Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > General Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jan 28, 2004, 7:09 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 17
Default Taking pics in pitch black conditions

Hi i am looking into getting a new Digital camera and i would like your help as to what to look for in a camera for the below situation.

I am a fisherman and i take pictures at any time of the day could be 2am or 2pm. Mid day pictures are no problem but midnight pictures i get like 1 out of 10.

The camera i have atm is just a point and shoot i have tried to take pictures with this with little success.

Any help appreciated

Thx

Adam
garland is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jan 28, 2004, 8:09 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Posts: 4,036
Default

Your problem is that most cameras use light contrast to focus and they canít focus in the dark.

The Sony V1, 717 and 828 will focus in complete darkness with a holographic laser it projects. You might do OK with something with a focus assist light. Both approaches are range limited.

Your cheapest approach would be to get a plastic AA flashlight you can comfortably hold in your mouth to aim at your target while the camera focuses. Or use the LCD to frame and you can hold both the camera and flashlight in your hands.

I have worn a Photon white LED light on my wristband for a couple of years and love always having a light when I need it. It is easy for me to hold a camera so it provides enough light to focus in complete darkness. I have three digital cameras and none have assist lights.
slipe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 28, 2004, 9:43 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 17
Default

I just got a Sony DSC-V1 and would definately recommend it for this condition. Not only does it have the holographic laser feature (which will impress the poop out of your friends) but it also has Night Framing mode which uses infrared light so you can frame your shot in complete darkness (and also impresses the poop out of everyone )
lennon_68 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 28, 2004, 9:45 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 430
Default

Quote:
Your cheapest approach would be to get a plastic AA flashlight you can comfortably hold in your mouth to aim at your target while the camera focuses. Or use the LCD to frame and you can hold both the camera and flashlight in your hands.
Another cheap method--one which I use--is a laser pointer [the type used for presentations]. Find one that projects some sort of symbol rather than just a tiny dot of light--mine has a tip that projects a dollar $ign. One advantage of a laser pointer is that because the light is coherent and columnated, the beam/ image stays sharp when reflected off of the target pretty much independent of distance, and because you can project an actaul image [rather than just illuminating the scene], the camera can focus on the high contrast of that projected image even though the actual subject that it is reflecting off of my have low contrast.

The trick is to hold the laser pointer steady with one hand and aim the camera at the projected image and make take the shot with the other hand--somewhat akin to patting your head and rubbing your stomach while juggling 2-balls in the air.
jawz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 7:01 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 2,162
Default

Here's my 10 cents: Don't trust assist lights if all your pics are going to be at night. Even if the camera does acquire lock, you are never sure looking at the lcd, if it locked on to the right point. You can get home and still be disappointed. Some cameras fire a pre-flash, but even then a bright reflection at the wrong distance may give a false lock. This is what I do now:

At night you must shoot flash so your shooting range will be limited to about 2-3 metres max. Most compact cameras will fix their aperture to max as well for flash.

My camera has limited manual controls and a focus distance readout on the lcd. For flash I can still use the depth of field of the lens and preset the distance manually- most of us can work out if we are at 3 metres or infinity! With most cameras you have to reset manual distance setting when you switch off and on. A word of warning: restrict the use of zoom. Not only does this need more flash power (which you haven't got) but the manual focus distance error becomes more important as you lose depth of field. VOX
voxmagna is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 8:26 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,652
Default

What you're saying, Vox, certainly holds true for his current camera, but if he's going for a new camera, one with manual controls, he could make good use of the two other suggestions here.

I've got to check out this "Photon white LED light" business, if for nothing else than just the problem of not being able to see my feet at night.
bcoultry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 9:08 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 5,803
Default

The light that I use is on a headband with 5 or so white LEDs. The battery last forever (that is the LED advantage) and it's surprisingly bright. Being on my head, it isn't in the way at all. I don't know the brand (it was a present) but it works well. You can pick them up in any serious hiking/backpacking store (REI, EMS,...)

The downside to the one I have is the angle of light is fixed. This is annoying some times and great others. When working on my car one night, it was almost right (only a little head tilting) but if I wanted to illuminate way down a trail (instead of about 5-10 feet in front of me) I'd have to walk like I was looking under bifocal classes.

So I'd suggest one with an adjustable head. For example, the one reviewed here:
http://www.naturephotographers.net/a.../je0104-3.html

If your future camera has a flash hot-shoe, then you might be able to add a focus assist light. I know that Canon sells flashes with assist lights built in (I've used that and it works) and they also sell just add-on focus assist lights.

Something to consider.

Also, depending on what type of fishing you do, there is another problem. Salt Water is really bad for cameras. You will have to get one that fits well within your protective clothing (size matters) and maybe even waterproof (and even then, can it deal with salt water?) But the waterproof requirement will be very limiting, as not many are.

Eric
eric s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 9:32 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,652
Default

Eric, I just followed your link, taking a good look at the "head" light. At first, it seemed like the perfect solution, but then I noticed that it adjusts vertically but not horizontally. I realize we're likely to turn our heads toward what we're looking at, but a little voice is saying to me, "Not always." Not that I can think of an example of this... 8)
bcoultry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 2:26 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Indian Rocks Beach, FL
Posts: 4,036
Default

VOXís suggestion to estimate the distance is excellent if you have a camera with manual focus that reads the distance in the viewfinder or LCD. Of my 3 digital cameras only one reads out the focus distance Ė a serious oversight IMO. You get to where you can guess the distance pretty closely and it is my primary low light focus method with my D7i. You need enough light to frame though, and some EVFs donít brighten in low light. Optical finders are usually fine.

I have a Photon Fusion headband with 6 LEDs that would work well for Ericís method. You would probably get more range. I do some night fishing and the headband is handy for all sorts of stuff like rummaging through the tackle box with both hands free and tying knots. Might be a good all round purchase that would also solve the photography problem. Good price: http://store.yahoo.com/botach/photonfusion.html

bcoultry You can always move the headband around to aim it anywhere you want. Might not work for a girl as it probably messes your hair.

I love the little Photon on my watch band. They make three versions and you need one of the better ones with the ability to switch it on rather than just have a momentary switch. I got the Photon III model and keep it on auto-off that strobes when you turn it on and strobes before it turns off. The strobe is great for warning other boats when I am in my canoe at night. It is also dramatic for when someone asks you what the thing on your watch is.

The problem with just gluing the thing on your watchband is that you canít change batteries. I made a strap so I can remove it and still get to the batteries. I use Velcro glue, which isnít easy to find but incredibly strong. It is about as geeky as adhesive tape on your eyeglasses Ė but at my age I could care less. It wasnít very noticeable on my all black digital but shows up too much on my current watch. I cleaned it with a toothbrush once I saw the photo.

slipe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 29, 2004, 3:10 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,652
Default

Slipe, I was looking at the various versions on the Internet, trying to come up with a method of putting it on a wristband, and then you show up with an answer. Your exact method wouldn't work for me, mainly because I don't wear a watch, but I sure could put something together that would substitute. A simple, wide band of elastic might work.

Quote:
Might not work for a girl as it probably messes your hair.
Haven't been a girl for many years, and in recent years, I lost the fascination with my own hair. To keep from worrying about it, I cut it real short and stopped looking in mirrors. If I keep going like this, people will start referring to me as "that odd duck." Or maybe they already do.
bcoultry is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:47 PM.