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Photo

How to use AutoFocus in Live View (Video Mode)?

d7000 video focus blurry

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10 replies to this topic

#1
awwshoot

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Hi there, I have a D7000 that has been used mostly for photos. Now, I have a need to use it for videos.

 

After doing some tests, I am finding it hard to use the auto focus when in Live View/Video mode.

 

I have AF on the camera, AF on the lens, and I even went to the camera menu and changed the Single Servo focus to Full Time Servo.

 

I Changed "Face Priority" to Wide, then Narrow, but still got bad focus.

 

I am taking videos of construction sites, so I will be zooming in and out and there will NOT usually be any faces to focus in on.

What I am experiencing is that sometimes, the camera will find a good focus. Then, when I change the zoom, the focus gets waaaaaaaay out of wack. Sometimes the camera does nothing focus-wise. Sometimes I can hear the servo working constantly, but the image gets more blurry rather than clearer.

 

Sometimes, especially when I zoom IN, I can hear the servo go active A LOT, and never stop. The focus goes completely the wrong way and you can't make out anything in Live View. The focus seems to get stuck in some sort of servo-feedback loop and keeps making noise until I stop and try again.

 

I've had better luck when changing to Face-Priority mode, and when I can get a straight-on shot of someone's face. The focus icon changes to a yellow square as it locks on a face.

 

Back to Wide or Narrow focus, the focus square changes back and forth from red to green (mostly red). I've tried zooming slowly and quickly and can't get it figured out.

 

I am so-so at photography, but new to videography. Maybe I just have some simple settings wrong and I'm an idiot! Maybe the D7000 is a bad camera to expect decent video from.

 

Any ideas and help would be very much appreciated!

PS-I updated the firmware a while ago, but haven't checked in a while. But I can't imagine there is some huge firmware bug out there hurting people's videos.

 

PPS-I am using a Nikkor kit lens so I don't think it's a weird compatibility issue between lens and camera.

 

Thanks and take care!



#2
Jmuir

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Wow, no one has helped you out on this? I am expieriencing the same issue. I feel liek the autofocus on my D5500 during video just is not all that great. I found the same settings as you. I hope somone can chime in.

#3
ScottinPollock

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Nikon uses a rather poor system of contrast detection in LiveView and there is not much you can do about it.

Even when it works, the algorithm is set to quickly hunt in and out until it decides on the focus point, which looks terrible in video.

About the only thing you can do is use the back focus button in afs mode to acquire initial focus and leave it there until you need to refocus.

#4
awwshoot

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Wow, no one has helped you out on this? I am expieriencing the same issue. I feel liek the autofocus on my D5500 during video just is not all that great. I found the same settings as you. I hope somone can chime in.

 

Yeah maybe my question was too basic or something? LOL. Maybe everyone thought "Wow, this guy's an idiot for not knowing how to ____________!"

J/K

 

Nikon uses a rather poor system of contrast detection in LiveView and there is not much you can do about it.

Even when it works, the algorithm is set to quickly hunt in and out until it decides on the focus point, which looks terrible in video.

About the only thing you can do is use the back focus button in afs mode to acquire initial focus and leave it there until you need to refocus.

 

Thank you! Although this isn't the answer I was hoping for, it is an answer.

So at least now I know that what I really need.. is a different camera for shooting video!

I'm not making documentaries or anything where the subject is stationary. I will often use a zoom lens so the focus point changes.. and you're right, it DOES look terrible in video!

I really thought I was dumb for not being able to figure this out!

Well, the D7000 I have was the "top of the line" DX/small sensor Nikon when I bought it.. but that was years ago. Now, I have a legitimate excuse reason to buy a new camera!

Final question for anyone: Are there any Nikon cameras that DO handle video well, especially when zooming in and out and the focus point changes? Or should I move to another brand? :mellow:



#5
TBonz

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Not a video guy here, but is it possible your lens is just slower to focus than you expect?



#6
ScottinPollock

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Are there any Nikon cameras that DO handle video well, especially when zooming in and out and the focus point changes? Or should I move to another brand?


Nikon's have always been last place when it comes to video. While the video out quality is fair to good, autofocus, settings constraints, and audio quality are pretty much dead last.

As far as DSLRs go, Canon's dual pixel auto focus is among the best.

Mirrorless... Sony's models with dual (hybrid) Contrast/Phase Detect AF are among the best. Olympus top of the line flagship also has hybrid AF. But most mirrorless that are not near top of the line do not (even Panasonic GH5 does not).

Another thought would be a prosumer level Cam-Corder. Even though they use contrast detect (although Sony has recently announced a few models with phase detect AF), their focus algorithms are better suited for video and the type of use you describe.



#7
awwshoot

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Not a video guy here, but is it possible your lens is just slower to focus than you expect?

It could be that but I'm starting to think it's not. I admit I am not an expert by any stretch (obviously since I need help with basic video tips!) :rolleyes:

 

But as far as a slow lens, what I observed most often while recording video with the D7000 is that the lens/camera are constantly trying to find the focus. The sound recorded by the camera is full of the 'servo' sound as the camera and lens keep going back and forth trying to focus. And this is only in video/Live View mode, not while taking photographs. With regular photos, I can set it to AF and this lens works very well!

Sometimes, while the the video is actually in focus at a steady zoom and nothing moving AT ALL, the camera will start adjusting things by itself (like it just wasn't happy in a steady state and got triggered to adjust the focus) and I'll get blurry video and servo noise in the audio. The audio isn't a big deal because I'm using an external mic, but the jerky way the camera/lens tries to adjust the focus is really bad. It's like a really bad cell phone video where there is no smooth zooming. (like when you pinch to zoom on a phone and it just instantly zooms in or out in a very notchy/jerky way, know what I mean?)

I read the manual and there wasn't much info about focusing during video. :blink:  I tried as many combinations of settings as I could; the different focus types, different shooting modes, and the only time I got any usable video is when I switched the lens entirely, using a 1.8 prime lens, so once the focus was set, it was set.

I'm just thinking that I've had this camera long enough that, at least for video, it can be considered 'out-dated' and there are better video cameras on the market. :(



#8
awwshoot

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Nikon's have always been last place when it comes to video. While the video out quality is fair to good, autofocus, settings constraints, and audio quality are pretty much dead last.

As far as DSLRs go, Canon's dual pixel auto focus is among the best.

Mirrorless... Sony's models with dual (hybrid) Contrast/Phase Detect AF are among the best. Olympus top of the line flagship also has hybrid AF. But most mirrorless that are not near top of the line do not (even Panasonic GH5 does not).

Another thought would be a prosumer level Cam-Corder. Even though they use contrast detect (although Sony has recently announced a few models with phase detect AF), their focus algorithms are better suited for video and the type of use you describe.

 

Thank you for your detailed reply; I really appreciate it!

 

For photography, the only 'nice' cameras I've ever had were Nikons, so I really would like to stay in the family, but if Nikon still doesn't do video well, then I might have to switch... :unsure: And the worst part is that I have a small collection of lenses that might not work in another brand unless there is an adapter. (I think Sony has an adapter? Not sure)

 

From your descriptions of the different brands, I take it that "Phase Detect AF" is more desirable than Contrast detection? Or a combo-hybrid? So if I look for a new camera for video, I should look for 'phase AF' ?



#9
ScottinPollock

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From your descriptions of the different brands, I take it that "Phase Detect AF" is more desirable than Contrast detection? Or a combo-hybrid? So if I look for a new camera for video, I should look for 'phase AF' ?

 

Phase detect(ion) and phase/contrast hybrid. I see no downside to a hybrid so long as both systems are available in video mode (on sensor phase detect). Nikon uses phase detect but only for stills as it is not on sensor.

 

If you want to stay with DSLR Canon is really your only choice. For mirrorless Sony really is your best bet. But if I were in your shoes, I might just pick up a camcorder for video. You don't really say what your use is other than construction sites and a lot of zooming. If you don't need the advantages of larger sensors (low light, shallow depth of field for artistic purposes), You can pick up a superzoom prosumer model for most likely less than half of what a new body and glass will cost.



#10
Steve M

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I have the D7200 and am not impressed with the video mode at all.  So many times I get nothing but a blurred video.  I take videos of moving trains and when I play them back it is like the train is in slow motion.  Oh on occasion I get a pretty good video.   This is the same with taking my grand kids.

 

What I hate most is when taking videos you have to use the live mode screen when I would rather use the View Finder Screen because I can hold and point the camera so much easier.  I have tried finding a way to use the View Finder and thought once I made it work but I can't make it work.



#11
Ron

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I also don't do any video so I can only repeat what I've heard...

 

And, that's pretty much what Scott said. Nikon just doesn't seem to be sure of where it wants to be as far as video goes. They spend a lot of advertising scratch on video but maybe they should have spent that money on, oh... I donno. Actual hardware maybe?

 

I have seen a few nicely shot videos done with Nikons. In most of those cases, AF was not used as all. On at least one video, the photographer mentioned that he had installed a third party focus puller attachment and was using manual focus only. I'm guessing that he didn't do much focusing anyway since all or most of the shots seem to have been made with wide angle lenses. He also used an off camera microphone rig to record sound.

 

--Ron







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