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Thread: How the hell do you manually focus correctly?

  1. #1

    Default How the hell do you manually focus correctly?

    This is doing my head in, I've a budget camcorder which is pretty lame when it comes to auto focus. I've read some guides which suggest using manual focus. I know what to do to change the focus values, but I can't see enough detail on a flip screen or viewfinder to see if I'm 100% focused.

    I do a lot of outdoor filming, and I'm trying to keep everything in shot. Anyone have any advice on the best way to make sure the focus settings are correct?

    Thanks for any help..

  2. Default

    Can you see what you NEED to see on the view finder?
    Does the picture look clear and crisp on the viewfinder?
    Would you be happy with looking at that image?

    Unless it's a truly awful viewfinder you should be able to tell.

    Out of interest what camera is it?

  3. #3


    I have a very nice camera and I have this kind of problem. To do a real proper job you need an external monitor but that is just not practical for point and shoot filming. So the only advice I can give you is, zoom in fully, do the focus, then zoom out to frame the shot.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #4

    Default Tim is sic

    With most of those cheap cameras they will look a bit fuzzy but you might as well record it anyways it should turn out ok on the other hand i dropped my cheap ass camera and the screen went fuzzy for like 30 minutes and then it just fixed itself again

  5. #5


    Hi it's a panasonic NV DS29, the image on the LCD is clear enough in low light conditions but in the daylight its nigh on impossible to make out edges to see if they're focused correctly. Especially for details in the distance.

    Midnightblue, I figured I may need a monitor of some sort, like you say its not practical really for outdoors filming, but that's a good tip with the zooming etc. I'll give that a try, thanks.

    It seems as if its only the LCD and viewfinder giving fuzzy images, or at least not clear enough to be able to tell if it's clearly defined on a bright sunny day.

  6. #6


    Firstly don't use the lcd screen for focussing, they're usually pants.
    Check the diopter under the viewfinder first and make sure it's set so focus is sharp for your own eyes.
    Next look for high contrast scenes as far away as you can zoom (It doesn't have to be the scene you're filming), then tweak focus until you see a 'fizz' round the scene in focus. Pull back and everything from far away to up close is guaranteed to be in focus.
    It's more difficult in very low light as your aperture will probably be f2, which leaves only the gnats elbow to its wrist in focus
    My opinions are just that . . . Mine. It's not personal, but is based on my emotional and professional reaction to requested critique. If you choose to ignore constructive comments, I'll just assume you're a vanity poster and not posting to improve your filming and editing skills.

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  7. #7


    Thanks for that, I don't have a diopter but the advice I can still use. I tried focusing on far away items on zoom, then zooming back out, but that only helped a bit. I'll do it like you say so I can see a fizz round something in the distance.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proteus View Post
    I don't have a diopter
    Really? I'm very surprised as that means anyone who wears glasses (but takes them off for using the viewfinder) cannot possinly use it. My own eyesight it almost at the limit of the diopter on my camera.

    Anyway ... another technique (not as accurate as the viewfinder but useful in many situations) is a videfinder hood like this:

    HD-300VIDEO HD 16X9 LCD-Hoodman Corporation

    You don't need to buy one, a friend made me one out of a whisky bottle box, a couple of bent paper clips, an elastic band, gaffer tape and a coat of black paint. It works a treat.

  9. #9


    Another good tip, and I needed it just now. Absolutely fantastic sunset, but I couldn't tell if it was in focus or not. I don't wear glasses, but am getting to the point where I need to

    That is a cool idea for the viewfinder, and I'll be making my own pretty soon methinks. I'm also going after a new camera and using this old thing as a backup. Mind you, I can't afford much at all really so it's probably only going to be marginally better. I'm more a soundtrack person really than a video guy, but am loving it.

    Thanks for your help and advice

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