Night Photography Tips–Infinity Focusing In The Dark

If you’re shooting a night sky scene that does not include a foreground, you can safely focus on infinity and not worry whether or not there is enough depth of field to keep everything sharp. But don’t use the infinity mark on the lens because it’s not very accurate and can change depending on focal length and even temperature.

If your eyes aren’t good enough to focus manually, you can use autofocus to focus on a distant streetlight or the moon. Many cameras can autofocus on the planets Venus and Jupiter, even when using a wide-angle lens. You might even be able to autofocus on the brightest stars.

If none of the above will work, you can use live view to focus on a star. It is just as accurate as autofocus, but it can be very frustrating to do. You need to get a star in live view at a high magnification and then turn the focus barrel back and forth until the star is the smallest pinpoint of light possible. At that point, you are focused precisely on infinity. The challenge is getting a star to show up at a high magnification. The lens must be focused fairly close to infinity to start with, or else the star won’t even show up on the live-view screen.

Night Photography Tips is a nightly feature in which I give a quick tip for night photographers. It’s a way to share all the little things I do and think about in my night shooting, without boring you with my usual wordiness. If you have a tip you’d like to share, please email it to me and I might include it here, along with a link to your blog or website.

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