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Top Ten Video Mistakes: 6. Auto Focus

6. Auto Focus

A typical mistake you’ll see with amateur videos is where the camera is zoomed in on a subject – say, a person talking – and suddenly the subject will go out of focus and the flowers in the background will come into focus instead.  The focus then shifts back and forth between the two.

Consumer cameras have an automatic focus option in order to make focusing easier for the user.  This feature operates by determining the center of interest, and then it focuses on that thing.  But as a professional you don’t want to let the camera do the thinking for you.  You are in charge . . . so turn off the auto focus.

Remember that when the camera is showing a wide angle, the depth of field is deep and causes everything to seem in focus.  When you zoom in or get close to a subject, you narrow the depth of field, and focusing becomes critical.  The trick is to figure what you want to videotape, zoom in close to the subject, set the focus, and then pull out to the distance you want to frame the shot.  Then begin recording.  Now, if you do zoom in, you’ll know everything will be in focus.

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