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Thread: Lightning Shot Recommendations

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Last night we had a big storm at dusk, the sky was gorgeous, beautiful clouds and even a couple of black-bellied whistling ducks flying about up there...

    I had my camera (Sony Alpha 200 dslr) set to manual, iso 100, F8, Bulb... The lightening was everywhere, (focused on the sky and clouds) and my camera would not let me push the shutter button... (Auto focus)... Later when it was dark, I tried again, with no luck... (still could not push the shutter button)

    Can anyone tell me why? I'm presuming I need to focus on something but it seems impossible to focus on lightening if it is not there until you try for a shot?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    From your description it definitely sounds like your auto focus couldn't lock in. Try setting your focus ring just inside the infinity mark and turn auto focus off. I have had luck focusing on a distant point on the landscape for the first burst and then turn off the auto focus. In a storm like you describe, I use manual mode and experiment with shutter speeds until I get the exposure the works best. Lightning doesn't require a super long shutter speed, but a longer shutter speed does mean you can accumulate more bursts.
    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    William W's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    That series camera has the Focus Selection Switch ON THE CAMERA.
    It is most very likely that the switch was set to AF – in which case AF acquisition is mandatory before there is the ability to release the shutter.

    In other words:
    NO AF Confirmation means, NO Shutter Button.

    You should make the selection to MF(Manual Focus) and focus near infinity: also as previously mentioned on another thread – you should use the eyepiece cover during the exposure.

    WW

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Thank you Don and Bill,
    I will try that next time around... However, how does one set the focus to/near infinity?

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    William W's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    how does one set the focus to/near infinity?
    Turn the focusing turret on the lens such that the distance pointer is level with the “ ∞ “mark on the distance scale.

    Sample of lens showing - Focusing Turret - (the knurled grip); Distance Alignment Mark (the White Diamond) and the infinity symbol on the Distance Scale
    Lightning Shot Recommendations

    WW

  6. #6
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Thank you.. The photo is very helpful... I have the infinity option on my tamron lens for the Nikon D80, but not on the sony alpa 200 lens...

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Turn the focusing turret on the lens such that the distance pointer is level with the “ ∞ “mark on the distance scale.

    Sample of lens showing - Focusing Turret - (the knurled grip); Distance Alignment Mark (the White Diamond) and the infinity symbol on the Distance Scale
    Lightning Shot Recommendations

    WW
    Bill - that works well on older lenses, but most of the modern lenses are no longer calibrated on an optical bench don't have a hard stop for the infinity setting; and the infinity marking is more of an approximate placeholder than an accurate indication as where infinite focus actually occurs.

    That being said, there is a work-around. Set your camera / lens on autofocus and focus on an object that is very far away. Once you have focus, turn off the autofocus and don't touch the focus ring on your lens. It is now set at infinity.

  8. #8
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Thank you

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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    The lightening was everywhere, (focused on the sky and clouds) and my camera would not let me push the shutter button... (Auto focus)... Later when it was dark, I tried again, with no luck... (still could not push the shutter button)

    Can anyone tell me why? I'm presuming I need to focus on something but it seems impossible to focus on lightening if it is not there until you try for a shot?
    I took the below shot just recently, my first-time lightning shot. What I did was focus on a distant tree, locked the exposure, recomposed into the sky, and then took several sets in continuous-shoot mode. Out of about 250 shots, total, I managed to get the one below.


    Lightning Shot Recommendations

  10. #10
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    very nice shot.. Thank you...

    250 shots! Good to know.... working on my patience...

  11. #11

    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    I have not tried lighting shots but have used the following tutorial in other situations where I wanted everything in focus from far to near. Not sure that it will even apply here but worth a look see.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...l-distance.htm

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    William W's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Lightning Shot Recommendations

    You might be using the kit lens, in which case –
    Lightning Shot Recommendations

    CAUTION - Some Kit Lenses will NOT allow the Focus Turret to be turned UNLESS "Manual Focus" is engaged - to attempt to turn the Focus Turret by hand when AUTO FOCUS is engaged might cause damage to the lens.

    ***

    Thanks Manfred - I didn't consider the "Kit Lens".

    On a side note - I wouldn't say 'most modern lenses' don't have an infinity marking and a Distance Scale but would say that having no Distance Scale is very common with the Kit Lenses - and there a many Kit Lenses out there being used, yes.

    Also, I believe the kit lens's Focus Turret will "stop" at a point very close to or at infinity focus . . . even though there is no marker: if the lens does actually go a bit beyond infinity focus, that won't matter (I noted your comment how the production line makes these lenses, yes)

    So - when in MANUAL FOCUS MODE one should be able to just "turn it all the way until is stops" - at one end it will be at the closest focus point and at the other end will be infinity focus - i.e. no real need to look through viewfinder once one know which end of the turret is which.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 10th August 2012 at 09:11 PM.

  13. #13
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Thank you Carl... I will check out that tutorial, too.

    William, thank you so much... You really know your cameras... Yes, I have a kit lens and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I have never turned the focus turret at the end of the lens... Just to confirm, when in manual focus, I simply turn that part of the lens clockwise until it stops (full extension) for infinity focus?

    Christina

  14. #14
    William W's Avatar
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    re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I have a kit lens and . . . I have never turned the focus turret at the end of the lens... Just to confirm, when in manual focus, I simply turn that part of the lens clockwise until it stops (full extension) for infinity focus?
    I haven't got the lens in my hand so I don't know if it is clockwise or not . . . but:

    You should first select manual focus mode (note the caution message I wrote above).

    Then, for the first time look through the viewfinder and play with the focus turret on the lens - as you look through the viewfinder, it will be easy to note which way to turn it to focus on infinity.

    And yes - I believe that the lens will come to a definite "stop" and you will feel that you cannot turn it anymore when you get to infinity focus.

    WW

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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Thank you Bill
    Last edited by Brownbear; 10th August 2012 at 11:46 PM.

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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    good work.

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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Bill: here are two closeups of mid-range modern lenses (not kit) lenses. Have a look these are turned as far as they can be and are past the infinity marks:

    This is a Tokina f/2.8 11-16mm lens. Note how far past the infinity marking the stop position is:

    Lightning Shot Recommendations




    This is a Sigma 150-500mm lens. Note how far past the infinity marking the stop position is:

    Lightning Shot Recommendations

  18. #18
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Manfred,

    Yes – I know.

    Canon L Series Lenses will do that too.
    I will expect that functionality in any high price high quality lens.
    There is a specific reason for it.
    Older, high quality AF lenses will do that too: and for the exact same reason. It is not a new functionality of modern lenses.

    It is so the AF doesn't get hammered banging into a 'buffer stop' when finding "infinity".

    Can't comment if the Tokina and Sigma have that superior design or not – buy I expect that’s the reason for it on those lenses.

    Don’t confuse what I initially wrote with what we are now discussing – what I wrote first as advice to focus on infinity was focus the lens to the “∞“ symbol – so if the lens has that symbol AND the lens can focus past it then no worries - just set the focus to the “∞“ mark that will be close enough, because in any case, focusing the lens BEYOND the infinity point will not make the lightning images any worse (or better).

    The only practical problem for Christine about my first advice was that her lens had no Distance Scale on it and I didn't factor that possibility when I first wrote.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 11th August 2012 at 06:54 AM. Reason: Please see the next instalment just below

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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I have the infinity option on my tamron lens for the Nikon D80, but not on the sony alpa 200 lens...
    AF on something far away and change to MF without touching the MF ring ... this may or maynot work with your camera. It does with my FZ50 which has an external switch on the lens but sadly my G3 doesn't ... two steps forward and one step backwards

    EDIT just seen the photo ... if it is you lens lucky you
    Last edited by jcuknz; 11th August 2012 at 01:34 AM.

  20. #20
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Lightning Shot Recommendations

    I had to cut my last response short because I had job to get to. More about this focussing beyond infinity stuff –

    There another (less dramatic) reason to suggest why for many zoom lenses focusing beyond infinity is important:

    Zoom lenses can be either parfocal or varifocal.
    Parfocal means the zoom lens WILL keep focus in the same Plane of Sharp Focus as the Lens is zoomed.
    Varifocal means the zoom lens WILL NOT keep focus in the same Plane of Sharp Focus as the Lens zooms.
    I believe that it is fair to say that MOST zoom lenses are varifocal.

    Therefore, for most zoom lenses the point of ‘infinity focus’ on the Focus Turret is actually slightly different, depending at what Focal Length the zoom is set. It would make VERY LITTLE (i.e. NONE) difference to the final image if the lens is actually focussed ‘at infinity’: but it is another viable yet very tiny reason we could suggest as to why zoom lenses, can focus past infinity.

    There’s always been a lot a clatter and drama about “temperature” and the “lens elements getting hot and expanding” therefore “infinity focus changing its position” - I don’t have much faith at all in that explanation. I think we’d need to be inside a blast furnace.

    BUT – on hot days there could be haze on the horizon and that might confuse the AF . . . any AF lens can therefore bounce around attempting to lock onto “infinity focus” . . . hence the explanation about why there is NOT a hard ‘buffer stop’ in AF lenses – and I believe if we dig deep enough into the ‘why’ of Auto Focus Lens Technology, Research and Development, the ‘soft ending at infinity’ explanation is the main reason why (‘modern’ aka ‘Auto Focus’) lenses can go past the infinity marker.

    WW

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