I just bought a Sony ex-3 and I'm about to start filming a hunting show and I was messing around with it trying to get used to it. I guess my question might be simply answered but here it goes. I was wondering if auto focus would be an option and I know that auto focus is really a no no but there is so much live action that it's hard to keep focus in manual, also when I go to get a shot of someone walking across a field for example on infinite focus the don't stay sharp through the whole walk, just at the tightest and widest on the lens, is auto focus the way to go for these type of shots? or is there something screwy with the camera ,thanks.
I use auto focus about half the time. It works very well in most cases outside but if you notice it hunting back and forth just change to manual and it will be fine. Make sure you have "peaking" turned on, this helps a huge amount keeping things in focus. I set my peaking to the color yellow and turn the peaking knob on the front of the viewfinder until the first level of peaking appears. If you turn peaking up to much it interfers with your picture so much it gets annoying. If you have the time manual focus works best but if you are running and gunning then use auto as you won't have time to manual focus, frame your shots and keep everything else organized as well. Good luck.
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I understand the concern and I really try not to use auto-focus, especially when I suspect that the background will pull the focus in the direction of the background and cause the subject to go out of focus. Busy backgrounds are murder with auto-focus. If you are hand-holding the camera then you might consider keeping your left finger close to the auto-focus button, know where it is. I think this is why Sony put it there as the first and lowest button. Do it by feel. You also have the ability to click the focus ring in and out of place, but this will cause a glitch in camera movement that is undesirable. I would generally keep this ring engaged but know where the auto-focus button is in order to click it on and off. It also depends on the speed of the subject and training yourself to think in an arc of distance. If the subject is running past you at the same distance, then you don't need auto, but if it is running towards you or away and you are in tele, then consider that button for a quick on and off.
All of this being said, use the PEAKING feature on the camera so you can tell when you're in focus in the eyepiece. In fact, never buy a monitor that doesn't have some kind of peaking feature if you're going to use it in the field.
Also, since you're new to the camera, get Doug Jensen's DVD at http://www.vortexmedia.com/DVD_EX3.html in order to understand the workflow. Sony doesn't teach you a damn thing about it and Creative Cow is full of panic questions about XDCam workflow. It's so easy to write over the BPAV folder unless you know what you're doing. Don't mess with the contents of the BPAV folders either. Create individual folders for each card ingest. And you need to download XDCam Browser as well as XDCam Transfer if you're working in FCP, and don't forget the drivers. Go to:
[Greg Ondera] " I would generally keep this ring engaged but know where the auto-focus button is in order to click it on and off."
Just to clarify one point of Greg's good advice, keep the focus ring engaged for auto-focus (forward) but slide the focus switch to manual mode. Now you'll be able to use manual focus but when you want to push the auto-focus button Greg describes it will work. If the focus ring is pulled back to manual mode none of the focus buttons will make a difference. I think that's what Greg meant but I didn't want there to be any ambiguity.
I like my EX1R for this very reason. It's got an auto focus button right on the hand grip. Pro lenses with an auto focus feature will generally have this same hand grip button just in front of the zoom rocker.
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