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Forums Sony Cameras Focus Issues with Sony HXR-NX5U

  • Focus Issues with Sony HXR-NX5U

  • Michael Filippi

    May 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    New to the forum, sorry if issue has been discussed before, but we’re having focus issues with both of our Sony HXR-NX5U’s.
    As we all learn in TV 101, the way you focus on a subject is to zoom all the way in, grab your focus, and then zoom out to frame your subject accordingly. Let me stop right here and say that all the settings on the camera are set to manual.
    What is happening is that while zoomed-in, the subject is focused sharp but upon zooming out to desired framing, the subject will soften up, and a lot of times the background is more in focus than the subject we just focused on. In these situations there is always two to four feet of distance between subject and background. What we’ve started to do is zoom in and focus like normal, zoom out to desired framing, and then tweak the focus again while we’re zoomed out, and sure enough the focus changes.
    If it were a camera with a fixed lens, we would all conclude that the back focus was out on the lens, but as far as we know, there is no such adjustment on the NXCAM. Are we wrong about this? We’ve been through the menu, but have found nothing. Are we missing something?

  • Michael Johnston

    May 3, 2012 at 6:14 am

    This is a common problem with most NX5U’s that Sony doesn’t seem able to fix. It is a back focus problem. Like you, I either zoom in, critical, then zoom out and tweak or I don’t zoom in at all and just use the Expanded Focus to manually focus while staying wide. It’s a real pain in the rear but one I’ll live with because all of the other features on this camera make it a favorite of mine to work with.

  • Michael Filippi

    May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm


    Much appreciated.
    I will pass on this information to my co-workers and we will most likely adopt your method in the future.
    We love the camera as well, this is the only thing that we have found that we aren’t happy with.



  • David Eaks

    May 4, 2012 at 2:20 am

    On a recent shoot one of my 3 NX5’s back focus was going so far off it was crazy. Even with autofocus ON, zooming in on something and then zooming out even a little would throw the focus way off, if autofocus was on it would refocus after I stopped zooming (using the LANC zoom controller). First time it’s ever been that bad. In a frenzy right before needing to start recording, I turned the camera off, removed battery, replaced battery, turned it back on and it was normal again for the next ~5 hours. FWIW

    Does anyone know if expanded focus “helps” autofocus? Or is autofocus completely unaware of the expanded focus functions current setting? The manual doesn’t mention any relationship between the two, only that it helps you when focusing manually.

  • Michael Johnston

    May 4, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Expanded focus only applies to manual focus. Auto focus is the computer “guessing” on focus and is never as sharp as you can get in manual. Auto also only focuses what’s in the middle of the screen and sees vertical lines, meaning most subjects will be soft because auto tends to focus for the background. Most auto modes for all newer cameras works this way. Auto focus should be avoided whenever possible.

  • Stephen Crye

    May 13, 2012 at 6:53 am

    The NX5, like most cameras in its class, is not perfectly parfocal. This is why auto-focus is needed. Although I found the auto-focus on the NX5 to be not as good as newer Sonys such as the NX70, the one I tested had pretty good auto-focus. It also was dead-on in focus at infinity when the focus was manually set to infinity.

    I had acceptable results using the following technique when in situations where auto-focus did not work well:

    * Put it in manual focus mode, turn on expanded.
    * Press the one-push auto focus, then tweak it with the focus ring if it was off (usually it was not)


    Win7 Pro X64 on Dell T3400, MultiTB SATA, 8GB RAM, nVidia FX 570, Vegas 10e (and 11) x64 DVDA 5.2(build 133) Sony HDR-CX550V

  • Charles Sumners

    May 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    This is late to this thread but with autofocus on it will find a vertical line in the background such as a pole or door edge and pull sharp to that. Face in foreground will be slightly soft.

  • john lenihan

    May 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Now that you are talking about the autofocus itself, I will point out that several years ago I documented that in a thread on this forum. Uploaded a dozen pictures where the subject was in the foregraound, takeing up the middle third, and the camera focused on wheat stalks 100 yards behind.

    I call it the antiface detection. Since there is no vertical lines, it prefers anything vertical line to a face, especially many vertical lines.

    I have gone round and round with the Sony product manager and I believe some of the newer models like the 700 started incorporating the consumer face detection. Someone with a 700 can let me know if I am correct on that point.


    John Lenihan

    LeniCam Video Productions


  • Coleman O’Donnell

    June 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    I solved the problem with my HXR-NX3. I had to upgrade my firmware to v2.10 and do a back flange adjustment. This adjustment was not available in the menu until I updated the firmware. The release notes come with instructions that are not very helpful until you’ve researched back flange focus adjustment for Sony cameras. After watching this video and reading the release notes I figured it out. As for the high contrast object to focus on I printed this black and white radial image on a regular sheet of printer paper, taped it to our green screen and ran the auto back flange adjustment.

    I hope this helps someone. This was the first post I came across and no one seemed to have a solution, just work arounds.

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