Focusing in dark places?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Creative, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Creative
    Offline

    Creative New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    I recently bought a DSLR (EOS T1i), and ive took a class in my community college, but my professor never taught us how to focus at night or in very dark places. Recently my friend asked me to be his photographer for his birthday party, when it came to me to start taking pictures i had trouble manually focusing because when i looked through the viewfinder it was pitch dark. So is their any method/trick to help me focus at night or at dark places, or is it recommend to buy a new flash?

    Thank you for your time
  2. 480sparky
    Offline

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    Messages:
    15,927
    Likes Received:
    5,193
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Iowa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +5,224 / 0
    Prefocus and use an aperture that will render everything in focus (Google hyperfocal).
  3. Aye-non Oh-non Imus
    Offline

    Aye-non Oh-non Imus New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    23
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0
    I always keep a small pen light in my bag. Comes in handy every now and then, focus assitance in dark places is one of the uses.
  4. gsgary
    Offline

    gsgary Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008
    Messages:
    13,162
    Likes Received:
    2,062
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Chesterfield UK
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +2,063 / 0
    If it is that dark it's not worth taking a photo unless you are using studio flash and then you have modelling lights
  5. Vtec44
    Offline

    Vtec44 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,445
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    So Cal
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +362 / 0
    Nice trick!
  6. imagemaker46
    Offline

    imagemaker46 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Messages:
    3,690
    Likes Received:
    1,214
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Canada
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +1,218 / 0
    I just look for any highlights and use that. The small pen light is a nice idea.
  7. KmH
    Offline

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2009
    Messages:
    34,061
    Likes Received:
    4,069
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Iowa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +4,077 / 1
    Read your camera user's manual so you can learn how to use the low light auto focus assist feature of the pop up flash unit.

    EDIT: I was just looking through the T1i user's manual online, and like most Canon users's manual it sucks, badly. I don't see that the T1i has a low light auto focus assist feature.

    Another reason I can't recommend Canon gear.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  8. Creative
    Offline

    Creative New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    Thank you both, i'll google hyperfocal and i'll carry a small light :D
  9. Kerbouchard
    Offline

    Kerbouchard New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    573
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +573 / 0
    You can't use an aperture that will render everything in focus in dark conditions unless you are on a steady tripod and nothing in the frame is moving. Hyperfocal distance and a small aperture are generally applicable to landscape photography. Not indoor low light photography. I hope that suggestion was a joke.

    If you need a flash light for your focus module to lock on, you are pretty much beyond your camera's capabilities, at least without flash.

    Now, if you are willing to purchase a flash, most speedlights have a focus assist beam on them that will aid your camera. It is kind of a red grid that it projects so it gives your focus system something to lock on to.

    Digital photography and technology are getting better everyday, but you still can't take pictures in the dark. Sometimes, if there isn't enough light, you don't have a choice but to add it.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  10. Creative
    Offline

    Creative New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    Ive been considering of buying a new flash. Any recommendations?
  11. Kerbouchard
    Offline

    Kerbouchard New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    573
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +573 / 0
    I would recommend an SB800 or SB900, but then you would have to buy a Nikon for everything to work right. I don't know much about the Canon line up of flashes, but in general, you get what you pay for. Make sure it can swivel, tilt, and has an AF assist. It looks like the 580 EX II is the top of the line for Canon flashes at around $500. It looks like the 430 EX II is about the cheapest of the Canon line that will actually do what you need a flash to do at around $280.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Creative
    Offline

    Creative New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0
    Thanks, i'll look at both flashes more deeply. Thank you for all the help
  13. 480sparky
    Offline

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    Messages:
    15,927
    Likes Received:
    5,193
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Iowa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +5,224 / 0
    Don't knock until you try it. I'm not saying try to get EVERYTHING from 0.001" to infinity in focus.... just the normal distances your subjects are. 5-10 feet is not an impossible feat, even at f/5.6 or f/8.
  14. Kerbouchard
    Offline

    Kerbouchard New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    573
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +573 / 0
    Okay, let me know the next time you are shooting handheld, indoor, low light, no flash photography where you need a flash light just to give the focus system something to lock into and are shooting at f/8. Sounds a bit far from optimal to me. Just sayin'.
  15. 2WheelPhoto
    Offline

    2WheelPhoto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    6,850
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Tampa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +994 / 0
    I carry a small LED light for both seeing in my bag in the dark and focusing.
  16. 2WheelPhoto
    Offline

    2WheelPhoto New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    6,850
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Tampa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +994 / 0
    If you shoot motorcycles with a tripod and available light at night where we do, you'll need a tripod and focus light.
  17. 480sparky
    Offline

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    Messages:
    15,927
    Likes Received:
    5,193
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Iowa
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +5,224 / 0
    Who said anything about autofocus? I said PREfocus.
  18. Kerbouchard
    Offline

    Kerbouchard New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    573
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +573 / 0
    I didn't say anything about using autofocus. The OP implied that his autofocus was not working because the lighting conditions were too dim. He also said manual focus was not an option because his viewfinder was pitch dark. That gives any experienced photographer a good idea of the light levels. Since the OP also said he is trying to take pictures at a party, we can also assume he doesn't want to shoot at 1/2 second shutter speed.

    Given all that info, we can further infer that any advice to shoot at f/8 is ridiculous.

    That is all.
  19. Aye-non Oh-non Imus
    Offline

    Aye-non Oh-non Imus New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    23
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +23 / 0
    Isn't this where the cream rises to the top? You're talking bo!!ocks anyway. There are a myriad of options to shoot in those conditions. Just because you approached the scene ill prepared doesn't mean that the rest of us are that way inclined.
  20. Kerbouchard
    Offline

    Kerbouchard New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,697
    Likes Received:
    573
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Gallery:
    Ratings:
    +573 / 0
    Huh? For one thing, I am not the OP. For another, I told the OP what he needed to do to shoot in those conditions. Third, shooting in that scenario was not my advice nor is it something I would do. Forth, I don't know what "bo!!ocks" is. And last of all, I don't like your tone.

    Carry on.

Share This Page