AF-Assist options for pro bodies

Started Nov 26, 2012 | Discussions
garyb1985
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AF-Assist options for pro bodies
Nov 26, 2012

OK here's something I'm having trouble with.

I do most of my work in nightclubs - and not your big flashy shiny nightclubs, I'm talking nice & dark, with little to no light available.I try not to use on camera flash & luckily my Nikon D3s can handle most situations.

The main problem is that the Camera can't focus in light it can shoot in, which can be frustrating (dont get me started on why a near £4000 camera doesnt come with any af-assist functions). If you use an off-camera cord, your flash AF-assist beam becomes virtually defunct.

I bought a Nikon SC-29 cord which handily has an AF assist beam which stays on top of the camera but has the incredibly annoying feature of having to be attached to a flash unit which is switched on. If I'm using the flash that's cool, but when I want to use available light I'm stuck.

Does anybody know of a way of setting a flash (SB-700 or SB-80dx) so it doesnt fire but will use the AF assist on the SC-29?

Secondly I'm not averse to remote triggers either - I've seen a couple with AF assist beams but am yet to see any of these with decent reviews. The SU-800 would be ace but it's incredibly overpriced. If anyone has favourable experience with these types of trigger I'd like to hear (AF-beam needs to work at close distances ie, 1m).

Any other AF-Assist tips would be great!

Thanks in advance

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Light is Light, its what you do with it that counts http://www.gbmultimedia.co.uk

Nikon D3S
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Roland Wooster
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SB-800
In reply to garyb1985, Nov 26, 2012

I just tested my SB-800 it can do exactly what I think you are asking for. There is an option in the menu on the flash to turn "Fire" on or off. If you select "off" in the back LCD it then displays "AF-ILL ONLY" and indeed, only the red AF illumination light is used, and the flash does not fire. I would thus fully expect the SB-900 and SB-910 also offer this feature. I have no idea about the smaller flash units.

Now, one other point that may be important to you. None of the AF-Illumination lights on Nikon's flash units (at least SB-800 to SB-910) work in AF-C mode, the AF-illumination light is simply turned off in AF-C, it only operates in AF-S, which is a huge disadvantage which might impact your shooting needs too. As far as I'm aware, there's no solution at all for AF-C assist. If there is, and someone can call it out that would be awesome.

Roland.

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garyb1985
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Re: SB-800
In reply to Roland Wooster, Nov 26, 2012

Thanks Roland - i actually have an SB-800 which is on the blink, but if I connect it to the SC-29 with the settings you describe it should give me AF-Ill without the flash (albeit a slightly cumbersome setup!) - I'll check out my SB700 tonight and see if it has similar.

I have spotted the point about AF-C (noticed in one of those 'WHY THE HELL WONT IT WORK!?!?' Moments ) and also if you're using a single AF point that isn't the centre spot, the AF-Ill stops too.

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joejack951
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Re: AF-Assist options for pro bodies
In reply to garyb1985, Nov 26, 2012

garyb1985 wrote:

The SU-800 would be ace but it's incredibly overpriced. If anyone has favourable experience with these types of trigger I'd like to hear (AF-beam needs to work at close distances ie, 1m).

I have the SU-800. It works very well and with almost all of the 51 AF points on the D3s (in AF-S mode only of course). If you have Nikon flashes already, it's a very easy way to remotely trigger them with full TTL metering and not require a bunch of extra AA batteries. The SU-800 itself is very lightweight courtesy of using only one 123a battery.

If you need something and there's a device that offers you that functionality, I don't see why you wouldn't just buy it and get over the fact that maybe it's a little pricey for what it does. Perhaps there's a reason why other triggers with AF-assist don't get the same good reviews...

FYI, they sell used on ebay for around $150 if you are patient. There's not much to wear out or be abused (unlike a flash) so if I was in the market for one and was feeling cheap, I wouldn't hesitate to buy used.

 joejack951's gear list:joejack951's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW100 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D300S Nikon D3S Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +5 more
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garyb1985
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Re: AF-Assist options for pro bodies
In reply to joejack951, Nov 27, 2012

Cheers Joe

Fortunately for yourself you live in the cheap as chips US of A! In the UK we are looking at (the equivalent of) $400 new and $300 used - I'd rather buy a new/used speedlight with that kind of cash! Maybe I'll see if any friends are visiting the states soon - I'd pay the prices you mentioned happily!

In other news - at a gig last night, I tried deactivating my dodgy SB800 so it just uses the AF assist and that works great! I then tried to hook up a remote to the sync socket to fire remotely like this, only to find the sync socket won't trigger when the sb800 is set to not fire, GRRR!

Doesn't look like there's any ingenius answers that I was missing then

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joejack951
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Re: AF-Assist options for pro bodies
In reply to garyb1985, Nov 27, 2012

garyb1985 wrote:

Cheers Joe

Fortunately for yourself you live in the cheap as chips US of A! In the UK we are looking at (the equivalent of) $400 new and $300 used - I'd rather buy a new/used speedlight with that kind of cash! Maybe I'll see if any friends are visiting the states soon - I'd pay the prices you mentioned happily!

In other news - at a gig last night, I tried deactivating my dodgy SB800 so it just uses the AF assist and that works great! I then tried to hook up a remote to the sync socket to fire remotely like this, only to find the sync socket won't trigger when the sb800 is set to not fire, GRRR!

Doesn't look like there's any ingenius answers that I was missing then

Ok, that makes sense, Gary. Sorry for giving you a hard time about being cheap

If you ever are interested in trying to procure a SU-800 from the US let me know and maybe I can give you a hand with the purchase.

 joejack951's gear list:joejack951's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW100 Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D300S Nikon D3S Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +5 more
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