2 SUPER EASY ways to FOCUS when FILMING without Help

If you film on your own without any help, as many do, even a simple task like achieving focus can prove a little difficult.
So in this post I’ll show you 2 ways on how I nail focus on myself when filming myself. It’s easy too!

I’ve used a Sony a6500 in this example.

1. Using a Grey Card

The 1st way to focus requires the following things:

  1. A Grey Card with a Target at the centre of it
  2. A Mic Stand, a Light Stand or a Tripod. You could even ask someone to hold up the Grey Card Target if you want. But then afterwards train them up to be your full-time Camera Operator!
  3. Velcro (Optional)
  4. A Camera (just for clarity, ha!)

Steps to follow

  1. Attach the Grey Card to the top of the Stand you have. In this example I am using a Mic Stand.
  2. I used sticky back Velcro behind the Grey Card and on the neck of the Mic Stand to attach them.
  3. If you’re seated, take note of where to place the Grey Card Stand as you will be returning to the spot before you start filming. Maybe mark the floor with some sticky tape.

Grey Card Placement

Placement of the Grey Card Stand is really important so focus is not missed. I find it easier to sit or stand next to it so I can visually check and assess.

When placing and positioning it make sure that:

  1. The Grey Card is on the same plane as your head. Basically wherever your face will be, thats where the Grey Card needs to be.
    If it’s too far back or too far forward you won’t nail focus when you finally sit down infront of the camera.
  2. The horizontal level line on the Grey Card is on the same level as your eye-line.

Once this has all been done, move your body / chair and place the Grey Card Stand in the same place you want to sit or intend to sit.

Using the Focus Magnifier

Once the Grey Card Stand is in place, go to your camera and use Focus Magnifier to punch in (magnify) zoom to the Target. All cameras have a Magnifying button.

You can find Focus Magnifier on the Sony a6500 by:

  1. Pressing Menu,
  2. Selecting the Camera Icon 1 tab at the top and scrolling to the 13th page.

See this I feel is a slightly long-winded way to get to it so I’ve set it to Custom Button 1.

To do this, go to (see ‘visual steps’ below):

  1. Menu,
  2. Selecting the Camera Icon 2 tab at the top,
  3. Scrolling to Page 8, select Custom Key (Shoot).
  4. Select Custom Button 1
  5. Click OK and find Focus Magnifier in the list and Press the centre button to confirm the choice
  6. So now C1 is set to Focus Magnifier so you can punch in and punch out whenever you want.

Now use your lens to focus the Target. Pressing C1 twice will increase Magnification on the Target.
Once it’s in Focus, remove the stand and sit back on your chair.
You are now happily in focus!

Here are the visual steps:

2. Using your Smile!

The 2nd way to Focus is a lot easier than the 1st. You don’t need a Grey Card or a Stand, you just need a REALLY BIG SMILE!

Many Cameras from various manufacturers have Face Detection / Recognition modes.
Just find out how to access  it with the camera you will be using.

This works with the camera detecting a smiling face in the frame and then subsequently taking a snapshot of it.

The helpful thing is that the shot taken by the Camera is completely in Focus even it wasn’t prior to that.

Using the Smile/Face Detect option

To set this up go to:

  1. Menu,
  2. Select the Camera Icon 1 tab and scroll to Page 14
  3. Select Smile/Face Detect.
  4. On the left scroll to the last icon which will read Smile Shutter On.
  5. Press Right on the wheel to select it.
  6. Now pressing right each time will go through different variations of the smile that you want to choose.

Now sit back in your seat and get ready to smile! When you do, the camera will take a snapshot.

Here are the visual steps if you don’t like reading!

Now just Press Record on your Camera and begin shooting!

By the way, I don’t really smile like that. I had to tame it down incase I scared you all, ha!

Equipment Used

Thank you for reading.

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Written by ravkan