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Focusing tips for shooting video

By June 27, 2016 Photography No Comments

This is a quick reference guide for a few focusing tips to help you when shooting videos on your DSLR. Based on focusing techniques alone, you can really get creative and add impact to your scenes by knowing and manipulating focusing tricks.

Focusing techniques for video

Part of the beauty of video on a DSLR is being able to highlight the creamy bokeh that DSLRs are capable of capturing. While high-quality glass can completely transform a picture, almost any lens is able to perform these basic focusing techniques that can add personal style and emotion to your videos.

Digital zoom

Take advantage of your digital zoom feature when achieving critical focus. If you simply zoom in to the focal point in order to focus, the lens will not maintain focus. By utilising the 5× and 10× zoom on your DSLR, you can hone in on the focal point accurately to get a sharp focus.

With a magnified view and a magnified area position you can see your critical focus better to be sure that it is sharp. This technique is only available prior to shooting video. Once you start recording, you cannot perform this type of digital zoom, so be sure to check your focus each time you move the camera.

Depth of field

You can use the depth of field to direct the viewer’s attention and tell a story. When utilising a shallow depth of field to select your focal point, you can direct your viewer to where you want them to hold their attention. One static shot can focus on multiple distances to tell a story. This technique is called rack focusing.

Focusing techniques for video

Rack focusing

Rack focusing is when you shift the focus point from the subject in the background to the subject in the foreground or vice versa. You can get creative and run your focal point along a distance as far as your lens’ focal distance goes. This technique is often used in dramatic scenes or just to give a different perspective on something that would otherwise appear ordinary. Directing the viewer’s attention by focusing in on only what you intend them to see is another way to tell a story.

Follow focus marking

When using a follow focus, you can mark areas on the turn style to indicate stopping positions for multiple focus points. A grease pencil or dry erase marker is typically used for this. By marking the track, a focus puller can follow the points of where to start and stop to achieve focus, and once you’ve determined this, you should mark both your positions on the follow focus for a perfect result every time. When there are specific end marks that the director wants to focus in on before the scene is shot, each landing position on the follow focus is marked. When filming begins, the focus puller dials the follow focus from one point to the next to ensure accurate focusing.


The Moviemaking With Your Camera Field Guide is Olivia Speranza’s guide that shows you how you can build on what you already know to create truly spectacular movies with your camera in whatever genre you choose. It introduces everything from the language of film and basic equipment you will need, to the art of post-production and publishing your new work.

The Moviemaking With Your Camera Field Guide, Olivia SperanzaThe Moviemaking With Your Camera Field Guide
Olivia Speranza

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