Beginner Not being able to shoot in the dark, in manual?

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Conan
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#1
Hi everyone, I went over to the local rugby field and golf course and just got back, I went when it was starting to get dark.

I mainly use aperture priority mode, but it wouldn't work, saying the 'subject is too dark' according to the cameras meter. Using exposure compensation didn't allow me to shoot either, so I thought I would switch to manual.

I always thought in manual, when I press the shutter, it will fire no matter what? But it seemed like the camera was trying to keep focusing. I tried different focus modes in case it was due to this, this didn't seem to help.

There was a fair few photos I managed to get, but not the ones I really wanted. There is a Ditch/river that I wanted to take a image of, but it just wouldn't work unless I positioned myself with a light from a distant building in the picture.

So, is this normal? I am worried as the camera was a lot of money to me (Nikon D3500) and am wondering if it is broken or simply too dark, but in manual I can't shoot?
 
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#2
If you have focus release set it won't take a photo unless it thinks the focus is fine, and where there's not enough contrast to lock onto it won't take a photo even on a sunny day

Check that first :)

Dave
 

antonroland

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#3
I am a Canon shooter with a bit of Nikon experience but I don’t know that model.

Nikons by and large have very complex menus by comparison and I am taking a stab in the dark that there might be some advanced automatic function somewhere in the menu that might be active.

Hopefully some advanced Nikon user could pitch in?
 
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Terry
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#4
If it can't focus the shutter will not fire.
if set manual focus it should.
but it might be difficult to set the focus.
Most cameras have a limit on the shutter speed you can set.
I do not know what the maximum is on yours.
one way or another you should be able to get a shot.
 

antonroland

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#5
You could also try the centre AF point as that is mostly the best in terms of accuracy. Find, lock and hold focus with a partially depressed shutter button, recompose and capture.
 
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Joan
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#6
Did you think about using your pop-up flash? or the auto setting on the dial for night time photography? If there is no ambient light to brighten up what you are trying to photograph, then the camera will not be able to lock focus. I would have thought that if you changed your lens to manual and manually focussed, rather than change the camera to manual (stay in Aperture mode), then you would be able to take the pic.
 
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conanthewarrior
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#8
If you have focus release set it won't take a photo unless it thinks the focus is fine, and where there's not enough contrast to lock onto it won't take a photo even on a sunny day

Check that first :)

Dave
Thank you for your help, I can't find focus release in the manual for my camera though, only different release modes such as single, continuous, quiet. Any idea where focus release is buried in the menu?
 
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Mike
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#9
On, I think all, my AF lenses, there';s a switch on the actual lens, to switch between 'Manual-Focus' and 'Auto-Focus; its not in the menu's in the camera.
On the Fish-eye, and its switched to 'manual' permanently; on such a short focal length lens, the hyperfocal distance, where everything is effectively 'in-focus' is so close to the camera, a focus mechanism is almost unnecessary, and it saves the dang thing wasting battery focus-hunting, trying to get a red-dot on something.
It's a similar story on the UWA, to a large degree; and for an AWFUL lot of shots with the kit 18-55; the focus mechanism, really is only of much use when the subject is in the 'Critical Focus' zone, between the closest focus distance and hyperfocal... And if you aren't looking at subjects in that zone, you dont really need to rely on the AF.
In days of old, a lot of cameras didn't even have manual-focus; especially fixed lens compacts. They had a lens,with a moderate aperture, and a factory set focus at hyperfocal; they were to all extents and purposes, 'Focus Free'... especially if a Point and Press consumer camera.
Knowing this; with a manual focus camera, that did have a focus mechanism, it was common to set a middling aperture and hyper-focal focus distance, even on moderately 'long' lenses, in a lot of circumstances, so that you DIDN'T have to critically focus for every shot.
What you have run into, is that in lower light, the Auto-Focus is struggling to 'see', and see contrast differences it can use to get a range on; and with low-light, likely pushing wider apertures to get an exposure, which pull the Depth-of-Focus around the focus range closer together, making focus that much more crucial... IF your subject is inside that critical focus zone..... and you have a number of conflicting and conspiring factors confusing the cameras electricity....
And it's one of those situations that exemplify why, in the '"Go Manual" mantra, its NOT all about the exposure mode.... and long before you go manual on exposure and try learning about aperture and shutter and ISO settings.... going 'manual focus' and getting to grips with things like the hyperfocal distance, and the Depth-of-Field, and exploiting these to NOT have to rely on the AF system, so you can actually use 'selective' focus effects rather than just shallow focus effects, etc.
BUT... have a look on the lens.... Should be a toggle switch to switch between AF and Manual.
 
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conanthewarrior
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#10
@Teflon-Mike , my lens doesn't have the switch, but I can choose in the camera settings to use manual focus.

I don't really understand the hyper focal distance, or everything you mentioned. I have some problems learning and with my memory, but I do get there eventually.

So essentially, if I set the lens to say 18MM and manual, I wouldn't need to focus if what I want to capture if not close to me? I may have misunderstood but hope I get it soon.
 
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#11
I don't see any mention of ISO settings in the original post - what ISO were you trying to use, and did you try increasing it?
 
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#12
@Teflon-Mike , my lens doesn't have the switch, but I can choose in the camera settings to use manual focus.

I don't really understand the hyper focal distance, or everything you mentioned. I have some problems learning and with my memory, but I do get there eventually.

So essentially, if I set the lens to say 18MM and manual, I wouldn't need to focus if what I want to capture if not close to me? I may have misunderstood but hope I get it soon.
If you're shooting in low light there are two possible ways of doing it... A long exposure with whatever aperture, shutter speed and ISO you want and the camera allows with the kit on a tripod... or a hand held short exposure with a wide aperture, an acceptable shutter speed and a high ISO.

Assuming you're shooting handheld (?) I'd suggest you select the widest aperture possible, f3.5 (?) a shutter speed of 1/60 to give you a chance of holding the camera still and whatever ISO the camera suggests (ISO 3200 ? 6400?) and of course focus manually. If you have a torch you could shine that at something in the scene and then focus.

Good luck with it, I'm sure you'll get there.
 
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#13
You have a Nikon D3500, and I assume, the 'kit' 18-55... in which case, it 'should' have a switch on the side marked 'A' for Auto-Focus and 'M' for manual focus.....

I 'Did' think to take a photo of mine... but then the conundrum of trying to take a photo of a camera, with that same camera, confounded me, and I thunked to resort to the brochure pics on line, which weren't tenably helpful... and I don't know... What 'seems' to ship with the D3500 isn't quite like my lens, but it has buttons... but what they do? I dont know. If you say it has no AF toggle and you 'have' to do it from the camera menu, I guess we have to take it at that... sounds odd though.

Hyper-Focal Distance! Oh-Kay..... Right, well, you know that the Aperture controls the Depth-of-Field... or how far infront and behind your focus point that 'acceptable' focus extends.

The DoF extends typically 1/3 infront of the point of focus, and 2/3 behind the point of focus. Meanwhile, the extent of the DoF depends on BOTH the aperture set, and the focus range. The smaller the aperture (higher the f-no) the larger the DoF will be; but it's a % of the focus range; so the closer the subject you focus on, so the shorter the DoF becomes for any given aperture setting.

NOW, you have a lens, that has a closest focus distance, and a range of 'critical' focus beyond that,until you reach infinity focus, beyond which anything, at any range, will be in acceptable focus. But, before you reach infinity, you have the DoF zone, where you have some of the Critical-Focus-Zone tagged on the front, which is also in 'acceptable focus'.

So, the Hyper-focal distance, is that at which the DoF zone touches or overlaps the infinity zone, and the whole scene beyond the Hyper-Focal range, is rendered in acceptable focus.... it's not 'quite' infinity focus, but, that plus however much infront of infinity focus you can stretch with the set aperture.

Make sense?

Oh-Kay...

The Critical-Focus-Range.. the range infront of the camera, where the lens has to be focused. So, the bit between the closest focus distance, before which nothing will be rendered in focus, and Infinity Focus, where everything will be.

The longer the focal length of the lens, so the closest focus distance tends to be further from the camera, a-n-d the range of critical focus from there to infinity (or Hyper-Focal) tends to be longer... and the converse applies. Shorter the focal length of the lens, so the closest focus distance tends to be so much closer to the camera, and the critical-focus zone, shorter.

This principle has been applied by camera makers for aeons, to push ever smaller format cameras; because the smaller format camera begs a shorter focal length lens, to give the same angle-of-view, and that shorter lens, consequently shortens the range of Critical Focus.... and in the extreme; you can make a camera effectively Focus Free, and not need any kind of focus mechanism; the lens having such a short focal length, and consequently such a near closest focus distance, and short range of critical focus, that to all practical purposes, you don't need a focus mechanism... nothing that 'matters' is ever going to be so close to the lens as to be rendered out-of-focus. If they also limit the maximum aperture to extend the DoF region, its all 'win' and the camera can be that much cheaper to make, and that much more numpty freindly for the consumer.

But.. step up to enthusiast cameras... exploiting this range of focus, to 'selectively' render subjects in focus against a typically out of focus back-ground, it becomes important, and buyers expect to get these Selective-Focus effect, which denies the camera maker cheaping out on a focus mechanism... until numpty consumers start grumbling, and demand an camera that has this critical focus mechanism... but want a computer to do the twiddling for them!... hey-ho, this is the on-demand push-button modern world for you! Howebler!

IF you know what the Auto-Focus system is playing at, or any critical-focus system, for that matter, you can start to exploit it. And a key in that is to recognise this idea of 'Selective-Focus' and exploiting the DoF zone to your advantage.

Consider the expense many go to hunting out and buying ever 'faster' low f-no lenses, in order to get shallow focus effects, and chuck back-grounds Out-of-Focus.... BUT, if you are a bit 'savvy', you dont actually need such a fast f-number lens, what you are trying to do, isn't create a very shallow DoF around your subject, what you are trying to do is 'just' get your subject 'in' the DoF, but your back-ground 'out' of it!

Now, the AF system, is trying to figure out what 'it' thinks you want in focus... not necessarily what you want out of focus... SO, you point camera at a subject; the electrickery, looks at the pixels and looks specifically for'edges' or discontinuities in the picture, from which it calculates the 'range' to.

If you were doing it manually with an old fashioned manual focus SLR, you would naturally do much the same; you'd look through the viewfinder, adjust the focus until it started getting sharper, go a bit further until you started to loose it, and then come back to where you 'see' best focus. You would be 'focus hunting', and the electickery does exactly the same thing, hunting through the range to to best focus, a bit beyond, and then back again...it just does it very quickly.... or at least it tries to.... if its dark and or the subject lacks contrast to make it hard to tell if the focus is crisp, then it will tend to 'hunt' rather harder, and range rather further... locking the shutter out whilst it hunts.... which is what you described.

But! Selective focus; Idea is to deliberately NOT focus on your subject. This makes it even more difficult for an AF system looking for something it can identify as a subject.... Back to that nice OoFed back-ground idea, and the shallow focus gained from typically lower f-no lenses.

Remember, what you are aiming for is the subject 'in' focus, the back-ground 'out' of focus. Now,,, you dont necessarily need a low f-no lens to create a very shallow DoF around your subject; ALL you need to do, is arrange the DoF zone so that your subject is 'in' it, and the back-ground isn't! And you can do that with an enormous DoF from a pretty tight aperture or high F-No. ALL you need to do, is focus in front of your subject, so that the DoF zone covers what you want 'in' focus, and not what you want 'out' of it.

Now, conventionally, the DoF zone extends 1/3 ahead of your set focal range, and 2/3 behind it. So, lets say, you have a Camera-to-Subject range of 10m, and a DoF zone around that of 2m... you focus dead on the subject, you get 66cm of DoF infront of the subject, and 134cm cm of DoF behind them.

What if they are standing a foot from a wall, you would 'like' to be OoF? Well... that wall is going to be 'in- the DoF zone, it's going to be 'in' focus, isn't it?. B-U-T and this is the difference between Shallow Focus and Selective Focus.

To exploit shallow focus, you would open up the aperture, and shrink the DoF zone... but the camera to subject to back-ground distances are still the same; and you may have to get a very large aperture lens, to shrink that DoF enough that the wall behind is OoF and even then, it may not be all 'that' oof.

On the other hand; if you were to use Selective Focus; what you do, if focus in-front of the subject. That shortens the Focus Distance, which consequently also shortens the DoF; Remember, the DoF is a % of the Focus Distance, 'as if' you had chosen a wider aperture, but without actually doing so.

Now that DoF is still split approximately 1/3 in-front of the Focus Distance, 2/3 behind; so by pulling your Focus forwards what you have done, by focusing on essentially fresh air, that red-dots have a hard time finding.... is pull the whole DoF zone forwards, and now, the back end where the focus drops out is just behind your subject, and the wall is OoFed... but your subject remains in 'acceptable' focus... the 'spare' DoF infront of them, is still there, and there's a bit more of it... but who cares, there's nothing in that bit of the scene to either be in or out of focus... its fresh air!

A-ND, now with this little nugget, you can get those wonderful effects with the subject in-focus and the back-ground not... and do it without such fast aperture lens, and probably better, because you are putting the DoF exactly where you want it in the scene, and not having a split-prism or red-dot tell you where you should focus, and plonking the DoF arbitrarily where it 'thinks' it aught to be around that, leaving ears and noses OoFed....

NOT really what you were asking about, I know; but, turn that on its head, and you get the ideas behind Hyper-Focus, where usually rather than trying to OoF a back-ground behind your subject, you are trying to maximise the DoF, and get as much in focus in-front of a far horizon as you can.

Its the same deal, NOT focusing on the obvious 'subject' but utilising the DoF you get at any aperture, and focusing to get that DoF covering what you want in your picture, from the scene you see.

A-N-D its something that Auto-Focus systems are not particularly good at; because they rely on finding 'something' to plonk a red-dot on, to get a focus range, and free-space don't really give them anything.

But back to your issue; the AF system is trying to find an edge,to get a red dot on to get a range from so it can set the focus.

And in low light, its not very good at it. A lot of AF cameras have a small spot-light next to the lens, for 'AF Assist' in low light. actually chucks a load of light at the scene to try and cut through low contrast so the AF system can 'see' something to plonk a dot on. Pr4oblem is, that this only really works at relatively short ranges, where the AF assist light can actually chuck a spot-light on 'something'. Tends to work OK in a dimly lit room or the like... but, out-doors and at further ranges, rather like trying to light up a sky-scraper a mile away with the little LED on a key-ring!

B-U-T... if you are out-doors and working at those sort of ranges, so you NEED the Auto-Focus to get a target lock on anything?

Its a bit of a skew application of the Selective Focus principle; B-U-T the principles still apply. IF your AF system is struggling, because it cant 'see' in the dark... does it need to? Heck, does it actually need to 'see' in the light?!

In days of yore, not only did cameras not usually have an Auto-Focus mechamism, they seldom had a 'What-you-See, is What-You-Get' through-taking lens view-finder.

I have a wonderful example sat next to the PC here of such a camera, my Uncle's old Ziess Ikonta 'Folder'. Not only does it not have an SLR pentaprism and peep-hole view-finder, it doesn't even have a viewfinder! What it has, is a 'wire frame' gun-sight. You flip up a little metal tab on the end of the lens, and a wire frame on the film door. You look down the lens, through the peep hole, to frame your scene, and level that up with the wire frame to check the edges.... so how do you focus?

Well... when you pop the lens out the front on it's bellows, its latched to the draw at the 'Hyper-Focal' range; if you want to focus more critically than that, there's a little lever against a scale, that moves the lens forwards or back-wards in relation to the film... ah, yes!

But how do you know what's in focus? Well, you probably don't! You have to know how far away your subject is. Which means either guessing rather well, or flaking out a tape measure, or using a little gadget known as a 'range-finder' that uses trigonometry to get one subject super-imposed through two lenses at different angles, so that it can be worked out by maths. And THEN you have to workout what DoF you have got, and whether that's enough to get your subject in focus,or give you enough tolerence around it for any error.

Its all rather laborious... B-U-T it works. A-N-D in practice, you look at your subject, hum and har, guess that its about five cars lenghs or the length of a soccer pitch away, about 100m, and that is what you set on the lens scale as your focus range. You then hum and har a bit more, over how close your guess was, and look at the scale on the lens, or a table from the camera pouch to workout what the DoF you have around that at any apperture... and add a stop 'just in case'.....

And THIS is Selective Focus..... or exploiting the DoF to get what you want in focus,in focus and what you dont, out of focus.......

And to the togs of old, it was second nature,it was just how they HAD to do it..... no electrickery required...... and guess what.... we still CAN and it STILL works!

IF you undertand the principles in play/

If you know what the electrikery is up to, then you don't actually need even SEE to take a photo; you can set it up entirely by the numbers. Modern Electric-Picture-Makers dont always make it all that easy for us, though; they give us lots and lots of numbers we dont really need or want; many electric lenses, especially 'kit' lenses not even having a focus scale on them, let alone a DoF bracket around that.... but... this is 'progress' I am told.... you dont 'need' all that gufrf, the AF system does it all for you.....

Except when it doesn't... as you have just found out about! THEN, then the numbers and scales can be rather very helpful!

Which is probably of little or no help to you, other than, the electric easement in modern electric cameras is very very sophisticated, and very very good.... but it ISN'T infallible, and technology is not really a substitute for good old fashioned know-how!

And knowing how, and how you MIGHT focus... IS pretty fundamental know-how to the job of taking a photo; and AF systems, have in so many ways not actually made it all that much 'easier' but when they run into the margins, harder if not impossible.

But... you thunked to 'Go-Manual' to get round the lock-out... which was right; only you went manual exposure, not manual focus. If you had switched to manual focus, you might have been able to see a clear enough image through the view-finder to asses acceptable focus; possbly even easier still on the back-screen with the image amplified a bit by the electronics.... and at a reasonable focus range and moderate enough aperture, that likely could have been 'good enough'... and not had you locked out by the electrickery, or needing to get more scientific working to the numbers on the scales you dont have on the lens!

Clear as mud?
 
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#14
@conanthewarrior there is a lot to learn on the photography journey. It takes a while for it all to sink in and actually you don't need to know everything - e.g. hyperfocal distance is not relevant to a portrait photographer. I'm still learning all the time after many years. Just take everything in small steps, and the first is to work out why your shutter won't fire.

As @DG Phototraining said, somewhere there will be a setting that says, do not fire the shutter until focus is reached. The camera is struggling to focus due to poor light and therefore the shutter won't fire. If you set it to manual focus then this should allow the shutter to fire.

I found the online manual https://onlinemanual.nikonimglib.co...y_05.html#getting_good_results_with_autofocus and couldn't see an option for focus release, however there is an Af illuminator which helps the camera focus in poor light. Turning this on or off, may mean the shutter will release - it may mean it can focus too! - haven't got time to read through it now, but there may be some useful info in there. Manual focus is the way I'd go if it won't focus due to it being too dark.
 
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#15
As @DG Phototraining said, somewhere there will be a setting that says, do not fire the shutter until focus is reached.
I downloaded the manual for the D3500 and even as a Nikon user I couldn't find mention of the setting in there. I got the impression that the camera is always in the fire on focus mode. Using the focus lock button might over ride that as that is the technique the manual recommends for focus/recompose which will put the focus point off whatever it focused on.

The only way I can think to check is to go through the menu item by item and see if there are any clues.
 
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#16
I downloaded the manual for the D3500 and even as a Nikon user I couldn't find mention of the setting in there. I got the impression that the camera is always in the fire on focus mode. Using the focus lock button might over ride that as that is the technique the manual recommends for focus/recompose which will put the focus point off whatever it focused on.

The only way I can think to check is to go through the menu item by item and see if there are any clues.
Yes I couldn't find it either, though I only scan read it. I wondered about the Af illuminator... perhaps if that is on, it won't fire until it finds focus, whereas if you turn it off, it might ignore it and just fire? .... groping around in the dark, if you'll forgive the pun... :exit:
 
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#17
Yes I couldn't find it either, though I only scan read it. I wondered about the Af illuminator... perhaps if that is on, it won't fire until it finds focus, whereas if you turn it off, it might ignore it and just fire? .... groping around in the dark, if you'll forgive the pun... :exit:
It's a bit of a mystery, to be sure.
 
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conanthewarrior
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#22
@Brian G, I had the ISO set to Auto ISO, so a lot of the time it was near, or maxed out at 25600. It is set to Auto ISO as standard so I have been using that. I don't yet have a tripod. I intend to get one as soon as I can, money is just tight at the moment.

@Teflon-Mike , thank you for taking the time to explain that to me. I think I understood what you was saying- that's not down to a bad explanation, just me getting used to terms used.
I will try with manual focus.

You mentioned the AF assist illuminator- I have some powerful 18650 torch's, would it work if I took one of those along with me in the dark to light up the scene I want to take, autofocus using that, switch off the flashlight and then take the shot using my settings for the dark?

@ancient_mariner There is definitely no physical AF/MF switch on the lens or body, just an option in the menu to switch between AF-S, AF-C, AF-A and Manual.
 
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#23
You mentioned the AF assist illuminator- I have some powerful 18650 torch's, would it work if I took one of those along with me in the dark to light up the scene I want to take, autofocus using that, switch off the flashlight and then take the shot using my settings for the dark?
Circumstance depenmdent.. and TBH I have no idea what a 1686? Torch is or how bright it might be! B-u-t
The AF assist ilumination, is a little torch in the camera that chucks some light at the scene to 'help' the electronics 'see' something to focus on. As said, the AF system is not all that 'smart' from the start, and in the dark can be completely over-wrought.
Now you say you are taking shots in low light at a Rugby Field and a Gold Course, that 'sort' of impied that the subject is engaged in a pretty dynamic activity, and you are trying for action shots...
(Totally off-topic, but as asside, my experience of rugby was to not see much of anything anyway... I was a big lad, they stuck me in the middle of the scrum... all I remember is "Oi! Get over here!" and stumbing around until some-one shoved me in the line, and picking mud out my face, until I was... and some-one else shoved another muyd-pie in my mush whilst I had my arms locked about two other fellas shoulders, and couldn't do effall about it! But still! Reminiscence, was that my Rugby clubs main claim to fame was that they were the first 'amateur' club to have flood-lights, thanks to an altruistic scrap merchant, who also funded the Maglev at Birmingham air-port.... but rather more than a little off topic!)
When I fessed up to buying a DSLR, I have to confess that the AF assist lamp caught me out; my preffered genre was gig photography, and as such the AF assist lamp got turned off pretty dang quick, when I discovered just how intrusive it was at a live-music event, both to performers and audience...
That lamp on its own CAN be quite bright, and certainly effective at 3 to 30 feet sort of ranges.... beyond that? Ie outdoors, Back to Birdies Flood-Lamps at the Rugby club.... I really don't think that a couple of torches, even bright ones, at foot-ball pitch ranges will really light up the scene so much as to give the AF system much of an easier time... And you have another couple of issues there.
IF you are snapping action.... then you have a double whammy, and the AF is struggling not just because of the low-light and low-contrast, giving it a tough time to find a target to get a red-dot on, but that target is likely also moving, making it even harder for it. A-N-D are you going to get a kick on the funny shaped ball by a rather large beer swilling dirty song singing ape-man, or a nine iron to the bonce and buried in a bunker, cos the 'subject is a bit peeved at having rather bright torches shone in their face whilst they are trying to play their game?
In this sort of instance, like the music gigs I turned off not just the AF assist, but the AF, and went manual focus. IF you have some clue about close and far focus distances, and the DoF at different apertures, as said, you CAN pick settings for both that leave you effectively Focus Free, and not having to worry either about the AF or AF assist, but even manual focusing, in real time; you pre-set and fire away.
This isn't just helpful in low light situations where the AF may struggle, but many, for example kids birthday parties or action sport where the moving subject is likely to vex the AF... combine the two, low light plus action, and AF is really up against the wall.... not relying on it then can be a boon, especially if you are trying to work fairly fast to grab the moment, and the last thing you want is the shutter locked out!
So, I don't know, really, B-U-T... I would doubt that there would be many instances where a or a couple of bright torches to help illuminate the scene for the AF would actually help... and if they did, you would still probably need to use them to get an AF focus lock, and then use that in the dark anyway, It's likely just an added complication making more problems than it probably wont solve... just learn how to focus, starting with where and when you might actually need to, and dont rely on the AF automation for everything! Go manual FOCUS, when appropriate... and exploit using that manualisation to take over and do stuff you COULD but that the camera cant, or struggles with.
As said, my beg a focus scale on the lens and a little guesswork come judgement, but even without the scale, a little trial and error can give a dang good idea where to twist the focus ring to, and what sort of aperture to use.
Technique over Technology.... its the know how in your head, not the kit in your mitt that matters.
 
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#24
Technique over Technology.... its the know how in your head, not the kit in your mitt that matters.
You can believe that if you want Mike but looking at todays kit you don't have to go too far back to find a point at which it has definite advantages over the old and even allows things to be done relatively easily instead of very difficultly... if at all.
 
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#25
Mobile-phone philosophy, Woof.... it's all well and good a bit of tech 'helping', but unless you know why and how, it's still rather redundant... and you wont know what to do, if you don't RTFM, and hunt through obscure menus.
It's one of the first lessons of Design I had at uni; 'Technology is the Putting Science to practical purpose to SOLVE problems; when it makes problems... its NOT technology, its a gadget.'
Auto-Focus or coupled Auto-Exposure are examples here; when it works, it can be great, and save a lot of faff; B-U-T its when it doesn't, then instead of solving a problem, trying to leave it to the tech is making problems, problems you don't really need encounter, and it's making the job harder, not easier; hence its not an 'appropriate' technology for the job. Ergo; it's still not the kit-in-your mitt, but the know-how-in-your-head, and having the know how to start, and know where certain technology is more or less appropriate to use... still starts with what you know, not what you buy.
 
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#26
I am a Canon shooter with a bit of Nikon experience but I don’t know that model.

Nikons by and large have very complex menus by comparison and I am taking a stab in the dark that there might be some advanced automatic function somewhere in the menu that might be active.

Hopefully some advanced Nikon user could pitch in?
If you’ve only ever used Nikon the menus aren’t difficult at all. In this instance I’d say it’s quite obvious the camera wouldn’t focus in the dark and switching to manual focus would’ve solved the problem
 
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Phil Maddocks
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#27
First thought I had when I read the initial post was that it wouldn't fire the shutter because it was unable to achieve focus. This makes perfect sense in low light conditions and especially with the camera like the D3500 (I have a D3400) which only has 11 focus points. I am assuming you were also using the kit lens (18-55 f3.5-5.6 AF-P) which isn't "fast glass" so also limits the amount of light you can get on to the sensor.

Easiest thing to make the shutter fire would be manual focus, but then you will need to make sure that focus correctly. You could also try single point focus using the centre (which is the only cross type focus point the camera has).
 
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wayne clarke
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#28
I often use a torch if I'm shooting at night or in a cave to get the focus bang on. You mention an 18650, some of these are crazy bright and should be more than enough. I have one the size of a coke can thats brighter then main beam on my car. No problems focusing with that. We've used it with a brolly for bridal portraits at night is that good.
 
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Alan
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#29
Mobile-phone philosophy, Woof.... it's all well and good a bit of tech 'helping', but unless you know why and how, it's still rather redundant... and you wont know what to do, if you don't RTFM, and hunt through obscure menus.
It's one of the first lessons of Design I had at uni; 'Technology is the Putting Science to practical purpose to SOLVE problems; when it makes problems... its NOT technology, its a gadget.'
Auto-Focus or coupled Auto-Exposure are examples here; when it works, it can be great, and save a lot of faff; B-U-T its when it doesn't, then instead of solving a problem, trying to leave it to the tech is making problems, problems you don't really need encounter, and it's making the job harder, not easier; hence its not an 'appropriate' technology for the job. Ergo; it's still not the kit-in-your mitt, but the know-how-in-your-head, and having the know how to start, and know where certain technology is more or less appropriate to use... still starts with what you know, not what you buy.
Mike. Please. I get it. I do. Yes skill is important but please don't tell new peeps that tech doesn't matter and only skill does because that just isn't the case anymore unless of course you still believe it's 1952.

Things have moved on and the simple fact is that there are things you can do relatively easily today with the latest kit which would have been difficult or even maybe actually impossible with the kit of a few years ago and that's true in many areas today.

Please. Just keep it real.
 
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Mike
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#30
1952? How old do you think I am?!?! My mother was barely alive for more than a month of that year! Lol!
There's nothing wrong with technology, Its how I made my living for crissiks! But, its only technology if it actually 'works' and does something useful. And you still have to know a bit about that technology to make use of it. I am an engineer. I had the job of putting technology to practical use. And recognising where and when a certain technology is and isn't helpful is rather key to that!
Advice wasn't a rejection of ALL technology... just a rejection of this ONE technology, in this ONE situation... where it don't actually 'work'!
That's not Luddite, that's pragmatic!
 

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#31
@Teflon-Mike
I believe you think your reasoning is sound here...
But 20 years ago - no one would have stepped out in the conditions the OP is describing believing photography was even possible without adding artificial light - we now expect to shoot in conditions that were impossible in living memory.
Technology means that with a little knowledge we can now take photo's, where before it was impossible. The technology isn't holding him back - the knowledge to understand how and why it needs a little help is.
 
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conanthewarrior
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#32
@Teflon-Mike , an 18650 is a type of battery/cell that is mainly used in battery packs, for things such as laptops, drills Etc. Some devices can draw up to 30A of power from a single cell!
I have about 20 of them as I collect vaping devices, originally to quit smoking. These take these cells, and also power some extremely bright torches- mine is more powerful than I would ever need so thought it might help.
Thank you for your detailed reply, I won't have anyone getting annoyed with me as I go there when there are no games going on. The 18 hole golf course is closed at the times I intend to go (and you can also walk through there when it is open) and I avoid going when the rugby matches are on.

@swanseamale47 That sounds great, and gives me some hope I will be able to use mine to get the focus locked if I don't have to use manual focus. I need to learn this though, I've managed to use it in the day fairly easily, at night is a different story though.

@woof woof , I have been told countless times that the camera doesn't really matter. I realise you are talking about being able to do things that would have been impossible years ago, is this in regard to things such as what I mention?
 
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#33
@woof woof , I have been told countless times that the camera doesn't really matter. I realise you are talking about being able to do things that would have been impossible years ago, is this in regard to things such as what I mention?
Possibly not. I was just talking generally as I get a bit nervous when people say that the kit doesn't matter as quite obviously it does... Sometimes.

If you're like me, a happy hobbyist who takes relatively technology untaxing pictures it still matters at the extremes of ISO as I could for example take pictures today, or rather tonight, at a gig that would be technically way beyond what I was getting with my 35mm film cameras and ISO 1,600 film or even with my Canon 5D which was limited to ISO 3,200. My current more modern kit simply annihilates kit from only as far back as the Canon 5D and that's just with ISO capabilities and before anyone mentions tripods, ISO 100 and long exposures that way of shooting is just completely unsuitable to many situations and subjects. Ditto flash.

Once you get into face and eye detect, frame rates and the quality of the lenses we're seeing today and accept that there are people exploiting these qualities and abilities to take pictures that, yes, would have been very difficult or perhaps even impossible in the past I just can't see how the argument that the kit doesn't matter still persists. Unless it's just another example of snobbery in that a true photographer doesn't need the latest kit and only gear heads with all the gear and no idea care about kit. I think that's too simplistic as if you limit yourself to basic kit you're almost certainly limiting what can be easily done with it no matter how skilled you are.

Just my 2p. Peeps are free to disagree :D
 
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Toni
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#34
The kit always matters - a poorly designed camera system will deliver poor quality images* in terms of technical requirements. And technical requirements keep advancing as technology matures - no-one would be happy if a new camera could deliver nothing better than a typical 35mm camera of the 1950s.

The kit doesn't matter, in that most modern cameras are capable of producing images of extremely high technical quality, even using kit lenses, if the circumstances are favourable: even smartphone images can be hard to discern from DSLR pictures at screen sizes.

As Alan said, once you start to use the added capability of modern kit then it opens up a lot of possibilities, whether that's the camera automatically focusing on an eye or having a flip out screen that lets you take a pic at a low angle without laying on the floor (a problem as we get older). Most of the time the tech just disappears while helping, only rearing it's head when working correctly (to prevent you taking an out of focus image) at a time when you wanted it to do something different but didn't know how to tell it that.

*This ignores Lomography etc, where technically crap image quality is the intention.
 
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