Mirrorless cameras and shooting in the dark

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MinAZ
MinAZ Senior Member • Posts: 4,273
Mirrorless cameras and shooting in the dark

Mirrorless cameras are great in many respects but I've always had issues with autofocus in low light. I've used mirrorless cameras from a few different manufacturers, and they do seem to lose ability to focus quickly (or at all) sooner than a DSLR would. A typical example would be a few days ago, when I did a portrait session in a black out studio. The studio was far from completely dark at the time - it was a medium large studio space with a lot of depth, and the makeup station mirror lights were on, but more importantly, I was shooting with modeling lights on for all 3 of the strobes. Yet, the Sony A7III that I was shooting with struggled to get focus.

Of course, I could have increased the ambient in the room, but in this particular case it would have meant moving to another studio (not really an option at the time). It's really frustrating, but I wonder if there is a solution to this?

Questions:

- has anyone tried using master flashes with mirrorless systems (I know it is funny, but I've actually never done so as I normally use a wireless trigger and strobes or OCF) - are they able to use that thing where red light is projected onto the subject to help focusing (sorry no idea what the technology is called, but I know DSLR flashes use it to help focus in low light)?

- more importantly, can master transmitters (not flashes) also use the red focusing light thing on mirrorless cameras? I don't use on-camera flash very often, but there are some transmitters for DSLR cameras that emit the red pulsing light and I would love to find something that does the same for mirrorless.

- are some mirrorless cameras better able to focus in the dark than others? Are any up to the level of DSLR in this regard? I really would like to at least consider going full mirrorless but won't until I can get them to focus reliably in dim studio settings.

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