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Canon DPAF vs ARRI Alexa Mini with Focus Puller

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In this test they pit the Canon EOS R's DPAF against the Arri Alexa Mini with a dedicated focus puller, using a $100k focusing system. Keep in mind the Canon also supports touch to focus with a tablet or smartphone (though this was not tested). Which do you think did better?

 

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Focus pullers should not be worried. I mean there are tons of creative decisions that you can do with a focus puller, that you couldnt do with DPAF. Allthough If you are doing a following shot or something DPAF seems to work better and a lot cheaper and faster too. So it depends on the situation, or what you are trying to achieve. 

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Focusing breaks down into two parts. First, deciding what to focus on, and second, actually focusing on that object. The first task should be done by a person in most cases. There is no reason to do the second manually.

The problem with the MF vs. AF decision is that we don't split those parts into distinct tools.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is currently nothing out there that uses the camera's AF system, but allows for complete manual control of which part of the image the camera is using DPAF to focus on. You can use a touchscreen tap to focus in some cases, but that's unusable in most situations that you really need a focus puller for--for example steadicam shots.

It's pretty easy to imagine a better system, where a focus puller makes all the artistic decisions, but the actual precision work of moving the lens elements is automatic.

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The dancer was sick but this was kinda of a silly test. The better AC was like neck and neck with the DPAF. I think if you put in a 10+ year AC vet or a Pro Sports Camera man they would exceed any autofocus system.

It really comes down to the skill of the AC, not to mention most legit video lenses don't have AF motors.

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Of course a real person with an iPad linked to the Canon could be the best of both worlds. All the person need do is to tap on the screen of the iPad to select focus points.

The tech has truly made huge leaps in recent years.

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3 hours ago, zerocool22 said:

Focus pullers should not be worried. I mean there are tons of creative decisions that you can do with a focus puller, that you couldnt do with DPAF. Allthough If you are doing a following shot or something DPAF seems to work better and a lot cheaper and faster too. So it depends on the situation, or what you are trying to achieve. 

They will have a different name onwards anyway. AF focus puller (E : -)

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9 hours ago, DBounce said:

Of course a real person with an iPad linked to the Canon could be the best of both worlds. All the person need do is to tap on the screen of the iPad to select focus points.

The tech has truly made huge leaps in recent years.

I do agree that the tech is amazing lately, but I strongly disagree with the core of your comment.

My impression of it is that you have never worked on a real production or understand exactly what the job of a focus puller is.

Focus pulling is not only technical but artistic as well. The way the focus puller works distincts him/her from other professionals and make his/hers career.

Pulling focus is not exactly keep an object in focus, you can do that taping a screen, but usually the artistry and the tone that sets the movement is before reaching your focus objective.

I used to use the C100mkII and now the C200 all the time, but AF was never more than 5-10% of my workflow. Maybe even less.

On another note, a few TV productions here are using the Tilta wireless focus with gimbals a lot lately, it is almost a stable in the workflow and a trend I see going on for the next couple of years at least.

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9 hours ago, DBounce said:

Of course a real person with an iPad linked to the Canon could be the best of both worlds. All the person need do is to tap on the screen of the iPad to select focus points.

The tech has truly made huge leaps in recent years.

Well with an ipad, I dont think its easy to control the speed of the focus pull, sometimes you want it very slow, sometimes very fast. Sometimes you want to do a ramp, from slow to fast, or from fast to slow, or stop before anything really is in focus(no focus mark) I think you can only do these kind of things with an actual manual controller.

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For the Pocket4K, I know of a device that uses a wheel to manually control the speed of the pull between two marked points on electronic lenses.

My main takeaway from the video is how insanely priced the ultrasonic "AF" systems for the cinema cameras are.

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@Kisaha , @zerocool22 you can adjust the speed of the focus in camera. You might even be able to assign the speed of the pull via the control ring... I'd have to check... but it may be possible. Can't recall if this can be done via the app?

All I'm saying is the playing field is being leveled.

@Kisaha, fyi, I have worked on professional productions, but I do this stuff for fun. I've also watched many movies,  and like pretty much everyone else that has watched movies, I understand that the speed of a focus transition can be used to set a mode.

While I do own the Tilta... and it's fantastic, I use it less these days. That's a good thing. It makes setting up quicker.

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On 6/29/2019 at 12:33 PM, DBounce said:

Of course a real person with an iPad linked to the Canon could be the best of both worlds. All the person need do is to tap on the screen of the iPad to select focus points.

 


A focus puller does much more than just tapping on a screen

On 6/29/2019 at 10:16 PM, Kisaha said:

I do agree that the tech is amazing lately, but I strongly disagree with the core of your comment.

 My impression of it is that you have never worked on a real production or understand exactly what the job of a focus puller is.

Focus pulling is not only technical but artistic as well.


I agree, and also the job of Focus Pulling is so so much more than just pulling the focus! Thus even if there is no actual pulling of focus on a shoot you could still need a "Focus Puller".

As they're basically #1 in change of running the camera department . (the DoP shouldn't be getting bogged down in the details of micro managing the camera department during the shoot itself)

 

On 6/29/2019 at 10:16 PM, Kisaha said:

On another note, a few TV productions here are using the Tilta wireless focus with gimbals a lot lately, it is almost a stable in the workflow and a trend I see going on for the next couple of years at least.


Absolutely, I've seen similar over the past year on the shoots I'm working on, as Tilta seems to be owning the low budget market when it comes to focus pulling. 

 

On 6/29/2019 at 10:33 PM, BTM_Pix said:

My main takeaway from the video is how insanely priced the ultrasonic "AF" systems for the cinema cameras are.


Everything in the cinema market is insanely priced! 

But hey, if you're getting hundreds of dollars per day rental for your ARRI WCU-4 then it makes perfect financial sense to buy one if you're getting enough regular work as a 1st AC (as one of my 1st AC mates did recently, he purchased an ARRI WCU-4 a few months ago).

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Well I was only kidding but to be fair the reality is that it is similarly niche.

I've bought gazillions of cakes in my life but only one wedding cake.

So in the overall world of cake, the wedding ones represent a tiny slice of the......nope, I can't do it.

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