The Low Light Struggling

Started May 23, 2014 | Discussions
Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
The Low Light Struggling

Hello,

So I was shooting an event in very dim light and the 6D struggled really hard to find focus. I was using a E3-RT and a couple of 600EX.

Can anyone give me a suggestion on how is this improved for a PRO photographer. Does the 5D MKiii make a difference? I'm yet to understand why there is no an AF lamp on these models and why the E3-RT doesn't have one neither.

Doing work and not for pleasure is what made me realise how much of a struggle it is.

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 18,227
Re: The Low Light Struggling

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

 hotdog321's gear list:hotdog321's gear list
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hBill Regular Member • Posts: 220
Re: The Low Light Struggling

As a new owner of the 6d I've been impressed with its ability to focus in low(er) light than my older eos cameras. So - maybe you could provide an unaltered copy ( or more )  of your ( raw ? ) foto(s) and we can look at them to see if we can focus on the problem .

for example - the center point is pretty accurate in low light - the outer points less so .

Good Luck

OP Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: The Low Light Struggling

hotdog321 wrote:

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

Thanks,

I was using the 50 1.4 most of the time and 24-105 in some cases.

Manual focus in such scenario is out of the question

 Damián B's gear list:Damián B's gear list
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OP Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: The Low Light Struggling
1

Hello,

I don't think the post mortem approach would be of any help here. I use centre focus only as others are mostly a miss, AF logic tends to pic up the brightest points which in my case were the background.

 Damián B's gear list:Damián B's gear list
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Joe Mayer Regular Member • Posts: 122
Re: The Low Light Struggling
1

Damián B wrote:

Hello,

So I was shooting an event in very dim light and the 6D struggled really hard to find focus. I was using a E3-RT and a couple of 600EX.

Can anyone give me a suggestion on how is this improved for a PRO photographer. Does the 5D MKiii make a difference? I'm yet to understand why there is no an AF lamp on these models and why the E3-RT doesn't have one neither.

Doing work and not for pleasure is what made me realise how much of a struggle it is.

Yeah, it's not quite so much fun when it's a job, is it?  I actually find that it is but it's "tough fun" if that makes sense.  At least we're doing something we really love and that makes it all worthwhile.  In any case, the solution for you might be to pop another 600RT onto your camera.  Voila.  You now have AF assist.  And of course, you can tell the on-cam flash no to fire.  It may seem like a shame to set the E3 on the sideline and of course you need to pick up another 600RT but that will get you your AF assist.  I've usually been able to get by without doing this but sometimes, just to be sure, I'll go this route.

And out of curiosity, are you missing AF or are you finding it takes longer to get it.  There is a difference.  I've shot low light reception (static and moving subjects) with the 50 1.4 and not had issue finding focus with the 5D3 (center AF point) with no flash help needed.  That's the beauty of these cameras in that you have to get really really dark before you'll get focus.  You must either be pitch black or it's a matter of you're finding focus is slower and therefore causing you to miss shots (cause by the time it locks, subject has moved)?

Stu 5 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,277
Re: The Low Light Struggling
2

Damián B wrote:

Hello,

So I was shooting an event in very dim light and the 6D struggled really hard to find focus. I was using a E3-RT and a couple of 600EX.

Can anyone give me a suggestion on how is this improved for a PRO photographer. Does the 5D MKiii make a difference? I'm yet to understand why there is no an AF lamp on these models and why the E3-RT doesn't have one neither.

Doing work and not for pleasure is what made me realise how much of a struggle it is.

The 6D AF goes down to -3EV and the 5D MIII -2EV. Using the single centre point you should find the 6D easier to use. I can only think you must be in very low light. I was taking theatre production photos with a 5D, 4 days ago and that only goes to -0.5EV and only once out of 399 photos did it struggle to lock focus in very low light (3200 iso, 1/20 sec f4 with i.s sometimes). All I did then was look for a brighter area that was the same distance away and locked focus onto that.

KelvinHammond Regular Member • Posts: 324
Re: The Low Light Struggling

This is why I also bring my 7D to low light event jobs, and event jobs in general. I wouldn't consider the 6D to be an event type camera, with the exception of groups. The 7D is definately an event camera, capable of focusing in pretty crappy light, however...

IMO, the Canon camera/speedlight combo accuracy in low light is erratic for either camera, exponentially making the situation worse if the camera also can't focus (6D).

I dont get it though. I had a Minolta Maxxum 9xi back in the film days and it was deadly accurate in low light, and with a flash attached in almost no light...  that was 15 years ago... how is it that THAT tech didn't remain?

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hotdog321
hotdog321 Forum Pro • Posts: 18,227
Re: The Low Light Struggling

Damián B wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

Thanks,

I was using the 50 1.4 most of the time and 24-105 in some cases.

Manual focus in such scenario is out of the question

Heck, I could photograph black cats in a coal mine at f/1.4!

 hotdog321's gear list:hotdog321's gear list
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Canon EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM Canon EF 11-24mm F4L +1 more
OP Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: The Low Light Struggling

hotdog321 wrote:

Damián B wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

Thanks,

I was using the 50 1.4 most of the time and 24-105 in some cases.

Manual focus in such scenario is out of the question

Heck, I could photograph black cats in a coal mine at f/1.4!

Good for you. Hope you get paid with black cats pictures

 Damián B's gear list:Damián B's gear list
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Muresan Bogdan Contributing Member • Posts: 511
Re: The Low Light Struggling
2

I think you got your answer. Use another 600 as a master. You can use it also as fill or direct light and you can turn it off when you only want the slaves to fire.

Also try using the center focusing point.

Joe Mayer wrote:

Damián B wrote:

Hello,

So I was shooting an event in very dim light and the 6D struggled really hard to find focus. I was using a E3-RT and a couple of 600EX.

Can anyone give me a suggestion on how is this improved for a PRO photographer. Does the 5D MKiii make a difference? I'm yet to understand why there is no an AF lamp on these models and why the E3-RT doesn't have one neither.

Doing work and not for pleasure is what made me realise how much of a struggle it is.

Yeah, it's not quite so much fun when it's a job, is it? I actually find that it is but it's "tough fun" if that makes sense. At least we're doing something we really love and that makes it all worthwhile. In any case, the solution for you might be to pop another 600RT onto your camera. Voila. You now have AF assist. And of course, you can tell the on-cam flash no to fire. It may seem like a shame to set the E3 on the sideline and of course you need to pick up another 600RT but that will get you your AF assist. I've usually been able to get by without doing this but sometimes, just to be sure, I'll go this route.

And out of curiosity, are you missing AF or are you finding it takes longer to get it. There is a difference. I've shot low light reception (static and moving subjects) with the 50 1.4 and not had issue finding focus with the 5D3 (center AF point) with no flash help needed. That's the beauty of these cameras in that you have to get really really dark before you'll get focus. You must either be pitch black or it's a matter of you're finding focus is slower and therefore causing you to miss shots (cause by the time it locks, subject has moved)?

 Muresan Bogdan's gear list:Muresan Bogdan's gear list
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Freneticburn Regular Member • Posts: 200
Re: The Low Light Struggling

use the AF assist beam on a flash on the camera.  I've focused on stuff in pitch black with my t2i and 430exII flash.  The only problem is I don't think you can use AF assist on wide angle lenses.  At least not with the 430exII.  I thought some flash triggers came with AF assist beam on the transmitter as well.

The 6D is still fairly new to me but so far I have been really impressed with the low light autofocus.  I doubt there are many that can do as well without IR assist or annoying in-camera flashlights.

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clarnibass Senior Member • Posts: 1,985
Re: The Low Light Struggling

The accuracy and speed of the AF often depends on the contrast of your target. This is determined by the target itself and the light. Maybe your targets were hard to focus on? Some targets are really difficult, especially in flat low light. That's one reason why some people find it easy to focus in low light and others consider it difficult, with the same equipment.

You say the camera sometimes focused on the brighter and possibly more contrasty background. This sounds like the AF target was small and the focus point was relatively close to that brighter background? In that case it is not that unlkely that it would focus on the background. If it tried to focus on the subject-to-background contrast, it is just as likely to choose the background and more likely to choose whichever is more contraty.

Osiris Ani Senior Member • Posts: 1,126
Re: The Low Light Struggling
1

I liked the idea of the ST-E3-RT, until I noticed that it lacked a key feature of the ST-E2— the focus assist lamp. These days, my ST-E2 sits atop my PocketWizard Mini-TT1. I only use the Canon transmitter unit for focus assist and flash ratio duties.

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snakama New Member • Posts: 17
Re: The Low Light Struggling

Damián B wrote:

Hello,

I don't think the post mortem approach would be of any help here. I use centre focus only as others are mostly a miss, AF logic tends to pic up the brightest points which in my case were the background.

I assume you were using AI Servo and the people were moving with the a brighter background?

Next time you're in a similar lighting situation try adjusting tracking sensitivity C.fn ll-1  to a tick or two closer to locked on, this should help

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OP Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: The Low Light Struggling

snakama wrote:

Damián B wrote:

Hello,

I don't think the post mortem approach would be of any help here. I use centre focus only as others are mostly a miss, AF logic tends to pic up the brightest points which in my case were the background.

I assume you were using AI Servo and the people were moving with the a brighter background?

Next time you're in a similar lighting situation try adjusting tracking sensitivity C.fn ll-1 to a tick or two closer to locked on, this should help

I tried AI Servo and was useless. I guess the problem would be solved using the EX600 on camera but the stupid idea of having a flash without using it drives me crazy.... 

I was reading about Yonguno and they added an AF lamp + compatibility with 3rd party cameras like the fuji X100S. I know it's a copy... but my mind refuses paying double and getting less functionalities....

Seems something similar with the Canon 50 1.4 that is older than me.

 Damián B's gear list:Damián B's gear list
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qianp2k Forum Pro • Posts: 10,350
Re: The Low Light Struggling
1

Damián B wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

6D is known is one of the best cameras that still can AF in low light with -3EV AF sensitivity in its center AF point (other points are not reliable in low light). Although it doesn't have AF-assistant illumination light (as other brand cameras have), you can get similar help from Speedlite infra-red beam.

Thanks,

I was using the 50 1.4 most of the time and 24-105 in some cases.

I believe this is the reason. 50/1.4 is not excellent in AF lock at wide open or at fast aperture. 24-105L is not very good either in AF lock and it starts at F/4.0. Try a fast-aperture lens with a fast AF lock such as 35/2.0 IS, 24-70L/2.8 II, Sigma 35/1.4 Art...

Manual focus in such scenario is out of the question

OP Damián B Regular Member • Posts: 174
Re: The Low Light Struggling

qianp2k wrote:

Damián B wrote:

hotdog321 wrote:

Sometimes a faster lens will allow the camera to nail focus better under low light conditions. For instance, a f/5.6 lens may struggle to hit focus under low light where a f/2.8 will lock on with no problem.

I've never used the 6D, but I've been very pleased with 5D III low light performance. Don't know if this helps at all, but my two cents.

6D is known is one of the best cameras that still can AF in low light with -3EV AF sensitivity in its center AF point (other points are not reliable in low light). Although it doesn't have AF-assistant illumination light (as other brand cameras have), you can get similar help from Speedlite infra-red beam.

Thanks,

I was using the 50 1.4 most of the time and 24-105 in some cases.

I believe this is the reason. 50/1.4 is not excellent in AF lock at wide open or at fast aperture. 24-105L is not very good either in AF lock and it starts at F/4.0. Try a fast-aperture lens with a fast AF lock such as 35/2.0 IS, 24-70L/2.8 II, Sigma 35/1.4 Art...

Manual focus in such scenario is out of the question

Is there a chart somewhere with a ranking of fast AF? I think it's what I do care more at the moment.

 Damián B's gear list:Damián B's gear list
Fujifilm X100S Canon EOS 80D Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM +6 more
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