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Thread: Night photography problem

  1. #1

    Default Night photography problem

    hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash

  2. #2
    Member enzeru21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesteve View Post
    hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash
    just set ur focus to manual focus and set to infinity...

    also read this...

    1) Focusing works by detecting contrast within your selected focus point, i.e. if you are using the centre focus point, then whatever you are pointing at has to have contrast. If you're pointing at a white wall or clear sky, the camera will not be able to figure out what is the distance between you and the object you are focusing at, and thus will not be able to focus.

    Similarly, if it's dark, naturally the contrast between things is much lower. It then becomes difficult for the camera to pick out the contrast in order to focus.

    The best thing to do is to (a) look for something with a high contrast to focus on (e.g. something lit by a lamppost) or (b) open your on camera flash and let the focus assist flash fire, then when it's focused, close the flash and take your photo

    2) Metering: Metering works by taking an average luminance of the scene and expose the scene to neutral gray. When using any of the auto/semiauto modes (P/AV/TV), the camera assumes that what you are shooting is normally lit, and will adjust either the shutter speed, aperture or both to expose your scene 'correctly'.

    But of course, if you're shooting a night scene, you wouldn't want to expose to neutral gray (cos obviously the scene isn't that bright). Using manual mode would be the best way to control how you want your scene to look like. If you're taking scenery you should have a lot of time to play around with, so what you can do is just (a) set ISO to 100, (b) set aperture at between F/8 and F/10 and an exposure of say 5 secs, (c) plant your camera on a tripod, (d) focus using the above focus-assist method or manually, and (e) set a 2-sec timer and fire away. If it's too bright, shorten your shutter speed; if it's too dark, do the opposite.

    And usually when you shoot night scenery you'd be looking for a bit of colour in the sky, so the best time would be around 7.30 to 8.00 pm. Later than that, the sky just looks black and the scene wouldn't be as interesting.
    enzeru21 Canon 500D |Tamron17-50mm f/2.8| Sigma30mm f/1.4 | 580EX II
    mylightedreams

  3. #3

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesteve View Post
    hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash
    Part I is known as AUTO FOCUS and as in most camera default settings the shutter release will be disabled if the camera can't focus; as explained before it works well if there are good contrast in the scene you are taking.

    Part II is known MANUAL FOCUS (you do the focusing rather than the camera), the shutter will be relased as soon as you press the shutter button even though the camera is not in focus.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Since Canon AF assist is through the pop up flash,

    what you can do is raise the pop up flash, focus lock, close the flash set the desired setting and shoot.

  5. #5
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    TS take these steps:

    Set your camera on a tripod.
    Turn off IS
    Turn off Long exposure Noise reduction
    Turn off Auto ISO
    Set ISO to lowest possible
    Set your shooting mode to timer
    Set mode to Av mode
    Set aperture to F13 or F16
    Set your focus to MF (focust to hyperfocal distance... or infinity).
    Hit shutter release button and leave the camera alone. Do not even touch it. It will shoot automatically. Wait for shutter to close also.
    When shot is taken, check it out.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 15th August 2010 at 12:46 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    ahh.. something new for me to try on my next night shoot.. manual focus and set to infinity...
    Why do people list their gear here? Hao Lian? LoL...

  7. #7
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    The "problem" with the kit lenses is that they don't have a focus scale, and neither do they have a hard-stop at infinity focus
    Exploring! :)

  8. #8
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    [QUOTE=stevesteve;6403170]hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    Auto-focus cannot achieve focus lock, so camera doesn't allow you to fire. Already explained by many in this thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by stevesteve View Post
    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash
    It's manual focus, not manual mode. When we talk about manual mode (or 'M' mode), usually we're referring to Manual Exposure mode, where you turn the mode dial to 'M'.
    Exploring! :)

  9. #9

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    first the setting you use were wrong... use the lowest ISO possible 100-200... aperture f/7-f/13...

    try manual focusing instead of letting the camera hunt for focus...
    Playing with M43.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesteve View Post
    hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash
    Take a torch-light and shine.

  11. #11
    Member miaoeyes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    how to set camera focus to infinity?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by miaoeyes View Post
    how to set camera focus to infinity?
    Can see the infinity mark on the lens below ?



    Set to manual focus & just rotate the dial until this infinity mark is inline with the thick white line.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy1 View Post
    Can see the infinity mark on the lens below ?



    Set to manual focus & just rotate the dial until this infinity mark is inline with the thick white line.
    I don't think the Canon kit lenses have that scale.
    Alpha

  14. #14
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Rashkae View Post
    I don't think the Canon kit lenses have that scale.
    and neither do the Nikons.... I think Sony probably the same.
    I guess some people start off their equipment collection by skipping the kit lenses entirely...
    Exploring! :)

  15. #15
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ZerocoolAstra View Post
    and neither do the Nikons.... I think Sony probably the same.
    I guess some people start off their equipment collection by skipping the kit lenses entirely...
    Not so hard la. turn to MF, and try both extremes. The one extreme that looks clearer will be infinity focus.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    Not so hard la. turn to MF, and try both extremes. The one extreme that looks clearer will be infinity focus.
    strangely hor... on my 18-135 lens, turning the focus ring all the way to the stop does not get infinity focus. I found that a little bit off from that, then only my distant (about 100m away) building is in focus.

    I just assumed all kit lenses were like that, without a hard infinity stop. Somehow the lens can exceed that.
    Exploring! :)

  17. #17
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by ZerocoolAstra View Post
    strangely hor... on my 18-135 lens, turning the focus ring all the way to the stop does not get infinity focus. I found that a little bit off from that, then only my distant (about 100m away) building is in focus.

    I just assumed all kit lenses were like that, without a hard infinity stop. Somehow the lens can exceed that.
    That is why some of us serious in our landscape photography spend so much in lenses...

  18. #18

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by daredevil123 View Post
    That is why some of us serious in our landscape photography spend so much in lenses...
    An irony professionals have to work with when always confronted with "its the person behind the viewfinder and not the gear".

    TS, Dream Merchant above has posted a very good solution that doesnt cost much. heck i myself use a led torch.
    You wont see me much less remember me but i am the guy who makes you look good.

  19. #19
    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Reportage View Post
    An irony professionals have to work with when always confronted with "its the person behind the viewfinder and not the gear".

    TS, Dream Merchant above has posted a very good solution that doesnt cost much. heck i myself use a led torch.
    What if your subject is a mountain or building 1km away. Will an LED torch work?

    Having a distance scale is good. Not having one, you need a work around. Even for my question above, there is a way around it, if you have your LED torch light and knowledge of hyperfocal distatnce. Just that it will be more troublesome.

    But people buy gear for different reasons. Some of us, we know enough to know we want better gear. And we are not like some people who buy gear blindly thinking that it will improve their shots with no effort and knowledge from their end as photographers.

    It is just like how some people may think that shooting enough bad pictures will make them good photographers automatically without thought, understanding and effort.
    Last edited by daredevil123; 16th August 2010 at 10:54 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Night photography problem

    Quote Originally Posted by stevesteve View Post
    hi everyone. i realized i have a problem with shooting night photography.. im using canon 500d, with a kit lens.. i went to shoot in an area that has low light.. i crank up my iso to 3200 (highest), and even crank up my shutter speed to 30s.. but my camera still does not allow me to shoot off, as it cant find a focus point?

    but when i try to shoot in manual mode, and ownself adjust the zoom lens, i will be able to take, but as its dark, i cant really determine whether the image is sharp or not before i shoot.. is there anyway i can do? i do not have an external flash
    Try to place the focus point on area where there is pattern. eg lines, crosses, colour difference. This should reduce the problem.
    Shining a torch light may help only if the thing that you place your focus on is near. It does not work on landscape, or city-scape at night.
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