Friday, January 8, 2021

Two good reasons to turn off the Focus Assist light...


Also in this issue:
  • Why we moved
  • Two new books out!  (And two more in the queue!)
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Reader Bill Gordon writes: "One comment on the auto illumination feature. You and every other author I’ve ever read says there is no reason to turn it off. But there is one place where you need to shut it off. A museum. Generally there is no flash allowed in a museum and this feature will get you yelled at every time. My mother lost a day of shooting once because she couldn’t figure out how to shut it off in the field. Just sayin….."

So now using the Focus Assist Lamp is the equivalent of using a tripod - it gets you in trouble for no good reason.  

There's another reason to turn that feature off, and I was reminded of it when trying to take the above self-portrait (as part of my Quarantine Beard series).  But this shot was going to be different -- this time instead of using studio lighting, the light from my face would come solely from the flame in the faux pipe.  Sony A7C, ISO 6400, 1/10th of a second, f/2.8 using the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 lens, and framed and taken using Sony’s smartphone app.  

The biggest challenge here was focusing critically, since the smartphone app lost its ability to specify a focus point a few years ago, and in total darkness (using the AF Assist Lamp) the camera ignores your spot focusing settings and instead focuses on whatever is closest – in my case the closest edge of the hat.  Had I been behind the camera I would have used a flashlight to illuminate the subject and spot focus for the beard; however since that wasn’t an option I set the camera to manual focus, took several test shots with my phone, and shifting my feet a few inches closer and further away from the camera until I achieved the focus I wanted.  (Sheesh!)


In the Pipeline

Sony A7C book is finished!  (Well, the .pdf and print versions are...  the Kindle and e-reader versions will take awhile.)

Olympus E-M1 III book by Tony Phillips is finished!  (.pdf and print versions.  Kindle version soon!)

Sony A7S III book is in the works.  (Pre-order now at a discount!)

A Spanish version of the Sony A7R IV is on its way!  (Check this blog in the future for details.)


Miscellany 
A lot of people asked about why we sold our big beautiful house in Huntington Beach, California and moved to Boston.  Actually there are a few reasons for this.  First, nobody in Orange County was taking the pandemic seriously (especially the restaurants, police, city council and school districts), and since both Carol and I are 'at risk' our lives are endangered, even though we've hardly gone anywhere since March.  A few years ago we bought a 150-year-old house in Nova Scotia (where we've given several seminars, and have many friends) which we have slowly been renovating; I mentioned it in passing in this blog post from 2019.  And now that it's ready we can't get to Canada.  So we moved into small condo in the same complex as our other grandkids in Massachusetts, a 2-day drive from our house in Nova Scotia, and when the borders open up we can spend six months in each place.  (We can't stay more than six months in Canada if you're not a citizen.)  So that's the plan.  

We're still unpacking and rearranging as I write this.  Working on the condo during the day and working on my businesses night.  Will probably be another 2 months before that's done.  No room for a studio.  No time for making videos or explore the monster adapter vs. the LA-EA5.  (Although I did discover that the LA-EA5 doesn't work on the A7C or the A7S III.  Kind of surprising.)

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

"Great view of Boston" said the listing...

20 comments:

  1. Another comment about using the focus assist light....before covid I was shooting a lot of small venue jazz clubs....the focus assist light was a definite no no in that invironment. I quickly fell back to my film days...pre-focusing and recording tghe results from various locations before the lights went down ....then do8ng a bit of zone focusing during the performances.

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    1. I have my own horror story when I was shooting a conference using the brand-new Minolta Maxxum 9000, the first camera that could focus in the dark. The red lights were so distracting to the speakers that they stopped their talk and reacted to it (kind of negatively). I still cringe every time I think about it.

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  2. All Prima Donnas. Everyone likes to pretend it bothers them. However, if you're shining in their eyes then I get it but when using focus assist in that situation you should find another focus point. The objective is to record the moment not make a portrait.

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    1. I'm with the speakers here. The objective is to listen to the talk, not disappear into your camera or distract the speaker with flashing lights. If you want to record the moment, do so unobtrusively (i.e., no-one must know).

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  3. "... the LA-EA5 doesn't work on the A7C or the A7S III. Kind of surprising..." Wow, can you elaborate?

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    1. Sure! I attach an A-mount lens to the A7C via LA-EA5 and no autofocusing takes place. (Then I switched to the Monster adapter and it worked properly.) So Sony was serious when they said it only works with the A7R IV and A9 II. :-) On those cameras, the LA-EA5 is faster. But I haven't had a chance to put it through its paces - does it work with SSM lenses? 3rd party lenses? Most of my equipment is in storage, probably behind a mountain of other boxes so it might be awhile before I can offer a proper review.

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  4. Hi dear gary and all of you guys. I totally agree with you, the AF assist lamp is a desperate measure, when it is almost total darkness. I would like to comment that however, on my ILCE-7 and ILCE-7R I can use all the options for spot focusing, with the AF Assist lamp on. Curious that in new models it does not work, and always focus on the nearest object. Just one mention btw. Greetings to all.

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  5. love the picture of the view!!! a vote for underground power?

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  6. Gary - did you have to leave behind those beautiful wooden cabinets and drawers for camera storage that you featured in one of your YouTube videos? Welcome to Massachusetts!

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    1. Yes, we left all that behind. Thanks for the warm welcome!

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  7. Be careful with taxes in Canada, don't know if NS is the same as BC but a friend was really screwed by the Province & Federal gov't.

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  8. Gary What a great solution. First to tell all the "its OK" wannabees to shove it and you move away, that's putting your money where your mouth is. But the east coast solution and handling the 6 mo limitations. We love Nova Scotia especially Cape Breton. Is your new (old) house near the water. We are looking forward to taking our RV back up there as soon as they will have us.

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    1. Hey, Jim! It actually is near the water - it's in a small fishing village called Lower Wedgeport, on the Southern tip of NS. It's nice but limited in terms of photo subjects (it's not like Prince Edward Island, for example. :-) )

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    2. How strange, we're both about (well you will be when the border opens) 30 mins drive away from a Yarmouth. Except mine is Gt Yarmouth on the east coast of England. It's probably where the settlers of Yarmouth NS originated from. Most of my photography is outside but I've added the Focus Assist button to My Menu so I can turn it on/off quickly with out having to search through the settings each time. Cheers for that ..!!

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  9. The LA-EA5 seems to be working fine on my A7R III. Haven't tested all of my lenses yet though.

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    1. I'll have to do that test as well just as soon as I dig my cameras and lenses out of storage! :-(

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  10. Oh yes, have my story: Focus assist on (no idea why since I rarely use it) and was in a theatre sitting in the dark hall shooting an interview with a Tony-award winning actress. We'd already gotten the no-flash announcement. Part way in they stop and say "WHOEVER IS USING A FLASH NEEDS TO STOP NOW!" I look around for the knucklehead and realize some are looking my way... Oh ooops. Cringe.

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  11. Interesting. I turned it off the day I bought the camera. While I photograph just about everything, it doesn't help with nature or sports, would get me in trouble on the street and/or photojournalism, and is definitely prohibited when photographing dance/performance, etc. I supposed the assist light helps, but I've never had a problem with focusing (Sony a7Riii and RX100v5).

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