How To Identify and Resolve Autofocus Issues When Filming

Camera operators have multiple methods of focusing the footage in-frame, including autofocus. Perfect camera focus ensures a sharp, clear image. Unfortunately, out-of-focus video makes it more challenging for the audience to connect with the footage.

If autofocus hinders the footage you’re trying to capture, troubleshooting can solve the problem successfully. Use our guide below to learn the basics of how to identify and resolve autofocus issues when filming on set.

Lens Quality

Although you might feel the autofocus issue always connects to an internal problem in the camera, it’s not always that straightforward. For example, fingerprints and other smudges on the camera lens can hinder the autofocus’ ability to highlight your subject and sharpen the image.

The first step to resolving this issue is taking care of the lens through proper storage and handling so it doesn’t receive a smudge in the first place. That said, mistakes happen, so if you find yourself with marks on your lens, simply clean it or swap it out with a backup lens.

Lighting Conditions

Luckily, learning how to identify and resolve autofocus issues when filming in poorly lit environments can be quick. If the autofocus is causing you trouble but the lens is spotless, consider your lighting conditions.

When you’re shooting in an environment with minimal light, the autofocus on cameras can sometimes struggle to sharpen images in-frame. Resolving issues can be straightforward if you have additional lighting gear for brightening up the area. Furthermore, you can move to a well-lit location to fix the problem, though that isn’t always feasible during productions.

Avoid Autofocus

Consider prioritizing manual focus instead when you’re running into autofocus issues consistently. Of course, if you prefer shooting with autofocus, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that option. However, honing your manual focus skills means you can avoid the common autofocus problems while having more control over the image in-frame.

More specifically, consider investing in a follow focus system, which is a device that allows camera operators to shift focus with immense precision. Anyone who wants to make professional-grade video content can easily hop online to find a quality follow focus system for sale.

Not only are they easy to find, but follow focus devices also simplify the process of tracking moving subjects without losing image clarity. For instance, the white disk on these devices provides a convenient place to mark your ideal focus points, so that you can snap between them quickly and smoothly.