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Thread: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

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    Default How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?



    Hi everyone, i took this star trail (my first try) with MF (i had to coz too dark, cant AF) and while it looked sharp on the cam screen, it turned out blur on computer screen..i regret not enlarging it to see the pic after taking it.

    But point crying over spilled milk...i will like to find out how did you guys focus in the dark? Had to use MF right? then if use MF how to check if it's focused? Isit by taking a 20 or 30 sec shot to see if it's focused then proceed with bulb mode?
    5DMk2

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    focus to infinity... boh pian.

    if you worried, use hyperfocal distance charts.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    icic..i tot got a foolproof 100% way to do this.
    5DMk2

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lam CK View Post
    icic..i tot got a foolproof 100% way to do this.
    Got. Follow night86mare's advice.
    Alpha

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    Senior Member Numnumball's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Manual focus to inifinity.. live view should help if ur viewfinder is too dark.. else open up ur aperture to compose and lock focus before stopping down to tk the shot
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    Member 9V-Orion Images's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Use an auto focus assist beam from the flash unit, a torchlight work just as well.
    Last edited by 9V-Orion Images; 14th May 2010 at 01:06 AM.
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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Focusing to infinity rarely works if you don't have a hard stop for infinity for your lens.

    With a conventional SLR, you'll have to guesstimate. Just bring the focus just a tad closer from infinity and stop down. Works well for me so far.

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lam CK View Post
    Hi everyone, i took this star trail (my first try) with MF (i had to coz too dark, cant AF) and while it looked sharp on the cam screen, it turned out blur on computer screen..i regret not enlarging it to see the pic after taking it.

    But point crying over spilled milk...i will like to find out how did you guys focus in the dark? Had to use MF right? then if use MF how to check if it's focused? Isit by taking a 20 or 30 sec shot to see if it's focused then proceed with bulb mode?
    If you want to focus in the dark... Shine a torch to assist AF then switch to MF. Else use a hyperfocal chart / calculator to find your best focus distance for a particular focal length / aperture that will allow you to keep the most of the shot in focus.

  9. #9

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Woah...learnt sth new agn. Thx dudes.
    5DMk2

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    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lam CK View Post
    icic..i tot got a foolproof 100% way to do this.
    my prev attempts at star trails and star shots, i put it at infinity.
    but if u have live view and a relatively large aperture lens, u can try to zoom in the stars and "fine tune" the infinity focus first.

    ryan

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lam CK View Post
    Woah...learnt sth new agn. Thx dudes.
    By the way, the flashlight technique DOES NOT work if you are trying to focus on the stars.

    I'm not sure if even a laser would help for that.

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    use WA lens
    use small aperture

    AF then switch to MF, snap a picture and check on LCD
    if everything is OK
    then proceed with your shot

    btw there is already a bright light in your frame, how come still cannot focus?

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspenx View Post
    By the way, the flashlight technique DOES NOT work if you are trying to focus on the stars.

    I'm not sure if even a laser would help for that.
    He is trying to focus on the foreground, the stars are just points of light millions to billions of light years away and focusing to infinity will suffice.
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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Might also be worthy of note that infinity focus depends on temperature. That's why infinity focus is not a hard stop on your lenses but is represented by a line - so usually trying to dial in to infinity focus on your own is a bad idea and you will likely focus beyond infinity. Instead try to AF on something far away or at least check your MF using live view 5x or 10x.

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by 9V-Orion Images View Post
    He is trying to focus on the foreground, the stars are just points of light millions to billions of light years away and focusing to infinity will suffice.
    Eh.......

    It does not work in practice unless you set the lens at hyperfocal distance and the appropriate aperture.

    sabee is right. Focusing to infinity does not solve the problem.

    Anyways, TS could have checked his images before starting on capturing the trail (which looks like it took at least 1.5hours). That's what we have digital cameras for right?

  16. #16

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspenx View Post
    By the way, the flashlight technique DOES NOT work if you are trying to focus on the stars.

    I'm not sure if even a laser would help for that.
    Haha...this i know!

    Quote Originally Posted by ortega View Post
    use WA lens
    use small aperture

    AF then switch to MF, snap a picture and check on LCD
    if everything is OK
    then proceed with your shot

    btw there is already a bright light in your frame, how come still cannot focus?
    When i took the shot, the light wasn't switched on. The hotel staff then suddenly appeared from nowhere and on it. It didnt occurred to me that i shd have the light on to AF..my 1st attempt mah and i tot it was focused enuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by aspenx View Post
    Eh.......

    It does not work in practice unless you set the lens at hyperfocal distance and the appropriate aperture.

    sabee is right. Focusing to infinity does not solve the problem.

    Anyways, TS could have checked his images before starting on capturing the trail (which looks like it took at least 1.5hours). That's what we have digital cameras for right?
    Actually this shot was only ard 14mins exposure. I took 3 shots of 14 mins each. This is my 1st shot. My other 2 shots are without the bright light as i switched the light off.
    5DMk2

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    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald Lam CK View Post


    Actually this shot was only ard 14mins exposure. I took 3 shots of 14 mins each. This is my 1st shot. My other 2 shots are without the bright light as i switched the light off.
    Hmm, this was a single shot and not stacked? Where were you?

    For the star trails I've tried (still trying out...), each shot doesn't last more than 30s.

    I worry about the body heating and also the noise generated because of this heat. 14mins... wow. I don't know if I should try it too, but isn't Singapore's sky too polluted for such a long exposure?

  18. #18

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspenx View Post
    Hmm, this was a single shot and not stacked? Where were you?

    For the star trails I've tried (still trying out...), each shot doesn't last more than 30s.

    I worry about the body heating and also the noise generated because of this heat. 14mins... wow. I don't know if I should try it too, but isn't Singapore's sky too polluted for such a long exposure?
    don't think that's singapore.

    and yes, the hot pixels will be a problem.

  19. #19

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by aspenx View Post
    Hmm, this was a single shot and not stacked? Where were you?

    For the star trails I've tried (still trying out...), each shot doesn't last more than 30s.

    I worry about the body heating and also the noise generated because of this heat. 14mins... wow. I don't know if I should try it too, but isn't Singapore's sky too polluted for such a long exposure?
    It was taken in a beach in mui ne, vietnam. It was not pitch dark, but was just dark enuff not to be able to AF.
    5DMk2

  20. #20

    Default Re: How to Focus Objects in the Dark when Taking Star Trail Photos?

    Either use VF-MF or LV-MF. That's the best way. If it's the hut you want in focus but it's too dark, try setting small light source, MF or AF then switch to MF. If it's the stars, then use VF or LV and MF on it.

    That's the easiest way, imo.

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