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Out the camera game for a while - what can you suggest for now? (low budget but decent)


andrew00
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On 8/16/2021 at 5:31 AM, fuzzynormal said:

So, there seems to be a sentiment of “I need AF” when one buys a new camera.  I do think that’s a misconception, yes.

Maybe I’m misjudging?  Numerous YT vids about enthusiast cameras sure make it sound like AF is an absolutely critical function —and inferior AF is enough to dismiss a camera outright. 

Since I’m a manual focus guy, I don’t agree with this assertion, but to each their own. 

Seems to me that there's a feedback loop going on here...

  1. People want shallow DoF for the "cinematic" look
  2. People use AF to record themselves without an operator
  3. AF makes mistakes and sometimes these end up in the final edit
  4. People watch videos and notice that the focus is off sometimes
  5. People who watch those videos and want to make their own content bump up "focus" as a priority
  6. Brands market the crap out of AF as a feature
  7. People decide that AF is the solution to focus issues
  8. Go to 2

So the loop goes around and around and we end up with people knowing that AF is the solution without even knowing what the problem is.

I think the reality is that you have to choose one of the below:

  • Get some shots out of focus
  • Shoot with deep DoF
  • Shoot with an operator
  • Shoot with soft 1080p
  • Spend a lot of money
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6 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

I don't disagree with any of that.  However, there's another option to chose from:  "Set focus and don't move"!

Humans move instinctively, and quite frankly, anyone saying anything worth listening to will probably move too much simply because they're emotionally engaged in what they're saying.

I don't think that's a practical option, unless you want to replicate the early days of moving pictures where everyone stood still like they were dead and skewered because that's what they were used to from having their portraits taken with low ASA film and having to stand motionless for 30s.

But you're right that it is an option, here's a revised list:

  • Set focus and only shoot boring videos where nothing ever moves
  • Get some shots out of focus
  • Shoot with deep DoF
  • Shoot with an operator
  • Shoot with soft 1080p
  • Spend a lot of money
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Perhaps everything doesn't actually have to be in sharp focus all the time. I, like everyone else here, I'd guess, have watched a lot of movies and a lot of TV over the years and (although most of the time I wasn't particularly taking much notice of it) I'm pretty sure there were plenty of OOF moments when protagonists / subjects moved in and out of focus and the crew/operator reacquired it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that such an approach gives a much livelier, dare I say, cinematic sequence.

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1 hour ago, Tim Sewell said:

Perhaps everything doesn't actually have to be in sharp focus all the time. I, like everyone else here, I'd guess, have watched a lot of movies and a lot of TV over the years and (although most of the time I wasn't particularly taking much notice of it) I'm pretty sure there were plenty of OOF moments when protagonists / subjects moved in and out of focus and the crew/operator reacquired it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that such an approach gives a much livelier, dare I say, cinematic sequence.

I like the feel of MF, but I don't film myself so I don't have to worry about it.

I've also noticed OOF shots regularly on all but the highest budget productions.  I'm rewatching some favourite 90s shows and I see the odd shot where they missed focus, even shots without any action at all, and the show is in SD!  You wouldn't have thought it would have been that hard to focus in SD, but monitoring was probably terrible in comparison to todays options, so there you go.

I think it's an anxiety-inducing thing because when AF goes wrong, it can go SERIOUSLY wrong, and that's what people are afraid of.

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3 hours ago, kye said:

I think it's an anxiety-inducing thing because when AF goes wrong, it can go SERIOUSLY wrong, and that's what people are afraid of.

From bitter experience, I would never EVER trust unmanned AF with any camera, no matter what flavour.

If I need to leave a camera unmanned...and I often do during ceremonies and speeches at weddings, I tend to use AF to acquire focus and then immediately flip it to MF.

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7 hours ago, Tim Sewell said:

plenty of OOF moments when protagonists / subjects moved in and out of focus and the crew/operator reacquired it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that such an approach gives a much livelier, dare I say, cinematic sequence.

I subscribe to this idea.  Shooting a narrative short that'll put this to the test in a few weeks.  I'm gonna pull focus on the fly by eye.  If it goes a little soft in a few places, "oh well!"  

If the dolly bumps in a few places, "oh well!"

There's gonna be a bunch of "oh well!" and I kind of love it.

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