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It takes about 30 minutes for eyes to become completely adjusted to night vision. If a flashlight is needed to illuminate controls while making camera adjustments, what is the best way to protect night vision? What is the best color light to use?

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This is probably off-topic; can you elaborate a little more to put the question in a photographic context? – mattdm Apr 2 '13 at 3:08
I think that it is useful to know for doing long exposure night photography, it's still borderline, but if the question is updated to ask about how to avoid ruining night vision while making adjustments while doing long exposure shooting, then we might be able to consider it on topic. – AJ Henderson Apr 2 '13 at 4:11
A nice trick for this is to simply shut one eye when using a light. The closed eye maintains it's dark-adjusted state. I use this trick a lot when night-driving, as people seem to be idiots and not turn off their high-beam headlights, at least around where I live. – Fake Name Apr 2 '13 at 5:21

Red light, because your low-light vision uses a pigment called rhodopsin. This breaks down in bright light, but less so in red. It takes about 45 minutes to regenerate fully, which is why there's that period of re-adjustment.

Using red similar to a darkroom "safe light" with black and white printing, because many photo papers were less sensitive to red/orange wavelengths than to blue. As I understand it, this is mostly a (happy?) coincidence, although once photo chemists had a choice, the convenience of a darkroom light which doesn't significantly disturb night-vision may have been a factor as well. Of course, with panchromatic paper, there's no "safe" wavelength.

If you're working in the field, as Michael Clark mentions, it's valuable to be familiar enough with your equipment that you don't need the light. Not just the camera controls, but your camera bags, lenses, and so on. Of course this comes most easily from practice. Next time you're in the field in the dark, make a conscious effort to navigate in available light.

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Yep, we had red filters in our flashlights for this purpose when I was in the Army. Also the reason that I learned not to write a plan in red ink... – John Cavan Apr 2 '13 at 3:20

Apart from the red light the other people mentioned, you can simply shut one eye.

This was actually why pirates had eye patches.

At night, they use one eye inside the ship, having meals and playing poker etc with one eye. When there is an ambush, they go to the upper deck, pull the eye patch over, and they immediately have night vision so they see their enemies in the dark.

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A dim red light will have the least effect on your night vision. That is why astronomers and soldiers use flashlights with red lenses.

Unfortunately, even when using a red filter in your flashlight, the LCD on the back of your camera can ruin your night vision if it is activated. For the xD and x0D series of Canon cameras, the monochrome LCD on top of the body has its own dim orange backlight, but the Rebel series does not have a top LCD. The same is true of the entry level Nikon bodies.

Ideally, you should work on becoming familiar enough with your camera's controls that you can change the settings for things like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, AF mode, metering mode, etc by touch without taking your eye from the viewfinder. This is one of the advantages of the pro-sumer and professional level bodies. They provide more dedicated control buttons and dual dials to adjust these settings without having to delve into menus using the LCD on the back of the camera.

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Just to note, Magic Lantern has a "dark red" colour option for the menus, which helps. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 2 '13 at 9:02

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