Fuji's ability to focus in low light.

Started Nov 3, 2012 | Discussions thread
Ryan Williams
Ryan Williams Contributing Member • Posts: 598
Re: Fuji's ability to focus in low light.

viking79 wrote:

Jeff Morris wrote:

Hi All,

I have a X-E1 on order. However, I have one major concern. That is the cameras ability to focus in low light. For me, nothing is more frustrating than to be at a restaurant with family and not being able to focus in poor light. I was with my wife and we had her Nikon V1 and for the life of me I could not get the camera to focus on my diner party. I am talking low to medium light such as what you would find at a Benihanas etc.

Can someone with a X-E1 or a X-Pro1 with firmware 2.0 comment. I am not talking about focus speed, I am talking about the ability to lock on in low light.

Real world thoughtful responses are much appreciated.

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Jeff Morris / Homecinemaman
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I hunt, I peck, I squint, all on a MacBook Pro 13" laptop. So don't laugh, I'm happy there aren't more typo's! (Love the screen and touch pad, hate the keyboard.)

The trick with low light and contrast detect focus (even true for phase detect, to a lesser degree) is find a high contrast point on the subject, adjust your focus point size so it doesn't catch the background, and focus on that.

Secondly, realize that contrast detect in most systems catches vertical edges more easily than horizontal edges because of how the sensor data is read out. If you are having trouble locking on a horizontal edge, hold the camera at say a 30 degree angle to get focus then straighten out for the shot.

Typically, high contrast areas are going to be between a shadow side and lit side of the subject, maybe the whites of the eyes or teeth. Also, necks work well to focus on as well, often the neck line will have a high contrast edge that is usually fairly close to the plane of focus of the eyes if the camera is parallel to the subject.

Just watch the camera to keep it from rear focusing on the background, it tends to favor the background once it catches it. If this happens, force it to focus on something close like a fork on the table before trying your subject again.

If you aren't in too much of a hurry at a restaurant you could ask your subject to hold up a menu or something that the camera should have no issue focusing on, and have them put it down for the shot (just remember to half hold the shutter to hold focus). You could also use manual focus, a good time for when light levels are too low for AF.


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Some excellent advice here. Being aware of the horizontal/vertical line issue is a key part of getting successful auto-focus with the X-E1. I've encountered situations where I've been pointing the camera straight at a high-contrast horizontal line and it couldn't lock focus, whereas rotating the camera just a little got a perfect, fast auto-focus.

It does seem strange that such a clear issue is present, but hopefully another firmware update will come out which makes the AF even better by overcoming this limitation. In the meantime, try to develop a habit of being aware when only a horizontal line is in your AF box and adjust orientation accordingly. It's a bit of extra mental work, but you'll be rewarded with the X-E1's characteristically sharp-as-nails focus.

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