night photography focusing issues

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by sagramor, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. sagramor

    sagramor TPF Noob!

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    as the title suggests, i am having issues with focusing my camera at night. you know it wouldn't be so bad if there was something to use as a refernce, but if i am in a dark field at night, how do i manually focus my camera accurately? i am shooting pictures of the night sky, from the horizon up for a mattepainting i am working on. i need the stars to be as crisp as possible, but with my mediocre eyesight looking through the tiny viewfinder at a dark sky, i have no idea if i am in or out of focus, the only way i can tell is when i get back to my computer screen. yeesh, help!
     
  2. zioneffect564

    zioneffect564 TPF Noob!

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    maybe try to set the focus to infinity
     
  3. firemedic0135

    firemedic0135 TPF Noob!

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    spot on advice:thumbup:
     
  4. gmarquez

    gmarquez TPF Noob!

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    Probably best advice, until they come out with focus markings for "10-100 light year distance".
     
  5. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    Everyone says "focus at/to infinity," but that doesn't always work, especially if you're using (a) a zoom lens, and (b) not a top-of-the-line zoom lens.

    A time-consuming alternative if there's no moon out to use as a bright reference is to have your computer with you and take short, 30-60 second exposures. Download the images live, look at them, and then adjust the focus slightly until you get it as in-focus as possible.
     
  6. firemedic0135

    firemedic0135 TPF Noob!

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    You are correct sir:thumbup: I have had similar problems with my kit zoom lens but just thought it was my janky lens:) It seems to have a little play after infinity.
     
  7. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    Actually some of the better lenses, at least my old Canon FD and FL zoom lenses, will focus past infinity. At first I thought I had a lemon, and asked how I could get it fixed, or where the adjustment was. Then I discovered it was intentional in some zoom designs, because when it's warmer, they expand and it wouldn't be able to focus to infinity without that extra distance.

    But that doesn't solve the problem, does it? :mrgreen:

    I'd say if someone can't see a star as a sharp dot, or focus on something else, to get an infinity shot, there's no easy answer. You have to be able to see to back off the focus a "tad bit" and get a sharp focus.

    If the question was just taking pictures for long exposures in dark settings, I'd say, focus on something else, and then set the scene.

    The Lightyear distance setting should be identical to the 300 yards setting. :lmao:
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Some lenses are capable of focusing past infinity, specifically those who's focus changes with focal length i.e. Nikkor 18-70mm f3.5-4.5. You need to idenfity where the inifinity point is for your perticular setting.

    See if there's anything around you more than about 20m away and focus on that, you should find even on the smallest aperature the focus setting between that and inifinity should be equally sharp.
     

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