Low-Light Autofocus Struggles with Nikon Coolpix 5700

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Larry R Harrison Jr, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. I just got a Nikon Coolpix 5700 not quite 3 weeks ago. It's a GREAT
    camera, with one exception--low-light AF with this camera is such a

    I know, apparently others have posted this with the responses going
    something like "there are workarounds" and "what do you expect; it's
    not an SLR."

    Now, I do understand--it's expected to have such problems at
    full-zoom, where it's similar to a 280mm lens on a 35mm SLR. But I
    have been known to have these problems even at moderate zoom with
    average-indoor lighting. Setting the aperture as small as I can get it
    doesn't seem to provide enough depth-of-field to compensate for this.

    I can promise: I'm NOT "looking for an excuse" to go all materialistic
    and get a D70 or D100 instead. But this one issuse all by itself has
    made me think I'd be better off with one of those--or a Sony DSC-F717
    with its laser-beam assistance for AF.

    Yes, the 5700 has manual focusing. Sometimes, though, it's just too
    hard to tell sharpness--especially in low-light situations, even using
    the peephole vs the LCD. (Having an object like a magazine nearby
    helps; the words are easy to focus on.) I find it MUCH easier to do
    this with my Nikon N80 (I know, "well-duh!"). I have also figured that
    the short "actual" focal-length of the 5700's lens combined with a
    small aperture like f/8 would allow me to "hyperfocus" in manual focus
    mode and basically turn the 5700 into a "fixed-focus" camera. This
    only seems to work at the extreme shortest ends of the focal lengths,

    One guy--I can't find his link (I have it at home, I'm at work
    now--may provide it later)--showed on the Internet where he setup a
    flash bracket with a make-shift laser pointer which he activates to
    help his 5700 focus. That sounds cool and I guess I'd consider it for
    my usage, but then it's like--wouldn't you then in essence have the
    Sony DSC-F717 instead without the fuss?

    I love the 5700 better overall than the DSC-F717--the dedicated
    hot-shoe (though it doesn't really support dedicated features like
    auto-zoom anyway), RAW mode, more manual options overall, the longer
    zoom reach (280mm effective vs 190mm), use of Compact Flash rather
    than Memory Stick. But I've at times considered that maybe I should've
    got the DSC-F717 instead because of its built-in laser beam which
    helps the autofocusing. That, or I should just get out (sell the 5700)
    and wait 'til I can afford a D70 or used D100 (if the latter EVER
    comes down in price).


    Larry R Harrison Jr, Jun 7, 2004
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  2. Larry R Harrison Jr

    Gener Guest

    Gener, Jun 7, 2004
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  3. Larry R Harrison Jr

    Ed Ruf Guest

    Have you considered bumping the ISO up?
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Jun 7, 2004
  4. I can't imagine how bumping up the ISO is going to improve AF--and even if
    it does, I don't want to do it. Digital noise, you know. I like the lowest
    ISOs I can get away with--even when shooting film, I shoot Velvia 50 or
    Sensia 100, NEVER anything faster.
    Larry R Harrison Jr, Jun 8, 2004
  5. Okay thanks for the link you gave me of


    The one I have, which seems to use similar methods:


    Both deal with using a normal cheap laser thingie as an "aftermarket" sort
    of AF assist light. If it works well enough, I guess it's an okay workaround
    which could make me not feel as inclined towards the Sony DSC-F717.

    One thing, too, about the Sony DSC-F717 I noticed: it doesn't have as good
    of a macro ability. The Nikon lets you get within 2 inches of the lens, the
    Sony only 9 1/2. I do quite a bit of macro so that's very important.

    Larry R Harrison Jr, Jun 8, 2004
  6. Macro on the F717? 2 cm minimum focusing distance in macro mode, with
    the lens at minimum zoom (full wide angle). That puts it at just
    under an inch, and it gives you pretty good magnification.
    Paul Fedorenko, Jun 8, 2004
  7. Larry R Harrison Jr

    Ed Ruf Guest

    Then you don't understand how the camera works. It increases the contrast
    on the sensor which is used by the A/F system. You can try spot
    metering/focus, manual A/F area selection, etc. None of these will give the
    general improvement raising the ISO will, in my experience.

    Your options are limited:
    - raise iso and filter noise with Neat Image/Noise Ninja
    - add A/F assist light
    - get out of focus shots
    - get no shots,

    you take your pick.
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    See images taken with my CP-990 and 5700 at
    Ed Ruf, Jun 8, 2004
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