How low is "low light"?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Mike O., Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Mike O.

    Mike O. Guest

    I have a question regarding the term "low light". Many camera reviews
    mention that a particular model works or does not work in "low light". Is
    this less than normal room lighting?

    I've had a Kodak 4800 for a few years, but am now looking to upgrade. Most
    of my pictures are either outside or under regular, normal indoor lighting.
    I also do pictures for a lot of church functions (Christmas program,
    vacation bible school, etc.). I dislike using the flash; it's usually too
    disruptive, and it's either too far to be useful, or it ends up making the
    picture too washed out. By taking a lot of pictures (and working with the
    manual settings), I can usually get enough useful images with
    post-processing touch up, but I'd still like to get better results up front.

    One camera I'm looking into is the new Panasonic FZ10. Based on the specs
    it looks pretty good; 4MP, 12x optical zoom, image stabilization, f2.8
    apeture at full zoom. It's also just within my price range. However, the
    couple of reviews I've seen and comments here and there mention the dreaded
    "low light" issues.

    Given my intended uses, should the "low light" capability be an issue for

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Mike O.
    Mike O., Jan 3, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  2. Mike O.

    LauraK Guest

    One camera I'm looking into is the new Panasonic FZ10. Based on the specs
    Yes. Indoors without Flash is low light unless you've got TV quality lighting.
    For what you want to shoot, I'd go with the Oly 5050 that has the f1.8 lens.
    You can shoot the type of indoor shots you want without a flash.
    web design, print design, photography
    LauraK, Jan 3, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. Mike O.

    Hornbill Guest

    Me too. I am interested in this one for quite sometimes now. The other day
    while in Kuala Lumpur. The sales rep said it's not available yet there.
    Anyone have any review about this one? Fierce zoom at 2.8 throughout!!
    Hornbill, Jan 3, 2004
  4. Go look at tests. The zoom is horrible. Gives CA (Chromatic Abberation)
    and color fringing like the $99.99 4 Mpixel cameras do. Works OK
    in the zoomed out state. But f/2.8 is not a fast lens. Remember that
    most digicams wll not really adjust ISO, just amplify the picture AND

    For low light get the EOS 300D. You can go to 400 ISO without any
    noticeable noise, and even 1600 ISO is supposedly better than film.
    Yes. Save for something better.
    Povl H. Pedersen, Jan 3, 2004
  5. Yes. Indoors without Flash is low light unless you've got TV quality
    For what you want to shoot, I'd go with the Oly 5050 that has the f1.8 lens.
    You can shoot the type of indoor shots you want without a flash.
    web design, print design, photography

    The Oly 5050 does have a brighter lens than the Panasonic FZ10 but I
    wouldn't say that it's a good low light camera. It has trouble with
    shutter lag in low light and ISO 200 is where the image starts going
    bad. If it's anything like my Oly 4040, the higher ISO settings don't
    even work in hot weather.

    Getting a good low light camera will be tough. The Canon 300D and 10D
    probably have the highest usable ISO range but adding a bright lens can
    drive the cost way out of range of a casual photographer. Check several
    review sites. Low light photography is a common digicam problem so all
    the good sites test it.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Jan 3, 2004
  6. Mike O.

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Nah, the camera bodies cost enough that adding a 50/1.8 is barely
    noticable in the cost. Even a 50/1.4 isn't that big a deal. The 50/1.0
    is expensive though.
    Paul Rubin, Jan 3, 2004
  7. Mike O.

    Steve B Guest

    I've had similar thoughts about upgrading my 3yr old Casio QV3000.
    One way of getting very good indoor photos is using a bounce flash. I even
    cobbled up one with my QV3000 using a slave trigger and it is fiddly but gives
    impressive results (I've got an old Nissin 360TW flash from my SLR days) .

    One reasonably cheap upgrade path that I'm thinking about is buying a Kodak
    DX6490 which has very good low light focusing abilities and using an ordinary
    auto flash like my 360TW on a bracket connected via the PC sync socket. This
    camera is designed to work with any non dedicated flash with or without using
    the camera's flash. Or possibly the Olympus C-750 which would be a bit more
    convenient as it has a hot shoe, but the low light focusing isn't as good as the
    Kodak. The Oly can also use a non dedicated flash in manual mode it seems. A
    modern suitable flash is the Vivitar 283 I believe. You'll get a lot more reach
    than with the camera's flash.
    Steve B, Jan 3, 2004
  8. Mike O.

    gr Guest

    ?!? I've certainly never heard that one before! FWIW, my C5050 works just
    fine at ISO400 in hot weather... the same as it does in every other kind of
    weather. Hot pixels don't even visibly show up at ISO400 until the exposure
    is a few seconds long, and that's WAY lower light than your typical "low
    light" conditions. (Pixel mapping and noise reduction features can get rid
    of any hot pixel noise anyway.)

    Yes, ISO400 is noisy (fine-grained noise). But it certainly works if
    shooting at a lower ISO setting isn't an option.
    gr, Jan 3, 2004
  9. Mike O.

    JK Guest

    The F1.8 on the C5050 is only on the widest angle lens setting. At telephoto,
    it is f2.6. The C5050 also only goes up to ISO 400. For very low light
    photograpgy, a Digital Rebel has an ISO 1600 mode(the 10D has an
    ISO 3200 mode). With a 50mm f1.8(or if you can spend more, a 50mm
    f1.4 lens), you can take photos in very low light without a flash or tripod.
    JK, Jan 3, 2004
  10. Yes, ISO400 is noisy (fine-grained noise). But it certainly works if
    Better a little noise than a slight blur?
    David J Taylor, Jan 3, 2004
  11. The Oly 2000, 3030, and 4040 are all extremely temperature sensitive.
    Above an ambient temperature of about 90F, they all suffer from
    crippling noise in low light. The heat from using the LCD makes the
    problem much worse. The 4040 is the most heat sensitive. Above 90F it
    shows 2 sec @ ISO 200 as the correct exposure for total darkness.
    Switching to ISO 400 makes the LCD preview look like a distant TV

    It all depends on where you live. It's hot here in the summer.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Jan 3, 2004
  12. Don't expect f/2.8 to look good at 12x zoom. Ultra-zoom compact lenses
    are very sensitive to optical defects. You can see the problem at:

    The good news is that ultra-zoom compact lenses usually look good at
    wider angles.
    Kevin McMurtrie, Jan 3, 2004
  13. Mike O.

    LauraK Guest

    The Oly 2000, 3030, and 4040 are all extremely temperature sensitive.
    I've shot in 110F weather -- humid, too -- with the 2000 and the 3030 and never
    had a problem with them.
    In fact, I've spent whole summers covering racing with those two cameras and
    shot in nothing but 90F+ weather.
    Only time I had a problem with noise was with the 2000 in very low light late
    night shots.
    web design, print design, photography
    LauraK, Jan 3, 2004
  14. Mike O.

    gr Guest

    Weird. I've never heard of that problem before. Is this something unique to
    those models of digicam? It sounds more like a general issue with CCDs. Like
    I said, I've never run into anything like that before, although perhaps I
    haven't used it at nighttime temps above 90F. I'll have to try that
    experiment next summer, perhaps in an overheated dark garage during the
    daytime when the temperature can go well above 100F with the sun beating
    down on the metal doors.

    Does using the noise reduction feature not solve the problem?
    gr, Jan 3, 2004
  15. Mike O.

    Azzz1588 Guest


    I've noticed this problem with my C 4040Z, and there is really not
    much one can do about it. The good news, dont use the LCD, shoot
    in cold weather, and it's not as much of a problem.

    Do your expirement, and you will see that the 4040Z shows a lot of
    noise at ISO 400, and anything over 4 second exposure at night.
    Keep the camera on for a while, and shoot again, the noise
    will be much worse. Keep the LCD off, and it will get considerably better.
    Again, in the cold, it has far less noise.

    Just leave the LCD on for a while sometime, and feel how warm
    it gets... See the noise in ISO 400 shots.
    Than try without the LCD on, and see the difference.

    The flip side, is the x0x0 series of Oly's does indeed focus well in
    low light, the 4040Z beats the Nikon 5700 hands down in low light
    focusing ability, and quite a few other cameras as well.

    "Only a Gentleman can insult me, and a true Gentleman never will..."
    Azzz1588, Jan 4, 2004
  16. Sounds like you need a more powerful flash for the distance shots.
    I have a camera that is similar to the FZ10 (Olympus C-2100UZ, 10x zoom, f/2.8
    lens at wide angle though it goes up to f/3.5 for full zoom, ISO 400, image
    stabalization). I mostly use flash for low light situations, but I was taking
    pictures of a group at our church and switched over to available light, and
    even at ISO 400, I had to drop down to 1/5 - 1/10 second to be able to take the
    picture (and taking pictures when the people were paused). So if you want to
    take available light photos under those situations (dark church with minimal
    lights at night), I would recomend something with a faster lens, faster ISO, or
    preferably both. However, that is probably out of your price range. The
    Minolta A1 can go up to ISO800, but that still is likely to not be fast enough.
    The Sony 717 has a f/2.4 lens which is 1/3 f/stop faster, but again that won't
    help much. The Canon 300D can go to ISO1600, but the cheap lenses (other than
    the f/1.8 50mm lens) are slower, so you don't get any advantage to the ISO1600.
    During Sunday services when sunlight is coming in, I can usually shoot ISO 400
    at 1/30, which is acceptable.
    Michael Meissner, Jan 4, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.