How to Force my Nikon D5000 to take a photo in low light?
Every so often I try to take a picture in low light, usually indoors and find that my camera attempts to focus, grumbles a bit and then refuses to take the shot.
This is annoying, not least because I entered the bewildering and expensive world of dSLR photography precisely so I could get away from the 'point and shoot' paradigm and its restrictions and thought that a dSLR would give me total control over what I wanted to shoot. I might still want to take the picture whether I think the light is poor or not...
Am I missing something here - is there some kind of override setting or have i inadvertently snookered myself out of five hundred quid?
Related question about focusing in complete darkness: http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1783/how-to-focus-in-complete-darkness
You need manual _focus_ too
I think the answers below spell it out. The autofocus cannot focus in the dark, therefore you need to switch to manual focus. You would get the same problem if you were to try focusing on a well lit white wall with no detail. The camera requires an edge (area with contrast) to focus on it cannot focus otherwise
if you want to get away from the "point and shoot' paradigm" and have total control over what you want to shoot.---- turn off the auto focus. set the camera to full manual and learn to adjust the exposure based on the light meter and how you want to interpret what it is telling you.
It is simply too dark for the camera to focus. And by default it will refuse to take the shot unless it has focused.
There are some possible workarounds: - Some cameras can be forced to take the shot when you press the button, no matter what. The inevitable result is an unsharp photo. I don't suppose that this is what you want.
I assume that you are using the kit lens, an 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kind of job? The downside to this type of lens is that it doesn't let in a whole lot of light, which makes the autofocus system's job more difficult. A faster lens, such as a 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 will do wonders for autofocus performance.
Be aware that autofocus depends on focusing something that has a bit of contrast. If you point it towards a blank wall, it will most likely simply hunt and hunt and never lock on. Poor light makes this worse. Instead, point it at a part of the motive that has good contrast against the background, this will make the AF's job easier.
Manual focus. The viewfinder of the entry-level cameras tend to be tunnel-like but you will at least get a photo this way.
Use a flash, either the built-in one or an external one. External flashes, at least the larger models, can project a grid-pattern on to the motive to aid focusing. The built-in ones tend to strobe a number of times I think, which is not all about red-eye reduction but also helps focusing. (I am not familiar with your camera model but suspect that it does not have a separate autofocus illumination lamp and depends on the flash for this.)
+1 on the external flash firing a grid, that helps 1000%, lets you focus in the dark.
Many cameras actually have a built-in LED or incandescent bulb for autofocus assist, which avoids the obnoxious seizure-inducing quickly repeating strobe.
@Evan Krall - So do some flashes. On Canon cameras, the focus assist LED is in the flash, not the camera body.
+1 on trying to use Manual Focus. With some practice you can get pretty good at in those situations