Low-light digital camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Phil Stripling, Dec 1, 2004.

  1. I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.

    Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?

    Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    lens that was the key.)
    --
    Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.cieux.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Dec 1, 2004
    #1
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  2. Phil Stripling

    Jim Townsend Guest

    Phil Stripling wrote:

    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    > had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    > the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    > request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    > whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    > Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    > other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    > of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    > recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    > small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?
    >
    > Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    > D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    > lens that was the key.)


    What lens did you have on your DRebel ?

    The lens is probably one of the most important aspects of low
    light photography.. After all.. It's what lets in the light.
    They all don't have the same size openings and as a result,
    they can't let in the same amount of light.

    If you plugged a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens on your Drebel and set
    the ISO to 800 and used aperture priority to open the lens
    wide... You'd drastically outperform the C-2100 in low
    light.

    You don't need a new camera.. Just learn how to use what
    you've got :)
     
    Jim Townsend, Dec 1, 2004
    #2
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  3. Phil Stripling

    Martin Brown Guest

    Phil Stripling wrote:

    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    > had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    > the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    > request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    > whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    > Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    > other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    > of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    > recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    > small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?


    All of the above. You can sometimes do a bit better using the video mode
    of a digicam and then average a few frames with registax or similar.
    >
    > Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    > D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    > lens that was the key.)


    The faster the lens the better for available light work. A tripod helps.

    Regards,
    Martin Brown
     
    Martin Brown, Dec 1, 2004
    #3
  4. Phil Stripling

    sid derra Guest

    "Phil Stripling" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    > had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    > the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    > request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    > whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    > Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    > other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    > of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    > recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    > small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?
    >
    > Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    > D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    > lens that was the key.)


    first off: i used to have a c-2100uz and it was just a great cam for the
    time and still is. for 2mp it really created outstanding images. you should
    still be ale to find some pieces on ebay for around 300 bucks - which i
    think it's still worth (i am not sure about its successors - might be worth
    checking that out).

    i now have a d70 - and agree with the others that the lens is probably a
    really important (and pricey) issue with low-light photography. personally
    i - so far - only had problems when using it at a night soccer game that was
    artificially lit - but still it didnt cut it. but then again, i have lenses
    from the more affordable end of the scale, and these kinda action shots
    would probably require more sophisticated lenses. other than that i only use
    it in low-light when i am out for night-photography - which i really enjoy a
    lot - but we are talking 5-10 seconds exposure and up here - so it really
    has nothing to do with you initial question anymore. ;-)

    take it easy!
    sid
     
    sid derra, Dec 1, 2004
    #4
  5. Phil Stripling <> writes:

    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    > had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    > the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    > request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    > whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    > Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    > other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    > of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    > recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    > small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?
    >
    > Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    > D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    > lens that was the key.)


    It is a combination of image stabalization, low noise, relatively fast (f/2.8)
    lens that made the C-2100UZ a unique camera. I still can't replace everything
    it does for me in one camera and one lens today. Also, you do have to wait for
    a point where people aren't moving too much. I've taken hand held pictures of
    non-moving items up to 1/2 second with C-2100UZ, and 1/10 for people (and some
    of the shots had blurred hands if you look closely). Compared to other
    prosumer cameras it had a relatively large sensor size, so the noise was less
    (but presumably the noise for the same ISO is even less on your rebel).

    In theory, if you put a 28-135IS lens on your rebel, it should give you image
    stabalization (or use a tripod/monopod), though you effectively lose an f/stop
    since it is a slower lens (and given it is a consumer lens, it might be soft
    wide open, which means losing even more stops of light). Note that in a DSLR,
    the depth of field is much smaller than on a prosumer camera like the C-2100UZ,
    so things may not be in focus like they would be if you use f/3.5 on both
    cameras.

    The closest current prosumer camera to the C-2100UZ is the Panasonic FZ20, but
    note it has a much smaller sensor and more aggressive JPG, so noise at ISO 400
    should be higher (but you can clean it up). I suspect the electronic
    viewfinder is also not as bright in really dim light.

    --
    Michael Meissner
    email:
    http://www.the-meissners.org
     
    Michael Meissner, Dec 1, 2004
    #5
  6. Jim Townsend <> writes:

    > What lens did you have on your DRebel ?


    Louise has whatever came with the standard kit. I'm sorry to say I have no
    clue what it is. The zoom lens is all I know.

    >SNIP<
    > If you plugged a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens on your Drebel and set
    > the ISO to 800 and used aperture priority to open the lens
    > wide... You'd drastically outperform the C-2100 in low
    > light.


    Louise generally uses manual in low light situations, but she also uses a
    tripod, so maybe a 50mm 1.4 would be something for her to consider.

    >
    > You don't need a new camera.. Just learn how to use what
    > you've got :)


    Always good advice, although it means we don't get to buy new toys so it's
    often forgotten.

    --
    Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.cieux.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Dec 1, 2004
    #6
  7. Phil Stripling

    Big Bill Guest

    On 01 Dec 2004 09:39:07 -0800, Phil Stripling
    <> wrote:

    >I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    >had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    >the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    >request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    >whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    >Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    >other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    >of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    >recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    >small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?
    >
    >Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    >D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    >lens that was the key.)


    Did your wife try setting the ISO higher than the default 100?

    --
    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
     
    Big Bill, Dec 1, 2004
    #7
  8. "sid derra" <ng_NO_@_SPAM_emolife.net> writes:

    >SNIP<
    > would probably require more sophisticated lenses. other than that i only use
    > it in low-light when i am out for night-photography - which i really enjoy a
    > lot - but we are talking 5-10 seconds exposure and up here - so it really
    > has nothing to do with you initial question anymore. ;-)


    Louise has a 10-second exposure with the Digital Rebel at
    http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/3/12048040
    where it looks like the sun is glaring just out of the frame, and it's the
    moon. :->

    A failed campfire attempt is at
    http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/5/12048422
    and a really nice 15-second exposure at
    http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/5/12048422

    The night-time photos were taken after 7:00 pm; in Eureka Valley at
    Thanksgiving, the sun sets at 4:10, and it's pitch black by 5:00. No
    electric lights in the valley, and it's surrounded by mountains. Use the
    navigation links to see other photos, if you're interested.

    --
    Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.cieux.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Dec 1, 2004
    #8
  9. Phil Stripling <> writes:

    > Jim Townsend <> writes:
    >
    > > What lens did you have on your DRebel ?

    >
    > Louise has whatever came with the standard kit. I'm sorry to say I have no
    > clue what it is. The zoom lens is all I know.


    The Canon digital rebel kit lens is f/3.5 - f/5.6, which is 2/3 - 1 1/3 f/stops
    slower than the C-2100UZ's f/2.8 - f/3.5 lens. Note that the C-2100UZ lens
    tended to stay in f/2.8 for a good part of the zoom range. In case you don't
    know what I mean by f/stops, the full f/stops are f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8,
    etc. so if a lens a full f/stop slower than another lens, you have to halve the
    shutter speed or double the ISO to take pictures in the same light. This means
    if the C-2100UZ for example was shooting at 1/10 second, f/2.8, at ISO 400, you
    might need to shoot at 1/10 second f/4, at ISO 800 or 1/20 second, f/4, ISO
    1600 to get the same exposure.


    > >SNIP<
    > > If you plugged a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens on your Drebel and set
    > > the ISO to 800 and used aperture priority to open the lens
    > > wide... You'd drastically outperform the C-2100 in low
    > > light.


    Depends on the depth of field. The UZI's f/2.8 aperture probably gives the
    same as f/5.6 or f/8 on the digital rebel. Sometimes you want a large depth of
    field, sometimes you don't. Of course you need to stabalize that f/1.4 lens if
    you are shooting at low speeds.

    --
    Michael Meissner
    email:
    http://www.the-meissners.org
     
    Michael Meissner, Dec 1, 2004
    #9
  10. Big Bill <> writes:

    > Did your wife try setting the ISO higher than the default 100?


    She said she set it to 400.
    --
    Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.cieux.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Dec 1, 2004
    #10
  11. Phil Stripling

    Jim Townsend Guest

    Phil Stripling wrote:

    > Jim Townsend <> writes:


    >>
    >> You don't need a new camera.. Just learn how to use what
    >> you've got :)

    >
    > Always good advice, although it means we don't get to buy new toys so it's
    > often forgotten.


    LOL.. Yes, toys are fun :)

    Actually you might want to get her a 20D for Christmas.. It
    takes the DRebel kit lens and apparently does a very good
    job at ISO 1600.
     
    Jim Townsend, Dec 1, 2004
    #11
  12. Phil Stripling

    Jim Guest

    "Phil Stripling" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    > had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    > the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    > request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    > whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >

    Use a tripod. Large cameras like the Rebel are harder to hold than small
    ones like the Olympus.
    It would help to set the Rebel to use shutter priority, the highest ISO, and
    the largest stop.

    She should surely be able to obtain good photos with what you already have.
    Jim
     
    Jim, Dec 1, 2004
    #12
  13. Fast lens (f/2.8 or faster) is good...

    image stabilization is good...

    I'd go for a Digital Rebel with 50/1.4 lens, actually, or an
    image-stabilized zoom that is about f/4.

    Or a tripod!
     
    Michael A. Covington, Dec 2, 2004
    #13
  14. By the way, the 50/1.8 lens for the Digital Rebel is very cheap ($75 New
    York) and gives you (5.6/1.8)^2 = 9.7 times as much light as the original
    "kit" lens at 50mm. That's like going from ISO 400 to 4000.

    If 50mm is too long, they also make a 35/2 that would be a fine "normal"
    lens.

    *chuckle* This younger generation hasn't experienced available-light
    photography with a 50/1.8 lens... used to be the normal way to take
    pictures, with Tri-X Pan and Acufine (pushing to 1600)... you could
    photograph anything you could see. Photographing stars in the sky by such
    methods was what got me started in astrophotography.


    --
    Clear skies,

    Michael A. Covington
    Author, Astrophotography for the Amateur
    www.covingtoninnovations.com/astromenu.html
     
    Michael A. Covington, Dec 2, 2004
    #14
  15. Phil Stripling

    sid derra Guest

    "Phil Stripling" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "sid derra" <ng_NO_@_SPAM_emolife.net> writes:
    >
    > Louise has a 10-second exposure with the Digital Rebel at
    > http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/3/12048040
    > where it looks like the sun is glaring just out of the frame, and it's the
    > moon. :->


    <sarcasm> thats just cos its a canon </sarcasm> ;-)
    no really, i started at 10 sec too with the moon and eventually ended up at
    0.4 sec (at 2 am in october in austria. very little artificial light
    around.):
    http://www.emolife.net/photos/displayimage.php?album=31&pos=0

    more night shots that i took recently you can find here:
    http://www.emolife.net/photos/thumbnails.php?album=31 (the database is super
    lame at the moment - i hope it has speds up by the time you check it)

    > A failed campfire attempt is at
    > http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/5/12048422
    > and a really nice 15-second exposure at
    > http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/5/12048422


    that is unfortunately the same link ;-)

    sid
     
    sid derra, Dec 2, 2004
    #15
  16. Phil Stripling

    sid derra Guest

    "sid derra" <ng_NO_@_SPAM_emolife.net> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "Phil Stripling" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > "sid derra" <ng_NO_@_SPAM_emolife.net> writes:
    > >
    > > Louise has a 10-second exposure with the Digital Rebel at
    > > http://civex.smugmug.com/gallery/303160/3/12048040
    > > where it looks like the sun is glaring just out of the frame, and it's

    the
    > > moon. :->

    >
    > <sarcasm> thats just cos its a canon </sarcasm> ;-)
    > no really, i started at 10 sec too with the moon and eventually ended up

    at
    > 0.4 sec (at 2 am in october in austria. very little artificial light
    > around.):
    > http://www.emolife.net/photos/displayimage.php?album=31&pos=0
    >
    > more night shots that i took recently you can find here:
    > http://www.emolife.net/photos/thumbnails.php?album=31 (the database is

    super
    > lame at the moment - i hope it has speds up by the time you check it)


    forgot this from a few nights ago (12 photos stitched together - a little
    bit noisy unfortunately):
    http://tinyurl.com/5w746
     
    sid derra, Dec 2, 2004
    #16
  17. Phil Stripling

    Big Bill Guest

    On 01 Dec 2004 13:32:48 -0800, Phil Stripling
    <> wrote:

    >Big Bill <> writes:
    >
    >> Did your wife try setting the ISO higher than the default 100?

    >
    >She said she set it to 400.


    I see that from a later post's link.
    The DR can be used very well at 800 with very little noise, so she
    might want to try that. Even 1600 is usable, but with more noise.
    That's not possible with the 2100.
    As others have pointed out, the DR's kit lens (evidently the one used
    here) isn't as fast as the 2100, so more time/higher ISO is needed.
    The DR isn't, in my experience, a good low light performer with the
    kit lens, without a tripod.

    But that pic of the desert can be fixed somewhat;
    http://pippina.us/misc/12048040-l-1.jpg
    But the hills have some real bad blockiness. A little more exposure
    would have helped there, I think.
    Keep practicing with the DL; I really like mine.

    --
    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
     
    Big Bill, Dec 2, 2004
    #17
  18. Phil Stripling

    Eric Gill Guest

    Phil Stripling <> wrote in
    news::

    > I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of
    > them had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without
    > flash -- the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some
    > photos at my request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand
    > hold the camera at whatever the settings were, so the images were
    > blurred badly.
    >
    > Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    > other similar events,


    It does indeed, especially action displays like fire performance (poi,
    swords, staff, breathing).

    <snip>

    > Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities?


    I've shot some interesting stuff with a 10D, but I've been forced to use
    flash with action shots, dragging the lens pretty heavily. This actually
    can result in some wonderful stuff, the flash catching a nice image of
    the perform(ers) and the slurring just adding to the action feel.

    http://www.spytfire.com/

    The faster the glass, the easier the shot. The 50mm f/1.8 is probably
    your most affordable option. You can get all the way down to f/1.2, which
    is an entirely different class than even f/1.8, but the cost jumps from
    $70US or so all the way to $1,100(!)

    Truth is, though, I've done lots better with the 20D, with it's lovely
    high-ISO modes.

    At any rate, learn to love a tripod.

    > (Note: a D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if
    > it is the lens that was the key.)
     
    Eric Gill, Dec 2, 2004
    #18
  19. > I've shot some interesting stuff with a 10D, but I've been forced to use
    > flash with action shots, dragging the lens pretty heavily. This actually
    > can result in some wonderful stuff, the flash catching a nice image of
    > the perform(ers) and the slurring just adding to the action feel.
    >
    > http://www.spytfire.com/


    Nice photos! Come to burning man and get the fire spinners there, okay?
    --
    Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
    The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email to philip@
    http://www.cieux.com/ | my domain is read daily.
     
    Phil Stripling, Dec 2, 2004
    #19
  20. Phil Stripling

    DJ Guest

    On 01 Dec 2004 09:39:07 -0800, Phil Stripling <>
    wrote:

    >I was camping with friends over the Thanksgiving weekend, and one of them
    >had an Olympus C-2100 which he was using to shoot photos without flash --
    >the light of the campfire was sufficient. My wife took some photos at my
    >request with her Digital Rebel, and she couldn't hand hold the camera at
    >whatever the settings were, so the images were blurred badly.
    >
    >Having a low-light digital would come in very handy at Burning Man and
    >other similar events, and the C-2100 appears to be discontinued. The owner
    >of the camera said it was the huge lens that made it possible, but as I
    >recall, it was only a 2.8. Any clues on whether it's the fast lens, the
    >small number of pixels of larger size, or image stabilization?
    >
    >Anyone know of other cameras with similar low-light capabilities? (Note: a
    >D70 with an appropriate lens would not be a consideration, if it is the
    >lens that was the key.)


    Well, I posted a "usable" image the other day on alt.binaries.photos.original
    taken by the light of a single candle. The camera is a 300D, the lens is the
    50mm/1.8 and the ISO setting 3200. The ISO3200 comes with the Russian firmware
    hack. You can do as well shooting RAW at 1600 and then pushing harder in the
    computer.
     
    DJ, Dec 2, 2004
    #20
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