Need tips for focusing on moving subjects, please

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums General Video and Film Discussion Need tips for focusing on moving subjects, please

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    • #52172

      I shoot with a Canon XA10 prosumer camera and want to wean myself from relying on autofocus when shooting moving subjects.   Are there some tips or tricks to improve my manual focus capabilities … or perhaps a way to better utilize the autofocus so that when my subject's in the left or right third of my frame, the camera's not focusing on the background?  Thank you.

    • #205104

      We use the XA10's in my advanced students as well as with my own small business.  What we do to get that classy shot where the subject pops from the background is the following:

      1. switch it manual

      2. try to separate the subject as far from the backgrround as possible

      3. place the camera as close as tactfully and practically possible to your subject and still able to get the framing  you need.  

      4. try to keep the background darker than your subject

      5. finally, when you go to focus on your subject, zoom all the way in to a hair on their head and focus on that, then slowly pull back to get your framing, and you should be good.


      Hope that helps,


    • #205105

      Thanks, Bill … yes that does.  (I love this camera, btw, and would love a second one).  


      Any suggestions for how to manually focus while videoing dogs as they run around?   I am trying to stop using AF but haven't gotten the hang of quickly adjusting the focus.   I see videos that others shoot where they never seem to lose it & I know these folks are too good to be using autofocus…

    • #205148

      All of the tips above are valid…but there is only way way to get good and it is not a trick.  You have to practice practice practice.  Star athletes do not get good by going to games…they train and practice.  Same goes for being good in any field…even video.

    • #205170

      Manual, zoom in, focus, zoom out and frame your shot. stay wider, if you zoom in and they have moved you will have to re-focus, which as Cyndy so eloquently stated, requires practice, practice, practice.  If the XA10 has a real focus ring you will be steps ahead of others that have horrible little thumbwheels used for adjustinc focus. πŸ˜‰


      If you want to utilize auto focus,,,, do what I said at the top, but be in auto, zoom in, when it focuses, shift to manual, zoom out and frame.  Auto focus will "focus" on dead center of the frame, so that can prove problematic if you are following the rule of thirds when composing your shot.

    • #205546

      Many thanks, Cyndy … I guess I knew that deep down…   I appreciate everyone's suggestions and encouragement!

    • #205108

      [quote=stuartp25]Any suggestions for how to manually focus while videoing dogs as they run around?   I am trying to stop using AF but haven't gotten the hang of quickly adjusting the focus.[/quote]


      Your first step is to set your operating mode to manual, not auto or cinema,  


      Set your frame rate to 30 or higher.


      Set your focus to manual.


      If your camera will allow it lock out digital zoom, stick with the 10x optical.


      As for zooming, think of your zoom lens like it is a variable prime, that is to say avoid zooming as much as possible when shooting, if you must zoom do it slowly and with a slow smooth start and a nice slow smooth stop. When a shot must be zoomed it should be done like driving a train slow to start slow to stop and more rapidly if you wish in between, nothing hokes up a shot a jerky zoom.    


      Activate peaking and set the color, peaking is a handy tool to assist you in focusing, see page 52 of your owner’s manual. Note the peaking is only in the viewfinder and is not recorded.


      Set the AGC to manual. Page 61


      Set the exposure to manual keep your iris to f8 or tighter and if you are concerned about over exposing turn on the zebra. 64/65


      Set the shutter to 125 or higher.


      As for IS, I don’t have an XA10 to experiment with so try working with it on and see if fly’s right.


      Once that is done your next step is to burn into your head which way your focusing ring turns to pull close or far focus and then like learning to ride a bike its practice, practice and more practice.


      And believe it or not after a while, for some of us quite a while, your brain will make the connection between the distance of your subject and the direction it is moving and where you fingers must set the focus ring to be spot on.


      As for quite a while, have patience and lots of it, I have been doing video since the days one guy carried a camera and another guy carried the recorder and everything was manual and the term NTSC was realized and it took me something like the better part of a year before I was proficient in pulling a tack sharp focus and it wasn’t for the lack of a good lens either…



      * NTSC Never Twice the Same Color. πŸ˜‰


      Now go chase them dogs down and create some content.





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