How to Set up and Use Focus in Red on the Panasonic HPX250 P2 Camera

When Panasonic released the Panasonic AG-HPX250 P2 HD Handheld Camcorder it was the camera I had been waiting for. Full raster HD, a monster 22X zoom lens and AVC-Intra codec. The peaking feature made it a snap to see when a subject was in critical focus.

But in the run and gun world we live in, sometimes even with the great peaking finding that critical focus can be difficult at times. One tool that many Panasonic filmmakers have asked for was to add what’s called “focus in red” to the HPX250. Panasonic has a reputation of listening to their filmmaker clients an implementing the features they want most in their cameras.

What is Focus in Red?

Focus in red is similar to the standard peaking except that it shows sharp edges of your subject in red which makes it easier to stand out and thus find focus even faster in some situations.

Normally on the HPX-250 when you press the focus assist button you enter what’s called Expanded view. You see a portion of your frame magnified or enlarged to make it easier to ensure that your subject is as sharp as possible.

Now with focus in red, you can change the AG-HPX-250 so that when you press the focus assist button you don’t get expanded view but instead you go into focus in red mode.
You can easily tell when you’re in focus in red mode because your LCD has a red border along the edges. You don’t get a magnified view with focus in red instead you see the normal display but now when the edges of your subject come into sharp focus, they turn a brilliant red. For a nature and wildlife filmmaker like myself seeing something turn red against a predominately green background allows me to see in a heartbeat if my focus is as sharp as it can be.

Now the one caveat with focus in red is that if you move the camera much the lines of your subject blur and you won’t see them outlined in red. So if you do a lot of hand holding and moving of the video camera, you may want to stick with the expanded view option instead.

And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker

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About the Author:

Award-winning filmmaker Kevin J Railsback has traveled as far as Africa to test HD cameras for Panasonic. His stunning nature and wildlife footage has appeared in productions on National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel as well as in commercials for such corporate giants as AT&T.

7 Comments

  1. Jujusunrise August 20, 2012 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Thank you for the tip. Was very useful, as Panasonic didn’t mentioned how to witch to in red on the manual. I love my cam but find difficult to be in focus compared to the dvx100b i had, especially when i zoom out. Probably the inconvenience of this great *22 lens. Cheers from France

    • Kevin J Railsback August 20, 2012 at 9:28 am - Reply

      Hi,
      I’m glad you found it useful. It took me a few minutes to figure it out too!
      Do you think the difference in focus is because the dvx100b had a bit more room for error being a standard definition camera?
      I know when I switched to HD I found that focus was much more critical than with my SD camera. If you’re off just a hair it makes a huge difference.
      The LCD on the 250 combined with peaking and now focus in red really goes a long way in helping get critical focus.
      Thanks again for letting me know this tip was helpful to you!

  2. Cynthia April 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Kevin, I wonder if you could give an opinion on smaller camcorder, not quite this pro. I bought a Nikon D600 with 300mm telephoto lens but I think it’s too heavy for me to hike with (not as young as I used to be). I plan to go to Ecuador and film birds so I wanted something water-sealed, that is the reason I went with the D600. I also want to take some decent stills, but mostly film. I haven’t found a camcorder that is water-sealed. It doesn’t need to be water proof, just resistant. Do you know anything that’s under 3 lbs, about $2,500 and somewhat water resistant for the Amazon humidity? Or am I’m asking too much? Thanks.

    • Kevin J Railsback May 19, 2013 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Cynthia,

      Sorry for the late reply. My little miniature schnauzer, Sadie, was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. So, I’m spending as much time with her as I can. She’s doing ok right now so I thought I’d trY to work on the site a bit.

      For birds you will want a lens as big as possible. Trust me, birds are a lot smaller in the image than you think they will be when you see them up in a tree.

      Humidity is a killer for electronic gear. You’d almost be better getting something like an Ewa-Marine bag to enclose yap camcorder in to prevent problems with humidity. The bonus would be that you could do some shallow underwater shots as well.

      I usually pack several tins of silica gel with me so that in humid conditions I can throw one in a bag, seal it up and draw all the moisture out. Going to Ecuador, I’d certainly be over prepared for damp conditions.

      Wish I could be of more help.

      Thanks again for the comments. Sorry again for the long response time!

  3. Gary Donahue August 24, 2013 at 2:25 am - Reply

    Kevin…I have a 250 and just heard about the Focus in Red option. I went to PASS and searched elsewhere but can’t the download for it. Do you know if the download is still available and if so, where?

    Thanks for your help…and I love your work!

    Gary

  4. Gary Donahue August 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the fast reply Kevin! I clicked on the link and that just takes me to a description of it and not the actual download. I did log in, and the only upgrade I can find for the HPX-250 is the April 2013 one, and I was wondering if focus in red was included in that as well, but it does not indicate that. Since I don’t plan to use the Micro P2 cards any time soon, I didn’t want to download that unnecessarily and load it into my camera until I heard more feedback regarding that upgrade. I tried searching “focus in red” on the PASS site and no luck there either. If you are able to learn more about it, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your help!

    Gary

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