focus at night

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just wondering how you guys/girls go about focusing at night. if its too dark my nikon D3000 will just focus back and forth not being able to focus on anything. my first thought is to manually focus. but when its dark out its kind hard for me to even tell if its in focus or not, so im left with guessing. any tips or secrets?
 
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if it is completely dark, meaning you cant see anything at all then no matter how long the shutter is open for you will not get an image. An idea that comes to mind is perhaps use a powerful light to illuminte the point on which you want your focus and focus manually while you can see then turn the light off. Obviously you wont be able to get a true meter reading while the light is on, but it might work.
 
I'm sure Nikon has a comparable feature, but on a Canon you can switch over to Live View mode (so the view finder closes, mirror goes up, and you view the shot on your LCD screen), then you can magnify an area in two steps 5x and 10x, manual focus and then take the shot, this works really well, as long as you are using a tripod of course.
 
my D3000 doesn't have the live view. guess i need to upgrade lol. ive worked with using some light to get focus then turning the light off. just wasn't sure if there was a better option.
 
Bring a good flashlight with a powerful beam, set it down facing your subject so that it's illuminated enough for your AF to work. Focus the shot, turn off the light (or kick it so it's not facing your subject anymore) and take the photo. As long as you aren't using shutter button focus.
 

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