One thing that Blackmagic has yet to implement in their cameras in a serious way is autofocus. Canon, Sony, and even RED are working hard to produce extremely capable and reliable focusing systems that it is changing many hardcore filmmakers’ minds about whether autofocus is something any pro should use.
Considering Blackmagic has come through with great, affordable options like the Pocket 6K Pro it is a little disappointing that it is essentially nonexistent in their lineup.
There are now some newer pieces you can pick up to add autofocus to any lens, such as the DJI LiDAR system. That gets expensive quickly though and not all of us can justify it.
What you will need for this is a newer iPhone and the Focus Puller app. This will allow you to connect to your Pocket 6K Pro via Bluetooth and can control any lens with electronic autofocus control.
This is actually a very helpful app for users of Blackmagic cameras. After quickly connecting there is a remote manual focus control that allows you to pull focus with a simple slider on the phone.
You can even set markers for very consistent moves. What you can’t do with the markers is set the speed.
That’s fine and all but is nowhere close to a true LiDAR system. Luckily, all the modern iPhones have a LiDAR sensor in the camera array.
This app can actually read this LiDAR data and use it to focus the camera. You will need to figure out some way to mount the phone to the camera and you’ll likely want something a bit better than just a shoe mount on top.
He uses an arm to put the iPhone camera as close to in line with the main lens as he can. He then performs a relatively simple calibration point and you can add a bunch if you want to get it ready.
Once you are calibrated you can just turn on the autofocus and you’ll get a green dot that you can use to target a subject and have it pull focus on your Pocket 6K Pro.
The reason for the magic arm positioning is that you want the iPhone to be seeing an image that is as close to the camera’s image as possible. This way the green dot in your image is actually lined up with what you want the camera to focus on.
You can easily turn the AF on and off to lock the focus by holding the buttons on the side. This makes it easy to lock in and then make a small move without having the camera lose the subject.
For only a few bucks being able to get this set up is huge. Worth checking out as you can get it mostly set up without needing to pay. Once you see it then you can make an informed decision. A little awkward looking, but you can’t beat that price.
[source: michael tobin]
- Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (B&H, Amazon)
- DJI LiDAR Range Finder for RS (B&H, Amazon)
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