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Any tips for run and gun manual focus? (on the nx1)


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  • 3 weeks later...

Magnifying for initialfocus is really handy, but for run & gun - your first frame will be in focus at least...

I get great results my Nikkors, and I only have the 16-50 kit lens, which is nice for steadicam and such, but more for the OIS.

First thing is (and no sarcasm intended) you really have to learn to focus manually. It's an art/skill that you can never stop getting better at. You have to get 2nd nature with your lens, know what directions are near and far and how long the throw is. If you're having issues, practice every day. You have to learn to anticipate people's movements and how to shift focus for tiny movements you're making. I made my living shooting catalogs and stuff (stills) in the 90's and did a few years before AF - you had to be really good at it or you weren't working long. Keep your camera handy and practice every day.

I tend to use a follow focus handheld (shoulder mount), and I have rail handles that can slide around to get where I can hold the camera and focus, but it's imperfect - you just have to adapt and be able to focus with one finger on the wheel sometimes. But an FF can be a big step up. The Fotga DPII is an amazing bargain, too.

I think a lot of people's handheld focus problems are in part because they're poor at moving the camera handheld - I just did a huge medical project with footage supplied from (supposedly) pro media companies, and a lot was just junk - jello and bad pulls and an inability to hold focus and stability on anything long enough for me to use in the edit. The client was sitting with me and we were both cussing like sailors. "oooh, nice shot - aww, F&@$!!! Come on man!!!". 5 good frames in a 10 second clip. When B roll that I shot came up, she was like "what a relief". You can even get smooth footage from a jello-king D7000, but you have to learn to move it like butter. (and shoot the NX1 1080 whenever you don't need 4K, it's got about the best sensor skew in its class when it's not 4k).

With the NX1, I use peaking and try to use the VF when I can, it's really a very good combo. With the LCD or external monitor, I wear a pair of cheap "reader" glasses which is a big improvement, too. (I wear contacts but with the readers, i can get really close to the screen, it's a huge cheat for me and I buy those things by the dozen from Amazon).

(Sorry of any of this sounds condescending and you may know some of it already.)

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