How to become good at focusing with shallow DOF?

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    • #67405

      Hey all,

      I'm shooting with a semi-pro camera and a monitor.  I am trying to learn how to get into manually focusing to make shots with shallow depth of field, and I'm trying to get good at focusing.  However, I find it difficult when I'm changing the focus in a shot because it's hard to tell when I need to stop focusing.
      For some shots in the past that involved a focus shift, I used my finger to mark where the focus needed to stop and where it needed to start, and then when I shot it, I managed… but that felt very awkward to use my fingers to tell me where I needed to stop around the focus ring.   I am really curious how the masters do it- How do they know when to stop focusing?  I think one would need to be using a big monitor attached to the top of the camera  (which can be inconvenient at times) to see a big enough image to tell, but  I'm not sure- is that how they do it?
      I'd appreciate any advice, links to tutorials, etc on this topic.  Thanks for reading!
    • #207934

      "  I find it difficult when I'm changing the focus in a shot because it's hard to tell when I need to stop focusing "         The BIG BOYS use a dial apparatus added to the focus ring on the lense AND there's an assistant to operate it. In many cases, the beginning and the end of a rack focus is determined by actual measurements from the subjects to the focal plane of the camera.  Digital video camera's LCD screens or eye-piece monitors are so woefully lacking in detail one MUST use a large external HiRes monitor in order to visually determine optimum focus.

    • #207942

      As gldnears said you can use a follow focus, if you are using a lens that will allow access,

      you can also try using and external monitor with focus peaking look at the DP4 from or the zacuto evf or cineroid (there are others)  or if you are using a canon DSLR try magic lantern firmware hack. OR you could just get a viewfinder loupe and try and improve your manual skill.  In reality it will most likely come down to (1) are you getting paid? and (2) is the shot repeatable. 



      If you geting paid and the shots NOT repeatable or major client then I would recomend you get a mid size external monitor with focus peaking and then fit a loupe over the top and use a follow focus I feel that it's the only way that you can reliably be sure of focus while in manual mode.

      IMPORTANT NOTE even a basic package like that will cost $800


      Just my thoughts ~ Peter



    • #208066

      Great guys, thanks for the help.  I'll look into those options in the future!

    • #208099

      What about a camera with peaking-surely that should work as well? My FX1000 does have focus peaking although I have not used it much.However if I did need to do shallow depth of field, I would use it (not easy to do shallow DOF with the Fx1000, but can be done with good light, positioning subject and camera and using the widest aperture)

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