Low light digital camera with zoom

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Neil McNaughton, May 8, 2004.

  1. I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
    quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
    light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
    replacement?

    My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
    capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
    sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
    like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.

    Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.

    Neil
    Neil McNaughton, May 8, 2004
    #1
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  2. Neil McNaughton

    Boris Harss Guest

    Hi!

    > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions.


    I assume, you are not interested in Fine arte fotography that much and
    are on a certaine budget for this. Lets try to make it cheap... ;-))

    In todays market, you'll have to go for a DSLR for sigificant
    improvement. All the compact cams might have good image quality in
    general but use way to small chips to produce moderately low-noise
    pictures at higher ISO settings. Your cheapest bets are the D70 (Nikon)
    or the 300D (Canon). As a lense, I recommend a fixed-focal lenght 50mm
    lense (non-zoom, that is!). This gives you a moderate telefoto of great
    quality when light gets really bad and is brilliant for portriture. Form
    Canon you get this as cheap as 100$. As a purist (that I am) I would
    stop right here and spend a little under 1000$ total. However:

    In addition, for your application and assuming a moderate budget, I'd
    say, take a large aperture Sigma or Tamron zoom with data like
    2X-8Xmmm/f2.8. These lenses are largely OK, but not as good as the
    $1000+ glass from the camera manufacturer.

    My so-far recommendation leaves you without a wide angle lense. If you
    go with 300D, you can take the Kit instead of the body-only. Then you
    have for +150$ a budget wide angle zoom in the package.

    Expensive Greetings,
    B.
    Boris Harss, May 8, 2004
    #2
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  3. Neil McNaughton

    Rick Guest

    "Neil McNaughton" <> wrote in message news:c7i6d8$u4n$...
    > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
    > quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
    > light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
    > replacement?
    >
    > My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
    > capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
    > sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
    > like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.
    >
    > Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.


    Sony F-717. Its hologram AF can focus and frame in any light,
    even complete darkness. Or the F-828 can do the same, except
    with more noise and chromatic aberration.

    Rick
    Rick, May 8, 2004
    #3
  4. yes that is a little pricey - what of the Olympus Camedia C-760 Ultra Zoom +
    with 64 MB xD card?


    "Boris Harss" <> a écrit dans le message de
    news:c7i84g$83i$...
    > Hi!
    >
    > > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions.

    >
    > I assume, you are not interested in Fine arte fotography that much and
    > are on a certaine budget for this. Lets try to make it cheap... ;-))
    >
    > In todays market, you'll have to go for a DSLR for sigificant
    > improvement. All the compact cams might have good image quality in
    > general but use way to small chips to produce moderately low-noise
    > pictures at higher ISO settings. Your cheapest bets are the D70 (Nikon)
    > or the 300D (Canon). As a lense, I recommend a fixed-focal lenght 50mm
    > lense (non-zoom, that is!). This gives you a moderate telefoto of great
    > quality when light gets really bad and is brilliant for portriture. Form
    > Canon you get this as cheap as 100$. As a purist (that I am) I would
    > stop right here and spend a little under 1000$ total. However:
    >
    > In addition, for your application and assuming a moderate budget, I'd
    > say, take a large aperture Sigma or Tamron zoom with data like
    > 2X-8Xmmm/f2.8. These lenses are largely OK, but not as good as the
    > $1000+ glass from the camera manufacturer.
    >
    > My so-far recommendation leaves you without a wide angle lense. If you
    > go with 300D, you can take the Kit instead of the body-only. Then you
    > have for +150$ a budget wide angle zoom in the package.
    >
    > Expensive Greetings,
    > B.
    Neil McNaughton, May 8, 2004
    #4
  5. Neil McNaughton

    Boris Harss Guest

    Hmmm...

    > yes that is a little pricey - what of the Olympus Camedia C-760 Ultra Zoom +
    > with 64 MB xD card?


    Well, as I saied, no camera with a smal chip can do really well in low
    light - this is NOT talking about the AF but the image. But I do not
    know this model myself.

    Good luck,
    B.
    Boris Harss, May 8, 2004
    #5
  6. Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    As the C750 can be contralled as full manual exposure (1/1000 to 16 second)
    as well as F-stops, and manual focusing, I'd say have a very good look at
    this one.

    I have taken some very impressive night pictures with my one. But my 2 rules
    to do so are;

    1: Use a good tripod (Not some cheap one that flexes if there is wind!, and
    ;

    2: Use the remote control to ensure no camera movement to operate the
    shutter.

    Following these 2 rules, I have even got good cave shots with a single
    candle lighting the area. The Noise reduction in the camera helps as well.

    The Aussie Viking.
    The Aussie Viking, May 9, 2004
    #6
  7. Neil McNaughton

    RobbH Guest

    On Sat, 8 May 2004 10:40:03 +0200, Neil McNaughton wrote:

    > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
    > quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
    > light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
    > replacement?


    This sort of question gets asked a lot, but there's not a lot of agreement
    on what the question means. You stated your needs more clearly than most,
    but it's still not entirely clear to me whether you intend to use flash or
    not. If so, you need to be concerned with (1) low-light focusing ability
    and (2) coverage of onboard flash and/or ability to use external flash.
    But if your goal is available-light shooting, your priorities will
    necessarily be different. Low-light focusing is still important, but you
    also need to be able to capture that low-light image... which brings us to
    your next question.

    > My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
    > capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
    > sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
    > like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.


    Most digital cameras can be set to different levels of sensitivity, more or
    less accurately, on the same ISO scale as film. (The ISO scale superceded
    ASA years ago.) The actual sensitivity of the sensor does not change, but
    more gain can be applied to its output, to yield effective sensitivity of
    ISO 200 or ISO 400, for instance. Unfortunately, this amplification
    process also amplifies any noise in the image. Since the small sensors
    used in most non-SLR digital cameras are rather noisy, they do not produce
    very pleasing images at ISO 400 and above.

    Someone will almost certainly suggest that all you need is a tripod,
    allowing you to use longer exposures than can be hand-held. And this is
    quite true, if your only interest is the architectural and design elements
    -- how a conference has been set up. But if you plan to include people in
    your photographs, you need something else.

    I suggest you take a look at the camera reviews at Imaging Resource:

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/

    The conclusions usually include some comments on low-light performance, and
    the photo samples include a series of comparison shots at different ISO
    settings.

    The reviews at Digital Photography Review may also be helpful, especially
    the nose plots:

    http://www.dpreview.com/

    I can tell you that I use an Olympus C-4000 in many low-light situations.
    It's not perfect, but I'm usually happy with the results. This camera has
    been discontinued, but is still available from some legitimate dealers at a
    low price. Its greatest disadvantage is that it uses Smart Media cards,
    which are readily available and expensive but obsolete.

    You mentioned the Oly C-760, which hasn't yet been reviewed at Imaging
    Resource, but the review of the similar C-750 mentions that noise is a
    problem. If the zoom range is important to you, you might look into the
    Kodak DX6490. I've heard surprisingly good things about its low-light
    performance, but have no experience with it, and it appears to have some
    quirks that should be taken into account.

    For a bit more money, someone has already mentioned the Sony DSC-F717. I
    have no experience with it, either, but it still appears to be the best
    non-SLR digital camera for available light photography.
    RobbH, May 9, 2004
    #7
  8. Neil McNaughton

    RobbH Guest

    On Sun, 09 May 2004 12:38:11 GMT, RobbH wrote:

    > Someone will almost certainly suggest that all you need is a tripod,
    > allowing you to use longer exposures than can be hand-held. And this is
    > quite true, if your only interest is the architectural and design elements
    > -- how a conference has been set up. But if you plan to include people in
    > your photographs, you need something else.


    Following up on my own post because I neglected to mention that you
    probably will need a tripod if you plan to use the telephoto end of a 10x
    zoom in low light.

    For shooting available light handheld, you'll be better off sticking to the
    focal lengths found on a typical 3x zoom. There are some cameras available
    with image-stabilized 10x (or so) zoom lenses, but they tend to be very
    noisy at high ISO settings.

    Your ultimate choice will probably have to involve some compromises. Or
    you're going to have to spend a lot more than you originally intended!
    RobbH, May 9, 2004
    #8
  9. Neil McNaughton

    Trentus Guest

    "Neil McNaughton" <> wrote in message
    news:c7i6d8$u4n$...
    > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
    > quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
    > light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
    > replacement?
    >
    > My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
    > capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
    > sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
    > like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.
    >
    > Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.


    I'm astounded at the S5000's ability to take photos in low light.
    Just ignore it's constant suggestion that you use the flash, which it
    suggests for nearly EVERY shot regardless of light.
    I've found if I DO use the flash, the shot is nearly always ruined, if I
    don't use the flash the shot is normally fine.

    The damn camera can see in the dark better than I can. There is one proviso,
    first use self timer and a tripod, this means there is no camera movement,
    otherwise the shots tend to blur. Secondly, which may rule the camera out
    for your purposes, it's also best if the subject is still.

    I did break ALL these rules, and especially the last one where the subject
    is not moving, at a Christmas party dance - lit only with some coloured
    globes on the roof and 2 coloured spotlights - and got some quite
    unexpected photos. They were really LOUSY photos that I wouldn't dare
    subject sensitive quality photographers like yourselves to, and only some
    basic happy-snaps - but unexpected in that details into the far corners
    of the room were quite visible in the photo, that I had not been able to see
    with my own eyes. It actually makes the room look well lit, when in fact it
    was a very dark and dingy scout hall out in the bush at night.

    Do NOT critique the photos, I know there are SO MANY things wrong with them,
    I do NOT claim to be a good photographer, but if you really must see the
    photos just to get an idea of what I was talking about, I'll put them up
    here for you.
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/lowlight/noflash.jpg
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/lowlight/withflash.jpg

    This is what it can do with nothing but a candle (yes I know they're lousy
    photo's I'm just learning both the camera, and photography in general)
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/lowlight/candelightexperiment036.jpg
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/lowlight/candelightexperiment038.jpg

    And so those don't give you the wrong impression about my skills as a
    photographer, these are what I can do when I try a bit harder, still not
    good photo's but better than those dance shots.
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/images/traintrip028.jpg
    www.dart.net.au/users/trentandjanet/images/tidbinbilla024.jpg

    Trentus
    Trentus, May 10, 2004
    #9
  10. Neil McNaughton

    Dave Guest

    Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    "The Aussie Viking" <> wrote in message news:<409d921d$0$27642$>...
    > As the C750 can be contralled as full manual exposure (1/1000 to 16 second)
    > as well as F-stops, and manual focusing, I'd say have a very good look at
    > this one.
    >
    > I have taken some very impressive night pictures with my one. But my 2 rules
    > to do so are;
    >
    > 1: Use a good tripod (Not some cheap one that flexes if there is wind!, and
    > ;
    >
    > 2: Use the remote control to ensure no camera movement to operate the
    > shutter.
    >
    > Following these 2 rules, I have even got good cave shots with a single
    > candle lighting the area. The Noise reduction in the camera helps as well.
    >


    I cringe at the thought of anyone recommending the C750 for low light.
    The autofocus becomes utterly useless and the electronic viewfinder
    becomes slow and dark.

    http://home.att.net/~galt_57
    Dave, May 10, 2004
    #10
  11. Neil McNaughton

    Dave Guest

    "Neil McNaughton" <> wrote in message news:<c7i6d8$u4n$>...
    > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
    > quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
    > light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
    > replacement?
    >
    > My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
    > capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
    > sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
    > like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.
    >
    > Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.
    >
    > Neil


    A 10x Mavica? You mean digital+optical. Hint- avoid using much digital
    zoom. You can take photos in dark conditions with many digicams, if
    you can get them to focus, but not if there is motion -- which then
    requires a minimum shutter speed -- and thus a higher ISO. A DSLR is
    the only safe recommendation.
    Dave, May 11, 2004
    #11
  12. Neil McNaughton

    Eddy Vortex Guest

    Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    Get an Oly C-2100 UZ IS then. I routinely take hand held photos of the moon
    at 17x and 1/30 sec.
    "Dave" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "The Aussie Viking" <> wrote in message

    news:<409d921d$0$27642$>...
    > > As the C750 can be contralled as full manual exposure (1/1000 to 16

    second)
    > > as well as F-stops, and manual focusing, I'd say have a very good look

    at
    > > this one.
    > >
    > > I have taken some very impressive night pictures with my one. But my 2

    rules
    > > to do so are;
    > >
    > > 1: Use a good tripod (Not some cheap one that flexes if there is wind!,

    and
    > > ;
    > >
    > > 2: Use the remote control to ensure no camera movement to operate the
    > > shutter.
    > >
    > > Following these 2 rules, I have even got good cave shots with a single
    > > candle lighting the area. The Noise reduction in the camera helps as

    well.
    > >

    >
    > I cringe at the thought of anyone recommending the C750 for low light.
    > The autofocus becomes utterly useless and the electronic viewfinder
    > becomes slow and dark.
    >
    > http://home.att.net/~galt_57
    Eddy Vortex, May 11, 2004
    #12
  13. Neil McNaughton

    Guest

    Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    In message <bM9oc.38582$>,
    "Eddy Vortex" <> wrote:

    >Get an Oly C-2100 UZ IS then. I routinely take hand held photos of the moon
    >at 17x and 1/30 sec.


    That's a combination off digital and optical zoom, I suppose. How much
    is digital? I wouldn't use digital unless it was *exactly* 2x, and I'd
    only use it to aid in metering and focusing, and to reduce JPEG
    artifacts. Using a DZ factor of 1.7x or 2.3x or whatever blurs the
    image.
    --

    <>>< ><<> ><<> <>>< ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<>
    John P Sheehy <>
    ><<> <>>< <>>< ><<> <>>< ><<> ><<> <>><
    , May 11, 2004
    #13
  14. Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    writes:

    > In message <bM9oc.38582$>,
    > "Eddy Vortex" <> wrote:
    >
    > >Get an Oly C-2100 UZ IS then. I routinely take hand held photos of the moon
    > >at 17x and 1/30 sec.

    >
    > That's a combination off digital and optical zoom, I suppose. How much
    > is digital? I wouldn't use digital unless it was *exactly* 2x, and I'd
    > only use it to aid in metering and focusing, and to reduce JPEG
    > artifacts. Using a DZ factor of 1.7x or 2.3x or whatever blurs the
    > image.


    No, I would imagine the original author is using an Olympus B-300 or TCON-17
    tele-extender lens on the camera which gives a 1.7x magnification, hence 17x
    over the wide angle without the B-300/TCON-17.

    --
    Michael Meissner
    email:
    http://www.the-meissners.org
    Michael Meissner, May 11, 2004
    #14
  15. Neil McNaughton

    Eddy Vortex Guest

    Re: Low light digital camera with zoom - Try Olympus C750 or similar.

    Yse, you're correct, Mike. The C2100 has 10x optical zoom and I use a B-300
    1.7x teleconverter so that adds up to 17x optical zoom. I'm a hopeless
    addict now! Eddy
    "Michael Meissner" <> wrote in message
    news:-meissners.org...
    > writes:
    >
    > > In message <bM9oc.38582$>,
    > > "Eddy Vortex" <> wrote:
    > >
    > > >Get an Oly C-2100 UZ IS then. I routinely take hand held photos of the

    moon
    > > >at 17x and 1/30 sec.

    > >
    > > That's a combination off digital and optical zoom, I suppose. How much
    > > is digital? I wouldn't use digital unless it was *exactly* 2x, and I'd
    > > only use it to aid in metering and focusing, and to reduce JPEG
    > > artifacts. Using a DZ factor of 1.7x or 2.3x or whatever blurs the
    > > image.

    >
    > No, I would imagine the original author is using an Olympus B-300 or

    TCON-17
    > tele-extender lens on the camera which gives a 1.7x magnification, hence

    17x
    > over the wide angle without the B-300/TCON-17.
    >
    > --
    > Michael Meissner
    > email:
    > http://www.the-meissners.org
    Eddy Vortex, May 12, 2004
    #15
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