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Most effective setting for run&gun video recording following a subject walking around?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Lunatique, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    Recently, I've noticed that the setting I have been using for a year and a half (C-AF-TR, with C-AF Lock set to high) doesn't seem to work as well as it once did. Too often the C-AF lock does not stay on the subject and just ends up locking on something else in the scene.

    The way I'm using the E-M1's video recording, is basically just following a subject who walks around (shopping mall, street, at home, etc.), shooting run&gun style. So ideally, I want to be able to lock onto the subject I'm following and have it stay on the subject from any angle, in any lighting condition, without me having to constantly having to re-lock onto the subject when the C-AF lock loses the subject. I know that's a tall order and I can't get that kind of performance from any camera/camcorder, but I just want to know what setting will get me the closest to that ideal (including what AF area/size setting).
     
  2. robcee

    robcee Mu-43 Veteran

    289
    Jan 10, 2016
    Toronto
    Rob Campbell
    depending on lens, manual focus might be the way to go. Or S-MF. If you're going to be roughly the same distance from your subject, a reasonable aperture setting of f3.2 or f4 will keep your subject in focus even with minor distance variations. Should be good enough for video.

    The pros all use manual focus for a reason.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    527
    Jun 28, 2013
    MF, faster, more accurate and looks professional. Unless you are using some type of steady cam rig MF will be harder but that is why we shoot Olympus!

    Best bet is MF and the widest lens possible. Less camera shake, probably shoot around f4 and up for a deeper depth of field..

    Post your results
     
  4. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    562
    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Denny
    Every time I read that sentence the term "stalker" comes to mind. Hopefully you are not following people who you do not know as such activity usually results in restraining orders.:shakehead:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2016
  5. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    For my purpose, MF is out of the question. I'm shooting essentially home videos of my wife, documenting and recording memories. So when we're out walking around in a mall, supermarket, on the street, at home, etc, I cannot be walking and trying to MF at the same time--I'd run into people, lamp posts, or just get hit by cars, since I'd have to divert too much attention to MF instead of walking.

    What I do right now is to use the AF lock (the little green box) and try to keep it on her as we are both walking. If the AF lock slips off and locks onto the background instead, I simply re-lock it onto her with the touchscreen. But the AF lock is very finicky and slips off constantly, and now I'm seeing that the C-AF doesn't work as well as it did previously. I'm not sure if the latest firmware is the culprit.

    So I really need a solution that does not involve MF. Ideally I can just run & gun very casually and still be able to have the continuous AF lock onto the subject as we're both walking around.
     
  6. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Actually MF is really not that hard to use when filming memories or walking around. I find C-AF is only good if the subject is relatively stationary and nothing else enters the the focus area. I don't want to get into Panasonic's superior codec & 4K vs. Olympus IBIS discussion but the E-M5 II is fantastic for the OP's uses. I am really hoping Olympus ups their game with the E-M1 II.
     
  7. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    I've done a lot of MF when I used to shoot the 5D Mark III's video, and it's never as accurate/fast as cameras or camcorders with decent video continuous AF. The fact you you're looking at a tiny 3" LCD screen and trying to judge if something is focus, while your distance from the subject is constantly shifting due to both of you walking around casually, is enough to make it a less than optimal solution. Add to that when you're in public, you are constantly trying to pay attention to your surrounding so you don't bump into people, objects, doorways, cars, or get run over by moving vehicles--it's just not a good idea for casual shooting. For professional shoots where you can rehearse the shot or have a crew that helps you clear an area or keep an eye on you so you don't get hurt, MF would be okay, but not when it's just you hand-holding and walking around.

    If anyone wants to dispute that, then post a video of you walking around in a busy public place such as Costco or a mall on the weekend (and their parking lots), following and shooting a subject that's walking around, while using MF. Let's see how many times you almost bump into people and things or almost get hit by a car, and how consistent your focus actually is. :D
     
  8. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    All righty then!

    Seriously, you should just purchase an inexpensive camcorder.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    yup... small sensor, big DOF, less work for the CAF

    Again another one of those abstract questions without an actual example of the problem... sheesh I really hate when my psychic powers can't see the problem

    I could be cheeky and postulate that he is not happy with his 'boudoir' movies... but that would be wrong and just a figment of a slightly warped mind.

    Got a problem?... show the problem!.. then we can give an answer

    K
     
  10. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    I could post a video, but I didn't think it mattered because the problem is self-explanatory. All you're going to see is me following my wife walking around in public places or in our home, and me trying to keep adequate distance from her while also walking. And you'll see that the focus sometimes will falter because the AF lock (the little green box) slips off and locks onto something else in the scene, or completely fails and the entire screen goes blurry, unless I half-press the shutter or use the touchscreen to get it focus on her again (which I shouldn't have to do if it's C-AF). I don't think you need to see an actual video to visualize that, since this isn't about image quality or artistic decisions--it's just about continuous autofocus with lock on the subject.

    Also, an important point is that this was not a problem previous, and only very recently became a problem (the unreliable C-AF), which is why I wonder if it's the latest firmware causing the problem. It used to be that even if the AF lock often slipped off the subject and onto something else in the scene, the actual AF never faltered and caused the entire scene to go blurry. And I'm using the same lens with the same settings (12-40 f/2.8 Pro).

    Using a separate camcorder is out of the question because I chose the E-M! for the fact that can shoot quality photos and decent videos with one relatively small sized system carried in a holster bag. Adding another piece of gear to the E-M1 will negate the reason why I stopped carrying a large DSLR system while going out.
     
  11. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Please stop arguing with us when it is you that has the problem, we are just trying to help you. I agree with Kevin, please post a video. The explanation is not self-explanatory, otherwise why would you post?

    P.S. - did you upgrade the O12-40 firmware when you upgraded the E-M1?
     
  12. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    Okay, I'll edit a couple of clips that show how and where the problems occur.

    Yes, I always update the firmware for the lenses too.
     
  13. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    527
    Jun 28, 2013
    I totally get what you are saying and where you are coming from. I shoot a ton of video and this site is great for advice/solutions for stills problems but when it comes to video it seems most don't know much about that.

    I shoot and have shot in public with my em5 II actually in Costco, parks, Disney land, etc, following my 1 year old and 5 year old and although challenging it can be done. I usually have my neck strap around my neck for stability or the camera held close to my chest and do sort of a duck walk. I use the flip screen out with focus peaking on all the while shooting at 1.4. Practice makes perfect.
    I have had great results to not so great. Obviously you take what you can use from each clip.

    I've tried many tests with saf to caf but MF worked best for me and I had more control doing so. Like I mentioned before shoot at the widest you can for best results.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    +1 While I don't follow kids or spouses around Costco, I do documentary work with the E-M5 II. Fantastic tool with IBIS. MF. And, yes, the O12-40 is one of the lenses that I use.
     
  15. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    527
    Jun 28, 2013
    Then you know exactly what I'm saying. The steadiness from the em5 II blows my mind! I can't wait to see what em1 II is capable of.

    Btw what are you using for post work? Cc ,grading etc?

    I use Sony Vegas, lr, ps + magic bullet
     
  16. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    Alright, I edited two short clips from recent trips to the mall and supermarket, showing the kind of problem I described.

    Clip one (Mall): https://copy.com/74HMfOeyxbtBhbJI
    Clip two (parking lot): https://copy.com/EIhMcSNqtYYeOg3T

    In the mall clip, you can see that I was simply following her while walking, with the AF lock (little green box) on her, using C-AF-TR, with AF lock set to high, but the lock would slip off and then the focus starts to falter and blur. I've tried with AF lock set to normal or low or off before, and it doesn't seem to help.

    In the second clip, I'm just standing there, pointing the camera at her and as she walks away, the entire scene turns into a blurry mess, and I try to put the AF lock on her and when that didn't work, I tried to half-press the shutter (which helped. It's also why you see the camera shook so much--I was looking down at the screen and trying to get the damn thing to focus and wasn't paying attention to the actual shot).

    And yes, I shoot these types of home videos very causally, since they're meant to be just casual fun and recording daily life memories. I want to be as carefree as I can be when shooting these and not have to deal with too much thinking, as if I'm making a serious film project. This is why I want to be able to just lock continuous AF onto the subject and just walk and point at the subject, and that's it. I used to be able to do this with the E-M1 (even despite the AF lock often slipping off the subject and I have to use the touchscreen to put it on the subject again), using the exact same settings and lens, but recently something's changed and I'm having problems I didn't have before in all the hundreds of videos I've shot with this same kit.
     
  17. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    @JDK504@JDK504 both FCPX and Adobe CC plus add-ons.

    @Lunatique@Lunatique can you please post a clip prior to the firmware upgrade where you remained stationary and your subject roamed the same distance with the same gear and you did not have the same issues?
     
  18. JDK504

    JDK504 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    527
    Jun 28, 2013
    Bottom line there is no camera out there that will give you the results you desire. You will need a dedicated camcorder or spend big $ on Red, Sony fs, etc.

    Not to sound rude but this is why I have yet to upgrade my em5 II bc there are usually bugs and there is nothing that interests me besides the flat profile for video. Can you go back to the previous firmware?
     
  19. Lunatique

    Lunatique Mu-43 Regular

    97
    Sep 14, 2014
    Lincoln, CA
    @dornblaser@dornblaser - Here are some clips put into one video showing very similar situations of me standing stationary and her walking away/towards me at public spaces, all recorded before the latest firmware: https://copy.com/EzzDyyI6p7kdileE

    As you can see, the AF never fully fails and turn the entire scene into a blurry mess like with the previous clip in the parking lot. Even if the AF tracking/AF lock falters, it's only briefly and it always picks up again and corrects itself. I suspect the latest firmware somehow changed that.

    @JDK504@JDK504 - I actually do have the Sony a7RII and it is AMAZING when it comes to continuous AF tracking a moving subject, and I use it as my main stills/video camera at home. I have tried using it when we go out, but the IBIS is not nearly as good as the one on the E-M1 (and the E-M5 II is even better). I have tried using the a7RII with the Pilotfly H1+ and the results are stunning, but it's too cumbersome of a setup to be used in daily casual shooting situations like you see in the videos I've posted.

    I also have pretty good camcorder too (Panasonic X920), but its low-light capability can't match larger mirrorless sensors and it takes horrible stills. I only use it at home in situations when I need to be in the shot with family and friends (fully articulate LCD is great for that).

    I've tested the GH4 before and its Power O.I.S. isn't as effective as Olympus's IBIS, and its AF in 4K video mode is not good enough (a7RII's is far, far superior).

    Currently, the E-M1 (and E-M5 II) are the only cameras that can shoot both stills and videos at the quality I find good enough, with good enough IBIS and video AF. I had no real problem with the E-M1's video before, and it's only recently that things started to get weird. My hope is I can find the solution to get it back to how it performed previously. I'm not sure if reverting to a previous firmware is the answer, or if it's something else I haven't uncovered yet--that's why I'm asking for help on the forums.
     
  20. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Thanks for posting the samples... it really does allow us to get a betting grasp on the 'problem'

    1) I suspect that its not the firmware update, though a firmware update does reset all the camera setting to the factory default, and maybe you had a setting that got lost in the update. Not sure what that could be... but it is worth checking

    2) In both your 'problem' examples you were shooting in relatively low light - certainly compared to your other examples

    AF needs light or more specifically contrast in order to work. When working in low light the AF is more likely to be distracted by sources of higher contrast, like a car driving by, or indeed walking through the mall with a constantly changing background. Excessive camera movement and zooming probably also don't help the situation much either.

    3) Not sure what setting you use for shooting, but the general advice when shooting video is to go manual as much as you can. The rule of thumb is that your shutter speed should be 1/framerate x 2, eg 1/60th if shooting at 30fps. I would set the camera on manual at 1/60 and adjust aperture and ISO to get an acceptable exposure.

    K