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Low light bummer

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Amamba, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I just used my Sony at kids' B'day party in a very darkly lit huge place (one of these places where they put on glowing sticks and jump on huge inflatables). I brought the kit lens, an external flash, and SEL50F1.8.

    Well, I forgot that SEL50F1.8 does not play well with moving subjects in low light... it produced some stunning photos out in the open, and decent shots on kids who stood still, but completely failed on running kids - the AF simply couldn't pick focus at all, by the time it acquired focus the subject moved. Zone focusing wouldn't work well either because it's very hard do prefocus in such a dark place. Kit lens didn't shine either, there was just not enough light. Flash helped a bit, but it doesn't do much difference if the camera can't focus in first place.

    Sony beats my old Canon DSLR in low light as far as the sensor performance is concerned, but the focusing is not as good, at least on moving subjects in really low light. Part of it is on-camera focusing, and big part is lens. At a similar party last year, I got quite a few more keepers with T3i, as both the camera and the lens could keep up with running kids in near complete dark.

    Of course I can't do much about in-camera AF. But I am wondering if perhaps I should've brought Sigma 30/2.8 along. Or should I tried to use a MF lens and prefocus ? Or, is there a e-mount lens that's known to have fast accurate focusing in low light ?
     
  2. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther TalkEmount Veteran

    473
    Aug 9, 2011
    Something I found out here in this very forum. Make sure the auto focus assist lamp is OFF. I know it sounds crazy but when I turned it off on my F3 - voila! No more low-light hunting :smile:
     
  3. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    +1

    Nothing's worse than a NEXs AF with the AF illuminator on ...
     
  4. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Thanks sound like a great tip... I am wondering though why the red light does not help.....
     
  5. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    I think it is because the light is diffused rather than tightly focused. Being diffused it causes the camera to be unable to select a single focus point and so it chooses many of them, resulting in a very large focus area with little that is actually in focus.
     
  6. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    I will try it today and let you know.

    A
     
  7. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I found this out the first week I had the camera, and kept the light off ever since. So this wasn't the culprit.

    I probably should've tried Sigma 30/2.8, it's got reasonably fast focusing, and is much sharper than the kit at wide apertures.
     
  8. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator

    Aug 15, 2012
    China
    Colin
    I do find that they focus differently. The SEL 35 seems faster than the SEL 50 to me.
     
  9. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    With the Sigma 30, you'll also loose more than a stop of light and OSS, so effectively at least two hand held stops. What's with manual focus? Works great in low light conditions.
     
  10. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    In bad light, a dead snail would be faster. :(

    SEL50 is a portrait lens, and an excellent one. In OK light, it can focus at reasonable speed. In good light, it's fast enough to track a subject moving in a plane parallel to the camera. But it is a slow focusing lens, no getting around it.

    I guess my surprise problem was more with body + kit + flash combo still producing lots of bad photos. 1/160 should still be enough to freeze most motion of kids running around, especially with flash; so I assume most of out of focus shots were due to the kit lens not having sufficient light to focus fast enough. A f2.8 lens with decent focusing speed would do much better. This is why we desperately need a fast standard range zoom on Nex system.

    Of course, in the hindsight, I could've taken my Kiron 28/2 and pre-focus. I would've missed a lot of opportunities with a manual lens, though.
     
  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther TalkEmount Veteran

    473
    Aug 9, 2011
    I'm an F3 owner & also bear in mind that IMHO, the F3 in general isn't a fast auto-focuser...
     
  12. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Unfortunately, not only F3. From some posts here and elsewhere, on-sensor PDAF is rumored to re-introduce front and back focusing issues ( something I absolutely do not miss since my DSLR days) while still not matching the performance of dedicated PDAF.

    Still, this is not the whole story. Nex F3 is not really slow focusing in OK light. I'd say the focus speed in good conditions is decent. I think the problem is, there's not enough light hitting the sensor in really dark conditions to quickly determine focus using CDAF, plus, there's really no fast focusing, fast aperture lenses, like Canon EF85/1.8 USM. So the kit lens is too dark to allow camera to focus properly, and the 50's focusing is too slow to react on top of confused camera CDAF. Need to remember bring the Sigmas the next time.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4 Beta
     
  13. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther TalkEmount Veteran

    473
    Aug 9, 2011
    The hard core reality is that my Olympus E-PL5 totally out performs my F3 in all auto-focus categories.
    However, with the new Sony/Olympus collaboration, hope NEX owners can see some of the Olympus AF strengths incorporated into NEX systems :smiles:
     
  14. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Same here, my Panasonic GH2 blew the NEX-6 away in terms of focussing speed, and also in accuracy with a telephoto zoom.
     
  15. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Yes, but at least with GH2 you're practically in DSLR territory size wise, it's closer to SL1 than Nex.

    Oly... That's different. If I didn't get into mirrorless by pure chance, I would likely have seriously considered Oly, just because it seems to have the rough equivalents of lenses I used on DSLR side. But I handled a friends E-PL1 and hated it, a heavy brick with no good grip, no selection wheel, basically a beefed up P&S. The newer ones may be better designed though.
     
  16. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther TalkEmount Veteran

    473
    Aug 9, 2011
    The differences between the E-PL1 and the new models are greater than night and day :smile:
     
  17. dsiglin

    dsiglin TalkEmount Veteran

    230
    Apr 23, 2013
    Greenville, SC
    One "trick" with manual lenses that might help get more in focus is to rock back and forth a bit while firing off a few shots, that moves the focal point up and back so if you are in the general area you will probably get a keeper. Using manual focus is tough especially in low light but I love it.
     
  18. takaiguchi

    takaiguchi New to TalkEmount

    6
    Jul 8, 2013
    I can't find the option on my 5R to turn off the Af illuminator. Where is the option?
     
  19. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    In the settings menu.
     
  20. Revrock

    Revrock TalkEmount Rookie

    12
    Aug 7, 2013
    On my Nex 5n, it's in Setup, then scroll up to the top of the vertical scroll bar. It's the first one, under Shoot Settings.