Focus

Recommended Lenses For Night Photography

Recommended Lenses For Night Photography

As students get ready for night photography workshops, they often ask the question, "If I could buy just one lens, are there any that would really help with my night photography?".  On this, I smile because there definitely is.  And the best part is the route I recommend doesn't break the bank.

In general, a wide-angle, bright lens with a minimum aperture of 2.8 would be ideal.  Good night photographs come from lots of other lenses, but in general, the low light sensitivity of an f/2.8 lens makes capturing the starry night sky a lot easier.

Improving Low-Light Capability With A Better Lens
Just like a new camera body can gain a few stops of low light sensitivity, it's well worth taking a look at how lenses can do the same.  As an example, changing from an f/4 lens (a lens with a minimum aperture of f/4) to an f/2.8 lens is equivalent to doubling the amount of light you have to work with - which is a big deal.  And a lens with an even wider aperture like f/1.4 can give you even more low light sensitivity...

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How To Focus In The Dark

How To Focus In The Dark

Focusing in the dark can be a tricky task... and it can certainly be frustrating to go to all the effort of shooting at night only to get home and find that the scene wasn't quite in-focus. When it comes to focusing at night, there are a few options that work better than others.

Option #1 - Hard Stop At Infinity
I really like it when I'm using a lens that has a hard stop on the focus ring at infinity. This allows me to more easily set the focus on infinity which works really well in most cases.  In-fact, this approach is so easy that I use it whenever I'm using a lens that allows it.  Some of my lenses however, have the ability to focus past infinity which complicates the process. Back to the simple approach, I just make sure I know which way to turn the focus ring before I get out into the dark and then use just turn the ring all the way in the correct direction. I've heard of some people taping the focus ring (with gaffers tape) but I don't typically do that...

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