I'm looking for a video camera that can automatically change the focus point while recording. I see this technique a lot but don't know if it has an official name. Does anyone know what this ability is called and if any prosumer level camcorders can do it automatically?
Thanx to all for the quick responses. I was in a chat session with a Panasonic rep earlier today trying to figure out if the new Panasonic HC-X1000 4K-60p/50p could do it but I don't think it can (nor did the rep impress me that she was keen on features as she just seemed to cut and paste features from the ads as responses to my questions). She did send me a download to the camcorder's manual and on page 32 it only talked about changing the focus manually by turning the focus ring, which of course I can already do with my DSLR but it always induces lots of shakiness.
At least I know something out there exists. In fact, I recall seeing an ad for a camera or camcorder a few years ago where you could use your finger on the monitor screen to change the point of focus. Does anyone know of such device?
[I]" In fact, I recall seeing an ad for a camera or camcorder a few years ago where you could use your finger on the monitor screen to change the point of focus. Does anyone know of such device?"[/I]
the Sony HXR-NX30 has this.
The problem though is the camera has to be in autofocus and the camera will attempt to track the thing you want it to focus on. That's fine until the object moves out of frame.
My EX1 has a slightly more useful feature, assisted manual focus. With that you can rack focus and then the autofocus system will bring the closest object into precise focus...mostly ;(
The problem is what you're after sounds simple to achieve but it's an engineering nightmare and the result is a system that'll work some of the time and go badly wrong some of the time too ruining the shot. That's why at the professional level the focus puller puts marks on the floor for the talent to "hit" and he has marks on his follow focus gear for each of those marks.
Exactly! Thanx for the link Oldsmoke. The SONY narrator calls it "rack focus" via SONY's transition abilities. So it looks like I need to focus on (pun intended) camcorders that offer a rack focus ability.
Ouch, I just checked some prices for the PMW-EX3 and it's way beyond my budget (about $10,000 on Amazon) but I imagine I can find this feature in lower priced camcorders as it seems like a fairly simple task.
I just did a search for "4K camcorder with rack focus" and found this: Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera with 3.5-Inch LCD (Black) for under $2000. This has me intrigued - time to read up on it.
I'm in a chat session with SONY products and so far they aren't finding any affordable camcorders with this ability. But all is not lost, I just found a tutorial on how to do rack focus automatically with a Canon T3i with Magic Lantern firmware which is what I already have on my Canon 60D and T2i. It looks like I already have that ability but not in 4K.
I'll keep searching, maybe some of these new 4K DSLRs can do rack focus.
I do own an AX100 but I have not found a way to do shot transition or rack focus. The only possibility is on screen focusing but that is hardly a shot transition as you cant program the time nor any other settings such as zoom, iris and so on.
My EX1 has the "shot transition" feature the same as the EX3.
Having never even though of using it I read the manual, there's several pages about it. You'd really want to rehearse doing a rack focus using that and several times :(
The shot transition facility on the EX1 works very well in set ups, but not something I'd use hand held.
However I wouldn't call it 'automatic' because you have to set up end points, rate of focus change and how focus rate transitions approaching the stops. Shot transition facility can combine zoom with the focus rack, and that's when it is most useful -- when you don't have an assistant. Mostly manual racking is preferable.
I'm presuming the question is not about auto focus, quite a different matter.
I finally got around to using the Shot Transition feature in my Sony FX1 (after eight years of using it). Interesting gimmick, but totally unusable.
Because you can't limit what it controls. I wanted it to control only the focus, but it also insisted in memorizing and then playing back the zoom. I thought it would be great for the ballet, where I wanted to track the focus as the dancer moved from backstage to frontstage. Unfortunately, since I also am racking the zoom as I track the dancer, I found that when I pushed one of the presets, while I got the focus I wanted, I also got an unwanted zoom, usually in the wrong direction from what I wanted at that moment.
I'm sure other cameras have a more refined version of this feature that would let you control these things independently.
And yes, I do understand that, in the strictest sense, focus doesn't perfectly track as you zoom, but in a decent camera, it should, and therefore you should be able to set focus points and use those at slightly different zoom ratios, and still pull good focus.
Well, only in news, as far as I've heard, and that's been around for quite a while. Dramas, comedies and even reality shows are all still manual focus, in fact, I've yet to see a broadcast lens that even has auto-focus. I know Fujinon has some prototypes that they dragged out to "The Voice" for the operators on the long lenses to try out but they were deemed worthless.