Short Description

While recording movies, continuous focus means the camera will adjust the focus as you record. This means if you point the camera from one subject to another, the camera will refocus without you having to do anything. Continuous focus makes it dead simple to record movies, without it you have to pay attention to the focus yourself and adjust it as necessary (using either manual focus or one touch autofocus).

These days all the new DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras record movies, where in the past movies were only possible on point and shoot cameras. However, the first couple of generations of DSLR and mirrorless cameras don't support continuous focusing while recording video, instead they either don't autofocus at all, or they autofocus with the touch of the shutter-release.

Focusing systems

DSLRs have traditionally used phase detection autofocus, whereas point and shoots use contrast measurement. Phase detection requires dedicated focus sensors, and is generally faster and more accurate, and supports subject tracking. Contrast measurement doesn't require dedicated sensors, instead it relies on testing contrast found in the image produced by the sensor.

When recording a movie with a DSLR, the camera's mirror is in the up position, and it is unable to send light to the focus sensors, so DSLRs implement the contrast measurement (also called contrast detection) method of focusing while recording movies. So first generations of DSLRs have had very poor focusing capabilities, but DSLR manufacturers do seem to be working on this problem, though it is unlikely that autofocus capability while recording movies will ever equal still image autofocus unless manufacturers make a breakthrough with contrast detection or design a mechanism to support using phase detection with the mirror up.

DSLRs with continuous focus

These are some of the best SLRs that can adjust the autofocus continuously while recording video.

Nikon D610
Nikon D610
from $1,509
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,980 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
94.0
Color depth Great color depth Help
25.1 bits

Learn more about the Nikon D610

Nikon D750
Nikon D750
from $2,297
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,956 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
93.0
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
1,229k dots

Learn more about the Nikon D750

Nikon D810
Nikon D810
from $2,844
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,853 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
97.0
True resolution High true resolution Help
36.2 MP

Learn more about the Nikon D810

Nikon D4s
Nikon D4s
from $6,497
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
3,074 ISO
Battery life Great battery life Help
3020 shots
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
89.0

Learn more about the Nikon D4s

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Mirrorless cameras with continuous focus

These are some of the best mirrorless cameras that can adjust the autofocus continuously while recording video.

Sony Alpha A6000
Sony Alpha A6000
from $548
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
82.0
Focus points Many focus points Help
179

Learn more about the Sony Alpha A6000

Sony A7S
Sony A7S
from $2,796
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
3,702 ISO
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
409,600 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
87.0

Learn more about the Sony A7S

Samsung Galaxy NX
Samsung Galaxy NX
from $879
Screen size Large screen Help
4.8"
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
1,440k dots
Image stabilization Image stabilization Help
Lens

Learn more about the Samsung Galaxy NX

Sony A7
Sony A7
from $1,198
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,248 ISO
Autofocus Phase detection video autofocus Help
fast and accurate
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
90.0

Learn more about the Sony A7

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Discussion

Showing 1 comments

Avatar for prakashji prakashji (6:14 PM, December 14, 2012)
I believe teh OM-D EM 5 also has this