The rise in affordable HD video cameras is amazing.  Whether it’s a DSLR, Smartphone, or dedicated Cinema Camera, HD video seems to be everywhere.  One of the greatest challenges however is focus.  On a small LCD screen or LiveView panel, it’s nearly impossible to detect focus. The smaller an image, the more in focus it looks.

Fortunately, many cameras are offering a focus assist feature.  Here’s how it works.

  1. Compose the shot and turn OFF auto-focus.
  2. Turn on the focus assist feature.  This may also be called edge detection or focus in red.
  3. Adjust the focus of the camera using a manual focus.
  4. Use the edges highlighted on the image to determine what’s in focus.  Remember, depending on the depth of field your camera has, the amount of image that’s in focus can vary.

In this example, I’m using the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.  Pushing the focus button twice enables this option.  I also have the same feature in my Zacuto Zfinder EVF electronic viewfinder.  This gives me the same functionality on most DSLRs.  My portable field monitor from Marshall has the same option.

Be sure to look for an option like this in your next camera or monitor.  It makes all the difference in the world when shooting sharp video.

Do you have something like this on your camera or monitor? Sound off in the comments below.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Cinematography, Gear, Shooting, VideoLC


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