How to Master Nikon D3, D300 Autofocus

Rude Awakening

When my D3 first arrived, I had been using a D2x for 2 years.  I never noticed the D2x’s autofocus because it worked so well.  It faded into the background of my attention.   Expecting to have the same experience with the D3, I took it out of the box and brought it with me to a friend’s wedding.   I was seated among the guests right on the aisle.  It was still daylight, so the chapel had adequate lighting.  When the bridal procession began, I expected to get some great shots for my friend, the groom.   As the procession was moving straight toward me, I had only a few seconds to get a shot.  I confidently picked up the camera, framed and pressed the shutter.  Nothing happened.  I noticed that it was in single shot mode (S on the front switch) and realized that the shutter wouldn’t trip unless the focus was spot on.  I immediately switched it to C.  My last chance.  I reeled off a few frames, but all of them were out of focus.  What had gone wrong?   Of course, I switched to manual focus, but that moment was lost.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the hired photographer that day. Continue reading

How to get that “Film Look” in your videos

I’ve never liked the look I get from consumer video cameras. The combination of narrow aperture and small sensor means that your subject and the background are both going to be in focus (to some extent). This can make a shot look too busy and distracting. Part of the “film” or “cinema” look is due to very selective focus, with the background receding into a blur.

With the recent introduction of DSLR’s with video, such as the Canon 5dmarkII, the Nikon D90, the Panasonic GH1 and others, it is now possible to shoot with wide aperture lenses yielding very selective focus. While this is one contributor to the “film look” there are many others.

In a recent free audio class entitled “Discover the Secrets as used by top DOP’s to create the ‘Film Look’ using your HD video camera,” Philip Bloom and Dennis Lennie discuss a number of factors that contribute to the film look. In addition, they address several related topics, especially interesting to those of us who are still photographers and eager to explore video.

These topics include,

  • What defines the ‘film look’,
  • How you overcome the limitations of small sensor cameras,
  • How important shallow Depth of Field is,
  • The 5 Fundamental factors Phil uses when creating the ‘film look’,
  • What is absolutely essential kit,
  • How significant grading (post production) is in the overall process.

As a still photographer with a small amount of video experience, I found the discussion engaging and highly informative.

You can access the audio from their new educational site www.fstopacademy.com. This class was so good, I can’t wait for more.