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Is there a D-SLR (including the new Nikon and Canon 60D) that can take video with continuous autofocus? On cameras that don't support that feature, is it possible to autofocus by pressing a button while shooting a video?

I'm looking into a getting a new DSLR and the video feature is quite important to me. Wondering if the existing cameras are worth the investment or if I should wait a bit more...

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Guys! The question is about "Continuous autofocus during recording video"! –  Ali Jan 13 '12 at 18:41
    
I know you want an interchangeable lens system, but it should be noted that Fujifilm is working on a different solution than Sony- they are putting the phase detection sensor in the imaging sensor. Check out the Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR. It is not released yet, but available for preorder. –  Phil Jan 18 '13 at 16:46
    
All Nikon 1 and the Sony NEX-6 also have phase detection sensors buried inside the imaging sensor as far as I know. –  Marco Mp Jan 18 '13 at 17:12
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10 Answers 10

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Sony Alpha A55 is a new ILC (SLD, actually) camera that can do this.

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Damn that looks like exactly what I wanted, but I hope Canon had a camera that did this, not sure I want to commit to Sony... What do I do now :) –  Dimitris Sep 29 '10 at 15:49
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Technically, the Alpha A55 is an SLT (single lens translucent) not an SLR, as it has a translucent mirror in stead of a reflexive one. This gives it the unique ability to auto-focus during video recording by using its phase-detection AF. As I understand it, that is impossible for any existing SLR on the market, as it is a fundamental shift in camera design. dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta55/default.asp –  Sean Sep 29 '10 at 15:54
    
That's true. My question should probably be about "interchangeable lens cameras" rather than "single reflex". –  Dimitris Sep 30 '10 at 11:05
    
A 'system camera' is a term too rarely used. –  Esa Paulasto Aug 7 '13 at 16:45
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I recently purchased a 7D (with the intent of using its movie capability as well). I will share my experience.

Like the 5DMkII, the 7D allows you to autofocus during shooting by pressing the shutter button/AF button. As che suggests in his answer for the 5D, the results are poor if you do this during your live shoot and I would definitely not recommend it.

My focusing workflow: before I start recording, I use autofocus to focus on the target area, and then whilst filming I use manual ring focus. I found that using the ring focus in this way was much easier than I thought and it also gives far more control over what you can do.

My old video camera was a far cheaper auto focusing one. Often I wanted to be able to have full control over the focus, either because it would do it wrong or I wanted to do something more creative. Now I can, and I am not sure I have much desire for full time auto focus for most of the stuff I am shooting...

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Manual focus offers flexibility and I agree that if you shoot anything good you will be using it but still continuous autofocus like the one the Sony A55 seems to offering is a very useful feature that I'd like to have for quick videos in holidays etc. –  Dimitris Oct 3 '10 at 21:12
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The new Nikon DSLRs (D3100 and D7000) support that feature.

As for non-DSLRs, the new Sony SLTs (A33 and A55) and the micro-4/3 models (Panasonic GH1 and newly announced GH2).

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I think the new Sony's are a different kind of camera...rather than being a DSLR, they use a translucent mirror. –  jrista Sep 30 '10 at 1:41
    
Are you sure D7000 supports that? Continuous autofocus during recording video? –  Ali Jan 13 '12 at 18:39
    
@Ali Yes the D7000 support continuous autofocus on video, but its not what you'd expect. Its quite finicky and there is always the induced noise. I just use manual focus myself. –  user1266515 Jan 18 '13 at 16:07
    
For the D3100 it does not do it continuously (even if you select AF-F), but if you half-press the shutter while recording it tries to autofocus using contrast, which more often than not means that the lens goes hunting for focus for 2-3 seconds before it's able to really nail it down (terrible effect). You are often served better using manual focus, even if you slighly miss it. –  Marco Mp Jan 18 '13 at 16:35
    
You can add the D600 to the list too. The noise it creates on the recording though is horrendous without an external mic. –  James Snell Nov 24 '13 at 18:58
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You should check out Canon's new EOS-M. It does continuous autofocus and has the added bonus that you can re-use your canon lenses on it.

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Now that's interesting. –  Dimitris Aug 28 '12 at 17:34
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I believe the Nikon D7000 supports autofocus in movie mode, beyond that most that I'm aware of are manual focus.

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You mean continuous autofocus, or one off when the user wants? –  Dimitris Sep 29 '10 at 13:18
    
I believe you can turn it off, it's a focus mode setting on the camera (AF-F) so I would assume switching it to any other would disable it. –  John Cavan Sep 29 '10 at 14:51
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Canon EOS 5D Mark II allows you to autofocus when shooting video, but the results are quite ugly.

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The new Sony a57, a65 and a77 all have super fast autofocus in video. works very well. They also have a very easy manual focus feature that is called peaking mode (I beleive?) that will light up what ever spot is in focus at that time. And you can select a red, white or black color. very cool!

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The Canon T4i has continuous autofocus during movie record as well.

Actually, for a more comprehensive and up-to-date list, I'd recommend checking out snapsort, which will list all cameras matching a certain feature. In our case: The best recent DSLRs that can focus continuously while recording movies

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This question is kind of old, but it doesn't look like anyone's mentioned the recently released Canon 70D.

The Canon 70D has a new type of AF built into the imaging sensor ("Dual-Pixel CMOS AF"), so can do phase-detect focusing while recording (or in Live View). While many other cameras can do contrast-based focusing (even during recording), this is a big step-up in speed for the DSLR-video market.

Unless using an off-camera microphone, you'll probably also want to combine it with STM (or maybe some USM) lenses, which specifically reduce the amount of noise generated by the AF mechanism. They're designed for continual AF adjustments without jolting as they start/stop focusing (which was not important in the design of older single-shot AF motors).

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Nikon D3100,3200,5100 and 5200 : these all have the auto focus feature when shooting video...its an awesome feature

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I have a D3100 and the result is quite terrible. Much better going manual focus instead (see my comment above for details). –  Marco Mp Jan 18 '13 at 16:36
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