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D3 and low light shooting

Discussion in 'Nikon FX DSLR Forum' started by dking99, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. dking99


    Aug 19, 2008
    Rockville, MD
    Hey guys, I have a D3/SB800 (read signature for entire collection) and I will be shooting a weeding in two weeks. I have had some problems with the AF in low light. Many wedding receptions are held in a dimly lit room. Have any of you had a problem with AF in this situation? How did you overcome it?
  2. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Manual Focus with Nikkor AIS:biggrin::biggrin:
  3. with WHAT lens(es)?
    did you do the FIRMWARE update yet?

    the D3 has amazing low-light capabilities.... but, there are no miracles to be found
    no DSLR will focus in LOW, LOW LIGHT
    remember that the focusing ability is very much dependent on what lens is mounted on the camera...
    f/2.8.... which i see you own is the SLOWEST glass you want in low-light shooting
    the auto-focus system is LOOKING out your lens at it's widest aperture before you depress the shutter release
  4. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Even though I have D3 I live in the world of MF. One thing I can tell you is that when using fast glass 85 1.4 105 1.8 200 F2 ..OO:biggrin: the margin of error is very small. Basically you either nail it or you dont:smile:. One thing I have learned to do is focus bracket. Which is take a shoot at what you think is the focus and than move the ring one way a "smig" click than the other way click. Than delete what isnt in focus:cool: . Its so cool not spending .50 cent or a buck to see if you got it or not.
    Hope this helps.

  5. Like spalding12 said. Can't stress enough the importance of the D3 firmware upgrade on low light auto focus performance.
  6. Make sure you take the D3 off of continuous focus so that the SB800 kicks in with the AF Assist, that will greatly improve your chances of focusing.

  7. I don't understand why some people have focus trouble with the D3. My D3 will quickly and reliably focus in situations where the exposure is two seconds.
  8. Well low contrast in LOW light isnt something the D3 handles all to well.
  9. dking99


    Aug 19, 2008
    Rockville, MD
    Yeah, my D200 still seems to be quicker at locking in on a particular focal point. The D3 seems to wander/search a lot more.

    For weddings, I will be using my 24-70 80% of the time. and yes, I will keep it at an f2.8 setting when in a dimly lit reception.
  10. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  11. for fast moving sports like basketball i needed to change afc to focus+release priority to keep the shutter button from jamming and now everything is good and i get a small % of OOF shots
  12. Looking for a high contrast area on the subject helps. Try focusing on the white shirt/back tux area or any other are with strong contrast.
  13. dking99


    Aug 19, 2008
    Rockville, MD
    I think this post says it best...now I need to practice.


    Here is my original post from the other thread:

    Here is the setup:
    1) change your menu such that AF is activated ONLY with the AF-ON button, and
    2) change to AF-C release priority.
    3) put your focus mode switch in AF-C and leave it there.

    Now, on the fly, you can:

    1) Manually focus: just don't touch the AF-ON button
    2) Focus and recompose: put the focus point on subject, push AF-ON and release. Recompose and press shutter release.
    3) Continuously focus: Track target with focus point while holding down AF-ON. Fire at will.

    The point is that you can make the decision on the fly, without changing (or hunting for) any switches. Your forefinger and thumb do all the work, as necessary, on demand, vertical or horizontal, and you don't have to take your eye off the viewfinder. Also, the "half-press" is eliminated (except for VR-on... are you listening, Nikon?) which is good for operating under stress, or in motion. It does take some training if you have operated with the traditional half-press focusing for many years... but, not as much as you think. I switched over, and am glad I did.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  14. Miguel


    May 12, 2006
    Norwalk, CT
    The one problem you may encounter is that the SB-800 AF assist will not work with all of the focus points on the D3. So when I had the SB-800 on the D3 I set the D3 to 11 points for the AF.

    The SB-900 will work with all of the focus points on the D3, which is why I went with it.
  15. StephanieHelen


    Jun 9, 2006
    I did not have any problems with the D3 in low light for weddings so far, I suppose I had enough contrast to work with.

    Miguel, I didn't know the SB-900 had that advantage, I had three sb-800 units stolen, might be a good opportunity to try the sb-900.
  16. I've been having an issue with my D3 after the firmware update. It has a hard time focusing on darker objects. It simply stops. Whereas my D2x works like a charm. After much frustration, it went into its box and off to Nikon. It has a LCD issue too, so that is on the list as well.
  17. Miguel


    May 12, 2006
    Norwalk, CT
    That was one of the main reasons I picked up the 900. Other than that, in my opinion, it doesn't do much more then the 800. It has a few nice features like the power switch that turns to set it to ON, Master and Remote. A little easier to change modes in a hurry then the 800.

    Since you're using the D3 I would recommend getting at least one SB-900 and you can add the SB-800 as a second flash.

    My D3 seemed a little slow to focus in low light at first, but the firmware improved it. I still feel my D2x focus much faster though.
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