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Author Topic: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark  (Read 6257 times)

Hillsilly

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Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« on: May 16, 2012, 04:56:49 AM »
Lately, I've been trying to take wildlife photos in the dark using a radio trigger to power some non-ex flashes.  I'm generally shooting subjects about 20m away.  It's too dark for my camera to auto focus so I'm manual focusing or pre-focusing on a particular spot.  But I'm not getting many keepers.  My eye sight isn't the best and I just can't focus accurately or fast enough.

What can I do?

My first thought is to pick up some Canon flashes.  I understand that the AF Assist of the ST-E2 isn't very powerful and the 580EXii is better and has more features as a master controller anyway.  Therefore, I'm thinking I should pick up a 580EXii (or maybe a Metz 58 AF-2) to use the AF assist, and use this to control a couple of slaves.  Does this sound sensible?  I've heard that the AF assist on a 580EXii might extend to about 20m.  Does that sound right?

Realistically, I'm not going to pick up two or three 600EX RTs.  But given that the price difference between the 580EX and the 600EX isnt that big, should I just go for one 600EX and use this as the master controller now and future proof my system?  I assume 430EX-RTs aren't that far away?

The ST-E3 lacks AF assist.  Am I right in thinking that it won't trigger the AF assist on a 600EX (and even if it could, the lines / grid wouldn't necessarily match my AF points anyway)?

Am I missing something?  Is there a simpler or better way to obtain improved night time AF performance?
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Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« on: May 16, 2012, 04:56:49 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 07:29:34 AM »
I've heard that the AF assist on a 580EXii might extend to about 20m.  Does that sound right?

Canon specifies the AF assist lamp is effective out to 10 m for the central region, and 5 m for the edges (for flashes from the 430 through 600). 


Am I right in thinking that it won't trigger the AF assist on a 600EX...

Does an on-camera master flash/ST-E2 trigger the AF assist lamp of a slave flash?
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Chris Burch

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 03:14:03 PM »
I'm fairly certain you won't get an autofocus assist beam out of any of the Canon flashes unless the flash is actually attached to the camera (or an OC-3 cable).
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CowGummy

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 04:22:39 PM »
What body and lens combo are you using to take these shots?
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ksuweh

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 06:20:15 PM »
You could always get a cheap laser pointer & either manual focus or auto-focus on the laser dot. It's super accurate!
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Hillsilly

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 08:27:04 PM »
What body and lens combo are you using to take these shots?

Hi, Thanks everyone for your responses.  Generally, I'm using a 1Ds Mkii and a 135 f/2.  I suspect that I'll eventually end up upgrading to the newer Canon radio controlled flashes.  Therefore, I've just ordered a cheap Yong Nuo ST-E2  (its only $100) to see if that helps with autofocusing and have started researching motion detectors and infrared camera traps.  I've decided that framing and lighting the scene as I want it, and pre-focusing might be the best solution.
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wickidwombat

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 09:07:25 PM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 09:07:25 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 09:14:48 PM »
I'd just use manual focus and set the lens to a hyperfocal distance where it will be in focus on all objects beyond a certain point.  You might have to stop down a little, but since you are using flashes, that should not be a issue.  F/8 should give you a lot of depth of field.

Biffbim

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 03:07:58 AM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
I have one of these. Appears not to be compatible with 5D3.
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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 09:45:25 AM »
I've built myself a tool to handle focusing in the dark.
http://adrian.onsen.ca/hardware-projects/af-assistant-v3-x/
It's based around a line laser module and works well up to 30ft (10m) . I guess putting a more powerful laser will extend the range to whatever you need.


awinphoto

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 11:03:37 AM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
I have one of these. Appears not to be compatible with 5D3.

It doesn't work with the 5d3 or are did you hear that it doesn't?  I have a 5d3 and was about to buy one of these since it doesn't have a triggering system like the 7d.  If you know for sure that it doesn't, that would save me $100. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

Rat

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 01:47:49 PM »
It doesn't work with the 5d3 or are did you hear that it doesn't?  I have a 5d3 and was about to buy one of these since it doesn't have a triggering system like the 7d.  If you know for sure that it doesn't, that would save me $100.
I'm very interested to see if this works with a 5D3, too. Especially since the Canon gear have a tendency to light up a room with that focus assist grid - which is hardly the sort of inconspicuous behaviour I'm after. I'd love to have something that is truly emitting invisible IR, as several eBay listings of this trigger claim it does. Would that even work, by the way?
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Biffbim

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 04:24:20 PM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
I have one of these. Appears not to be compatible with 5D3.

It doesn't work with the 5d3 or are did you hear that it doesn't?  I have a 5d3 and was about to buy one of these since it doesn't have a triggering system like the 7d.  If you know for sure that it doesn't, that would save me $100.

I have one. Works well with my old 500D.  With the 5D3 the flash fires but the results were way underexposed.
I assumed it was operator error as I'm still finding my way round the 5D3. Googled. All I found was this discouraging
thread at dpreview.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1032&message=41423652
I would love to be wrong. I would love it to work.

Someone else try this?
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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 04:24:20 PM »

awinphoto

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 05:01:20 PM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
I have one of these. Appears not to be compatible with 5D3.

It doesn't work with the 5d3 or are did you hear that it doesn't?  I have a 5d3 and was about to buy one of these since it doesn't have a triggering system like the 7d.  If you know for sure that it doesn't, that would save me $100.

I have one. Works well with my old 500D.  With the 5D3 the flash fires but the results were way underexposed.
I assumed it was operator error as I'm still finding my way round the 5D3. Googled. All I found was this discouraging
thread at dpreview.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1032&message=41423652
I would love to be wrong. I would love it to work.

Someone else try this?

crap... wonder if they will make a knock off of the new version to work with the 5d3?  I'd buy the canon version but at their price, I might as well throw a few hundred more down and get a 600ex or 580 used. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

wickidwombat

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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 11:45:18 PM »
if all you want is AF assist these bad boys do it nice and cheap
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/YONGNUO-Speedlite-Transmitter-ST-E2-Canon-580EXII-F178-/400188007358?pt=AU_Flashes&hash=item5d2d1063be

they through out a grid beam, works pretty well, tons lighter than actually having a flash on the camera especially if you dont want to actually set the flash off, and more compact too
I have one of these. Appears not to be compatible with 5D3.

It doesn't work with the 5d3 or are did you hear that it doesn't?  I have a 5d3 and was about to buy one of these since it doesn't have a triggering system like the 7d.  If you know for sure that it doesn't, that would save me $100.

i'll test it out tonight on the mk3 and get back to you
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Re: Flashes, AF Assist and focusing in the dark
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 11:45:18 PM »