If you’re only used to shooting video with a consumer camera or camera phone, you may rely heavily on autofocus. It’s a habit you should break if you want to shoot professional-looking video, because autofocus is simply not reliable under many shooting circumstances. For example, it’s all but useless in low-light situations, and sometimes if you have other people or objects that cross in the foreground of your subject your camera’s autofocus may choose to focuses on the wrong subject.
This doesn’t mean that you should never use autofocus. It does have its uses and sometimes may be the only realistic way to pull off certain shots. Here are three scenarios in which autofocus may be your best bet for getting the shot you need:
1. Moving fast on your feet with the camera
When there’s a tricky camera move you need to pull off, like a dramatic flyby, it’s difficult to maintain your composition, move fast with your camera, and not trip at the same time. Here, autofocus will probably be your best option.
2. Certain pan or tilt moves
Certain pan or tilt moves may be easier with autofocus. In good lighting conditions, your camera may adjust faster and smoother than you can manually.
3. Heading multiple jobs at a shoot
If you’re acting as cameraperson, director, and audio engineer all at the same time, shooting a chaotic situation (a run-and-gun shoot), it’s a great time to hit the autofocus button.