I own a Canon 1100d/T3i with very decent lenses (85mm/f1.8 and 35mm/f2). I really like shooting movies at home with it as the depth of field and the clarity of the subject are really beautiful.

The problem is that its not easy to focus and my wife finds it very difficult to use. The camera itself has zero auto-focus capabilities that I have managed to get going and it has basically been all manual focus.

I was considering getting a more expensive camcorder because making videos is quite important to me (the photo quality on this DSLR is absolutely fine with me btw). But I could not seem to find any of the cool depth-of-field that this DSLR gives me.

My questions is:

Is there a different Canon DSLR that does have good auto-focusing (ideally face recognition)?

Or is there a decent camcorder that has nice depth of field?

(and hopefully the prices are not very high as well)

  • Another way to help with focussing is to invest in a follow focus (and the associated rig). Though, this gets expensive quickly - though still cheaper than a camera that can match a DSLR's DOF and autofocus (most cinema cameras don't autofocus i.e. AF-100. There's no need on them.)
    – nchpmn
    Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 7:34
  • I am wondering if this semi-pro video camera from sony with interchangeable lens may solve my problem.. Sony NEX-VG20
    – Jonathan
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 15:59

3 Answers 3


As far as I know the Canon 650D is the only Canon DLSR that has full auto focus during video recording. Not sure about the face recognition though.

Do some research on it. If you really like the DSLR look then I think this is the camera for you... especially as you'll be able to use your 85mm and 35mm lenses.

I don't know too much about other camcorders but I doubt you'll be able to find any that can give you that DSLR depth of field for the price of the 650D.


The 650D (Rebel T4i) does autofocus in video mode, but only with the STM lenses. Currently, there are only 2 STM lenses, a 40mm STM pancake and a 18-135mm STM. I haven't used them, but tests I've seen online show that they have decent autofocus in video mode, but still not up to par with an actual video camera.

This is a good video showing how well the AF with face detection works.

I can't speak to cheap camcorders but I do own the 7D and it does very well with face detection autofocusing, but only when I hit the AF ON button or hold the shutter release down halfway. When recording video I shoot with manual focus only as lenses can tend to hunt and make noise and usually doesn't work. For doing video I would also recommend using IS lenses (or lens equivalent). I don't shoot video with my 85mm or 35mm without a tripod or shoulder rig. For handheld I only ever use IS lenses.

...I doubt you'll be able to find any that can give you that DSLR depth of field for the price of the 650D.

Chard is right, you aren't going to get the depth you're used to on your T3i without spending at least $6000 on a video camera. You're best bet for a new camera with the things you're looking for is the Rebel T4i with an STM lens.


DSLRs don't have decent auto-focus that can be engaged during video recording.

The proper way to work with a DSLR when shooting video is to plan your focus in advance of your shot. If you need to move the focus point during the shot, then your preparation will include setting up all the focus points in your shot, marking the position of each in the focus ring and finally during the shot operating the focus ring with your free hand.

Setting focus while you are in live view but not recording is possible, and this actually works really well. For this you should use the Quick AF-mode. In this mode the camera suspends the live view for a second or two and enables the fast AF that is used in picture mode. As soon as focus is achieved the live view is restored. After you set the Quick AF mode you trigger the auto-focus by pressing the AF-on button on the back if your camera. The AF modes that do not stop the live view are inaccurate and slow, the Quick AF mode is the only mode that really makes sense.

Another thing you need to consider is that to reduce the need for changing focus so much during a shot you can shoot with a larger depth of field. To increase the depth of field you basically have to reduce the aperture (i.e. larger f numbers). To be able to reduce the aperture you need to (a) add more light, or (b) increase the ISO, (c) lower the shutter speed, or (d) a combination of more than one of the above.

Good luck.

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