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I am struggling to take sharp, in-focus photos in low light conditions with my Nikon D5300. The issue appears to be because of the camera's autofocus failing to identify the correct focus point.

This happens taking photos indoors (e.g. restaurants) and outside after sunset.

How can I improve the results from the camera's Autofocus in these scenarios?

  • Can I make its autofocus a bit smarter... most of the times the pictures are blurry or subject is out of focus. – M. Schoayb Aug 29 '16 at 11:10
  • Welcome to Photography.SE. This question is way too broad. Can you upload one or two images as examples you find not sharp enough ? Details about those images (where, when, how, settings,...) will help too. – Olivier Aug 29 '16 at 11:17
  • Concerning your spectacles, have you adapted the diopter to your view ? Take a look at How do I calibrate the diopter correction on my DSLR's viewfinder? and Nikon USA viewfinder diopter adjustment – Olivier Aug 29 '16 at 11:20
  • Please edit your question to add information instead of writing in the comment section. – Olivier Aug 29 '16 at 11:21
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The main focus (pun intended) is on how to improve the low light focusing ability of a camera. There are a couple of ways to improve the focus:

1. Do it manually

If you're dealing with stationary subjects, then manual focus may be viable. It can be quite tricky on lenses which are not designed for manual focus - but may still deliver better results than the AF mechanism of your camera.

If your camera has it, you may be able to use 'focus confirmation' in manual focus mode to make things easier.

2. Add more light

The other option is to add more light, so the AF has something to focus on.

2(a). Better Lens

Really this is just improving the amount of light your camera has to work with - the camera body will evaluate the AF with the aperture wide open, so even if you're not using a wide aperture when taking the shot, you'll get better AF from a lens with a better wide aperture.

2(b). AF Assist

This is also another way to add light - many cameras have a built in light which assists the autofocus. Your camera should have one - make sure it's properly activated. In my experience AF assist generally works well for short distances, but for longer distances, I always carry a seperate light source.

2(c). Manual AF Assist

I work outdoors in the dark quite a bit, and carry a big 'spotlight' torch - which I can use to highlight the focus point for the camera. If you're dealing with moving subjects, then a friend or assistant holding the torch to track the subject while you take photos makes a big difference (although you'll definitely want a flash for a moving subject)

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