Question about focussing in dim light with a flash off camera in live view

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
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mjevans Contributing Member • Posts: 575
Question about focussing in dim light with a flash off camera in live view

Firstly I should say that although I've been using Nikon DSLRs for years and have taken 100's of thousands images I have only just started using flash so I'm a complete newby WRT flash.

The situation I need some help with is this:

  • D500 + Godox Xpro trigger on hot plate and Godox V860II on a small stand on the ground pointing at subject which is around 2ft away
  • I'm in a wood and it is dim light and I'm trying to take photos of fungii
  • I'm in manual mode and ISO is fixed at 100 and aperture at F13/F16 for a little more depth of field. I don't care what the shutter speed is as the camera is on a tripod but it is set for less than the synch speed and anywhere between 1/60th and 1/250th

Now, this is what I experienced:

  • In live view the camera says the image is massively under exposed and the live view is VERY dark
  • However, I'm expecting the flash to make up for the lack of light
  • When I press back button focus the LCD gets lighter briefly while the camera tries to focus (I'm not sure what is happening here but I presume it is opening up the aperture). The camera appears to focus and the screen goes dark again.
  • I press the shutter (in exposure delay mode) and wait for the photo to be taken. The flash flashes briefly immediately (I presume because it is TTL metering) and 3s later the photo is taken.
  • On image review the photo is bright but often a little out of focus. It may be I didn't pay attention to whether the focus rectangle in the LCD went green or stayed red - I can't be certain.

Now my questions are

  1. as it is very dim light and I'm using a flash to light my subject, how am I supposed to focus when the flash isn't actually firing and my LCD is very dark?
  2. Also what is happening when I hit BBF and the LCD briefly lightens a bit?
  3. Shouldn't a modelling light on the flash turn on to help focus? I believe it is enabled on my flash.

Other observations:

  1. I notice when the PV button is pressed the LCD shows a new icon on the left and the image in the LCD lightens a lot.

I'd appreciate any insights as I'm totally new to flash.



 mjevans's gear list:mjevans's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Nikon D7200 Nikon D500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G +12 more
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Nikon D500
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