6D in low light/wedding 2nd shooter - need advice.

megnliz

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Need some camera advice...I just got into 2nd shooting weddings, and yesterday I did my first night wedding. The reception was in a tent with low light, and lots of little lights (the perimeter was decorated with christmas lights and uplighting.) I just upgraded from a 60D to a 6D last week. So I was shooting with my 6D and a 24-70 f/2.8. The camera was having a real hard time with autofocus in the low light. It was taking so long to focus, that I would miss the shot I was going for. During dancing, it was near impossible to take the picture when I wanted to...by the time the picture was taken, all I got was their backside. When I tried to get some candid pictures, the subject was no longer in the frame by the time the picture was taken. I had an adorable picture of a little boy with his parents, but the camera took a good 2 seconds to focus, and he was no longer looking at the camera by the time it took the pic. You get the idea. I was getting incredibly frustrated.

I messed around with settings, played with different AF modes, ...nothing was getting me the results I wanted. After doing some research, it looks like I'm not the only one with this complaint. The AF on the 6D just isn't as good as something like a 5DIII.

Is the 6D something I can do low-light wedding photography with or am I going to need to bite the bullet and upgrade to the 5DM3? I'm not sure if there was something more I could have done last night, so any advice is appreciated. I'm reluctant to spend the money on a 5D at this point if I can make the 6D work, but I will if I have to, as wedding photography something I really want to pursue. I've got about a week left on my return policy, so I'm feeling the pressure to decide if a need to come up with the extra ~$1500 to upgrade to the 5DIII kit.

Thanks!
 

Big Mike

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Welcome to the forum.

A big help in situations like that, is an AF assist light. Flash units like the 430EX, 580EX, 600EXRT all have a pretty good AF assist light built into them. If you don't want to actually use the flash for the photos, you can disable the flash from firing, but still use the AF assist light (only works in 'One Shot' AF mode).

Another option would be something like the ST-E2. It's a 'master' unit, mainly used for controlling remote slave flashes, but it also has a built in AF assist light. There is a new version, the ST-E3-RT, but they 'forgot' to put the AF assist light on it. I've heard there is (or will be) a 'Mark II' that does have an AF assist light.

Another option is to just use a laser pointer (with a pattern) or a video light (or plain flash light)....something to put some light/contrast on the subject.
 

kathyt

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I use my flash 50% of the time during receptions, and the other 50% I crank up my ISO on my Mark III to utilize the ambient light. You could get away with the 6d I am sure, but you would need some sort of flash or alternative. I like dramatic lighting during receptions or I would probably use flash most of the time.
 
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megnliz

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Thank you for your replies.

I forgot to mention in my original post that I was using my 430EX II. Even with the AF assist from that, I still had trouble focusing in the low light.
I've never had a chance to use a 5DIII - any know how significant the AF improvement is over the 6D? I'm starting to think it might be worth it to spend the extra money if it means I won't have to worry about this problem in the future. Anyone with a 5DIII experience trouble focusing in low light at weddings?
 

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Kathy,
I think they were asking specifically about the auto focus....so based on your experience with the 5DmkIII, how do you rate the low light AF performance?

On my 5DmkII....it's not great (it sort of sucks).
 

kathyt

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Thank you for your replies.

I forgot to mention in my original post that I was using my 430EX II. Even with the AF assist from that, I still had trouble focusing in the low light.
I've never had a chance to use a 5DIII - any know how significant the AF improvement is over the 6D? I'm starting to think it might be worth it to spend the extra money if it means I won't have to worry about this problem in the future. Anyone with a 5DIII experience trouble focusing in low light at weddings?
I hate to spend your money here, but the Mark III excels in low light. That is what made me purchase it in the first place. The high ISO capabilities, and the focus system is amazing. I have the Mark ii as well, and I have a hard time grabbing focus in low light. Get it in your hands and try it. Rent it or go to the store. It really is an amazing camera IMO.
 

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Use just the center focus point and as Big Mike said trying using your flash's AF assist beam. I have had no issue with my 24-105 f/4 focusing with the assist beam...it really does help a ton.

Also as Kathy has stated...the 5DIII is a beast and feels great in the hands and blah blah blah. It is a wonderful camera.

With that being said the 6D is rated by Canon to be able to focus in EV -3 and the 5DIII is EV -2. So technically speaking the 6D should be able to focus in slightly lower light than the 5DIII but again when shooting in low light and the experience that I have had with my 6D is that the AF assist beam by either a speedlite or the ST-E2 GREATLY helps with locking focus.
 
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Big Mike

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Thank you for your replies.

I forgot to mention in my original post that I was using my 430EX II. Even with the AF assist from that, I still had trouble focusing in the low light.
Are you sure that it's actually on/functioning? I ask because I've missed many a shot because I didn't realize (at the time) that the AF assist light only works in 'One Shot' mode...not in AI Servo or AI Focus.

And just to confirm...you're not doing something silly like using live view are you? The focusing in live view is often much slower than focusing in 'regular' viewing mode.

Although, another work around to this issue, would be to actually use live view and manually focus. You can zoom right in with live view, to really see if it will be in-focus. Not the most intuitive way to shoot, but it might work.
 
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megnliz

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Are you sure that it's actually on/functioning? I ask because I've missed many a shot because I didn't realize (at the time) that the AF assist light only works in 'One Shot' mode...not in AI Servo or AI Focus.
This was probably the issue for about 1/2 my shots. I was switching between One Shot and AI Servo. I'm still pretty new to shooting with a flash - I've been using natural light for years. The lead photographer suggested that I switch to One Shot at one point in the night, which I did, but still didn't get the results I was looking for. I'll have to play around with this tonight after sunset.

And just to confirm...you're not doing something silly like using live view are you? The focusing in live view is often much slower than focusing in 'regular' viewing mode.
No, haven't been using liveview. It has always felt so counter-intuitive.

Although, another work around to this issue, would be to actually use live view and manually focus. You can zoom right in with live view, to really see if it will be in-focus. Not the most intuitive way to shoot, but it might work.


Thank you Mike
 

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I'll give you my 2 cents. First, start using back button focus and only use cross type focus point. I sometime turn on all of the focus points when I shoot blinds (raising my cameras up high without aiming). But when I am shooting regularly, I like using only 1 focus point. The trick is to look at your subject and figure out what will focus the best. Lets say the subject is wearing a suit, aim it right above the suit at the collar so that you have a big contrast between dark suit and white shirt (and close to the head where you generally want to focus). Point it right at the line of between black and white. Also, use your ear and skin to feel the vibration of the AF working and really feel it when it stops hunting. Once you have the focus set, snap a few shots without changing focal point. Just keep doing that.

If you have been focusing on people's dark hair, dark suit,... yeah.. you wont be able to focus.
 
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megnliz

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Thank you everyone for the advice yesterday. I turned all the lights off in the house yesterday, set the camera to one-shot, flash with AF assist on, and using only the center focus point instead of all of the focus points. I had a much easier time focusing on people walking around. I think the AI Servo was probably the biggest culprit at the wedding; I didn't know that AF Assist won't function in AI Servo.

Now I'm just debating if I should get the 5D Mark III anyway....I got the idea in my head and once I do that, there's usually no going back :lol:
 

kathyt

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Thank you everyone for the advice yesterday. I turned all the lights off in the house yesterday, set the camera to one-shot, flash with AF assist on, and using only the center focus point instead of all of the focus points. I had a much easier time focusing on people walking around. I think the AI Servo was probably the biggest culprit at the wedding; I didn't know that AF Assist won't function in AI Servo.

Now I'm just debating if I should get the 5D Mark III anyway....I got the idea in my head and once I do that, there's usually no going back :lol:
If you plan on shooting a lot of weddings then I would go for the Mark III.
 

Juga

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Thank you everyone for the advice yesterday. I turned all the lights off in the house yesterday, set the camera to one-shot, flash with AF assist on, and using only the center focus point instead of all of the focus points. I had a much easier time focusing on people walking around. I think the AI Servo was probably the biggest culprit at the wedding; I didn't know that AF Assist won't function in AI Servo.

Now I'm just debating if I should get the 5D Mark III anyway....I got the idea in my head and once I do that, there's usually no going back :lol:
If you plan on shooting a lot of weddings then I would go for the Mark III.

You're biased!

Wait...

I am too...:mrgreen:
 

kathyt

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Thank you everyone for the advice yesterday. I turned all the lights off in the house yesterday, set the camera to one-shot, flash with AF assist on, and using only the center focus point instead of all of the focus points. I had a much easier time focusing on people walking around. I think the AI Servo was probably the biggest culprit at the wedding; I didn't know that AF Assist won't function in AI Servo.

Now I'm just debating if I should get the 5D Mark III anyway....I got the idea in my head and once I do that, there's usually no going back :lol:
If you plan on shooting a lot of weddings then I would go for the Mark III.

You're biased!

Wait...

I am too...:mrgreen:
Yes I am, but I can't say the same for the Mark II though. I cussed at thing so much during receptions.
 

Juga

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The 5DIII is incredible and if I could have justified the cost I definitely would have went for it. From the moment of hold of the camera it feels 'right' in the hands.
 

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