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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 13 Jan 2014 (Monday) 08:31
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Hitting Focus in Low Light

 
kfreels
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Jan 31, 2014 17:18 |  #31

Orias wrote in post #16653167 (external link)
If they do say something, it's going to be in Spanish. So I will play the "foreigner" card who doesn't understand :D


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S.Horton
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Jan 31, 2014 17:20 |  #32

Um, avoid micro-adjustments until you're very, very sure you know exactly what you're doing.

The whole article about autofocus is to show that it isn't perfect.


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Lowner
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Feb 01, 2014 05:00 |  #33

S.Horton wrote in post #16653605 (external link)
Um, avoid micro-adjustments until you're very, very sure you know exactly what you're doing.

The whole article about autofocus is to show that it isn't perfect.

I found adjusting mine a very straightforward job.


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HappySnapper90
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Feb 01, 2014 19:22 |  #34

First a 70-300 f4-f/5.6 is a very slow lens for low light. Second don't be afraid of high ISO! Go higher! (stop pixel peeping aka using 100% view of pixels on a computer screen) Lightroom can do wonders on removing noise but a blurry photo can't really be saved.




  
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kfreels
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Feb 02, 2014 10:57 |  #35

Before your next trip to the zoo, why not see if you can duplicate the lighting level in your home and practice with stationary objects?
To duplicate it, take one of the photos you have and look at the EXIF. Set your camera on manual and set your ISO, shutter and aperture to those settings. Then look in your viewfinder and focus on the subject. When you do, look at the little meter at the bottom of the viewfinder. If the indicator is to the left, add light. If it is to the right, subtract light. Do this until you get the indicator in the center and you should be pretty darned close to the same lighting as long as you don't have any excessively bright or dark areas in your background.
Now your light matches the scene at the zoo so you can experiment with all the settings you want to see what gets you the best result. You can shoot tethered to your computer if you like and see the results instantly.


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Orias
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Feb 02, 2014 12:20 as a reply to  @ kfreels's post |  #36

Thanks Kfreels,

I have actually been trying that. I think we're getting somewhere. Certainly the remote shutter release makes a huge difference. I've also started to use Live View a lot more which I never really bothered with before. Using the 10x zoom function it gives a really good insight into how much even the tiniest bit of movement can affect the image. I've never really had much luck getting sharp manual focus through the viewfinder, it's always been a bit "hit-and-miss", but Live View also makes that a bit easier too.

Fingers crossed for a good day on Weds :)
Thanks again,
Cheers, Ori


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Orias
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Feb 05, 2014 15:03 as a reply to  @ Orias's post |  #37

Well, just got back from a very long day, but productive, day at the zoo.

Taking a day off in the middle of the week worked perfectly, especially as it rained yesterday and was forecast to do the same today. Instead there were clear blue skies and a slight wind! The zoo was more or less empty, so I had all the time in the world to nerd around with the camera.

I got far more "keepers" this time around. The biggest difference was using the wireless remote shutter release I think. It still allowed me to go for the 1/10, 1/16 shutter speeds on the tripod, but without the focus issues caused by pressing the shutter button. Best £15 or so I ever spent on ebay I think :p.

Unfortunately my polarizing filter never arrived in time, so glass-reflections were probably my biggest enemy. The reptile area isn't really designed for photography as there are rows of enclosures on each side of the room, the lights of which both reflect onto each other across the room. Still managed more good shots than last time with all the advice from this thread.

I'll try and post some of the results once I get around to processing them. There are still a lot that need to be trashed (exposure issues that not even lightroom/photoshop can fix, focus hitting behind the eyes etc). I think next time I should probably use a higher depth of field as there are quite a few shots where the focus hits just behind the eyes, but the DOF at 5.6 was so shallow that the eye itself was out of focus and ruined the shot.

Thanks again for all the advice. I'm getting there!
Cheers, Ori


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Feb 06, 2014 17:59 as a reply to  @ Orias's post |  #38

Here we go, one of the slightly better examples.

In the end this one was 1/40 sec. shutter speed, ISO 400, F5.6 at 190mm. So the tripod + remote shutter release (and static subject!) really seemed to be the key.

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There's quite a lot more like this ... but still the fair share of missed focus shots too :D

Thanks again,
Cheers, Ori

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HappySnapper90
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Feb 06, 2014 18:27 |  #39

Orias wrote in post #16669261 (external link)
Here we go, one of the slightly better examples.

In the end this one was 1/40 sec. shutter speed, ISO 400, F5.6 at 190mm. So the tripod + remote shutter release (and static subject!) really seemed to be the key.
Cheers, Ori

Do not limit yourself to ISO 400. Why are you doing that? And if that was an indoor building, low lit at your zoo a tripod may be illegal since people could easily trip over it, and then there's lawyers, insurance companies, etc. suing you and the zoo. Use a monopod instead. Much more mobile and easy to use.




  
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Orias
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Feb 06, 2014 18:39 as a reply to  @ HappySnapper90's post |  #40

I had ISO set to Auto, so it just chose 400 for me based on that situation.

I wouldn't use a tripod if it was busy usually, but the place was virtually deserted, I saw someone maybe every 30 mins max. In fact, most of the other people I saw there were doing the same as me! The building itself wasn't low lit, there was no way anyone could have missed me and a tripod.

Regardless of that though, I don't think it's an issue here. I am English, but living in Madrid, Spain. This isn't the USA, people don't get sued for sneezing within 10 yards of someone else :D. There were actually zoo staff members asking to see the pictures on the screen after I took them :p

Cheers, Ori


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Feb 07, 2014 01:18 as a reply to  @ Orias's post |  #41

There's a few situations when auto iso can be useful, but they revolve around rapidly changing light. For something like this I would make deliberate decisions about my ISO. For the results you want, I would keep it around 800.

Also, a slight levels adjustment and unsharp mask in post wouldn't hurt. You have image editing enabled so I went ahead and just have each a little bump here.

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Feb 07, 2014 03:44 |  #42

Thanks very much for the tips, I'll give that a go next time for sure. I just figured that seeing as I had plenty of time, and (almost) motionless subjects, I could use a lower ISO and longer exposure. I have lots of other shots at 800, 1600 and even up to 3200.

I really like the edits you did here. I did a very quick bit of post-production in Lightroom/Photoshop to my image, but didn't spend a huge amount of time on it. Was this just unsharp mask in Photoshop + some levels fiddling that you did here?

Cheers, Ori


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Feb 07, 2014 04:52 |  #43

The other thing that strikes me with your snake image is the shallow depth of field. That's due to f/5.6. I would naturally have used f/11 or f/16 so that more of the body would be in focus.


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Feb 07, 2014 05:08 |  #44

Yah, you're right for sure. As I mentioned earlier, increasing the DOF is something that I will definitely do next time. I think I went in there with the idea that keeping it at f/5.6 would let that extra light in and I would avoid the issues I had before. It was the "play it safe" option to make sure I got the light & focus that I needed after my last failures :).

Had I seen that I was having more success with the tripod and remote shutter release, then I probably would have bumped the DOF there and then. The problem is that it's only really once you get the pictures onto the PC that a photo you think was great on the view-screen is totally out of focus on the PC, so I wasn't 100% convinced about the results I was seeing at the time.

Cheers!


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Feb 07, 2014 08:16 |  #45

Orias wrote in post #16670274 (external link)
Yah, you're right for sure. As I mentioned earlier, increasing the DOF is something that I will definitely do next time. I think I went in there with the idea that keeping it at f/5.6 would let that extra light in and I would avoid the issues I had before. It was the "play it safe" option to make sure I got the light & focus that I needed after my last failures :).Cheers!

As others have suggested, try upping the ISO. That will allow you to use f/22 if you feel the need and still have enough light.


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Hitting Focus in Low Light
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