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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: You get the lens attached, you have framed up the shot, you have focused by eye, and you think you have it. Robbie Carman: Everything is perfect. Rich: But you probably don't, right? Robbie: No, I mean, focus is one of those things that unless you're paying perfect attention to it and testing it and checking it, your gut instinct about something being in focus is usually going to be wrong. So what we want to talk about today in this episode is a couple of different ways of checking your focus. We're going to begin with sort of a method that I learned way back when, when I was in school in sort of learning how to film and that kind of stuff, was the idea of punching in or zooming into your subject.
Now this is a practical technique that can be used for any object, a person, something sitting on a table, or whatever. The basic idea is that you're going to zoom into the object as close as you can get and then adjust your focus to that object, maybe the point of somebody's nose, if you're doing an interview or hands or whatever it may be, set focus there, and then zoom back out. Fortunately, there's actually two ways of approaching this. You can actually physically zoom in with the lens and then zoom back out, but a lot of the DSLR cameras are going to provide us sort of a sensor zoom function where we can go one-to-one, the pixels on the sensor and actually get a much closer view to be able to line up our focus.
Rich: Well, you know that there is the benefit of physically zooming in the camera and checking your focus, unless of course you're using a prime lens or your f-stop is going to change with your zoom. So let's do that zoom method first, and it looks perfectly in focus, right? Robbie: Right. Rich: Well, we can go ahead and zoom that in, but I am at the end of my zoom reach here. So while I'm trying to do that by eye-- Robbie: Yeah, it looks okay, I guess. Rich: Yeah, but it's not necessarily perfect. So zoom in as far as you can physically, ideally so you're getting as close to the subject.
But in other words, you still probably aren't far enough. But fortunately, when we're recording with the DSLR video to the sensor, we're not using the whole sensor, right? Robbie: No, absolute not. And one of the benefits that these cameras have, when we cut back in here is that if we punch in a little bit by using sort of these Plus and Minus buttons on the camera, you'll notice that I can actually get a much closer view of the actual object itself. Rich: So, while we looked to be in focus before... Robbie: I was slightly off. And the thing about this is that because we're zoomed in to that sensor, to one-to-one pixel ratio there, we can get a much more accurate method of focusing.
Rich: Now the thing is, is for example when I hit Record, it automatically pops back out. Robbie: That's a good point. You're not going to actually be recording your video sort of zoomed in this much. This is just sort of a diagnostic way of sort of checking your focus, and it's definitely one that I think that everybody and every camera user out there using a DSLR should employ, simply because your eyes lie to you, and what looks to be in focus on a small little LCD screen might not be truly in sharp focus. So it's always a good idea to use this sort of function--sort of punching or sort of zoom-in function to double check it. Rich: Yeah, it is just a digital preview.
Now when we come back, we're going to talk about strategies when you don't have a clear subject to check focus with or perhaps you need to use an object as a stand-in for your subject, and that's all about using a target.
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