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Thread: Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

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    Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

    So every once in awhile I like to do product photography with my favorite legacy macro lenses... which are of course strictly manual focus and used via a dumb adapter. I am shooting in a studio environment with very low ambient light and a wirelessly triggered strobe setup. I properly meter the strobes to get spot-on exposure for a 1/160 shutter speed and switch the camera over to manual mode to plug in the exact exposure. As these are studio shots, I obviously aim to keep the ISO as low as possible, so naturally with very low ambient light, an aperture of say f11, and an ISO of 100, the screen goes entirely black and you can't see anything. When using an AF lens though, you simply press the shutter button half way, the AF Illuminator's red LED fires for a fraction of a second - thereby allowing the lens to focus - and you fire away. No problem.

    How can we pull this off with manual focus lenses though? There is no AF illuminator/assist light to allow you to focus on your subject in the dark. You can't see the subject when the proper exposure settings for the strobe that has yet to fire are plugged in, so the only way around this I have found is to temporarily set the ISO to AUTO... which allows me to see what's going on briefly, focus, switch back to ISO 100 (of course this all must be done on a tripod too!), and then and only then does the picture come out focused and properly exposed. A very tedious process to the say the least...

    Is anyone aware of a way of turning on the AF illuminator light for use with MF lenses? Or perhaps any other tricks of the trade for such a situation?

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    Re: Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

    You can disable the feature that shows the expected exposure on the lcd/evf. Then it'll keep the view bright. I can't remember the name of the feature right now, but it was basically a "lcd settings preview" type of thing..

    With AF lenses that same idiotic setting causes the system to do AF stopped down to working aperture instead of wide open. Makes things hard in dark conditions..

    //Juha

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    Re: Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

    Flite, try cog wheel 2 : Live View Display - setting effect ON.

    I shoot a fair bit at iso 6400 -10000 at f4 - f5.6, and the evf 'amps up' well enough to use focus magnification which is good enough to get it spot on. Try opening up a few stops and focusing there if your lens has little focus shift, as most macros do. Do try adding the histo as an evf display option to give you some exposure peace of mind, as well, maybe. BTW, a lot of users turn off the IR glowing beam and find AF still works OK, on other Sonys, might be the same on the a7/r. I rather like doing it all at shooting aperture as bokeh and oof often matters for my images so I want to see them before the shot. And one less step..

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    Re: Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

    Turn the Live View setting effect OFF if you are in studio with strobe lighting, also have modelling lights on to help. Having the effect ON will simulate what the real time exposure is, which will be way too dark to black. Have the setting off and if you really want to see what the expected exposure would be with ambient light you can always program a custom button for exposure preview.

    This snowflake is shot handheld with a macro rig that is fully manual and stopped down heavily.


    Snowflake by PeteTsai, on Flickr
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Sony A7r AF Illuminator/Low light manual focusing legacy lenses/strobes etc.

    Excellent! Thanks for the help. Turning the Live View Display Setting to off largely solves the problem.

    I went to record this setting along with the others to the custom 1 or 2 shooting modes for ease of use when shooting manual lenses with flash/strobes, but the A7r unfortunately does not record the Live View Display Setting selections. I was also unable to create a custom button for it. Oh well! I can go diving in the menu to turn it on and off when I need it. Thanks again for the prompt responses.

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