Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocus?

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Rikki

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Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocus?

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 3:23 am

Hi there,

My Panasonic has served well for over 4 years but Im looking to upgrade and since Pana dont have anything really new I thought Blackmagic - why not.

Do the current 2.5k and forthcoming 4k cameras offer autofocus at all or other ENG style features?

I primarily shoot events so AF is quite useful.

I have a large collection of Nikon F mount glass too - will AF work with these or will I have to invest in new glass there?

Thanks

Rikki
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Peter J. DeCrescenzo

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 3:47 am

The new BMPCC pocket cam will feature momentary auto-focus, as described on page 24 in the user manual available for download from BMD's website:
http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/

Momentary AF occurs when you press the FOCUS button on the camera when a digital MFT lens is in use. It's not continuous AF, and it's reportedly relatively slow. So, a useful convenience, but often not a substitute for careful manual focussing.

AF does not work with manual lenses.

I don't believe BMD has definitively committed to bringing this capability to the original BMCC-EF and the new BMPC-4K cams.

BMD cameras have other focus-related features, such as focus peaking and display magnify modes. Refer to the user manual for details.

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Rikki

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 10:33 am

Thanks for that. Run and gun style isnt going to work then unfortunately :(
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 10:47 am

It's doable, but it takes some balls, you have to learn how to focus fast and precise by hand.
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sebasti

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 10:57 am

There are very few occasions when you actually would want to use auto-focus in any kind of video shooting cause although it might work, it might also get it horribly wrong. If you are "push auto-man" you could as well focus from the ring instead of pressing that button every time you want to pull focus. Of course if you run around with small sensor camera such as HMC150 and mostly shoot wide, then pretty much everything is going to be in focus around the target even if the focus would be exactly correct. You get far better results focusing manually even when run 'n' gunning.
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Mac Jaeger

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 12:06 pm

From what i understand, the cameras don't have any kind of dedicated focus sensor, so they can only "search" for the best contrast ratio while constantly changing focus. For good results, the image has to be sampled and compared many times, while the focus gradually changes. This process is either slow or not very accurate, in case of the BM cameras i'm sure it will rather be slow as it isn't meant to be used constantly. It's about the same process you run when you focus manually and use focus highlighting. Once you have some experience and training you might be about as fast manually as the "auto"focus feature...!
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Christine Peterson

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 5:54 pm

Here's a direct quote from CEO Grant Petty's recent update email, which explains the plans for "autofocus."
The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is now shipping and there is a software update for it posted on our web site.

There are some new features in the software for the Pocket Cinema Camera. You can now focus by pushing the focus button when using an active MFT lens. This makes it very easy to accurately focus. The focus peaking feature is still there and you enable it by double pressing the focus button. The focus zoom feature is enabled by double pressing the OK button.

There will be an update for the 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera soon that will also add these features, plus new de-bayer processing that will improve the cameras sharpness when shooting non RAW files.

Since the EF version is an active mount and the MFT is not, the upcoming update he mentions will only affect the EF cameras.

It may also be worth noting that it isn't a true "autofocus" and hence we aren't calling it that officially. You can push the button to focus, but it won't automatically change the focus to another point if you are moving the camera around.
Christine Peterson

(Previously Community Relations Manager for Blackmagic Design)
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Rikki

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 10:53 pm

Mac Jaeger wrote:From what i understand, the cameras don't have any kind of dedicated focus sensor, so they can only "search" for the best contrast ratio while constantly changing focus. For good results, the image has to be sampled and compared many times, while the focus gradually changes. This process is either slow or not very accurate, in case of the BM cameras i'm sure it will rather be slow as it isn't meant to be used constantly. It's about the same process you run when you focus manually and use focus highlighting. Once you have some experience and training you might be about as fast manually as the "auto"focus feature...!


Hi there, I think most cameras that are not SLR based use contrast based AF. In an SLR the mirror passes the visual data to an AF matrix that then focuses so when the shutter is fired the mirror flips out of the way and its already focused.

With the Pana Im using at the moment it uses contrast AF Im almost certain so that being the case thought it would be possible with the BM systems :)
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Rikki

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 10:56 pm

Christine Peterson wrote:Here's a direct quote from CEO Grant Petty's recent update email, which explains the plans for "autofocus."
The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is now shipping and there is a software update for it posted on our web site.

There are some new features in the software for the Pocket Cinema Camera. You can now focus by pushing the focus button when using an active MFT lens. This makes it very easy to accurately focus. The focus peaking feature is still there and you enable it by double pressing the focus button. The focus zoom feature is enabled by double pressing the OK button.

There will be an update for the 2.5K Blackmagic Cinema Camera soon that will also add these features, plus new de-bayer processing that will improve the cameras sharpness when shooting non RAW files.

Since the EF version is an active mount and the MFT is not, the upcoming update he mentions will only affect the EF cameras.

It may also be worth noting that it isn't a true "autofocus" and hence we aren't calling it that officially. You can push the button to focus, but it won't automatically change the focus to another point if you are moving the camera around.


Fantastic response - something I am not used to elsewhere on the internet :)

This is the kind of thing I am doing at present : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd4PlrgNr-g

I suppose I should learn to focus manually but Im usually already trying to pan smoothly, follow something and frame things all at once as Im a one man band.

If the focus help button comes to the 2.5k camera you produce that would be ideal as I believe its got quite a small sensor so I would have quite a lot in focus from the off.

Im still really astounded at the spec for the price too. Its like you've out Red'd Red :D

My HMC was more expensive than the 2.5k :)

Thanks again for your help,

Rikki
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sebasti

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostFri Aug 02, 2013 11:29 pm

Rikki wrote:I suppose I should learn to focus manually but Im usually already trying to pan smoothly, follow something and frame things all at once as Im a one man band.


That's actually called being a cameraman... that's basic operation and if you can't pull focus while panning and framing you should learn that or change to a new career. One-man-band basically means a person who will deliver the whole product alone from the beginning to the end. You need to plan it, write the script, carry your stuff, be your own assistant, light the scene, record the audio, hell, you might even need to throw some make up powder on to the talent's face if it is having hot spots.. then you go do all the work in the post probably including motion graphics or even some effects... but of course all these other steps are pointless if you can't focus your camera. And if you think pressing push-auto-focus will deliver nice result when you are in middle of a panning motion, you might be disappointed with the result anyways...
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Mac Jaeger

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostSat Aug 03, 2013 4:41 pm

Rikki wrote:Hi there, I think most cameras that are not SLR based use contrast based AF. In an SLR the mirror passes the visual data to an AF matrix that then focuses so when the shutter is fired the mirror flips out of the way and its already focused.

Even SLR-based cameras must step down to contrast AF when filming (or in live-mode). My trusty Canon XH-A1 has a dedicated focus sensor (even has it's own "window" through the sun-shield) and focusses very quickly, even while recording.
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Rikki

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostSat Aug 03, 2013 6:14 pm

sebasti wrote:
Rikki wrote:I suppose I should learn to focus manually but Im usually already trying to pan smoothly, follow something and frame things all at once as Im a one man band.


That's actually called being a cameraman... that's basic operation and if you can't pull focus while panning and framing you should learn that or change to a new career.


Thats a bit of a crap reply and sullied my previous post about the genuine helpful and friendly nature I have encountered in this forum.

FYI I am not a "cameraman" - I have never claimed to be one either. I do a variety of media work and if you had cared to look at the example video I linked to would have seen its for event coverage I am interested in upgrading my HMC not because I am going to shoot films.

sebasti wrote: One-man-band basically means a person who will deliver the whole product alone from the beginning to the end. You need to plan it, write the script, carry your stuff, be your own assistant, light the scene, record the audio, hell, you might even need to throw some make up powder on to the talent's face if it is having hot spots.. then you go do all the work in the post probably including motion graphics or even some effects... but of course all these other steps are pointless if you can't focus your camera. And if you think pressing push-auto-focus will deliver nice result when you are in middle of a panning motion, you might be disappointed with the result anyways...


A one man band, as to what I was referring, was when I am employed to cover an event and I turn up, film it, edit the footage, marry it to the chosen soundtrack, create the visuals and animations then add any needed effects and grading before delivering it to the client.

I dont need to apply make up to the talent, pull focus, write scripts, light the scene etc.

For not having had to focus my camera for the past 6 years Ive done pretty well and Ive not had the problem of the camera locking on to something I dont want.
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sebasti

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Re: Upgrading from Pana HMC150 - any BM camera have autofocu

PostSun Aug 04, 2013 2:30 am

Well of course in one-man-band you may not need to do all those things I listed.. i was just going through the the examples what you might have to do sometimes depending on what kind of job you are given to. Clients don't understand what has to be done to deliver a quality product or how complicated the process is, or how many people is needed to do different tasks well, but if there's a problem, only person to fix it in an one-man-band is you.

But what ever your workflow contains.. You can't really call yourself a cameraman if you can't pull focus manually. It is one of the basic operations of the camera that cameraman has to do in additions to things like panning and tilting. There are situations where you also may need to adjust the iris and/or zoom while adjusting the focus and panning/tilting. You just have to practice on your own. If you don't learn to do it and rely on auto-focus, well if it works for you then go ahead. I'm sure you could be lot more creative if you knew how to focus manually and you wouldn't limit yourself to do only certain kind of jobs.

Sure auto-focus functions are getting better all the time but it is still just a "computer" guessing what is important. Having nice composition on an event may not be important, but if you ever shoot something else using autofocus will really limit you from doing interesting compositions as focus will bump between for example the foreground objects and the things you actually want to shoot. I still think you need to learn to focus manually... you should take it as an encouragement to go to learn your craft. If you ever move to cameras with bigger sensor than HMC150 the focus becomes so much more critical. Same goes for the day we move from shooting HD to UHD as a standard. If you don't know how to focus manually, then you are probably now looking for a new camera in totally wrong place unless you are willing to learn it.

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