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  1. #1
    Senior Member

    No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    Hi, I'm hoping somebody can help me with this. I have custom settings which include re-assigning auto focus to the AE-L button. I like this because I can choose where to focus for depth of field whilst having some control over which parts of a scene I want to choose for auto exposure.

    It should have been obvious, but for a night sky shoot I would need to control everything which meant switching the camera from my normal user settings to 'M'. Now manual in my logic means I have control over everything and it's always the nuclear option when camera auto settings get in the way - or so I thought. With total darkness and camera on a tripod in a field, fully charged batteries fitted, all settings made and I'm ready to go.

    Then I press the shutter AND NOTHING!! I recheck everything, including the wired remote and still can't take a manual settings shot whilst the other shooters in the group are snapping away merrily with their smartphones. I go back from manual to my user settings, check the focus ring is at infinity and auto exposure then gets me a shot after 2.5 seconds. For now that's all I can do. Back at home I try to figure this out: When my VR lens is switched to M/A and I select M on the camera function dial, the camera is still in Auto focus, and since it can't autofocus on a black sky and aurora, it disables the shot. When I switch the VR lens to M I have full manual control shooting a black sky.

    Can somebody please enlighten me? Is full manual control only possible when a VR lens is set to M? That would seem strange because setting the camera function dial to M should override anything the lens may want to do? Or is there something in my custom setup that overrides M and keeps the camera in Auto focus mode, even this I don't understand? In future when my VR lenses are left set in M/A I just want the manual function to give my full control over settings and a shutter button that takes the shot.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    FredKingston's Avatar

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    In your Menus... got to Menu A1 and A2... There are 2 options. Release... means the shutter releases regardless of focus, and Focus means the shutter won't release/fire unless there's a focus lock... If you're in manual mode, and simply set to Infinity, then the camera doesn't think there's a focus lock... and depending on how the A1, A2 setting is set, the shutter won't fire.
    Thanks/Like voxmagna Thanks/liked this post
     

  3. #3
    Senior Member

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    Wow! What a trap for the unwary. I changed both to 'shutter'. That explains a lot, because when I first started with the camera using AUTO settings, I didn't understand why I couldn't fire the shutter in some low light conditions. Now I see the options it makes me think you should never get an out of focus shot with them enabled, but I have had them. I can see also that when in manual mode, even though the shutter can be released, the auto focus indicator still works. However, when you are shooting a black sky with a few stars and aurora, the in focus indicator should never come up anyway. I shall be watching for the red graticule more often now, lesson learned: However much you may think you have practised, the real location shoot can throw up things. This now explains Nikon logic that if a VR lens is set to M/A focus you have to change default configuration settings? I always post view shots and I think I would rather have the shutter always fire, than shoot blind and let the camera stop me for no focus? Revised custom configuration settings now changed - Many Thanks

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    DraganDL's Avatar

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    Last one to know is the first one to cry. Before going to the battleground, every shooter should spend a lot of time at the range.
    -Nikkor AF 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6D IF; Tokina AF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5; Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D; Samyang 14mm f/2.8; Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 SP Di; Nikon AF 80-200mm f/4.5-5.6D; couple of vintage /AI/AIS lenses and some M-42mm lenses + the Nikon bayonet adapter
    -sec camera: PEN E-PL3, kit lens + adapter for Nikon lenses

  5. #5
    Senior Member

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    True, but I believe software controls however complex should be intuitive, logical and common sense to the majority of intelligent humans. Unfortunately, many Japanese products offer complex 'fit all' options with an equally complex instruction manual to go with them.

    If you can select full manual operation and the shutter is locked out, it shouldn't be there. If there's low light I can see that on the metering just as I would do if I was using a separate exposure meter. I don't mind what they do for any of the assisted functions which requires learning and reading the manual, but manual control 'M' when selected should give me a manual camera. That's the failsafe and last resort for any situation where you might be fighting the software or a beginner learning the camera. I haven't tried a reset back to as delivered, but I don't recall changing the A1/A2 options, so I suspect default is to enable auto focus all the time and kill the shutter operation when focus can't be found?

    In what overiding and logical circumstances would you select the 'M' function and still expect the camera to be auto focussing? I would think in 'M' most would use the focus ring first without realising the camera would then re-focus on the half shutter press and the camera has chosen a new focus point for their shot? That would be the normal behaviour unless in my case there was nothing for it to focus on and the shutter release went dead.

    I'm happy with the answer from FredKingston, saved a new user config and 'M' for me will be just that, because even if I get a bad shot I will always see it in post view/zoom and a bad shot is better than no shot without wondering if there's a battery power or camera fault.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    FredKingston's Avatar

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    I think, with regard to "auto" versus "Manual" a lot of folks lose sight of what "auto" started out as and means... In the camera universe, "auto" has always only been relegated to "exposure"... Somewhere in the proliferation of digital cameras and auto-focusing lenses... the meaning became conflated to mean more than just exposure. Especially to the younger generation that didn't spend 20-30 years with film cameras before digital...

    Glad you got it sorted out...

  7. #7
    Senior Member

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    Changing the wheel on top to "M" only deals with exposure settings and does not affect the auto/manual focus mode. If you want full manual focus then you have to change the BODY switch (near the lens release button) and LENS to Manual as well.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Danno's Avatar

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    There are a lot of things that affect the way the camera works. The manual is worth reading. I also recommend 3rd party handbooks. I really like David Busch's books. I have one for each of my Nikons. They are well written and well organized. I have found them very useful. Adventures like this one you talk about you could have read up on.

    Just something to consider.
    Dan~~Kentucky

    "The natural man must know in order to believe; The spiritual man must believe in order to know. " ~ Aiden Wilson Tozer ~ "The Dwelling Place of God"

    Nikon Z 6 Nikon D7200 w/Grip, Nikon D700 w/Grip, AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm/1.8G, Tamron 28-75, Tamron 70-200 F/2.8
    Yongnuo Speedlight YN568EX, Vanguard ALTA Pro 264AB Tripod, Vanguard
    SBH-100 ball head Beike Gimbal Head, ARCA Swiss B1 ball head

    https://www.dailywalkinthelight.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Horoscope Fish's Avatar

    Re: No camera operation for a Northern Lights shoot!

    Quote Originally Posted by voxmagna View Post
    True, but I believe software controls however complex should be intuitive, logical and common sense to the majority of intelligent humans. Unfortunately, many Japanese products offer complex 'fit all' options with an equally complex instruction manual to go with them.
    I hate to sound sound harsh but the reality is you failed to understand one of the basic functions of your camera. M, on the Mode Dial, is an Exposure Mode. That's pretty simple and it's clearly explained in the user manual. You made assumptions about what your camera would do in "M" mode and didn't bother to verify or test those new settings before a major shoot.


    Quote Originally Posted by voxmagna View Post
    If you can select full manual operation and the shutter is locked out, it shouldn't be there. If there's low light I can see that on the metering just as I would do if I was using a separate exposure meter. I don't mind what they do for any of the assisted functions which requires learning and reading the manual, but manual control 'M' when selected should give me a manual camera. That's the failsafe and last resort for any situation where you might be fighting the software or a beginner learning the camera. I haven't tried a reset back to as delivered, but I don't recall changing the A1/A2 options, so I suspect default is to enable auto focus all the time and kill the shutter operation when focus can't be found?
    These questions indicate to me just how badly you need to sit down and spend some serious quality time with your camera's user manual.


    Quote Originally Posted by voxmagna View Post
    In what overiding and logical circumstances would you select the 'M' function and still expect the camera to be auto focussing?
    I shoot in "M" mode 99% of the time because I want full control over exposure while the camera/lens work at getting correct focus. You keep expecting "M" to be an over-riding function of your camera that does all sorts of things... It's not. It's an Exposure Mode. Period. Exposure, Auto-focusing and Auto-focus behavior are all entirely different things.


    Quote Originally Posted by voxmagna View Post
    I would think in 'M' most would use the focus ring first without realising the camera would then re-focus on the half shutter press and the camera has chosen a new focus point for their shot? That would be the normal behaviour unless in my case there was nothing for it to focus on and the shutter release went dead.
    Exposure, Auto-focusing and Auto-focus behavior are all entirely different things.


    Quote Originally Posted by voxmagna View Post
    I'm happy with the answer from FredKingston...
    That's good. Listen to Fred. Fred knows his s--t (and is a much nicer person than I am).
    ~ Paul
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