Focusing in the dark

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by pborgbarthet, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. pborgbarthet

    pborgbarthet TPF Noob!

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    I have a Canon EOS-350D with the standard EF 18-55 Lens and an EF 75-300 USM Lens and I like shooting people and bands at small etnic gigs that happen quite a lot in Malta, mainly in Summer.

    My problem is that after dark I do not like using my flash as this I find, gives an artificial feel to the shot, which doesn't go with the style of the set up and the people. But without the preflash shots, the camera does not find a point on the subject to focus on.

    Can someone please give me some tips, possibly referring to the Canon EOS-350D as to how I can manage these shots without using the flash.

    Thanks
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    One thing that will help is a 'faster' lens (a lens with a bigger maximum aperture). The camera's autofocus works with light that is coming in through the lens, so if the lens has a bigger maximum aperture, more light gets in for the AF sensors to see. The 50mm F1.8 is a nice cheap lens to start with.

    You could get a Canon hot-shoe flash unit, 430EX, 550EX, 580EX or the ST-E2. These all have 'Auto focus assist'. You can set the flash unit not to fire the flash and still use the AF assist.
     
  3. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    the 350 has a AF assist lamp as well, does it only work with the flash up? If so, pop the flash, focus, change to manual focus mode, close flash and shoot.

    I also have an LED maglight (very bright) that I keep in my bag. I use it for light painting (it is white light), as well as helping auto focus find its mark. once focus is locked I turn it off and am ready to go.

    The other option is manual focus, which can be hard in low light on a small viewfinder.
     
  4. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    Manual focus. Find something like a light on an amp, guitar pick guard or anything that's viewable. Focus on that... shoot.

    AF needs light and contrast to work right. Your brain and eyes are much better. :D
     
  5. reshp1

    reshp1 TPF Noob!

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    This is what I do, it works great.
     
  6. mjsneddon

    mjsneddon TPF Noob!

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    I have used a small flashlight also to help the camera focus. I just point the flashlight so as to light the surface upon which I want the camera to focus. I either manually set the exposure or lock the exposure before using the flashlight to avoid affecting the exposure with light that won't be there when I take the photo.
     
  7. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    At the risk of being branded as an heretic, low light situations are the natural hunting grounds of the bright image rangefinder rig.
     
  8. DeepSpring

    DeepSpring TPF Noob!

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    I use the af assist on my 430ex and just have it not fire the flash or I can turn the exposure comp. of it down all the way and diffuse it a lot just to add a little light to the situation but you wouldnt be able to tell there was a flash.
     
  9. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I'm with Torus on this one.
     
  10. pborgbarthet

    pborgbarthet TPF Noob!

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    I just found a way...feel a bit silly actually. If the camera is set on Full Automatic (green box) the AF-assist helps to find a focus in a split of a sec.

    I should really play around with my camera more :)

    Thanks eveyone for the help though
     

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