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Wednesday, 06 January 2021


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There are really obvious examples of focus breathing in the Hunt For Red October, which always made me think that issue is a little overblown today since it obviously didn't stop Hunt from being a good and successful movie. For example, look at the focus pull from Jack Ryan in the background to the CO in the foreground at around 1:00, and then back again to Jack when he says “busy morning”:


We are not still back in the film days? Delta 100 in Rodinal stand makes me happy.

My most noticeable focus breather happens to be my favorite Fuji lens, the 27 2.8. It almost feels like a slight zoom.

I agree with Andre Y. Once I was alerted to it, I started seeing focus breathing in many high-end Hollywood productions, including movies I'd seen before, when the phenomenon hadn't bothered me.

In this example from an anamorphic lens, it manifests as distortion at 0:22 and 0:27


That's from the Abrams/Spielberg-produced "Super 8", shot by Larry Fong. Note that these guys are trying to convey their own childhood thrills with cheap camera equipment and aren't going to mind such phenomena. Elsewhere in this scene, there's evidence of Abrams' trademark infatuation with lens flare, though the bridge scenes in "Star Trek" are the ultimate example of that.

But it goes to show you how one person's flaw is another's creative tool, or pet effect. I suspect that many action/thriller filmmakers, in particular, may even appreciate focus breathing as a "cheap" source of visual dynamism.

Because of video we are being told that focus breathing is a bad thing. For most of us, most of the time, is it?

The narrowing field of view in macro focussing is a good thing, it gives us the effect of a longer focal length when we need it, in close up.

The rest of the time it's pretty much irrelevant except in video. Isn't it?

[It is. --Mike]

Breathing is indeed an issue for stills photographers - I recall a customer at the camera store I used to work at returning for a refund a Tamron 28-200mm lens he wanted to use for macro work, because the focus breathing was so bad that at the closest focus distance at 200mm the field of view ended up being the same as a 135mm lens, and that wasn't enough for him.

I've heard that some cinema lenses are corrected by breathing by a mechanism that as you focus, other elements are moved to maintain the field of view, essentially working as a bit of zoom as you focus, even though they are all prime (single focal length) lenses.

I wonder the curved part mentioned in one comment might also due to non global shutter and not lens. That is a problem with 907x with adapter lens as it is 0.3s sensor scanning from one side to the others. If so, lens can’t help you. But even the black magic deo cam can help. Use that to test is better than z6 which seems to be 1/15s.

I associated breathing more with 70-200 being not 200 but much shorter. For still photo that matter a lots. That is what that video seems to show. The coverage changed.

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