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When I'm in the manual focus mode, I find that the focus light (the red blinking light) sometimes still comes on before it takes a photo. Why is this? I thought the purpose of the light is to illuminate the scene for automatically focusing, so it shouldn't be needed in manual focus mode.

I find this distracting, and draws unwanted attention to myself.

This is on the Sony NEX-5R, in aperture priority mode, using a 2-second remote shutter release.

Is the camera trying to measure the light to figure out what shutter speed to use? But in that case, illuminating the scene will change the very attribute it's trying to measure.

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There are two possible reasons for this. The first, if you mean that you are using a remote trigger with two second delay, is as an indicator that the countdown is running. The second is that it is attempting to provide focus confirmation. Many cameras will still check focus even when in manual focus mode and then provide an indication of which focus points they see as in focus. If the light level is low, it will need the AF illumination to be able to make this determination.

  • I actually think the first explanation is more likely. – ElendilTheTall Jun 2 '14 at 9:01
  • Regarding your point of checking focus in manual focus mode, I wish my camera put up a clear warning: "hey, your focus is completely off!" I lost photos from an entire event because it was in manual focus (from night photography the previous night). – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 2 '14 at 12:38
  • @KartickVaddadi - most likely it either does or can be made to, though only by means of what it doesn't do. Most cameras can be made to either beep or blink a focus point when they achieve focus. If you are in manual focus and not getting focus, then you get no blink and know something is off. You generally have to make sure the setting is configured though and you still have to make sure to watch for it. – AJ Henderson Jun 2 '14 at 13:37
  • I don't find a setting to make it beep when it achieves focus. Apparently only earlier NEX cameras have that option, not the NEX-5R. But even that is not quite what I'm looking for -- I want it to tell me only when it's sure I have mis-focused, not every time it's unsure. The lack of a beep may mean mis-focus or it mean mean that the camera isn't sure. That's not what I am looking for. – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 2 '14 at 14:03
  • BTW, AJ's first explanation is the one that is true in this case -- I get the blinking light only when I use the remote trigger. If I put it in the normal mode (don't use the remote trigger), cover the lens with my hand, put it in the manual focus mode, and press the shutter button on the camera, there's no blinking light. So it's an acknowledgement from the camera that it received the command from the remote control, similar to how your TV light blinks when you press a button on the remote control. – Vaddadi Kartick Jun 2 '14 at 14:05

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