Focusing night shots?

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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,356
Focusing night shots?
1

I tried to do some night shots with the 16-50 kit lens on the Z50 but didn't figure out how to focus at infinity (the sky) with the lens. Has anybody a tip?

Nikon Z50
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toomanycanons Forum Pro • Posts: 13,522
Re: Focusing night shots?
5

PerL wrote:

I tried to do some night shots with the 16-50 kit lens on the Z50 but didn't figure out how to focus at infinity (the sky) with the lens. Has anybody a tip?

Focus on some light source or anything that isn't the sky where you can lock it to infinity, put your camera on manual focus then shoot the sky.

OP PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,356
Re: Focusing night shots?

Thanks! I will try it.

jthomas39 Contributing Member • Posts: 569
Re: Focusing night shots?
5

I've focused on a fairly bright star using the 100% zoom. Use manual focus. Locate a star, then slowly turn the focus ring back and forth. The star goes from a disk to a point, then back to a disk as focus changes. It's pretty easy to find the sharpest view.

I haven't tried it with an ultra wide lens. That might need 200% zoom.

~~~~~

(My Z6 has "+" and "-" zoom buttons on the back. I think the Z50 has it on the side of the screen?)

I use the 100% zoom a lot. So I have the F2 button set to 100% zoom. This is better than using the "+" and "-" buttons, since one press goes directly to 100%, then press again and it reverts back to full view. It zooms to the focus pointer. And also zooms to the focus point when doing image reviews.

~~~~~

Autofocus with a manual override

Hold the AF button, then turn the lens focus ring. It'll change the focus. I like the 100% zoom when I do this. It's perfect for shooting a subject with branches or other obstructions in front.

sirhawkeye64 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,138
Re: Focusing night shots?

PerL wrote:

I tried to do some night shots with the 16-50 kit lens on the Z50 but didn't figure out how to focus at infinity (the sky) with the lens. Has anybody a tip?

Find something in the sky, using AF, like a star or the moon, let the camera AF, and then switch to MF. That's how I have found to best focus at infinity when there is no scale.

I have also heard of people focusing on a far away object (something as far as way as they can find from their position) focus on that with AF, focus, and then switch to MF to lock it in.

That I think is about the only two options for this with lenses without some sort of scale on them. I would say try to focus on something in the sky first, if you don't have a foreground subject and your photographing, say, the milkyway or the moon as your subject.

It will take some trial and error to get it right (even with a lens with a focus scale on it so just take some time and try a few shoots. Once you do get it to lock onto something in the sky, and switch to MF then just tweak using MF and perhaps focus peaking (doesn't always work but helps if the stars are bright enough).

Also if you're doing astro photography, be sure to read-up on the 500 rule, and adjustments you need to make for APS-C/crop sensor cameras.

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Ernie Misner
Ernie Misner Veteran Member • Posts: 7,836
Re: Focusing night shots?

jthomas39 wrote:

I've focused on a fairly bright star using the 100% zoom. Use manual focus. Locate a star, then slowly turn the focus ring back and forth. The star goes from a disk to a point, then back to a disk as focus changes. It's pretty easy to find the sharpest view.

I haven't tried it with an ultra wide lens. That might need 200% zoom.

~~~~~

(My Z6 has "+" and "-" zoom buttons on the back. I think the Z50 has it on the side of the screen?)

I use the 100% zoom a lot. So I have the F2 button set to 100% zoom. This is better than using the "+" and "-" buttons, since one press goes directly to 100%, then press again and it reverts back to full view. It zooms to the focus pointer. And also zooms to the focus point when doing image reviews.

100% zoom works fantastic when using AF as well, or focus peaking.   There's no question when you've nailed focus and it's reassuring.  It feels like it puts more light on the AF area when using Zoom but am not sure of that.

~~~~~

Autofocus with a manual override

Hold the AF button, then turn the lens focus ring. It'll change the focus. I like the 100% zoom when I do this. It's perfect for shooting a subject with branches or other obstructions in front.

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albero Regular Member • Posts: 346
Re: Focusing night shots?
1

Buy a nikkor lens with the oled panel like the 24 70 F2.8 or the 14 24 F2.8

In the dark the oled panel show focus distance and depth of field.

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sirhawkeye64 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,138
Re: Focusing night shots?

albero wrote:

Buy a nikkor lens with the oled panel like the 24 70 F2.8 or the 14 24 F2.8

In the dark the oled panel show focus distance and depth of field.

That's sort of a lot of money just to get an OLED (which may or may not be exactly correct) versus doing what everyone else said..... to focus on a star, the moon, or some distant object... costs nothing to the OP.

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xlucine Forum Member • Posts: 85
Re: Focusing night shots?

Switch to manual focus (i menu, then the bottom right option, then select MF and hit the OK button to set it). When you twiddle the ring on the lens you should get a distance scale on the screen showing where the lens is focussed at (unfortunately without finer graduations than a flower symbol for near at one end and infinity at the other).

I also recommend playing with manual mode to get exposure dialled in - in auto the Z50 tends to overexpose night sky shots

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Callisto Regular Member • Posts: 249
Re: Focusing night shots?
1

https://youtu.be/-X27D1wOUaY

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PHXAZCRAIG
PHXAZCRAIG Forum Pro • Posts: 17,818
sometimes trial and error

First, it helps if you somehow mark the infinity position in the daytime so you can feel where it is at night.  You can also use a penlight to look at the lens at night.  Or glow from cellphone.

Either way, you probably want to at least do a trial and error check of your focus.  Just pixel peep at 100%.  Tedious, but I've been there, done that.  (Last summer with comet Neowise for one.)

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OP PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,356
Re: sometimes trial and error

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

First, it helps if you somehow mark the infinity position in the daytime so you can feel where it is at night. You can also use a penlight to look at the lens at night. Or glow from cellphone.

Either way, you probably want to at least do a trial and error check of your focus. Just pixel peep at 100%. Tedious, but I've been there, done that. (Last summer with comet Neowise for one.)

Thanks,

The main problem is the focus by wire in the kit lens with no hard stop and no definitive positions. Usually I do it with my D600 DSLR and a 20 3.5 Nikkor AI manual focus lens, but thought I would give the Z kit lens a try.

I will try some of the suggestions in this thread and report back.

albero Regular Member • Posts: 346
Re: Focusing night shots?

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

albero wrote:

Buy a nikkor lens with the oled panel like the 24 70 F2.8 or the 14 24 F2.8

In the dark the oled panel show focus distance and depth of field.

That's sort of a lot of money just to get an OLED (which may or may not be exactly correct) versus doing what everyone else said..... to focus on a star, the moon, or some distant object... costs nothing to the OP.

For sure it is a lot of money but it is also an alternative to focus on a star or the moon in case those are covered by the clouds and it is pitch black. Landscape night photography is a challenging subject.

Try to focus a flower in the grass during the night with no moon or artificial lights...maybe you can take advantage of a torch if you have one with you....

https://flic.kr/p/2j5iDP3

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sirhawkeye64 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,138
Re: Focusing night shots?

albero wrote:

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

albero wrote:

Buy a nikkor lens with the oled panel like the 24 70 F2.8 or the 14 24 F2.8

In the dark the oled panel show focus distance and depth of field.

That's sort of a lot of money just to get an OLED (which may or may not be exactly correct) versus doing what everyone else said..... to focus on a star, the moon, or some distant object... costs nothing to the OP.

For sure it is a lot of money but it is also an alternative to focus on a star or the moon in case those are covered by the clouds and it is pitch black. Landscape night photography is a challenging subject.

Try to focus a flower in the grass during the night with no moon or artificial lights...maybe you can take advantage of a torch if you have one with you....

https://flic.kr/p/2j5iDP3

I'm not doubting it's better, but I'm (at least) trying to work with the OP has here as it's not impossible and there are "workarounds" to achieve the same result. Ideally yes something like the 14-24 or 24-70 with the OLED would be best and probably most accurate, but the OP may not want to spend that type of money.

If they were on a FF body, then I would certain recommend a 14-24 (even a adapted on) or the 24-70 2.8 with the OLED.

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