Making videos with manual focus only

Discussion in 'Filmmaking' started by colbycheese, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. colbycheese

    colbycheese Mu-43 Veteran

    May 1, 2012
    Way up there.
    I am planning on getting the 20mm 1.7 lens mostly for photography but maybe a video here and there. I have never had much success with auto focus in video so i am planning on using the lens with manual focus and also use my adapted lenses for video making. Is there any tips you can offer to improve the manual focus in my videos? Thanks
  2. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Real Name:
    If you are planning on manually focusing during video, you may wish to reconsider your 25 if that focal length is acceptable. The 25 has a nice large and smooth focus ring.

  3. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The 20mm would be hard to use manual focus for video, due to it's small size and ring close to the body. Not impossible mind you but hard. Plus the 20mm has a noisy AF motor which can be heard if you plan on recording sound via internal mics.

    Adapted prime lenses work great for manual focusing. Adapted zooms are not as easy unless you pick a single focal length and stick with it{which is better video technique anyway}. It is super tricky to adjust both the focus and to zoom at the same time. One trick you can use is to zoom all the way out and focus. Then when you pull back the focus will stay in focus until you get close to the camera. It works good for events where a speaker may move a little or you need to use both wide and close up shots of him.

    What type of video do you plan on shooting? They style and genre will often dictate what lenses would work best.
  4. Lobbamobba

    Lobbamobba Mu-43 Veteran

    May 15, 2013
    I use the 20/1.7 everyday for video and I have never used AF (since it imo doesnt exist) Its in no way as good as a real manual focus but its totaly usable. Not harder in anyway than any other focus by wire lenses.
    I prefer the version two because it has a much smother focus ring.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. gsk3

    gsk3 Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 29, 2012
    Ditto. the 20/1.7 (Mk I) is just fine for video MF. It's smooth enough and unless you have enormous fingers there's plenty of room.
  6. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    The Oly 17mm 1.8 has direct focus via a clutch mechanism which might be a bit easier than focus-by-wire. The AF speed is certainly quicker than the Pana 20mm from a very limited play that I had with one.

    Just throwing it in there as an alternative.
  7. Talanis

    Talanis Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 15, 2012
    Sherbrooke, Canada
    Real Name:
    Eric Cote
    I use the 20mm too in MF for video and it is usable. All focus by wire lenses are far from being the best for video though. A good old adapted lens will be better because whatever the speed you turn the focus ring, the focus will always change the same way for the same distance turned. That is the problem with focus by wire lenses, you never know how far you have to turn. It makes it tough for rack focusing. My next lenses will probably all be Rokinon lenses.
  8. DaveEP

    DaveEP Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 20, 2014
    York, UK
    I've also used the 20 f1.7 for video in manual mode, but it's pretty hard to track any movement. For static subjects it's perfectly fine (and sharp). It's too small to use with any focus puller gear.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    In the heat of shooting I always forget which direction to turn the lens to compensate for subject movement. I'd suggest a piece of white tape with markings to show which direction is for subjects moving closer and which direction for subjects moving away. If you want to get fancy, a follow focus unit makes it easier-turn the nob away for subjects moving away and towards you for subjects moving towards you. You need 15mm rails though and that'll just throw you in the video accessory rabbit hole...
    • Like Like x 1