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Herps Spooked by Your Camera?

Posted: March 21st, 2017, 5:46 pm
by chris_mcmartin
I've not noticed this behavior until the last few months, but it seems more and more that various herps are frightened by my camera's auto-focus light (greenish cast; I assume it's using and IR beam). For example, I was trying to take photos of my daughter's Virginia striatula (yes, it's her "pet" :roll: ), and it goes nuts every time I depress the shutter to focus/light-meter the shot. Is there anyone else who experiences this, especially when photographing wild herps, or is it just because I'm not up to using DSLR etc? (Camera is a Canon PowerShot SX20IS I've owned pretty much since they came out).

Re: Herps Spooked by Your Camera?

Posted: March 22nd, 2017, 1:24 pm
by chrish
i've never known animals to be especially frightened by those IR focusing lights (although some of them pulse on and off rapidly which could explain it?).

I have seen herps spooked by digital pre-flash though but that isn't the focusing assist light. The pre-flash fires a few thousandths of a second before the "real" flash to help the camera calculate exposure and it will sometimes frighten the critter enough that it "flinches" and that flinch is caught in the final exposure. To my eye, the pre-flash isn't detectable but I've had crotes and lizards flinch.
Most newer digital cameras have such short pre-flash that it isn't an issue anymore, but it used to be a problem.

Re: Herps Spooked by Your Camera?

Posted: March 22nd, 2017, 4:38 pm
by chris_mcmartin
Maybe it's not really IR, but it definitely has a component visible to the unaided human eye. Officially, it's the "AF Assist Light" (not a pre-flash mechanism) and it's green. This model is nearly 9 years old.

I noticed a similar problem when photographing a Hemidactylus frenatus last week--as soon as the green light hit the lizard, it ran.