Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Olympus Micro Four Thirds

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Sep 10, 2013, 8:53 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: oakville, on
Posts: 491
Default Tips for the Night Sky -- Focusing??

Just came back from a trip to the east coast and one night had a spectacularly clear sky, plus a decent wind to banish the mosquitos. Trotted out with my E-PL1 and the vintage kit lens on the tripod. Get the tripod nicely anchored, point up to the sky and nothing.Tried various ISO settings, shutter speeds, but nothing worked. Ahh, must be a focus issue. Set focus to manual and well, it proved to be near impossible to get anything like a focused image. The viewfinder would just get noisy so unable to tell a star from noise. Then started looking around for a ground based object to focus on. Even the cottage 40 feet away had disappeared into the night. With no distance scale and depth of field indicator on the lens there was no joy to be had. So put the lens cap back on, and just sat back to enjoy the sky.

Any hints as to getting a focused image? My old Sony P'n'S had an optional manual guestimate focus that could capture the stars...
KulaCube is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Sep 11, 2013, 9:29 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Beaver, PA
Posts: 903
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KulaCube View Post
Just came back from a trip to the east coast and one night had a spectacularly clear sky, plus a decent wind to banish the mosquitos. Trotted out with my E-PL1 and the vintage kit lens on the tripod. Get the tripod nicely anchored, point up to the sky and nothing.Tried various ISO settings, shutter speeds, but nothing worked. Ahh, must be a focus issue. Set focus to manual and well, it proved to be near impossible to get anything like a focused image. The viewfinder would just get noisy so unable to tell a star from noise. Then started looking around for a ground based object to focus on. Even the cottage 40 feet away had disappeared into the night. With no distance scale and depth of field indicator on the lens there was no joy to be had. So put the lens cap back on, and just sat back to enjoy the sky.

Any hints as to getting a focused image? My old Sony P'n'S had an optional manual guestimate focus that could capture the stars...
No advice here, just a "me too" in that I'd like to try this some time.
SammyKhalifa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 12, 2013, 6:35 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
zig-123's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Posts: 5,158
Default

My experience with night time photography, using the E-P2 w/14-42mm MCS kit lens, or any m43 lens for that matter, is to set the camera on a tripod, as you did, set to manual mode, manual focus, ISO200, then use the LCD screen to manually focus to infinity. To determine infinity, you use a depth of field calculator - I use http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html that determines what infinity is for a particular camera, combined with a particular lens, focal setting, aperture and distance to subject.

I tested this out this morning prior to this response using an aperture at F5.6, focal range setting of 14mm, and a distance to subject of 5280ft.
The near field distance measured at 3.8ft. So, I focused my lens on a subject 3.8ft away inside my home.

Having done that, I went out and set my camera up, I then had to set shutter speed which was quite slow- 23"
__________________
http://scortoncreekgallery.smugmug.com/

So you want to be a better photographer? Open your eyes and take a look at what is all around you.

Last edited by zig-123; Sep 12, 2013 at 6:38 AM.
zig-123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 12, 2013, 5:28 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: oakville, on
Posts: 491
Default

Thanks Zig
After the fact I realized that the only way to do this is to find an illuminated space and as you point out, set manual focus there then go out. I thought of going back into the cottage, but that would have risked waking up the sleepers, especially if I roused our dog. Try going into a home/cottage, turning on some lights, then turning everything off and sneaking back outside without your dog getting interested. The sky was amazing that night.
KulaCube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 13, 2013, 6:23 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
zig-123's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Posts: 5,158
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by KulaCube View Post
Thanks Zig
After the fact I realized that the only way to do this is to find an illuminated space and as you point out, set manual focus there then go out. I thought of going back into the cottage, but that would have risked waking up the sleepers, especially if I roused our dog. Try going into a home/cottage, turning on some lights, then turning everything off and sneaking back outside without your dog getting interested. The sky was amazing that night.
Hope you get another chance at it.

Zig
__________________
http://scortoncreekgallery.smugmug.com/

So you want to be a better photographer? Open your eyes and take a look at what is all around you.
zig-123 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 13, 2013, 4:14 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Australia, New South Wales central coast
Posts: 2,907
Default

G'day KC

There are several sides to this question - and Zig has started on one of them
Mathematically - infinity is described as "being 1000x the focal length" ... so for the typical 18-55mm lens doing startrails, 18mm x 1000 = 18 metres, or about 60 feet away

When I started doing startrails I found the same as you - it's hard to get a focus when "there's damn near nothing to focus upon". So I took aim at a street light and after it auto-focused I flicked to MF and sticky-taped the focus ring so it would not move

I then scratched a mark into the focus ring 'teeth' to indicate that this 'top-dead-centre' mark was infinity for star trails

Hope this helps make it easier for your next time
Phil
__________________
Has Fuji & Lumix superzoom cameras and loves their amazing capabilities
Spends 8-9 months each year travelling Australia
Recent images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/
Ozzie_Traveller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 20, 2013, 11:18 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: oakville, on
Posts: 491
Default

Did give it another go in somewhat easier conditions. Here at home with street lights and a light on in the house. I had taken my wife to the airport for an early morning flight and dawn had not come yet so grabbed the camera, mounted it onto the tripod, focused back to house (after having previously gone to dofmaster), got my focus then tried to get a shot of Orion. 20 seconds f8, 100 ISO. Of course did not see that I had a tree in the shot which has added some interest. Loaded the shots onto the computer and oh bother, trails. Did not take the earth's rotation into account. Did some more reading and now waiting for clear skies again to try again.
Attached Images
 
KulaCube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 21, 2013, 5:48 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Australia, New South Wales central coast
Posts: 2,907
Default

Hey there KC

Couple of things here mate -
a) do you want stars or star trails?
and
b) how much detail are you after?

There are many postings here & elsewhere about shooting the stars vs shooting star trails.

The people shooting stars with great results are using full frame cameras with ISO at 6400 or 12800 and having an exposure time of 15 to 20 seconds - as longer than 20 seconds the movement of the earth / stars starts to show

Many of those wonderful star cluster images are shot on a telescope which has a motor to follow the star's movement

For those of us who can't do the above and therefore do star trails, and again use ISO of 800 or 1600 plus whatever lens shows that portion of sky we're after also used at full aperture

The other decision you need to make is the time of night - do you want any light in the sky to give a framework to your star images or do you want black-as-a-coalmine sky?

If I may take a liberty here ... here's 2 examples for you to consider

1- This is the 1st image in a series of 100 images, start time about 30 minutes after sundown. It shows the background image to the later 100-150 star trails images taken when the sky goes 'black'
Exif = Panny G2; 14mm; ISO-800; 30s x f5,6


2- This is a 6hour exposure on a night with full moon + some clouds
Exif = Pentax; 18mm; ISO-1000; 500 images x 45secs each over 6 hours



Hope this helps a bit
Phil
__________________
Has Fuji & Lumix superzoom cameras and loves their amazing capabilities
Spends 8-9 months each year travelling Australia
Recent images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/
Ozzie_Traveller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 21, 2013, 10:51 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: oakville, on
Posts: 491
Default

G'Day Phil
Star Trails or stars? Well of course both! Truth be told, around here I live, getting a good night sky is a rare event being in the midst of a major urban area. So my goal is to work out the methods for capturing either when the circumstances next present themselves. One tip I did read was not to use a longer lens as it will accentuate the appearance of trails -- I was using a M.Zuiko 40-150 at 150mm. Another thing I have learned from past experience is not to try shooting the sky near a light house -- one blast from the light and you are night blind until just before the light comes round again!
KulaCube is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Sep 21, 2013, 11:11 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 297
Default

With a Panasonic body, we turn to manual focus, then turn the camera on and the lens will go to infinity. Or with the camera in manual focus while turned on, squeeze the lens release button and the lens will go to infinity. You can hear a little "click" when it does it.

That usually works well for night shots in the distance, and if nothing else makes it much easier to find a starting place to fine focus.

I don't know if the Olympus can do it or not, but it's worth a try.
BBbuilder467 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 3:39 PM.