand around the "ring", so to speak, LOL!

Long story short: There ARE some valuable devices, not too expensive, out there that may/could/will take your work to a higher & easier level - one of these - IMHO - is a Manfrotto 521Pro Lanc controller.

If your camera hasn't a PF option, test drive one of these puppies and you'll understand JUST what you wanted to frame . .. I mean this!

Grazie
Joe Allen Rosenberger is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:26 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network