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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Rich Harrington: All right Rob! So you and I both know the dangers of soft focus. You see this all the time as professional colorist, people get pretty disappointed, right? Robbie Carman: Yeah. And as much as I love these cameras, they are responsible not 100%. Rich Harrington: You should love them a lot. They make lots of work for you. Robbie Carman: This is true! They are responsible for the proliferation of soft focus. Now of course there is more to do with soft focus than just monitoring and we'll talk about loupes here in a second, things like shallow depth-of-field and the lenses and that kind of stuff. But I am seeing a lot more out of focus footage.
Again, we'll say this probably for the fourth or fifth time is that everything looks good on the back of the camera LCD, and because when you're not being critical about the focus, guess what? Little differences. That ever so slight softness tends to creep into the image. Rich Harrington: Well, what I like to recommend is make sure that you set the loupe up first. Now when you attach this to the camera, what's going to happen here is you're going to snap it on. And depending upon the camera, you might have to adjust where this actually hits. So I take it up, hit Menu button, so I could actually see the menus, and then I'm going to adjust the actual diopter here, so the menus are tack sharp.
And what most people don't realize is that that diopter is designed for people with vision problems. Now Rob, you wear glasses. Robbie Carman: I do. Rich Harrington: Do you rely on the diopter at all? Robbie Carman: I do. It's one of those things where sometimes depending upon my outside, hot and sweaty, I might take my glasses off because I actually can see close, I just can't see far all that well. Rich Harrington: Right. So to that point though, you could compensate for having your glasses off, you just focus this until the menus look in focus. Robbie Carman: Absolutely! And one of the things that you might find if you have really bad vision is that a lot of the manufacturers will sell sort of step-up plates on the actual back of the loupe, and what that does is it actually gets the loupe further away from the actual LCD screen, so the diopter is going to have even more of an effect, because it's further away from the actual LCD screen that you're trying to focus on.
Rich Harrington: And what you need to realize is the reason why I keep saying focus on the menus is that the menus theoretically should be tack sharp because they are computer-generated text and graphics. So you just set the diopter until you have proper focus, and then you could trust it. Now I've got this, it's got the eyepiece. When I put this up to my eye here, I'm getting a nice clear image. I'm able to block out things. All I'm looking at is the actual image itself. Now I'll typically close the other eye, so I'm not distracted. Although, I do know some people who try to shoot with both eyes open.
I find it a little hard. Robbie Carman: It is, but don't forget Rich, you also have one more thing there in camera that can aid you in focusing. Almost every single DSLR is going to let you zoom in to the actual sensor. So when you're looking through the camera, you can actually press the zoom button to get sort of a 1 pixel to 1 pixel view which is really critical when you're using a loupe or without a loupe to get proper focus. And I often do that with a loupe attached, so I'll zoom in to get maybe all the way into that 1:1 pixel ratio and then sort of adjust my focus, and then you can be really sure that your focus is tack sharp.
Rich Harrington: Yeah. What's happening there is it's not while you're recording, it's just when you're in that initial preview mode you're seeing it, so that's really useful. Now there are other ways of actually doing this. There are lots of manufacturers for loupes out there. In this particular case here, I've got sort of a periscope style loupe. When I take this up, same idea, it's going to behave very much like that Zacuto brand. But what's different about this one is that I can actually go ahead, and lift this up and flip it down, and what I'm getting here is the ability to look in the camera while shooting.
So essentially, I could be looking through a periscope type mirror configuration. And this allows me to cradle the camera, and actually get shots and use my body. And I find that this is really useful, because it lets me hold the camera in tight while still actually seeing my shot and telling what I'm doing. Robbie Carman: Absolutely! And that's nice for things like low angle shooting and that kind of stuff because with these traditional sort of loupes that are mounted right on the back that don't have the periscope option, you kind of have to be behind it to see through it. Rich Harrington: Yeah, so if you needed to get lower, you would change the height of your body obviously.
So lots of different options here. All of them are going to help you with that area of critical focus. The other area that's a problem you really can't fix and post is going to be that exposure problem, and when we'll come back, we'll take a look at that.
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