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Tip of the Day

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Karl ARNDT
Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 5:06:26 pm

Morning Team, Karl here. Here is a great discovery that I have not heard before. When standing around your event with your camera in "Stand-by", shut off the auto focus mode. It will save batteries, but more importantly, it will save your auto focus motors. They are working like mad when you are waving your camera around looking for something to record.


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David Jones
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:46:19 pm

We don't use auto focus!


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Karl Arndt
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 7:54:30 pm

What does that mean? We? Nobody? Nobody in this forum? Stupid responce.


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mike velte
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 8:24:03 pm

He should have said; "We dont admit to using auto focus"! Thanks for the tip!


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Doug Graham
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 9:25:28 pm

If your camera has a "Push Auto" button, you have the best of both worlds!



Regards,
Doug Graham


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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 9:31:25 pm

If your camera has a "Push Auto" button, you have the best of both worlds!
====

Ohh, I love that button! :-) It's certainly the safest way to use AF 'cause you won't accidentally forget you've left it on.


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Karl ARNDT
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 9:37:02 pm

The "Push Auto" is even a better technique.


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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 8:42:20 pm

What he means is that auto-focus can be unreliable and so professional shooters don't like to use it.

But you're right, whenever someone mentions "auto-focus" around here they shoulnd't get a terse respons implying that they're an idiot for even thinking about using it.

If everything goes perfectly, I'd never use auto-focus either. But the people with that attitude fail to account for the fact that as event shooters, we don't always have the benefit of having everything going perfectly. Sometimes things pop up quickly that I have to shoot. Like the bride may suddenly come out of her dressing room into a backlit hallway and I try to shoot her walking backwards while turning on my light and adjusting the manual iris and zoom. In that situation I will CERTAINLY turn on auto-focus right away. Once I get the other factors taken care of I'll come back to the focus and attend to it manually.

I have also used the AF when I'm doing a pre-focus. If I'm doing a tripod shoot of a table setting, I'll zoom in on the flowers, hit AF, turn it off and then zoom out. After years of shooting I have yet to see that technique fail. The problem with AF is that it can become confused. If you use it in a situation where it has no chance of being confused then it's absolutly safe to use it.

It's a tool, just like any other. You could easily compare it to auto-audio-levels. Yes, I'll adjust them manually with headphones when I have a wireless mic plugged in, but for the camera mic gettnig natural sound at a reception I'll switch it to auto. AF is the same way, you just have to know when and how it's ok to use it. You don't want to use it all the time, but never using it is a bit silly too.

I always want to ask the "never use it" people what they'd do in my walking-backwards example above. There are more jobs there than I have hands, something has to be put off for a second, I think that AF is a good tool to tide me over for a few seconds in that situation.


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Karl ARNDT
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 9:34:11 pm

Very insightful and articulate. I have to say that shooting live events in not perfect light that manual focusing is a tremendous challenge. I shoot with a PD-150, and the new Z-1 and rarely have problems that I can't recompose and reset the focus. If I was younger with better eyes, and more time I would use manual focus more.


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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 8, 2005 at 9:45:29 pm

Yes, the key is to manage when and how you use AF and to not just leave it on. I'll often be shooting people dancing and I'll decide to make a quick whip from one dancer to another. I'll do the whip in manual focus but then instantly hit the AF-button for a half second once I land on the new subject. I then let go of it and go from there, but I've found that the AF can put me a lot closer to where I want to be (a lot faster too). I consider this kind of use to be a must for my work.


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Alex
Since you asked....
by
on Jun 9, 2005 at 2:07:36 am

I certainly do not mean to sound snotty! But since you asked, I will answer your question. You said whay would I do in this situation:

"shoot walking backwards while turning on my light and adjusting the manual iris and zoom."

My Answer: turning on the light takes no more than a half-second (no different than turning on auto-focus I assume). After that, the left hand is the focus hand, the right hand is on the zoom, and the right thumb rides the iris. In general, if you are zooming out and slowly turning the focus clockwise you will have no focus problems... if the person is going the other direction and you are zooming in while turning the focus counterclockwise...this is where the real skill comes in. However, with motion is is normal to expect some quick patched of softness...tv viewers are "trained" to see it so it is no big deal if it happens on occasion for a short moment.


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David Jones
Re: Since you asked....
on Jun 9, 2005 at 12:48:10 pm

My response was not meant to be pissy.
When I said "we" I was referring to myself, and the other videographers/cinematographers that work for me.
We shoot with manual lenses in 90% of the shoots we do.
And when we have to use a lens that is an auto-focus unit, I have the shooter switch it into manual mode.
I would rather have a cinematographer use his or her experience in choosing the focal point instead of an inanimate object making that call.


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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Since you asked....
on Jun 9, 2005 at 2:29:45 pm

I would rather have a cinematographer use his or her experience in choosing the focal point instead of an inanimate object making that call.
====

I just wanted to point out what Doug had said earlier, the "push auto" button is very useful. If I zoom in on something, hit the auto on for a second and then zoom out, I'm still "choosing the focal point." I agree that leaving AF on while panning around is a bad idea. But when I zoom in on a woman's necklace and hit AF for a second and then zoom back out on manual focus, well I've never had that cause a problem.


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Karl ARNDT
Re: Since you asked....
on Jun 9, 2005 at 9:22:08 pm

Thanks David, Karl here. I did not realize that most of you are shooting with bigger professional cameras. Most of the people I know, shooting weddings, are using the PD-150/170 quality cameras. My question is, using this level of gear, how does one see well enough using the view finder or worse the LCD to manual focus? Outside is almost always very bright. Inside, dark, under lit. I can't see well enough to manual focus. Especially when things are happening so fast.


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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Since you asked....
on Jun 9, 2005 at 2:21:42 pm

After that, the left hand is the focus hand, the right hand is on the zoom...
=====

Sorry, I'm using a VX-2000. If I do that then no one is holding the camera.

Hey, I'd be perfectly happy to borrow the DSR-390 from work and use that at weddings. I'd have no AF and I wouldn't need it. I would take that option in a second, no question! I like my regular job better than my weekend work when it comes to cameras.

But the fact of the matter is, at weddings I'm holding a much smaller camera out in front of me and that's going to require some compromises.


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Bradbro
Re: Since you asked....
on Jun 11, 2005 at 6:04:48 am

I was shooting a dance show in a very large auditorium (lighting was very dark too most of the time) from the back row. I didn't fare well when attempting to shoot with manual focus. First of all you had to be zoomed almost all the way out to get a medium shot (all the way for close-ups that weren't that close-up) Alot of time lasped before getting perfect focus (read alot of unusable footage) couple that with the wide stage and the fast paced action and I gave up and went back to auto focus. But the push auto sounds like it might be a happy medium.


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Story Catcher
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 11, 2005 at 11:35:56 pm

Thanks for the tip Karl.
I've been filming for over 10 years now professionally. I've used auto focus when needed.

Clearly, your intention was to share some information - thanks. It's a shame that this forum often has snarky remarks to a well-intentioned post.

H


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Karl ARNDT
Re: Tip of the Day
on Jun 12, 2005 at 6:35:21 pm

Story Catcher H, Thank you. Actually the thread turned into a good flow of valuable information. Thanks to everyone.


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