Lost all Confidence in HM100
I'm in a pinch here and looking for some info. After tons of research I purchased a brand new HM100 from B&H back in late May to shoot with on a year long project. I've added several batteries and SD cards as well as a few other accessories. I really liked the tapeless idea, the ease of FCS workflow and the small form factor for documentary assignments however...... After shooting on this project for three months now I've lost all confidence in the camera and am just about ready to ship it back to JVC. Everything I'm shooting on this project is a one time shot, no second chances or reshoots so the camera has to work properly. Unfortunately the last two days of shooting at a county fair have left me with very little usable footage. I shoot everything I can in manual exposure mode but do use auto focus most of the time as my eye sight has gotten worse over the years. Until Saturday my footage with this camera had been very good but now the camera is hunting focus constantly throughout the footage. It's just slight focus adjustments, sometimes the focus is just a bit jumpy.. Doesn't seem to matter if the camera is on a tripod with the OIS off, handheld with the OIS on or on a Glidecam with the OIS on or off. Day time outdoors, indoors or night time on the midway, I still received the same focus shifting. Will not focus in slow pan, left right or up and down. Almost impossible to see the focus shifting in the viewfinder or on the monitor, I didn't even see it until the footage was captured in FCS. I'm waiting to hear back from tech support at JVC but I already have a pretty good idea as to what their going to tell me to do with the camera. I've checked every setting I can think of and even tried to upload new firm ware but the JVC site was experiencing some technical difficulties and I couldn't get my camera info accepted. So I'm thinking of bailing out on this camera, switching to something else, but I'm already deep into this project and worried about matching footage with a different camera. I guess I should have kept my XH-A1 but really wanted something smaller and tapeless for this project. Any suggestions on what would come close to matching the HM100 footage ?
Thanks for any advice.
Your camera is working exactly as it's designed. Autofocus isn't magic. When given multiple objects in a frame to focus on, it can only focus on one -- and in most cases, it's the wrong one. That's why professional camera operators do not use autofocus. The only time I have ever found it useful is when setting up a run-n-gun shot, where I hit the autofocus momentarily as a shortcut, because sometimes the camera gets it right and it saves me a second or two.
Bottom line: there's nothing wrong with your camera.
I respectfully disagree and since you don't know me I'm somewhat offended by your reply. Never said or expected autofocus to be magic. We're not newbies and this is not our first camera. We operate a small production company and have several years of experience in video production. We own other cameras but chose the HM100 for this project. We don't claim to know everything but we do know the symptoms I posted are NOT normal even for auto focus. This camera was NOT designed to operate like this. We've shot with several different cameras, for clients that actually paid us because that's how we make our living, guess that makes us professionals and we've never experienced this issue with auto focus. Maybe we've just been lucky. I've seen cameras miss the focus and I've seen cameras hunt for focus but the symptoms we're experiencing are not the typical focus hunting or missing focusing for an object in the foreground or farther away in the background. We've shot hundreds of hours of footage on auto focus with pannys, canons and now with the HM100 and this is the first time this has ever happened.
Bottom line: There's a problem with this camera. What we're experiencing is not normal for auto focus.
Anyone else have any useful info that might help answer my original question ?
Oh, sorry. I didn't realize you were a professional cameraman. (It must have been when you said "HM100" and "autofocus" that threw me.)
Please excuse me while I bow out and let all the other professional cameramen who use autofocus chime in here.
Steve -- post example footage. Your camera might actually be broken if it's hunting that bad.
Meteor Tower Films
We make music videos, design video for live theater, and build interesting contraptions.
We have three new HM100's employed next to our F350's and EX3. We have noticed that the cameras will hunt for focus in low light, or if there is great contrast. The HM100 has all the professional features needed to produce professional video IMHO. We don't trust the accuracy of the flip out LCD; however, the image in the viewfinder is usable for establishing focus and levels. For run-and-gun, which some professionals do, the autofocus is decent, but not perfect. We work with very young children in cramped quarters, so we had to switch to smaller "professional" HD cameras. The size of the F350's frightens the children, distracts them or whacks them in the head. You use what tool is best for the given environment and we got three HM100's for the price of one EX3. Is it a perfect camera? No, but it does get the job done.
Have you attempted to reset the camera?
Have to agree with Mark on this one. I dont even own an a camera that does autofocus. WHy ? For the exact reason you mentioned. I have 2 x GDY 101's and dont even use the LCD screens. Viewfinder only. If you know how to pull the focus on a good Fujinon you will never go back.
I can tell you that a year ago a mate of mine got a Canon XHa1 and he had the same problem you have with the JVC. He shot weddings and kept complaining that the camera would hunt for focus. I used to own a P2 and that had numerous autofocus issues. You would do an interview with a left to right configuration and the person you would be interviewing would be "soft" while the background was in focus.
You should be able to set the autofocus zone. Centered or scattered ?
On the Canon you can ? That should help ?