Tuesday, 24 May 2022

External auto focus light extender for mirrorless cameras

Please note that if you want to see a larger image, just click on that image to get it enlarged.

Regarding availability


I receive a lot of questions about this item, asking about the availability. The answer is always the same, this item is made and sold as long as there is interest for it. In fact, the external auto focus assist light is now made for even more camera models than the earlier ones.
 
I have several specifically designed sensor heads now, and the list gets longer as the requests grow. The current list is:

Nikon Z9 (in two versions)
Nikon Z5, Z6 and Z7 series, including Nikon Z6ii and Z7ii (new, revised design)
Nikon 1 series
Sony a7iii
Sony a6000
Canon EOS R5
Canon EOS R6
Canon EOS M50

This device works on any camera

There are actually no functional restrictions, the device works with any camera as long as you can somehow install the sensor head above the existing AF assist light of your camera. Of course, if there is a sensor head specifically made for your camera then that is the best alternative because they are made for that specific camera body, and it's shape makes it the best fit over the built in AF assist light source. Never the less, if you have a specific wish for a type, just tell me your camera model and I will try to design a sensor head for that camera if possible. Of course, I will not charge anything extra for this work, but I can also not test it, and it may also take a few extra days. In some cases it is not possible to design it without having access to a camera body, so in those cases I have to decline this work. In such case you can decide to order with the universal sensor head separately delivered to you, in case you want to check it, or install it another way. The actual light sensor can also be attached to the camera using a simple black electric insulation tape, but it is not as nice as the designed sensor head. Never the less, it is the last resort, and it allows you the use of this external AF assist extender on any camera.

Some details about the sensor heads


There are two sensor head versions for the Nikon Z9, one with the cable pointing down, one with the cable pointing up. You can chose your preferred version when you order.
 
 

 

The sensor head for the Z6 and Z7 models is redesigned, now a bit larger, but it also fits better on the camera due to the larger surface and also the curved top part surrounding partially the mode dial, but without touching, or restricting the use of the dial.

The sensor head for the Nikon Z5 looks slightly different from the Z6 / Z7 sensor head. Since the Z5 does not have the mode dial, there is no need for the curved cut out for the dial, but if you think one day you might buy a Z6 or a Z7 then you can also use the sensor head designed for the Z6 / Z7 on the Z5. That way when you buy the camera you don't need to buy a new AF assist light extender.


Also for the Sony and the Canon EOS R models, the sensor head is available in two different versions, one for horizontal one for vertical oriented sensor head installation. This of course means that the cable comes out of the sensor head horizontally or vertically. It is up to you to decide which one you would like to have.

New product

I now have a dedicated LED box holder (ordered separately) which can be attached to the flash shoe of the camera.

This solution is good if you don’t want to use the supplied adhesive putty and you are not using a flash on top of the camera, and don’t want to attach the LED box to the lens or the camera.


Of course, flash use is not excluded when you use this holder, but you must use a radio trigger with a hot shoe. This is typically the case in a studio, where you would most probably use external flashes or strobes.

The adhesive putty

The supplied adhesive putty is non-toxic, even though it should be kept away from children and pets. Also, only very little of it is needed, which means that you should not use all at the same time of what I include in the sending. Of course, this is up to you, but personally, I found that it sticks too hard if too much is used. Of course, a good question is "what's the definition of too much"? Well, I leave it up to you, but only a thin layer is needed to hold everything firmly in place. What is very important is that the small window of the sensor head is over the AF assist LED of the camera, so that when the LED lights up, all that light is passing to the sensor which will turn on the external AF assist LED.

Price and payment

The price for each external AF assist light extender unit is 65 EUR or 65 USD, depending on if you live in EU or outside EU. Shipping and handling costs will be added. At this moment this is 15 EUR in EU or 15 USD for shipments outside EU. I accept payments in EUR or USD only, no other currency will be accepted, orders paid in any other currency will be rejected.

Payments must be made through PayPal, no direct money transfer, checks or any other means are accepted. Prices and the terms are non-negotiable; if you think this is not acceptable for you or you think the price is too high, please don't buy it.


Note that due to transport regulations and restrictions, no battery will be included in the shipment. You have to buy the necessary 23A type battery locally.

How to order

If you are interested, please send me a mail using the contact information below. Please don't pay in advance before I confirmed that I have a device reserved for you.

After I received payment, I will need one work day to pack it and to ship it to you, using registered, traceable post. 


Please note that I will only sell this unit to buyers from Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, countries of European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Aland, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Japan. Note that normally I make no exceptions made from this list, but occasionally I do send to countries not on the list. Contact me if you are interested.

Contact information

adapting(dot)camera at gmail(dot)com

Please note: the mail address above must be modified by you. You must replace the (dot) with real dots, the spaces before and after 'at' must be removed and the word 'at' must be replaced by @ sign. This is done to prevent internet robots from sending me spam mail.

After your modification the mail address will look like: axxxxxxx.cyyyyy@gmail.com

A final note about the AF assist light extender

This is a do-it-yourself product. No warranty or refund is given, other than that I guaranty I tested the device before shipping it, and I guaranty that it is working on my Nikon Z7 and V1 cameras when I ship it. I have no possibilities to test it on any other cameras since these are the only ones I have.

For more technical information, please visit this page: 

Regarding the LED box holder

 
The only additional information not in that post is about the new LED box holder. The price of that is 18 USD (outside EU) or 18 EUR (inside EU). Shipping costs are the same, which is 15 EUR in EU or 15 USD for shipments outside EU. Of course, you will be charged only one shipping cost if you order more than one item at the same time, so it is best to order both the AF assist light extender, and the LED box holder as one order, it will save you a lot on the final price. I accept payments in EUR or USD only, no other currency will be accepted, and orders paid in any other currency will be rejected.
 

Some additional notes and information

You can also watch the demonstration video I made about this device. Note that the device in this video is the very first version, using a larger LED box and different cable, but the functionality is the same as the one made today.

I am using now an even stronger green LED than before. The main purpose is not to increase the intensity, but to reduce the power use to make the battery last longer. Increasing the intensity would mean that the range increases, which would be good, but it would also be too strong for the eyes if the model were less than two-three meters (7-10 feet) from the camera. Never the less, the range is already good enough for most situations, providing a range of about 8-10 meters, depending on the camera.

The installation of this device is very simple. It comes delivered with everything needed, except the battery, which you have to buy separately. Here is a short video showing some installation alternatives.


I have also received some questions about why I am not making it to project a pattern, instead of just a simple round torch like light. The reason is that to be able to do that, the light must be even stronger, and also needs a specially designed prism. This makes it very complicated, since I can't make the prism. It would also be tar too expensive to make, and probably not sell-able. I tried, but gave up the idea pretty early, already before the first device was made.

Thank you very much for all the feedback, and I am glad that you all like this item and thank you very much for the support.



Thursday, 5 August 2021

3D printed hand wheels for driving 1605 ball screws

My DIY micro lathe project continues and one step I made recently was that I designed and made two hand wheels, which initially will be used for driving the X and Z shafts. These are 1605 ball screws, which in the end will be stepper driven, but that will be the last step of this crazy project, and until then I will need these hand wheels for my tests.

The idea was to make them large enough so that they can comfortably be rotated even at fairly high speed. I also wanted the handle to freely rotate, just like on professional hand wheels. This would make it easier to handle and turn at better precision. I did not add any scales, if I realize that I need it, I can always add that later. Instead of milling one, I decided to print one out of PLA. I know that real aluminium hand wheels would have been much better, but this is enough for my needs now, and I also find 3D printing fun, so I went for a printed solution, instead of a milled one. The designed is made in FreeCAD.

 The hand wheel consists of three 3D printed parts assembled together with M6 screws. I could have printed in two parts, but thought that this way it offers greater flexibility, and if I don't like the coupler I can always use a different one, made out of aluminium, or sone other material. Perhaps printing in two parts would have resulted in a nicer design, so maybe if I make new ones, I will change and try the two parts solution.

The wheel is 80 mm diameter, which I found just right in size. The wholes in the wheel are 5 mm holes for threading with M6 threads. On the other side of the wheel there is a circular pocket for an M6 nut which will hold the shaft coupler. 

 

The shaft coupler has a 10 mm diameter pocket on one side, and a 5mm hole on the other side. The 1605 ball screw shaft is 10 mm in diameter, so it fits well to that. The coupler is fixed to the shaft with two M3 x 5 mm grub screws through the two M3 nuts. The 5 mm centre hole is threaded for the M6 x 30 mm screw which is used for fixing it to the wheel. The nut will hold it firm enough, but if necessary, I can always glue the two pieces together as well.

The handle is 42 mm long and 16 mm wide at the widest part. Inside there is an 8.2 mm hole to fit a 31 mm long tube in it. This tube acts as a spacer to provide the right distance from the wheel and it allows free rotation of the handle. The screw is a 50 mm hex cap screw.


 

The screw can be tightened quite firmly, and because the tube is 1 mm longer than needed, the handle is a bit lose. This solution provides a very good free rotation of the handle

The screw is well hidden in the 10 mm pocket, giving it an extra good look.

Printing took about 7.5 hours in total for the three parts, but my printer uses only a 0.4 mm extruder. I printed with 0.25 mm layer height. The material is PLA, which I find is rigid enough for this sort and is also very good for tapping.

Just click on this link if you like this and wish to print the stl files:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pXTQiNqAh5BduZgYsOqA2MmtVy5DofAO/view?usp=sharing 

The files are provided free of charge, download and use the stl files if you wish.

If you find this useful and find that it saves you a lot of time and effort then I am very happy. I have however spend many hours and days on developing, testing and documenting every step of what I do, including this seemingly simple hand wheel. As a token of appreciation, your donation is of course welcome, but there are no obligations and the sky won't fall on you if you decide not to donate. If you however wish to contribute to my activities, then just click on the button below and that will allow you to make a donation if you do wish to do that.

 
 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

My UCCNC Probe Screen version 4 is now available

This UCCNC probe screen is free for you to use. 
If you find this probe screen useful and find it saves you a lot of time and effort in setting up your CNC then I am very happy. I have however spend many hours and days on developing, testing and documenting every step of it. As a token of appreciation, your donation is of course welcome, but there are no obligations and the sky won't fall on you if you decide not to donate. Click on the button below if you do wish to donate, or just continue if you don't.

 
 

The Probe screen is back to normal

 
Finally I managed to finish version 4 and is now available for download.

Klick on this link to download the zipped files.

When you click on the probe tab after a successful installation you should see this screen. The way the main Probe Screen looks like is unchanged, compared to the previous version. After installation you must configure your own probe screen parameters. This is important to do before first run. Please read the provided manual.

(Click on the image for larger view)

 

 

Additional features

 

 The additional features offered looks a bit different from the previous version because of some changes implemented in UCCNC. If you don't need or like the additional features then you can skip this part. In that case the original UCCNC RUN tab screen will be displayed and you must click on the PROBE tab to be able to run my probe macros.

(Click on the image for larger view)

 

 

Necessary update due to changes in UCCNC

This update was necessary due to a change made in UCCNC software some time ago. I did not notice this, since I was using an older version of UCCNC, but it's been pointed out to me that the Probe screen is not working in the latest UCCNC version (1.2111). I tested it, and unfortunately this was the case.

The error turns up at the last step of the installation of Probe Screen, and after shut down and restart of UCCNC, the screen got messed up and looked like this on the right here.

This was of course not usable as it was, and after some investigations I found the answers to how to fix it. Basically, the fix was very simple, I had to renumber some screen elements, but due to lack of time, I could not provide an update as fast as I wanted. The work is now done, all the necessary files are updated and available for download using the link above.

There are no changes in functionality, and since all the macros work just like before, these are untouched. Only the screen element file is changed, as well as the user guide.

As usual, I made several test installations, following my manual to the letter, so I know it works. But as usual, I only have the UC300ETH_5LPT, so I can only test it with that one. I have however no doubt that it works with the other controllers also, assuming you follow EVERY step of the manual during installation. Unfortunately, installation is not "plug and play", you must read the manual and take care of not making any mistakes. There is no other check than your own eyes and brains, so mistakes will not be easy to correct if you make some. Please don't forget to take backup of your own installation before start, just in case you make a mistake. You can have several UCCNC installations on the same computer, just use different names. However, for UCCNC installations and how to do that, please consult the UCCNC manuals.

Download and use if free of charge.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jkz8lAx-H69ugspRS_sUoSQ56FR_xFwb/view?usp=sharing 

Good luck and enjoy.

 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Using my 4th axis (also called A or Rotational axis) as a "poor man's lathe"

 

I bought a rotational axis ( 4th axis or A axis call it whatever you like) for my CNC with a 4 jaws chuck. I intend to use this as both a 4th axis on my CNC, or as an independent "poor man's lathe". I know, it will be a very primitive lathe with a lot of limitations, but I intend to try it out anyway to toy with and to learn. Maybe later on I'll buy a real lathe as well, but for now this will do. I am sure I can use it for some sort of work, but I will see that later.

To get the lathe function I had to design a control box. This is based on an Arduino Uno module with a 2x16 lines LCD. It is a very simple design, using only three buttons, one for clockwise rotation start, one for counter clockwise rotation start and of course, one for stop. Stepper acceleration and deceleration is also implemented, with a possibility to select acceleration in 7 steps. The chuck rotation can be adjusted between zero and 380 RPM, which is the maximum. This corresponds to 2280 RPM on the stepper, due to the 1/6 reduction pulley the stepper drives the chuck with. So it is a respectable rotation speed for being a stepper. The rotation speed is set using a rotary encoder and that speed is saved in the EEPROM, so after a power off, the last used rotation speed is restored. The rotary encoder push button is connected to the Arduino reset and acts as an emergency stop, in case there is a need for stopping as fast as possible. Of course, this means no deceleration, just an abrupt instant stop.

For powering and control I also built a separate PSU, which provides 48V 7A DC through four individual 12V power supplies connected in series. Three of these are 9A supplies, the fourth is though only 7A, which is why the maximum is limited to 7A, but considering that the stepper is only 3A, I figure that the PSU will be good enough for the purpose.

The PSU box also contains a DM542 stepper driver, which is configured to the maximum current and 2x micro stepping, which results in 400 steps per rev.

There is also a relay inside the box. This relay decides if the 4th axis is to be driven as A axis by my CNC using UCCNC software, or independently run as a "lathe", controlled from my control box and rotated non-stop until i press the stop button. The relay can be switched from the control box and the default setting (with the relay off) is that the rotational axis is controlled by UCCNC.

Yesterday I made a short video about testing the control box functions and showing the rotations. I have not used it yet as a lathe, still waiting for some necessary tools before I can do any real tests, but I thought this can be interesting to show as well. Maybe it will give other people some ideas as well.

I intend to share the Arduino code here as well. It is well commented, so based on the code, the simple box can easily be built by anyone understanding the basics of Arduino. I will need to add some file header information before I post it here, but it will be posted soon.

I hope you will enjoy watching this video. I will make a new one once I start using it as well.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Latest update regarding the External auto focus assist light for mirrorless cameras

 

Quite often I receive questions about this item, asking about the availability. The message I answer with is that this item is still sold and made, and I will continue making it and selling it as long as there is interest for it.

 

 

 

Currently I have two specifically designed sensor heads, one is made for the Nikon Z7/Z7 series the other is for the Nikon 1 and the Sony a6000 series cameras. Actually, the device works with any camera, as long as you can somehow install the sensor head above the AF assist light of the camera. Unless you have a Nikon Z6/Z7 body, the Sony a6000 type of sensor head is the most appropriate one to attach to the camera body because of it's shape. Never the less, if you have a specific wish for a type, just tell me your camera model and I will design a sensor head for that camera if possible. Of course, I will not charge anything extra for this work, but I can also not test it, and it may also take a few extra days. In some cases it is not possible to design it without having access to a camera body, so in those cases I have to decline this work, in that case you can decide to order with the universal sensor head separately delivered to you, in case you want to check it, or install it another way. The actual light sensor can also be attached to the camera using a simple black electric insulation tape, but it is not as nice. Never the less, it is the last resort, and it allows you the use of this external AF assist extender to be used on any camera.

Some people gave me feedback about installation of the black box on the flash and they said that they used Velcro instead of the supplied adhesive putty, which I include every time. I chose the putty because it is reusable, removable and leaves no stains, no residue which may be impossible to remove from the flash without strong chemicals, which may even damage the flash, so personally I advise against Velcro solution. The supplied adhesive putty is non-toxic, even though it should be kept away from children and pets. Also, only very little of it is needed, which means that you should not use all I include in the sending. Of course, this is up to you, but personally I found it sticks too hard if too much is used. Of course, a good question is "what's the definition of too much"? Well, I leave it up to you, but only a thin layer is needed to hold everything firmly in place. What is very important is that the small window of the sensor head is not covering the AF assist led of the camera, so that when the LED light up, all that light is passing to the sensor.

For all other details, please read this blog post: https://adapting-camera.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-external-auto-focus-assist-light-is.html

You can also watch the demonstration video I made about this device: 


Not much is changed from the original design. The box I am using now is slightly smaller, and I am using black round cord, which in my opinion looks better than the grey or white I used before. Also, another change is that I am using even stronger green LED now, but the main purpose is not to increase the intensity, but to reduce the power use to make the battery last longer. Increasing the intensity would  mean that the range increases, which would be good, but it would also be too strong for the eyes if the model is less than two-three meters (7-10 feet) from the camera, and in my opinion, that is too far in many cases. Never the less, the range is already good enough for most situations.

The installation of this device is very simple. It comes delivered with everything needed, except the battery, which you have to buy separately. Here is a short video showing some installation alternatives.

 

I have also received some questions about why I am not making it to project a pattern, instead of just a simple round torch like light. The reason is that to ba able to do that, the light must be even stronger, preferably laser and also needs a specially designed prism. This makes it very complicated, since I can't make the prism, it would also be tar too expensive to make, and probably not sell-able. I tried, but gave up the idea pretty early, already before the first device was made.

Anyway, thank you very much for all the feedback, and I am glad that you all like this item and thank you very much for the support.


Sunday, 31 March 2019

External auto focus assist light for mirrorless cameras is now availble


Please note that all images are clickable if you wish to see them in larger size, just click on them.

This device is solving some of the problems, especially related to using mirrorless cameras in low light conditions, such as it is common in studio conditions, or other situations where the available light might be low. The main problem is that mirrorless cameras can’t use the external AF assist light provided by some flashes because the auto focus system cannot use the red light built in the external flashes, so the users must rely on the AF assist light which is built-in the camera. Unfortunately that light is often blocked partially or fully by the user’s hand, or by the lens.

This device can be used with almost any camera which has a built-in AF assist light. The only requirement is that the light sensor, which detects the AF assist light of the camera, must be installed by the user, so if you can do that then it can be used on your camera, regardless of brand or model.






The function of this device is simple


If the camera detects a low light situation and activates the built-in AF assist light then this device will detect that light and will provide the necessary AF assist light externally so that it will not be blocked but projected fully on the subject or the model.

The exposure or the white balance will not change because the light will be turned off before the exposure starts, the light is only on during the focusing process. Auto focus will be faster with less risk for racking and hunting than if you’d not use the AF assist light.

If this sounds interesting then you can order this device now. Please note that this is a DIY product, manufactured in low volume. It contains some 3D printed parts as well, and these parts are custom designed for the purpose.


Some technical information about the device


The used battery is a 23A type, which is a small but powerful 12V battery. Battery capacity is dependent the type and brand of the battery. Maximum current use of the device is 22mA. This means that the capacity is good for about 30 minutes to 2 hours of continuous light, depending on battery. This is normally enough for quite a large number of shots, depending on the speed at which your camera and lens can acquire focus. Focusing should normally not require more than 1-2 seconds, at least not with the Nikon Z7 and the 24-70/4 S lens, so even in the worst case, one battery should last for about one thousand images or more, better quality batteries will increase the number of images several times.

The LED which is used for the light is a high intensity (min. 18 000mcd) green LED, providing a range of about 8-10 meters, depending on the camera. The sensor which detects the camera’s built-in AF assist light is a high speed photo transistor. The delay introduced by the electronics is less than 2us, so it will not be noticeable during use and can be ignored. The size of the box is (L) 63 x (W) 25 x (H) 15 mm. 


It is important to attach the light sensor head in such way that maximum light from the camera's AF assist light hits the sensor when it is activated. This ensures maximum intensity of the AF assist light beam. Intensity is reduced if the sensor is incorrectly placed. Make sure also that the actual light beam emitted by the device is as centred with the lens centre as possible so that the light is covering the area where you want to get accurate focus. The adhesive putty supplied with the device allows installation almost anywhere on the camera body and also allows removal and reattachment if needed.

The light sensor head is 3D printed from PLA, which is environment friendly during the printing process as well as during use. If you wish you can use a different type of adhesive putty as long as it works together with PLA as well.

The universal sensor head is (L) 16 x (W) 10 x (H) 8 mm  so if you can fit that over the AF assist LED of your camera then you can use this device. The light sensor head is fixed to the main unit with a wire which is approximately 270 mm long. If you wish to have a longer one that can be arranged, just let me know. 

The AF assist light sensor and the main unit is attached to the camera and/or the flash using adhesive putty. The putty does not need any treatment, should not be mixed with oil or water or any other liquid. It is non-toxic and will not cause damage to the surface of the cameras, the flashes or other devices. It does not leave stain and can be easily removed. When stored, it can be put between two plastic sheets or a small plastic bag to protect it from dust.


The exposure and the white balance are not affected by the AF assist beam extender, assuming your camera works as expected. Tests of the device are carried out on two Nikon cameras only, the Nikon Z7 and the Nikon 1 V1.








Price and payment


The price for each unit is 62 EUR or 65 USD, depending on if you live in EU or outside EU. Shipping and handling costs will be added. At this moment this is 13 EUR in EU or 15 USD for shipments outside EU. I accept payments in EUR or USD only, no other currency will be accepted, orders paid in any other currency will be rejected.

Payments must be made through PayPal, no direct money transfer, checks or any other means are accepted. Prices and the terms are non-negotiable; if you think this is not acceptable for you or you think the price is too high, please don't buy it.


Note that due to transport regulations and restrictions, no battery will be included in the shipment. You have to buy the necessary 23A type battery locally.

How to order


If you are interested, please send me a mail using the contact information below. Please don't pay in advance before I confirmed that I have a device reserved for you.

After I received payment, I will need one work day to pack it and to ship it to you, using registered, traceable post. 


Please note that I will only sell this unit to buyers from Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, countries of European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Aland, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Japan. Note that I make no exceptions made from this list.

Contact information


adapting(dot)camera at gmail(dot)com

Please note: the mail address above must be modified by you. You must replace the (dot) with real dots, the spaces before and after 'at' must be removed and the word 'at' must be replaced by @ sign. This is done to prevent internet robots from sending me spam mail.

After your modification the mail address will look like: axxxxxxx.cyyyyy@gmail.com


A final note about the AF assist light extender


This is a do-it-yourself product. No warranty or refund is given, other than that I guaranty I tested the device before shipping it, and I guaranty that it is working on my Nikon Z7 and V1 cameras when I ship it. I have no possibilities to test it on any other cameras since these are the only ones I have.


Currently I am making two types of this devices, the difference between them is only the light sensor head. One is designed specifically for the Nikon Z6 and Z7, the other is a generic type. You must indicate which one you will buy when placing the order because after shipping there is no way to change the head. Both types will work with any camera, but it is easier to align on the Z6 and Z7 if you have the model designed for the Nikon Z cameras. The generic type can of course also be used on the Nikon Z6 and Z7, so if you have more than one camera model or brand, then maybe the generic type is the best way to go, but that is a decision you have to make.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

The need for an external auto focus assist light

Many, if not all, cameras which are dependent on the built-in AF assist beam have the LED placed in a way which makes the light beam useless in many situations. This is typical problem especially for mirrorless cameras, which cannot use the AF assist lights built into some external flashes. These cameras are entirely dependent on the AF assist light which is built-in the camera body. The Nikon Z6 and Z7 are two such models, but that list could be made very long, and with the increase in the number of mirrorless models, that list groves heavily across every brand, not only Nikon.

The design of the cameras is a bit varying, especially across brands, and the AF assist LED can be located differently in different camera models or brands, but the number of possible locations is quite limited and I have so far not seen any camera where the LED can be placed optimally so well that it actually works without problems. The AF assist light LED is always blocked by the lens or the left/right hand holding the camera, regardless which camera we look at.

This is a problem even if the camera is on a tripod. The level of problem also depends on the subject to camera distance and the camera model. This is the case even with the lens hood removed, some lenses are just too large in diameter, or too long, so they block the light completely or partially.  Sometimes only half the AF area, or even less than that can be used, the rest is blocked by the lens. This problem severely limits the ability of image composition, and the problem can become quite serious if you want to use AF areas which end up totally out of the light beam.

Another problem with the built-in AF assist solution is that their range can be very limited, depending on camera and the age of the camera. LED technology evolved quite a lot the last years, and today we can have small and very bright LEDs with low power demands, but typically older cameras have quite weak LEDs.

The video below demonstrates both the problem and the possible solution.





The solution is fairly simple


A separate and external AF light, which turns on and off by the AF assist light of the camera. This unit can be used on almost any camera, not only the Nikon Z6 and Z7, as long as it has an AF assists LED built-in the body. The brand, size or the format of the camera does not make any difference; it can be used on small, as well as large cameras, DSLRs as well as mirrorless cameras. The light beam emitted is bright green, just like it is commonly used in mirrorless cameras.

The circular green light beam provides a bright area in a large part of the image area, allowing you to compose the image and place the focus freely in a much larger part of the image than before. The light is strong and the camera will normally focus quickly and accurately, without racking, or hunting.

The light is switched off immediately when the camera switches the internal AF assist light off. This means that the exposure is not affected by the AF assist beam extender device. The green light will be switched off before the actual exposure, so the beam will not be visible in the actual image and will not contribute with any light for the image. It will also not affect the white balance measurements.
The range is about 8-10 meters, depending on the type of battery and the level of charge. This range is measured on a Nikon Z7 with the 24-70/4 S lens on it. Other cameras and lenses may give other results. Note that the range will degrade as the battery gets used and discharged.

The used battery is a common 23A type, which is a small but powerful 12V battery. Battery capacity is dependent the type and brand of the battery. Maximum current use of the device is 22mA. This means that the capacity is good for about 30 minutes to 2 hours of continuous light, depending on battery. This will normally be enough for quite a large number of shots, depending on the speed at which your camera and lens can acquire focus. Remember that focusing normally should not require more than 1-2 seconds, at least not with the Nikon Z7 and the 24-70/4 S lens, so even in the worst case, one battery should last for about one thousand images. Of course, if you are using better quality batteries this number will increase several times.

There is an on/off switch on the device. Use it if you store the device or if you don’t intend to use it over a longer period. The current consumption is basically zero when the device is in the dark, but it is totally zero only if it is switched off, so it is better to switch it off when not in use. The light is on only for the duration the camera requires for focusing, and this is when the device actually is using the battery.

The flexible attachment solution provides a liberty to place the device on almost any other device, be that a flash, a camera or even a radio trigger. The adhesive putty supplied with the device can be used for many years over and over again, allowing the attachment and removal of the device and the sensor many times. It does not need any treatment, should not be mixed with oil or water or any other liquid. If it feels dried out it should be massaged between your fingers until it feels right. It is non-toxic and will not cause damage to the surface of the cameras, the flashes or other devices. It does not leave stain and can be easily removed. When stored, it can be put between two plastic sheets or a small plastic bag to protect it from dust.

This device will be available soon, solving some of the problems related to using mirrorless cameras in low light conditions, such as it is common in studio conditions or other situations where the available light is low. It will increase the focus speed even in situations where focus is possible, but slow due to the low light. If the camera detects such situation and activates the built-in AF light then this device will take over and will provide the necessary AF assist light.

Note that the video above shows a prototype of the device. The final product will be slightly smaller, but will have the same range, using the same battery as in the working prototype.


A final note


This device is now available. Check this post for more details:

https://adapting-camera.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-external-auto-focus-assist-light-is.html

Friday, 1 March 2019

Flash use on the Nikon Z7

Since the Z7 is a fairly new camera model, not only for me, but for every other Nikon Z7 user also, the knowledge about how well it works with different flashes and triggers is limited. I decided to test my flashes, not because I don't trust Nikon, but because I have a two non-Nikon products also and I don't know how well they work with the Z7. These two are the JY610N, which is a sort of SB-400 clone, and a Meike MK-14EXT ring flash. Both of these worked perfectly on the D800 I had before, and both showed up in the EXIF data as if they were an SB-900 flash.

There are no surprises regarding the original Nikon flashes I have, the SB-700 and the SB-900, both of them work as described in the manual of the Z7. What I need to see is how well the cloned products behave on the Z7, and here I found out a few surprises.

The image to the left was used as reference image to test the exposure to see if iTTL works as it supposed to be.


All the pictures are all clickable if you want to see a larger image.


The Nikon SB-700 and SB900


As said before, both of them work individually, or in any combination just as described in the manual of the camera. The only thing that is not working is the AF assist LED, but this is known and is as expected.

It seems also that the SB-700 and the SB-900 together with the Yongnuo YN622N kit seems to work well in all modes, iTTL and manual, single or dual flash, compensation and so on. Once again, the only thing not working is the AF assist LED which is built in the Yongnuo YN622N kit units, but again, this is as expected.
The EXIF of the image always shows that the SB-900 is used, even with the YN622N-TX.


The JY610N is not working in iTTL mode. It worked on the D800 but not the Z7. The flash fires at full power all the time, no TTL pre-flash, and the flash is not showing up in the EXIF. As a consequence, images taken with it are overexposed, unless switched to manual mode.



So, if you consider a small flash to be kept in your pocket just in case you need one, don't bother buying this one.

The Meike MK-14EXT ring flash works also only in manual mode, which I think is sad because it is my only ring flash. I don't understand what is happening, because the flash is not firing at all in iTTL mode. In manual mode it works perfectly well, so I can still use it, but it is annoying that it is not working in iTTL mode.

Using any flash in manual mode is pretty easy, but of course, many times iTTL is an advantage, especially for people who don't have a flash meter or must change shooting distance often.


How to fool the camera


The Z7 can be fooled to believe that these flashes are also SB-900 flashes if the flash is placed in the YN622N trigger and triggered with the help of the YN622N TX.



This combination works with the JY610N, just as the SB-900. The only thing is that using the flash this way is sort of pointless because it is no longer a pocket-able small flash so I might as well use the SB-700 or the SB-900. Never the less, it works well this way.

The Meike MK-14EXT ring flash can also be used in full iTTL mode if the flash is on a YN622N trigger.



This is a usable, but an inconvenient alternative because whenever I want to use it I must add also a bracket to be able to hold everything and to be able to handle the camera at the same time. This is OK, though I would prefer if it was not needed. But at least I know how to use it in TTL mode if I want to.

Of course, in all cases when the YN622N is used, the flash information in the EXIF still claims that it is an SB-900, regardless which flash it is triggering. This doesn't really matter as long as it works in iTTL mode.

My older flashes are all made for film cameras, and they work just like they worked on my old film cameras.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Selling (sold) my modified Nikon SB-N5 flash

Please note that this item is sold. I leave the post up until further for information purposes.

This is a modified version of the Nikon SB-N5, which I made before I started making the V1-F1A. I have no longer use for this flash, mainly because I practically no longer use the Nikon 1 V1, so I decided selling the flash. The flash is in perfect condition, it works as the original SB-N5, and you have the possibility to add an external, more powerful flash if needed. Selling it with the original box, manual and the pouch.



When you need more light, or are looking to add a creative touch to illumination, then this modified Nikon 1 Speedlight SB-N5 is the one to use. Plug this compact i-TTL compatible flash unit into the Nikon 1 V1, V2 or V3 camera's multi-accessory hot shoe and use it as a flash on top of the camera, or add a radio trigger or a more powerful flash using the PC connector in front of the SB-N5. Note that i-TTL is only supported without additional flash, as the original SB-N5 is supporting it. Adding extra flash requires manual flash and camera mode use.



The SB-N5 can be tilted or twisted up, down, left or right and bounce the light if needed. The flash can double as a continuous light source illuminating for six seconds during both Motion Snapshot and Smart Photo Selector modes. Extra batteries are not required—the camera powers the SB-N5 flash from the camera battery.



The SB-N5 does not have to be switched on if the SB-N5 is not needed and you just want to add an external flash or radio trigger. In this case the SB-N5 acts as an adapter only, it will not fire itself, only the external flash or remote trigger will be triggered by the camera.



Note that the added PC contact does not have any protection, so only flashes made for digital cameras with low trigger voltage should be attached. By adding a flash with high trigger voltage the SB-N5, or the camera, or both will be damaged. The flash is tested before shipping it, but there is no additional warranty, other that I guarantee that it is working when I pack it.



Technical specifications of the SB-N5


- Guide Number

8.5 m/27.9 ft. (at ISO 100, 20°C/68°F) to 12 m/39.4 ft. (at ISO 200, 20°C/68°F) 

- Effective flash range (i-TTL)

2 to 66 ft. (0.6 to 20 m) (varies with ISO sensitivity, bounce angle, and aperture) 

- Bounce Function (Rotate)

Vertical: Flash can be rotated up 90° from horizontal with stops where the flash is pointing directly ahead and at 60°, 5°, and 90°
Horizontal: 180° right to 180° left, with stops where the flash is pointing directly ahead and at 30°, 60°, 75°, 90°, 120°, 150°, and 180°
 


- Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)

2.0 in. (50 mm)  x  2.8 in. (70.5 mm)  x  1.6 in. (40.5 mm) 

- Approx. Weight (without batteries)

2.5 oz. (70 g)

How to order


If you are interested, please send me a mail using the contact information below. Please don't pay in advance before I confirmed that the flash is still available and that I reserved for you.


After I received payment, I will need one work day to pack it and to ship it to you, using registered, traceable post. I will use the Swedish Post and will charge you what they are charging me.


Please note that I will only sell this unit to buyers from Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, countries of European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Monaco, Aland, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Japan. Note that I make no exceptions made from this list.





Contact information


adapting(dot)camera at gmail(dot)com

Please note: the mail address above must be modified by you. You must replace the (dot) with real dots, the spaces before and after 'at' must be removed and the word 'at' must be replaced by @ sign. This is done to prevent internet robots from sending me spam mail. After your modification the mail address will look like: axxxxxxx.cyyyyy@gmail.com

Price and payment


The price for this modified SB-N5 flash is 99 EUR or 110 USD, whichever you prefer. The price may change as exchange rates are changing. This price excludes the shipping and handling, the total price will be calculated when I have your personal data.

I accept payments in EUR and USD only, no other currency. Payments must be made through PayPal, no direct money transfer, checks or any other means are accepted. Shipping and handling costs will be added, this cost is not possible for me to predict, I will charge you what the Swedish Post charges me, which at this moment is 13 EUR or 15 USD for shipments outside Sweden. I will ship with registered, traceable post only.

Prices and the terms are non-negotiable, if you think this is not acceptable for you or you think the price is too high, please don't buy it.

A final note about the modified SB-N5


Even though it is based on the original Nikon SB-N5 flash, this should be regarded as a do-it-yourself product. No warranty is given, other than that I guaranty I tested the flash before shipping it, and I guaranty that it is working on my Nikon V1 when I ship it. I have no possibilities to test it on the Nikon V2, V3 or any other future models since I only have the V1.

Remember also that a deal is a deal, if you bought it, it is yours. I will NOT take it back, not even for a reduced price. This may sound harsh, but I have bad experience and this is the "lessons learned" from that experience. It is up to you to decide to buy it, and if the conditions are not acceptable, please don't buy this adapter.