How Do I Focus a Camera Lens in the Dark?

Night photography can come with various challenges.

One of the most difficult tasks for all photographers is establishing proper focus while shooting in low light.

In this blog post, we will be looking at how you focus a camera lens in the dark.

How Do I Focus a Camera Lens in the Dark?

how to manually focus in low light

The simplest way to focus your camera lens in the dark is by using manual focus.

Autofocus lenses are more difficult to focus than manual focus lenses. They also offer an accurate focus circle movement to assist you in focusing precisely.

You can focus your lens in the dark using methods other than manual focus.

Helpful Ways You Can Use to Focus Your Camera Lens in the Dark

How to focus camera lens in the dark

Pre-focus in the Daytime

During the day, you may use autofocus to focus your camera lens on a distant target.

Then, change the camera lens to manual focus and add gaffer tape to keep the focus circle on the lens from shifting. 

You can also use this method on objects closer to the distant distance.

However, only committed photographers can concentrate on a near item during the day and await for nightfall without rotating the ring.

Unless you’re shooting a specific photo, a pre-focused infinity setup will generally provide you with greater adaptability at night.

Find a Distant Light

Building lights, car headlights, or a street light in the distance can be bright enough for you to focus your camera lens on, ensuring you make use of them when they are present.

Sorting out the skies isn’t a good option since, at times, the sky may be dark. If you have a flashlight, you can use it to light up the farthest object you want to focus on.

When using a wide-angle lens, you will be able to focus at infinity with a subject at least 24-32 ft away.

Another option is to turn on your phone’s flashlight, place it somewhere in the distance, and then focus on it.

Use Live View

Because current DSLR cameras feature a live view mode, you can use them.

Photographers using a live view night may zoom in on the picture on the LCD screen and manually focus with extreme accuracy.

You should constantly use this approach whenever appropriate since it gives you control over your focus that you would not have otherwise.

Focus on the Moon

The moon is bright, is always in an infinite distance, and it’s easy to focus on, for most autofocus lenses.

So if you are shooting on a moonlight night, then point your camera lens to the moon, auto, or manual focus and lock in focus.

If you are using autofocus, it will be easiest to focus on the moon’s edge since it has the most contrast.

If the moon is not visible, depending on how sophisticated and delicate your camera’s autofocus lenses are, you can autofocus on a dazzling star.

Use a Flashlight

Whether you want to autofocus on a close object, you can use a flashlight or a headlamp to help with the focus.

This is why you should always have a flashlight in your camera bag.

There are two ways you can use your flashlight in the dark.

  • Use your flashlight to brighten the scene so that the focusing mechanism can detect brightness and disparity.
  • The alternative method is to place the flashlight in the background at a position where you wish to obtain focus, then concentrate on the flashlight, hold in focus, and remove the flashlight before taking the photograph.

Focus using the Back Button

If you want to shoot without refocusing, the back-button focus comes in handy during this time.

If your camera can use a back-button focus, check the menu and set up your focus, so it isn’t triggered when you press the shutter button.

Since your focus isn’t set with a shutter button, when you take your pictures by pressing it, there is no chance your camera will refocus.

Focus on the Edge of the Brighter Objects

The majority of cameras use contrast detection to focus.

This implies that aiming for a high contrast area between backgrounds that are both bright and dark will give your camera the best chance of finding anything to focus on.

Do not place your focus point in the center of the brightest area in your picture. Instead, concentrate on the radiant point’s edge.

The difference between bright and dark tones will be used by your camera to focus.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing more frustrating than you returning home and finding almost all your pictures are slightly out of focus.

The techniques above will help you set your focus at night or when shooting in dark scenes. You will also be able to maintain your focus in nearly any scenario if you use them.