sony pd 150/170 video cameras


Digital video cameras have a built-in automatic focus feature, and most of them are good enough for doing the vast majority of your shooing.

Still, it is good to learn how to focus the camera manually for those occasions when you'll need it. And if your career plans include being a cameraperson on documentary or feature films, manual focus is the industry standard.

Manual focus is good to use when:

  • You are shooting extremely busy or cluttered scenes where auto focus may keep changing and you instead want to remain focused on a particular object.
  • You are pointing at an object in the foreground and you really want the background in sharp focus with the foreground object somewhat blurred. Since the auto focus will keep the foreground image in focus, you'll need to switch to manual focus for a shot like this.

To switch to manual focus, look for the focus button and switch it from Auto to Manual.

Then adjust the focus by turning the large focus ring on the lens toward the front of the camera.

On the Sony TRV900, PD150 and PD170, the focus button is on the left front of the camera. Slide it from Auto to Manual.

The focus ring is the large silver ring on the TRV900 and the large black ring on the PD150 and PD170 on the lens toward the front of the camera.

There is often a third option for the focus button - Infinity. Use that setting to set the focus for a distant background shot, such as of a landscape, or for shooting through glass or wire mesh windows, when the camera will want to focus on the wire or glass rather than the object beyond you're trying to film.

Returning to Automatic Focus

To return to auto focus, just slide the focus switch back from Manual to Auto.

Tip - if you decide to use the manual focus and you're also planning to zoom in and out of a shot, start by zooming all the way in on the main subject of your shot. Then set the manual focus for that shot and zoom back out from there.

This will allow you to zoom in and out while keeping the main subject of your picture in focus at every point between the close-up and a wide-angle shot.

Don't start by zooming all the way out in a wide-angle shot, and using that to set the focus on your subject. This will make the picture blurry when you zoom in.