I Can’t Focus My Canon 60D DSLR!

Roslyn Duck Pond

I was shooting video by a beautiful duck pond this past weekend. It was a magnificent area. Rustic, timeless and filled with seagulls, geese and swans. Very picturesque. I set up my video equipment, made adjustments to the ISO and exposure settings, then started to work on my frame.

Once I think that’s all good, I did a few tests to see how it looks. It looked awful.

Why?

I was consistently out of focus.

My background was crystal clear, but me? Nooo. It’s as if I’m a total blur. Almost as if my camera was trying to tell me something. I talked to my camera. I asked, in a nice and pleasant tone if it would keep me in focus for the duration of this video. When it didn’t respond, I  gave it a directive. A direct command. “You will keep me in focus!”

It still didn’t listen. It was more interested in capturing the birds that were flying by and diving for food. I changed tactics again and pre-focused on a bag where I was standing in an attempt to get crystal clear focus.

That was better than before, but still not perfect. In a last ditch effort, I walked up to a couple at the end of the boardwalk and asked them for really big favor. I needed them to focus my camera while I stood in position where I wanted to shoot my video. It’s always a little embarrassing to ask somebody to take your picture and to focus your camera, but I quickly got over my embarrassment.

The problem was that 30 seconds after they focused, my camera inexplicably shut off because my battery had died. I now had to move out of position, switch batteries and start the focus process all over again.

I use a Canon 60D DSLR. I use a fixed focal length lens which gives stunning photographs and video. The downside to using a DSLR is that when I shoot video it requires manual input to get the settings just right.

CAMCORDERS v. DSLR’s

In contrast, a camcorder is really easy to use. Just set it up on a tripod and leave everything on automatic and it will automatically keep you in focus. Many video cameras now have a follow focus which means it will detect your face and keep your face in focus no matter where you are in the frame. For most lawyers looking for simplicity, I recommend sticking to your basic camcorder with this function.

In the end, I got my focus just right and created some stunning video. If you have somebody that can help with your equipment, then focusing is never a problem. However, if you are shooting video on your own, it does become an issue and can be frustrating.

Remember, stick to the basics and focus on your message. It’s not your equipment that matters.

P.S. Just one hour after writing this post, my good friend and teacher Dave Kaminski from Web Video University created a video to solve my problem…as if he read my mind. Click here to watch his video.

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