How Do You Focus On A Jib/Crane?

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    • #91553

      I’m very new to all this so this is probably a dumb question, but I can’t find an answer. Everyone seems to curse AF for video production, but if I am shooting on an 8 or 12′ jib/crane, how else would my shots be in focus? Does everyone use AF on a jib? You can’t manually focus when your camera is flying way above your head, right?

    • #214750
      AvatarKevin Mc

      Personally, I use AF quite often. It works great and is the answer to your question. If you’re shooting people and your camera has facial recognition it will help to ensure that the unmanned camera stays focused on the right subject matter. You can also close down your aperture a bit (using higher values) for greater depth of field to ensure that most everything remains in focus – at the cost of bokah.

    • #214766

      Hi IRBY,
      Avoiding AF when possible is always best. There are wireless solutions that will allow you to rack focus wirelessly. If you have rod supports, you can attach the focus device to the rods while you hold the remote, which is basically the dial of a follow focus, in your hands. DJI makes a device called the DJI Focus, which you can get on B&H, but you can actually get it a little cheaper on Amazon here:
      There are cheaper alternatives, like the Lenzhound system here: Honestly, I don’t know a whole lot about this system, but it seems to get OK reviews.

    • #214771

      LANC for remote manual focus

      Dependent on make and model of camera you use, adjustable manual focus is accessible via a LANC. Check if your camera has a LANC input socket. Extension cords are available for all size crane jibs. LANC’s are shown on ebay “Vivitar 8 button remote control fits Canon & Sony and other camcorders with LANC”

    • #214774

      I use manual focus on all my equipment that has proper lenses – that have variable parameters – so focus, zoom and aperture, because it’s the only way to make sure the image is sharp where it needs to be. If it’s somewhere further than my arm length, then I use a remote – even though sometimes this is a pain. Sometimes it means presenting the focus position and testing.

      I also have a cheap consumer handicam that does 1080 with decent images, and this I leave on autofocus – which means it is correct most of the time. It just gets caught out by things in the image that IT believes are important and focuses on, when I consider the lamp post to be unimportant and the object behind it, filling the frame, to be the critical one. However, I know it will do it. I also know manual focus is terrible on it, so I adapt to make it work. Most of my crane shots tend to be wides anyway – so focus isn’t a huge issue.

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