Digicams for available light photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by RobbH, Nov 30, 2003.

  1. RobbH

    RobbH Guest

    As I mentioned in another thread, I have discovered that the Olympus C-4000
    works rather well for shooting available light. Although its lens (f/2.8)
    is not the fastest, it produces less noise* at ISO 400 than any other
    non-SLR digital camera I've seen. But I haven't seen very many, and now
    that my passion for available light has been re-awakened, I'm wondering
    what better options might be available.

    First of all, I do know that for pure performance, I could do much better
    with a DSLR, but that's not an option for me. Price is a concern, but
    beyond that I like to be discreet about shooting. DSLRs seem to be
    designed to attract attention. They might as well shout, "HEY, THIS GUY IS
    TAKING PICTURES!" I'm looking for a camera that's less imposing, and which
    allows me to use the LCD for framing images.

    What I'd like is a camera with no more noise than the C-4000, but a faster

    The most obvious choice is the C-4040, assuming I can find one. I suppose
    it uses the same sensor as the C-4000, but does it perform the same? Can
    anyone who has compared the two cameras at ISO 400 comment?

    Another candidate is the C-5050, which seems to be still available. It
    crams 5 megapixels into the same size sensor as the C-4000's sensor, and
    then adds noise reduction at high ISO. In practical terms, how well does
    this work? Again, can anyone compare the C-5050 to the C-4000 at ISO 400?
    How about the 5050 versus the 4040?

    And another contender is the Sony F717, which has been called (by those who
    like it) the best (non-SLR) digicam for low light shooting. How does it
    really compare to any of these Olympus cameras at ISO 400? And how's its
    noise level at ISO 800?

    The noise graphs at dpreview suggest that the F717 is slightly superior to
    the C-5050 (considering noise only) at ISO 400, but probably not usable at
    ISO 800. But does that jibe with the experience of users?

    Are there any other non-SLR cameras I should be considering?


    *It helps a lot of in-camera sharpening and contrast enhancement are set to
    the lowest value, -5.
    RobbH, Nov 30, 2003
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  2. Get over it and get a 300D: at least it's the only dSLR that doesn't pretend
    to be a pro camera<g>. You'll find ISO 1600 better than your C-4000's ISO
    400. And you can put a 50mm f/1.4 lens on it. Or the 85 f/1.8. Or the Sigma
    I have the F707, and consider the ISO 400 noise unacceptable. The camera
    itself is an absolute joy to use.
    Well, it jibes with the reviews and the review samples<g>. The F717 is
    clearly the better low-light camera. And the lens is faster at the telephoto
    Just the 300D. (Sorry to be repetitious, but the 300D is in a completely
    different class. You could get the angle viewfinder so you could compose
    looking down.)

    I don't like the viewfinder, and it has resolution problems and a slow lens,
    but for inanimate subjects, the image stabilization in the Minolta A1 helps
    with camera shake. The A1 noise is better than the F717, so it's a bit of a
    toss up; the lens is a full stop slower than the F717 over the whole range
    (although the range is a tad longer).

    But it's not a lot smaller than the 300D, and it looks like one of the
    monsters from Alien.

    The 300D with the Canon 50/1.4 is only a tad larger than either the F717 or
    A1, and worlds better for what you want.

    David J. Littleboy
    Ex-Sony shill, now Canon shill (even though I don't own a Canon).
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Dec 1, 2003
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  3. I went through the same curve as you did. Read very good reviews about
    the C-4000. Went to the dealer to check it. Found that a 64MB
    Smartmedia costs as much as a 128MB xD card. Then compared it with the
    C-730/750 which have better zoom and easier controls. In the
    C-730/750, you don't need to get into the software menu to use the
    preset shooting modes.

    Then checked sample low-light photographs online:


    So I got the C-730 and tried it out myself in the living room with all
    the lights out with some coming through the curtains. Even in the
    "Auto" mode the camera produced nice photos. I took more pictures of
    houses outside in the street light and all came out good. Some could
    definitely use a tripod as these cameras don't have a AF assist lamp
    so low-light focus may not always be so good.

    Then the MP bug bit me, so I went and exchanged the C-730 for the
    C-750. :)

    So thats my story. I didn't check the C-4040 or 5050 because they were
    out of reach for my pocket. Neither did I bother too much for Sony.
    One, because you have to get into the software menu to use preset
    modes and two, because the dealer here sucks!!


    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 1, 2003
  4. RobbH

    RobbH Guest

    Heh. I knew, when I posted my question, that someone would ignore my
    stated criteria and tell me to get a DSLR anyway. What I didn't expect was
    that someone would do it with this much grace and wit, so I really can't

    Of course, everything you say is true. And it's still true that I'm not
    willing to consider a DSLR now. There's very likely one in my future, but
    not in the immediate future.
    Indeed, it would be ideal in many respects, but it's not what I want this
    time. But thanks for trying. I'm just stubborn.

    RobbH, Dec 1, 2003
  5. RobbH

    RobbH Guest

    Yes, it was your thread about searching for a camera that got me started
    thinking about my own expectations, which are somewhat different from
    yours. I'm not looking for a camera with extended zoom range (I have a
    C-2100), I just want to be able to shoot without flash, handheld, in
    normally lit and slightly dim environments.

    It sounds like the C-750 may be an ideal choice for you, and
    congratulations on finding a camera that suits you. For now, I'm
    reasonably happy with my C-4000, but can't help wondering what (other than
    a DSLR) would do the job better.

    RobbH, Dec 2, 2003
  6. How about Canon G3? Its got excellent reviews too. As I found out, any
    camera which is more that simple P&S has some zoom. G3 has 4x.
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 3, 2003
  7. RobbH

    Dave Guest

    I have a C-750 on the way because I wanted both a good macro and a
    long lens to play with but it was my understanding that it is not a
    good indoor camera because the autofocus does not work well indoors,
    and the manual focus is difficult to judge, and it has a rather
    inefficient lens.
    Dave, Dec 8, 2003
  8. RobbH

    RobbH Guest

    Although I'm rather late following up, I wanted to let you know that I have
    considered the G3, but it appears to be noisier than I want.

    I should add that this is largely a mental exercise for me, since at the
    moment I'm reasonably happy with the C4000 as an available light camera.
    But I do appreciate all reasonable suggestions.

    RobbH, Dec 8, 2003
  9. RobbH

    LauraK Guest

    I should add that this is largely a mental exercise for me, since at the
    One of the Olys with the 1.8 lens would be considerably better for low light.
    I've been using a 3030 that replaced a 2000. There is a noticeable difference
    in noise at long exposures and the 1.8 really makes a difference in low light.

    web design, print design, photography
    LauraK, Dec 8, 2003
  10. RobbH

    Dave Guest

    I'm curious about what you've possibly discovered. What non-SLR
    cameras offer lenses better than f2.8 along with good noise levels at
    higher ISO ? What reviewer does the best testing for noise?
    Dave, Dec 20, 2003
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