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Author Topic: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?  (Read 1020 times)

wallpaperviking

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Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« on: January 27, 2019, 09:08:46 am »


The title says it all really, just wondering your experiences on focusing manually (both with the EVF and LCD) in very, very dark environments? 

I currently have the Fuji GFX and do not find it amazing at all but it is my only camera and am just wondering if you guys think there is a better option out there?

Thanks in advance! :)
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wallpaperviking

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2019, 09:10:56 am »


Forgot to mention, does turning off "Preview Exposure" help at all in this circumstance?

Thanks again!
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Telecaster

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2019, 03:42:56 pm »

I haven't found any meaningful differences in this respect among the various mirrorless systems I've used. (Fuji APS-C, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Leica.) So long as you let the camera gain up the EVF or rear LCD (turn off exposure preview) you should get a clear & reasonably bright view.

-Dave-
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David Sutton

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2019, 04:16:40 pm »

There are limits. My X-T2 will autofocus in indoors with a 10 stop ND filter attached, but not really over that. 
You don't mention the circumstances where you are photographing in low light, but I carry a small but powerful LED torch which allows any camera to autofocus up to about 30 ft.
In low light I've generally found manual focus to be problematic compared to letting the camera do the job. You may need to play with the settings though.
David
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rdonson

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2019, 09:23:43 pm »

I'm guessing that on the GFX with MF you're using focus peaking.  This works great for me with my X-T2 in low light although I'm not sure if I'd classify it as extremely dark environments.  I mostly use it for sunrises before the sun comes up.  In MF on my X-T2 I get good magnification from the focus peaking so I'm happy with it.  I don't know what kind of magnification is provided in MF on the GFX. 

Like others, if it is truly dark I will use an LED light to get a good focus.  Obviously this only works for stationary things like barns, houses, landscape structures, etc.
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wallpaperviking

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2019, 02:28:31 am »

I haven't found any meaningful differences in this respect among the various mirrorless systems I've used. (Fuji APS-C, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Leica.) So long as you let the camera gain up the EVF or rear LCD (turn off exposure preview) you should get a clear & reasonably bright view.

-Dave-


Thanks so much for this, much appreciated!  I actually worded my question pretty badly, it is not so much about "focusing" the camera, as it is about gaining an acceptable overall image off the back of the LCD. 

I am loosely building a stills camera that is based off this idea...

https://www.newsshooter.com/2018/01/03/this-18-year-old-photographer-built-his-own-8x10-large-format-video-camera/

but am having trouble being able to see the image as it is so dark.  He is able to rack focus for video purposes so he is obviously doing something more successful than me, as all I am able to see is a big noisy mess.. :( 

I still need to be able to focus and this is obviously very important but unfortunately having a flash light or some other aid is not really going to help...


So turning off "Exposure Preview" does help the situation?  Any major differences between shooting at higher or lower ISO's?

Thanks so much, any other help would be great! :)



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Telecaster

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2019, 03:52:16 pm »

So turning off "Exposure Preview" does help the situation?  Any major differences between shooting at higher or lower ISO's?

Yes, you need to let the camera brighten the EVF/LCD image as much as it can. As for the effect of ISO setting on this…dunno if all mirrorless cameras behave the same. I don't remember how the Fuji X-E1 I had for awhile behaved, not that this is even relevant now given how active Fuji is in updating their firmware with new/improved features.

-Dave-
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rdonson

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2019, 04:22:54 pm »

Have you maxed out the brightness on the LCD and EVF?

https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1237747/Fujifilm-Gfx-50s.html?page=171
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Ron

NancyP

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2019, 07:39:59 pm »

Turn up the ISO to max for manual focusing. Set focus. Turn ISO back down. This isn't specific to mirrorless, this is how I do it for nighttime Live View on an dSLR. Admittedly this is for landscape (non-reporting legacy lens) or astrophotography use.
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TonyVentourisPhotography

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2019, 08:33:41 pm »

Olympus has 2 boost modes you can turn on in the menu.  First is live view boost 1.  That is used for dark environments like studio, night, etc... it basically pumps up the gain as much as necessary to see a normal view.  Exposure changes are disregarded for the lcd purpose but work as normal during capture.  There is also a simulated ovf mode where white balance, and a few other settings are disregarded too for the screen purpose so you get a constant looking view.

The second mode is live view boost 2.  This is basically like taking a 1 - 2 second exposure and showing that.  This is for serious dark.  Like focusing on stars or other objects in extreme dark.  There is serious lag due...but it works and you can “see” in environments where your eyes probably can’t. 

I use the modes as needed.  They work both in the viewfinder and the rear lcd. 
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wallpaperviking

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2019, 12:42:07 am »


Awesome, thanks so much for the suggestions!

Some good techniques to try out... :)
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2019, 12:52:50 am »

This is an area where fast lenses really help. Even if you are not shooting at maximum aperture if you use the correct settings you should be viewing at maximum aperture.  It stands to reason an f1.2 will help a great deal when compared to an f4.
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wallpaperviking

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2019, 02:01:49 am »

This is an area where fast lenses really help. Even if you are not shooting at maximum aperture if you use the correct settings you should be viewing at maximum aperture.  It stands to reason an f1.2 will help a great deal when compared to an f4.

Hi, thanks for that...

I would love a fast lens but due to the technique being applied, there simply do not exist any that are also capable of "shifting"..

You could possibly go down the route of tilting the camera up and then correcting for perspective but then you also run into focus issues, as you are no longer shooting a flat plane :(

Also, as I understand it, there is no tilt adapter for the GFX that would enable me to use a fast 35mm lens on it..
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mcbroomf

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2019, 03:40:14 am »

I use a Sony and I'm not infrequently in dark spaces trying to compose, focus and shoot when lightpainting.  If it's really dark to be honest for composition you may just have have to use a flashlight and headlight (eg an unlit basement at night).  I use a focusable flashlight and adjust it to wide while composing.  I look for the edges of my composition to make sure I've framed properly.  If I'm not sure I take a test shot with a wide flashlight setting moving across the scene so that it's lit.

For precision focusing I still use the flashlight with high mag on the camera, but if there is some ambient light and I'm using an adapted lens with a dumb adapter I can fool the camera by setting the lens to ~F8, going to high mag, then opening the aperture.  I get maybe 3 stops more light on the screen when I do that and can focus quite easily.

Not sure if this helps
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Herbc

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2019, 10:26:06 am »

The title says it all really, just wondering your experiences on focusing manually (both with the EVF and LCD) in very, very dark environments? 

I currently have the Fuji GFX and do not find it amazing at all but it is my only camera and am just wondering if you guys think there is a better option out there?

Thanks in advance! :)  /we used a pinpoint flashlight to focus with the 8x10-old LF'ers trick.
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kers

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2019, 02:33:36 pm »

I think you have to separate the camera focussing without and with life-view - different systems.

I have a d850 and it focusses very well (AF) in dark situations. The nikon D5 seems to be even better.  Manually it is impossible on the OVF.
Liveview is less good in that same situation- manually and AF.

I have heard the Canons and fuji-XT have a brighter liveview image in dark situations than the d850, but i do not have any experience with them.
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wallpaperviking

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2019, 12:05:49 am »


Thanks for all the responses, much appreciated!

So this post has definitely given me some ideas.. 

I was trying not to go through the "traditional" way of composing in ULF and was hoping for a quicker approach but I think I may have to go that route...

All the suggested ideas with regards to lighting the scene with flashlights etc etc would help in that scenario (and to a lesser degree if using the rear LCD of the camera).  There is no autofocus options available, as the two lenses (both large format and Canon tilt/shift in my case) are both manual focus.

Thanks for the ideas, lots of food for thought... :)
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jtunney

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Re: Best mirrorless for focusing in extremely dark environments?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2019, 10:05:04 pm »

The Canon EOS R is amazing in the dark.
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