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Would getting a new lens help a D3100 in low light conditions?

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+Elliot B.    1,554

I am a total beginner.

I've noticed the Nikon D3100 with bundled 18-55mm lens struggles in low light (blurry) photos when I use it.

I will not be using a tripod.

Would a new lens solve this issue?

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TAZMINATOR    12,416

Tripod would help but depends on how steady your hands are if you want to hold your camera instead of tripod.

You will need to adjust the settings for night shooting. such as increase ISO more higher such as around 800 depends on how dark or light it is.

 

Info: http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/24197/nikon-d3100s-performance-in-low-light

http://www.picturecorrect.com/tips/how-to-take-photos-in-low-light/

 

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

elliot,

Shooting at what focal length?  

In any case, Id go with cheap primes, however, do read below:

 

With a new lens, however, Notice  FOCUS will improve slightly  as focusing has to do more with the camera auto focusing system than the lens.


As is the case with almost every dSLR out the, the center focus spot is always the fastest and "smartest" focus spot. So you are best of manually selecting Focus spot, than using full on matrix/3d autofocusing on the 3100 (Notice: Manual selecting one of the 11 autofocus points, means just that, you will select the focus point, but the camera will still autofocus for you.)

Another quick tip is use spot metering, this way, the camera won't go crazy focusing all over the sense and will only spot(center).

 

If you show me your photo I can better explain what is going wrong:

 

Case example: 

Had I shot this in matrix 3d metering, the camera goes nuts trying to focus (though to be fair, it did get quite a few decent shots) but at this low light level and autofocusing, your best bet is manually selecting focus point:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-NIKKOR-Fixed-Focus-Cameras/dp/B001S2PPT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447002300&sr=8-1&keywords=35+mm+nikon   

http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-NIKKOR-Fixed-Focus-Cameras/dp/B004Y1AYAC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1447002317&sr=8-3&keywords=50+mm+dx+nikon

Edited by Draconian Guppy

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MikeChipshop    3,458

It's struggling because it can't pick out what to auto-focus on to. A new lens may help drag in more detail allowing it to focus better but a lot of it will be down to the focus sensor. 
Try manual focusing and increasing the ISO a tad. If it's still blurry, then the sensor isn't cut out for the low light. I don't actually own one so can't advise exactly.

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

It's struggling because it can't pick out what to auto-focus on to. A new lens may help drag in more detail allowing it to focus better but a lot of it will be down to the focus sensor. 
Try manual focusing and increasing the ISO a tad. If it's still blurry, then the sensor isn't cut out for the low light. I don't actually own one so can't advise exactly.

Spot on, it's more of proper technique (or lack thereof, or rather the op needs to learn) than lack of camera capability

However the nikon d3100, when kept below iso 6400 is a very capable sensor.

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bonalste    125

The 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the D3100 is excellent in low-light conditions, but you'd need a tripod. The reason you're getting blurry photos is because you are requiring a longer exposure in order to increase the light hitting the sensor. When hand-holding the camera, you want to have a shutter speed of around 1/40 second. The steadier you hold it, the longer that can be. Now, also make sure you have the lens fully open at 18mm for maximum light-gathering ability, and also decrease the f-stop to the lowest it'll go (the f-stop being a function of the aperture, so the lower it is, the larger the aperture and so the more light hitting the sensor). You will notice that a wider angle will result in a larger aperture (smaller minimum f-stop). You can also try increasing the ISO. This works well, but will add graininess to the picture. ISO 400 is good. 800 is okay. Going above that is noticeable.

I own the D5100, so a similar camera to you, and I also own the 18-55mm kit lens. I've taken some good low-light shots, but if you really do want to improve it then getting a different lens will help. I recently bought a new lens, a Nikkor f1.8 35mm prime lens from Amazon for about £130 in order to improve my astrophotography. Where I needed my 18-55mm lens set at the maximum aperture (lowest f-stop) to have a shutter speed of 30 seconds to get good shots of the stars, I need k my 8 seconds for my new lens. So yes, it helps. A lot. But try figuring out how to take good shots with your current lens before deciding whether spending that money is useful.

i recommend you buy a book called Understanding Exposure. It'll help you a lot. Remember to use the light-meter on your camera. Use manual mode whenever possible or, if you're not comfortable with that, use shutter-priority and set the shutter speed to something that'll avoid picking up camera shake, while letting the camera sort the rest out. Adjust the ISO but not too high. And yeah, learn how to use the light meter. It is very simple and will assist you in taking manual shots in any light condition.

Lastly. With regards to focus that was mentioned above, you shouldn't have any problems with the D3100 but if you do, simply use manual focus. To help with this, you can increase the exposure compensation (or decrease it, whatever helps you see what it is you are focusing on) and zoom in on Live View, then manually focus. Once properly focused, reset your exposure compensation, turn off live view and do not touch your focus again. I use this technique to take exceptional shots of the moon using my 55-300mm lens.

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bonalste    125

It's struggling because it can't pick out what to auto-focus on to. A new lens may help drag in more detail allowing it to focus better but a lot of it will be down to the focus sensor. 
Try manual focusing and increasing the ISO a tad. If it's still blurry, then the sensor isn't cut out for the low light. I don't actually own one so can't advise exactly.

Actually the most likely explanation is that his shutter speed is too low, so camera shake is causing blur. The D3100 has a laser focus, so it could focus in a pitch-black room if it was setup correctly.

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

the op said he doesn't want a tripod :laugh:

Also, the kit lens on the d3100 has VR, so until we see an actual photo of what his issues are.

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MikeChipshop    3,458

 

Actually the most likely explanation is that his shutter speed is too low, so camera shake is causing blur. The D3100 has a laser focus, so it could focus in a pitch-black room if it was setup correctly.


Fair enough. Like i said, i don't own one so not sure what it's like, just rattling off common causes.

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

 

Actually the most likely explanation is that his shutter speed is too low, so camera shake is causing blur. The D3100 has a laser focus, so it could focus in a pitch-black room if it was setup correctly.

ok... simply, no :laugh: 

http://www.digitaldarrell.com/article-understandingnikonmulticam2000af.asp

also:

 

Focusing Options

The Nikon D3100 shares the same Multi-CAM 1000 phase-detection autofocus sensor module that's previously appeared in the D3000 and D5000, among others. The Multi-CAM 1000 module offers 11 focusing points, of which the center point is a cross-type sensor. While the AF sensor itself is unchanged, Nikon has updated the viewfinder point display. In the D3000, the approximate AF point locations were indicated with dense black marks in the viewfinder. For the Nikon D3100, these have been replaced with much fainter markings, illuminated by single red LEDs. A further change to the viewfinder display, perhaps related to this change, is that the Nikon D3100 lacks the on-demand grid display function from the D3000. The new LED indications are quite bright, but very small, and several of them have a tendency to "bleed" into other points. The worst offender is the center point, which causes the top and bottom points to glow quite noticeably. It's a little distracting, but the glow isn't as bright as a properly illuminated point, so it's still easy enough to tell which points achieved a focus lock.

Z_0019.jpgThe Nikon D3100 lets you choose either auto or manual focus, but it doesn't have the small AF mode dial on the front of the camera as found on higher-end Nikon DSLRs. Instead, the switch on the lens must be used. Setting the switch to "M" puts the lens into manual focus mode, while "A" places it in autofocus mode. Single-servo AF (AF-S), Continuous-servo AF (AF-C), Auto-servo AF (AF-A) and Manual focus (MF) options can be selected via the menu system. (For Live View or movie shooting, there's no AF-A mode, and the AF-C mode is replaced by a similarly-functioning mode named Full-time servo AF.)

Single-servo AF is best for stationary objects, as the camera sets focus only once when the Shutter button is first pressed halfway (or if the AF-ON function is set, when the AE-L / AF-L button is pressed). Continuous-servo AF and the Live View / movie Full-time servo AF both mean that the camera continuously adjusts the focus, as long as the Shutter button is halfway pressed, suitable for moving objects. In Auto-servo AF mode, the camera begins focus operations in Single-servo mode, but switches to Continuous-servo AF if it detects motion within the active AF area.

In higher-end Nikon SLRs, there's an important difference between Single and Continuous Servo modes: In Single-servo mode, the shutter won't release unless the lens is focused, or the lens itself is set to manual focus -- what's known as Focus Priority. In Continuous-servo mode however, the camera operates in Release Priority -- the shutter will fire regardless of the state of focus. The Nikon D3100's AF system is however always in Focus Priority mode, regardless of the servo mode selected (except of course when using Manual focus).

Z_0021.jpgThe AF-Area Mode option is on page two of the Shooting Menu, and duplicated in the information display (see right) lets you select between Single-point, Dynamic Area, Auto Area AF and 3D Tracking modes. Single Area AF simply means that the camera judges focus based on one part of the subject, and the user can manually select the AF point by pressing the arrow keys. Dynamic Area AF employs all of the autofocus points, though you can still manually select the main point. When Dynamic Area focusing is enabled, the camera first focuses on the subject in the selected focus area. When the subject moves to a different AF area, the camera shifts the focus to "follow" the subject. This is great for irregularly moving subjects. (Sports and kids come to mind.) The Auto Area AF option means that the camera automatically detects the subject and selects the focus point(s). The 3D Tracking mode uses the 420-element RGB exposure/white balance sensor to aid in subject tracking.

In any of the AF modes other than Auto Area, you can select the focus area by using the up, down, right, or left arrow directions on the multi-selector. There are two methods by which you can lock focus on the Nikon D3100. The first is to half-press the Shutter button to lock the focus, placing your subject in the selected focus area, halfway pressing the Shutter button, then realigning the composition and firing the shutter. (This is the default behavior of the Shutter button, but if the AE-L/AF-L button is set to AF Lock, it will override the shutter button as long as it's held down.) Alternatively, when using Single Servo AF, you can press the AF-L/AE-L button to lock focus (and exposure, unless that button is set for focus only in the Setup menu). Keeping this button pressed will lock focus and/or exposure, even if the Shutter button is released. This lets you recompose the photograph without keeping your finger on the Shutter button, but on the AE-L/AF-L button instead. (Reducing the chance that you'll accidentally trip the shutter when you don't intend to.)

Z_0230.jpgThere are several options available for the AE-L/AF-L button, which can be set via the Setup menu. You can program it to lock either focus or exposure separately, or both together (the default). You can also change its operation so a single press locks and holds the exposure setting. (No need to keep the button pressed down.) Finally, you can set the AE/AF lock button so it alone controls the autofocus system, meaning the autofocus won't actuate when the shutter button is half-pressed, only when the AE/AF lock button is pressed instead. (Except when using full-time AF-F mode in Live View mode or while recording movies.)

In Live View mode, the Nikon D3100 offers only contrast-detection autofocus (some Nikon SLRs give you a choice between phase-detection and contrast-detection in Live View, but not the D3100). There are three focus modes in Live View: Single-servo AF (AF-S), Full-time servo AF (AF-F) and manual focus (MF). Of note is AF-F mode which is similar to AF-C mode when using the optical viewfinder (though you don't have to half-press the shutter button), as it is the first time a Nikon SLR offers continuous full-time autofocus in Live View and Movie modes. Z_0151.jpgThere are four AF-area modes in Live View mode: Face-priority AF, Wide-area AF, Normal-area AF and Subject-tracking AF. Face-priority is useful for portraits. Up to 35 faces can be detected and when more than one face is present, the D3100 will select the closest one. You can also manually select which face to focus on using the multi-selector. Wide-area is recommended for landscapes and other non-portrait shots. Normal-area offers a smaller focusing area, and is useful for focusing on a small area of the frame. With either Wide- or Normal-area, you can move the active focus area with the multi-selector. Using a tripod is recommended. Subject-tracking attempts to track a selected subject as it moves through the frame. You position the focus point over your intended subject and press the OK button to begin tracking. To end tracking, press the OK button again. Note that Subject-tracking AF may be unable to track a subject if it's too small, moves too quickly, is similar in color to the background, changes sizes, or if the subject and background are very bright or dark, etc.

AF Assist

ZAFASSIST.JPGLike past Nikon DSLRs with built-in flashes, the D3100's AF-assist light is a bright incandescent bulb that emits from the body near the handgrip. We thought to call particular attention to it, because some DSLRs use the flash as an AF-assist light. That would be fine, were it not for the fact that some such cameras also require that the flash be used in the exposure, so there's no way to have AF assist for available-light shots. The Nikon D3100 doesn't have this limitation. AF assist is however not available in Live View mode.

 

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3100/D3100A4.HTM

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

 

pfft, laser, auto assist light, it's all just light assisting the autofocus so my point is valid. All of my points are valid.

but not laser dude hence why they cant focus in total darkness. hech have you even tried focusing in total darkness?  I'm, not saying your point isnt valid, im saying some of what you stated is in fact totally wrong. any review on any website, will prove what i'm saying, how even the d4s or canon 5dr, hunt in low light.

 

example one:

 

 

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3357573

 

 

So what you are saying is a $2000 camera and a $2000 lens, CANT focus in low light (as per thread below) whereas the 3100 and 5100, have magical laser sensors that focus in complete darkness? Ok.

Just upgraded to a D800 from D7000. The D800 seems to hunt more indoors as compared to the D7000. From everything I've read the D800 should be faster (obviously). My D800 doesn't seem to suffer from the left focus point problems though. I've got a new D800 coming from Amazon to see if it's any better (gotta love Amazon). Anyone else have a problem like this? The lens is a Nikon 24-70 f/2.8. I didn't notice this problem on my D7000 with this lens. Maybe I'll see if my 70-200 VRII does the same thing.

Edit: I'm in AF-S mode (single point). It doesn't seem to do it every time but it's enough where I notice it.

 

 

FYI: this is a laser

Red%20Laser%20Beam.jpg

 

And this is the assist lamp, which is basically a flash light

af-assist-light2.jpg

 

 

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bonalste    125

but not laser dude hence why they cant focus in total darkness. hech have you even tried focusing in total darkness?  I'm, not saying your point isnt valid, im saying some of what you stated is in fact totally wrong. any review on any website, will prove what i'm saying, how even the d4s or canon 5dr, hunt in low light.

 

example one:

 

 

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3357573

 

 

So what you are saying is a $2000 camera and a $2000 lens, CANT focus in low light (as per thread below) whereas the 3100 and 5100, have magical laser sensors that focus in complete darkness? Ok.

Just upgraded to a D800 from D7000. The D800 seems to hunt more indoors as compared to the D7000. From everything I've read the D800 should be faster (obviously). My D800 doesn't seem to suffer from the left focus point problems though. I've got a new D800 coming from Amazon to see if it's any better (gotta love Amazon). Anyone else have a problem like this? The lens is a Nikon 24-70 f/2.8. I didn't notice this problem on my D7000 with this lens. Maybe I'll see if my 70-200 VRII does the same thing.

Edit: I'm in AF-S mode (single point). It doesn't seem to do it every time but it's enough where I notice it.

 

 

FYI: this is a laser

 

 

And this is the assist lamp, which is basically a flash light

Whatever, I really don't care but I'm glad for you that you were able to prove that a laser and a lamp are different, however irrelevant to the discussion as his blurred pictures are due to shutter speed, not focus.

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bonalste    125

Jesus, your last two posts, you really have gone out of your way to prove yourself right. Seriously, it's not that important. Maybe if you put that much effort into helping this guy, rather than in trying to put down other posters because they said laser instead of light, he might find a solution to his problem.

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Draconian Guppy    13,037

Jesus, your last two posts, you really have gone out of your way to prove yourself right. Seriously, it's not that important. Maybe if you put that much effort into helping this guy, rather than in trying to put down other posters because they said laser instead of light, he might find a solution to his problem.

I did, in my first response, I was not trying to "put you down" merely trying to explain and and show you, so you would also understand how the AFS worked, sorry if that appeared to be harsh!

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bonalste    125

I did, in my first response, I was not trying to "put you down" merely trying to explain and and show you, so you would also understand how the AFS worked, sorry if that appeared to be harsh!

 

Truth is I remember now that its a light but got it mixed up with my phone camera, which does use a laser. Im fairly disappointed that that was the part of my post you chose to focus on, considering how spot-on the rest of it was. But anyway, apology accepted.

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