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Using focusing aids for shooting video

From: Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

Video: Using focusing aids for shooting video

As you have begun shooting video with your DSLR, you've undoubtedly thought a bit about using the LCD. You have to use the LCD for shooting video with the standard DSLR because the light is not going to your regular viewfinder. It is only going to the sensor for video. In this movie, we are going to be talking about some focusing issues that we have with video when shooting with a DSLR. I am going to give you some ideas about dealing with these problems, including showing you some accessories that may help. Let's face it.

Using focusing aids for shooting video

As you have begun shooting video with your DSLR, you've undoubtedly thought a bit about using the LCD. You have to use the LCD for shooting video with the standard DSLR because the light is not going to your regular viewfinder. It is only going to the sensor for video. In this movie, we are going to be talking about some focusing issues that we have with video when shooting with a DSLR. I am going to give you some ideas about dealing with these problems, including showing you some accessories that may help. Let's face it.

The LCD can be hard to use for focusing. However, since that's all we have for video, we are going to have to deal with it. So, let's look at some ways we can get the most out of using the LCD on your camera. First, focus fast. There's actually research done that says that focusing is more accurate and more consistent when you do it quickly. The reason for this is because as you focus quickly, the image goes in and out of focus fast enough that you can really see the difference.

So, if I look at this particular image here and I go in and out of focus very quickly, you can see that when it's sharp it snaps in and out of focus. However, I do it slowly, fades in and out and it's harder to see where that focus point is. Another thing to look for is contrast. You actually will find that the image on your LCD gets more contrasty where it is sharp and less contrasty where it is out of focus. It's sometimes easier to look for that contrast than it is to actually see whether something is sharp or not.

So, if you look here, I am going to again do that and watch that and you could see the contrast change. I am going to zoom in a little bit so you can see it even better. See the contrast change around that dial? That really helps to know if we are in or out of focus. Now, if your subject is not moving or it is moving to and from the same location, you can use a focusing aid that is available on most DSLRs today. This can magnify your image on your LCD and then you do your focusing.

So, I am going to push button here and it magnifies it, so I can see it much, much easier. Now, every camera handles this a little differently, but having a magnifying view can really help you zero in your focus. So, again I can look at this and watch it go in and out of focus. Then I can magnify it even one more step and that really shows off my sharpness Then I go back and I know that it's sharp right in that area. Finally, practice. I can tell you from experience that you really do get better at focusing with your LCD when you practice.

If the only time that's you are using your LCD for focus is when you have to shoot video, you're going to find it more challenging and frustrating. To make focusing on your LCD easier, you can find magnifiers and hoods that go over your LCD and help you see it better. I find the Zacuto finder is highly corrected, which makes it really work well in magnifying that LCD. These devices are attached to your camera back in several ways depending on the unit.

They block light from hitting the LCD and magnify the full image. They're a very effective way of getting a better view of your LCD for focusing and composing, including changing focus as you shoot. One thing about this is the modern LCDs have such a high resolution that when you magnify them, you're actually seeing detail really well for focusing. Now, there is no question. There is an added cost for these things and the Zacuto unit is not cheap.

Maybe you can get by with just practice using your LCD and learning to get the most from it, or you may find that having an aide like this makes the experience of shooting video so much better. Now, another option is a small external monitor like this one from Marshall Electronics. These get even more expensive than finders. However, if you want a really great experience in shooting video, you may want to consider this: that experience can translate into better video.

I really like these external monitors. They give you a bigger view of your video as you shoot which helps immensely for focusing, including focusing as you shoot. Plsu, you can position this monitor. I am putting it up on the camera, very easy to do. And you can position this for getting a higher angle, lower angle and so forth. I also like having this extra monitor when playing back my video in the field. It's a lot easier to see what I got or didn't get when looking at the video.

Now, what you're seeing here is actually what would be displayed on this monitor. So, it's pretty cool to be able to see that bigger, not this big of course, but bigger on this monitor with your camera. Now, to be honest, I don't always use an extra monitor or finder when I am shooting because it is something extra added to the camera and sometimes it's just unwieldy and inconvenient. Sometimes it's much simpler to work with the camera and it's LCD. And like I said, with practice you can do that quite effectively.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR
Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR

33 video lessons · 24796 viewers

Rob Sheppard
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 43s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. What video can do for you
      1m 27s
  2. 23m 13s
    1. Stopping time in photography vs. recording over time with video
      4m 14s
    2. Shooting for movement over time
      3m 58s
    3. Composing for constantly changing visuals
      4m 42s
    4. Adjusting to shooting for a non-RAW medium
      3m 26s
    5. Understanding resolution for video
      3m 36s
    6. Choosing a video frame rate
      3m 17s
  3. 37m 21s
    1. Comparing DSLRs with traditional camcorders
      6m 18s
    2. Comparing sensor sizes among DSLR cameras
      5m 26s
    3. Considering noise when comparing sensor sizes
      3m 8s
    4. Choosing memory cards and batteries
      3m 33s
    5. Understanding video tripods
      6m 10s
    6. Working with other camera supports
      3m 19s
    7. Using focusing aids for shooting video
      5m 29s
    8. Choosing lighting gear
      3m 58s
  4. 26m 23s
    1. Adjusting how you shoot
      6m 11s
    2. Limited "fixing" of images
      3m 42s
    3. Understanding the challenge of shutter speed
      3m 56s
    4. Getting the right exposure
      6m 59s
    5. Setting the right white balance
      5m 35s
  5. 19m 39s
    1. Understanding the importance of audio
      4m 5s
    2. Learning to work with sound
      4m 54s
    3. Gearing up for audio
      7m 19s
    4. Recording with external audio gear
      3m 21s
  6. 33m 56s
    1. Basic shooting
      6m 12s
    2. Shooting video to tell a story
      7m 27s
    3. Shooting for coverage
      4m 52s
    4. Understanding how to shoot movement
      4m 10s
    5. Shooting the moving subject
      4m 17s
    6. Creating movement
      6m 58s
  7. 6m 57s
    1. Preparing for the edit
      6m 57s
  8. 1m 47s
    1. Stay focused
      1m 47s

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