Olympus OM-D E-M1 and video focusing

Nerd alert! Quick note about the Olympus E-M1 and changing the focus during video.

This is just a bit of test video. As you’ll see, focus moves from the keyboard on the right, to the vase in the background, then to the stenciling on the back of the chair in the middle ground, then back to the keyboard — and finally to the birds on the candle stand in the background on the left.

To do this, I had to configure the E-M1 as follows.

  • MENU > Gear A > AF/MF > Full-time AF: Turned ON.
  • While the E-M1’s mode dial was set to M (manual exposure mode for still photos) I set focus mode to S-AF. NOTE: When I switched to video on the mode dial, this changed automatically to C-AF, which make sense. The key thing is, you have to have the camera in some autofocus mode.
  • Again, while I still had the mode dial set to M (still photo), I set the touch screen focusing option to its intermediate position, where the camera will focus where I tap but not take a photo. NOTE: seems to make no difference to video if the initial touch screen focusing option was previously set to focus where you tap and take a photo. In video mode, it won’t take a still photo. You have to use the shutter button to do that.
Having configured the camera as I just described, I switched to video mode and took the video of my laptop, the vase, etc. To change focus, I simply tapped the area on screen where I wanted focus to move. Of course, if I were doing this for anything other than a test or demo, I’d have put the camera on a tripod. Here I was holding it with one hand and tapping with the other. It’s a tribute to the camera’s in-body image stabilization that the result isn’t even shakier.

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