Video: TG-6 Video Focus Lock

In this video, we will test out one of the common questions that I get about TG-6, TG-5, and TG-4 focus lock while shooting video.

UNDERWATER MACRO HOWTO Presents
“TG-6 Video Focus Lock”
Starring Fred the Frogfish and Michael Smith
With TG-6, TG-5, and a cast of thousands
Music: “throwing sadé” by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)
Filmed with:
Logitech C922
Olympus Tough TG-6
Olympus Tough TG-5
Various other pieces of hardware
No Frogfish were harmed in the filming of this production….

Video: TG-6 Dry Land Focus Drills

In this video, we’re looking at focus drills that you can do on land with your camera in order to improve your skills so that you can have a better experience with your camera underwater. Today we’re using the Olympus Tough TG-6 compact camera.

The description of the drills is here: https://underwatermacro.blog/2020/04/11/dry-land-training-focus-skills/

UNDERWATER MACRO HOWTO Presents
“TG-6 Dry Land Focus Drills”
Starring Fred the Frogfish and Michael Smith
With TG-6 and a cast of thousands
Music: “osaka” by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)
Filmed with:
Logitech C922
Olympus Tough TG-6
Various other pieces of hardware
No Frogfish were harmed in the filming of this production….

Video: Housing O-Rings

Today we’re talking about underwater photography housing O-Rings and seals: some general information and how to maintain and clean them.

Timeline:
0:08: Intro and my TG4/PT-056 dorkitude and related flooding episode
2:14: Cleaning and maintenance kit
5:12: Working on the TG4/PT-056 housing and general maintenance
16:55: TG5/Nauticam NA-TG5 housing
18:47: Lumix G9/Nauticam NA-G9 housing
24:40: Sea and Sea YS-D2 strobe

UNDERWATER MACRO HOWTO Presents
“Housing O-Rings”
Starring Michael Smith
With G9, TG5, TG4, YS-D2, and a cast of thousands
Music: “Layback” by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)
Filmed with:
Logitech C922
Nauticam NA-G9
Nauticam NA-TG5
Olympus PT-056
Sea and Sea YS-D2
The Magical Nauticam O-Ring Tool
Various other pieces of hardware
No Nudies were harmed in the filming of this production….

Video: *Triggered*

Today we’re talking about putting handles and triggers on underwater photography housings. I do this because for compact camera housings with a shutter button on the top front, you sometimes lose focus and framing when you shoot.

 

UNDERWATER MACRO HOWTO Presents
“*Triggered*”
Starring Michael Smith
With G9 and a cast of thousands
Music: “Slipout” by Birocratic (http://birocratic.lnk.to/allYL)
Filmed with:
Logitech C922
Nauticam NA-G9
Nauticam NA-TG5
Olymput PT-056
Various other pieces of hardware
No Nudies were harmed in the filming of this production….

Dry Land Training: Focus Skills

Here at Underwater Macro Blog, we believe in practicing and drilling on the surface, surrounded by air.  It’s how you master your camera and setup without the added stress of having to breathe underwater, hunting for subjects, and eventually running out of gas.  If you can’t shoot macro on the surface, you definitely can’t shoot it on a dive.  Hence, I offer up drills to improve your focus.  I do these for any new camera and for any significant change in gear.

What You’ll Need.

For all of these drills, you will need a macro-capable camera and lens (or no lens if you’re using a compact camera) and a subject.  The subject doesn’t have to be anything fancy: little toys work fine.  Sometimes I use my tripod screw as a subject but I’ve also used replica nudies and even a toy Pikachu that I got out of a capsule station in Akihabara.  Designate a tiny piece of the subject that you want to be its “eyes”.  In underwater macro, this could be shrimp eyes or nudibranch rhinophores.  But for our drills, it’s just an arbitrary part of the subject that has to be in focus.

Setups: We’ll use 2 camera setups for this.  Normal shutter focus and back-button focus.

  • Shutter Focus: This is the usual behavior that you would expect from camera: you half-press the shutter button and the camera gets a focus lock until you either shoot the shot or release the shutter button.
  • Back-Button Focus or Focus Lock: For a TG4/5/6, when you want to focus, you half-press and hold the shutter button to get a focus then hit the “OK” button.  For something like my Lumix G9, you turn off “Shutter AF” and then set a button like the F1 button to be AF/AE lock button.  If you don’t know how to do this for your camera, hit up Google for: <camera name> (“back-button focus”|”focus lock”).

I also have a lot of information on back-button focus.

The Sticky Shutter

Purpose: For doing a focus-reframe with half-shutter focus.  This is necessary because on compact cameras you have a single focus point in the center of the picture that almost always is not how you want to compose the shot.

Set up: Shutter focus.

Process:

  1. Focus on a part of the subject by half-press on the shutter button.  Push the shutter halfway and get a good focus.
  2. Move the camera left and right to get the framing that you want.
  3. Move the camera slightly in and out to make sure that the focus is on the “eyes” of your subject
  4. finish the shutter press and take the shot.
  5. Repeat for at least 10 times or until you can regularly do it within 1 second.

Back-Button Sniping

Purpose: For learning how to get a quick focus lock and shoot.  This is important because as you move to back-button focus, you take a longer time to focus.  So we practice so that you can gain and lock focus faster and get that glorious shot.

Setup: Back-button focus

Process:

  1. Focus on an arbitrary distance subject or at least try to focus.  This is so that you start from scratch with any pre-set focus.
  2. Point your camera at the subject and find your subject in the viewfinder.
  3. Get a focus anywhere on the subject and lock your focus.
  4. Frame your shot.
  5. Move the camera in and out until the “eyes” are in focus.
  6. Snap the photo with the focus you picked.
  7. Without moving the focus, wait for 2 seconds (simulating strobe recycle time) and take a second shot.
  8. Repeat for at least 10 times or until you can regularly do the entire process within 3 seconds.

Why You Wanna Give Me The Runaround

Purpose: For repositioning your camera and lens from a different angle and readjusting your focus by moving the camera instead of getting a new focus.

Setup: Back-button focus.

Process: 

  1. Point your camera at the subject and find your subject in the viewfinder.
  2. Get a focus anywhere on the subject and lock your focus.
  3. Frame your shot.
  4. Move the camera in and out until the “eyes” are in focus.
  5. Snap the photo with the focus you picked.
  6. Without moving the focus, lift the camera and point it somewhere else.
  7. Wait 2 seconds, then move the camera to point it at the subject and find the subject in the viewfinder
  8. Repeat steps 3 to 9 for at least 10 times or until you can regularly do the entire process within 3 seconds.

Split Focus

Purpose: For learning how to get 2 points in focus by adjusting the pane of focus in a circle around the subject.

Setup: Back-button focus.

Process:

  1. Pick 2 locations on the camera to be a pair of “eyes”.
  2. Point your camera at the subject and find your subject in the viewfinder.
  3. Get a focus anywhere on the subject and lock your focus.
  4. Move the camera in and out until both of the “eyes” are in focus.
  5. Reframe your shot.
  6. Check that both “eyes” are in focus.  If not, repeat steps 4-6 until your photo is both framed and you have the correct focus.
  7. Snap the photo.
  8. Repeat steps 1 through 8 with different parts for “eyes” for at least 20 times.  This is a hard drill to get good at.

Not The Droids You’re Focusing On

Purpose:  For camera-shy subjects, moving subjects, or small subjects that you can’t just point the camera and and get a focus lock, you have to focus on a different object nearby (I usually use a rock) then point the camera at your subject and shoot.

Setup: Back-button focus.

Process:

  1. Focus on an arbitrary distance subject or at least try to focus.  This is so that you start from scratch with any pre-set focus.
  2. Focus on a second arbitrary subject the same distance away as your subject.
  3. Get a focus anywhere on the arbitrary subject and lock your focus.
  4. Point your camera at your real subject and find your subject in the viewfinder.
  5. Frame your shot.
  6. Move the camera in and out until the “eyes” are in focus.
  7. Snap the photo.
  8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 at least 10 times or until you can regularly do the entire process within 2 seconds.

The Answer Is Blowing In The Wind

Purpose:  For focusing on moving subjects like skeleton shrimp on a hydroid or nudies swaying in the current.  If you’re using shutter focus, by the time you shoot the camera the subject is already out of the frame.  So what you do is lock the focus and “ambush” the subject when they come back inside the frame.

Setup: Back-button focus.

Process:

  1. You’ll need a buddy to move an object for you.  Have them slowly move your subject to the left and out of frame, into the frame, and to the right and out of frame.  They just swing the subject in and out of the frame for as long as you practice.
  2. Focus on an arbitrary subject the same distance away as your subject.
  3. Get a focus anywhere on the arbitrary subject and lock your focus.
  4. Point your camera at the middle of the track that the subject is on.
  5. Try to determine if the subject is in focus in your shot.  If not, move the camera slightly forward and back until they are.  This might take some time.
  6. When the subject gets to the middle of the shot, quick-snap the shutter.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 about 50 times then review your photos to see if any are in focus.  Don’t worry too much about focus, you’ll shoot a lot of bad shots but some of them will turn out.  But for some subjects, this is what you have to do to get a shot.

 

Take Your Game Up 50 Levels

Once you’ve mastered these drills, then you’re a competent land macro shooter with transferable skills for underwater macro.  There are a couple of steps that you can take to simulate the underwater environment.

  • Put your camera in its housing and repeat all the drills.  That way you can remember what the housing buttons do.
  • Perform the drills wearing diving gloves.  Some drills are harder when you lose manual dexterity.  My favorite is the half-press and focus lock on the TG4/5/6, it’s hard to do with gloves.
  • Add a supermacro converter to your dive housing and go through all the drills.  Supermacro converters magnify the subject and are way awesome but they also magnify your movements reduce your depth of focus.  This makes it harder overall to focus.