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Sensor size/pixel area or lens speed/f-number? Already have a compact camera that is fine for landscape and macro photography while traveling. It is no good for indoor or night time shots. Smallest interchangeable lens cameras are Panasonic GF2 with a 20mm (40mm equivalent) F1.7 pancake lens available and the Sony NEX-5 with a 16mm (24mm equivalent) F2.8 pancake. Both have faster lenses available for low light shots but are too big to fit in a large pocket. Panasonic has a four-thirds size sensor, the Sony has a much larger APS-C size sensor. Which would be the more effective setup for getting my friends on film at night?
3 Answers to “Which is more important for hand-held low light photography?”
Neither. It\’s stability and sensitivity.
Stability means a tripod, beanbag or something similair which helps you to avoid camera shake. Sensitivity means high ISO numbers and low noise at these higher ISO settings.
It may be unpleasant, but a lot of megapixels will not help you in low light conditions. If you have two (e.g.) APS-C sensors one with 18 megapixels and one with 10 megapixels, each pixel on the 10 mp sensor will have a bigger surface and because of that it will catch almost twice as much photons as one of the 18 mp sensor.
Imagine buckets with lets say 8 measurement lines. In the 18mp setup we have 4 0.5l buckets. They get 6, 3, 5 and 3 lines of photons. For the same scene in the 10mp setup we have 2 1l buckets and they get 4(.5) and 4 lines of photons. Because they are wider, not deeper. Anyway – the variations is much lower. And that means less variation and that means a lower noise.
Fast glass can help, but if your scene demands f/8 because you need that depth of field, it doesn\’t matter if your lens is an f/1.2 or an f/4.
So for night photography I would go for big (full-frame) sensors. And you can believe me, for me as a pasionated Canon-Shooter it is really hard to say, that I would go for the Nikon D3 or D3s.
Megapixels aren\’t going to be a huge help here (unless you have to do some serious cropping). The second I get into a low-light situation, I switch to my fixed 50mm F/1.8 and crank up the ISO! If your shot demands a larger depth of field (group photo) consider some kind of external flash or a tripod for these specific shots.
For night photography, I like to shoot in shutter speed priority and dictate the ISO. This prevents the camera from thinking it needs a 2-3 second exposure when you WANT a more realistic view of how you are seeing things (a dark street at night w/ maybe a stop light or two). For these shots, I also use my speedy 50mm, handheld!
For night landscapes consider a speedy wide angle lens– and a tripod is always fun to play with! Good luck–
Source Link: The Forgotten Lens
If you are not interested in flash photography (some cameras like the Canon G12) have a hotshoe that enable you to create better low light images by using an off camera flash or even a directly attached speedlight angled towards a wall or other object to create a large softbox effect via bounce lighting. Outside, you often can’t bounce objects, but you could certainly use a lightstand with a remote or wired connection to your speedlight to create more directional lighting.
OK, so no flash, then I think your best option is to get the camera that has the best low lighting reviews. I’d look for two-to-three reviews before making a decision. Aside from ISO and noise capabilities, some cameras also focus more easily than others in low light situations and that is important to keep in mind as well.
I am big on RAW capabilities and in my own experiences with low light RAW file support is a must. Of course, I shoot professionally in low light settings, and I need a level of control in post production that some people simply don’t need.
I don’t know the cameras you are reviewing but having this feature and the software to post process raw files is something to seriously consider, if you have the time, interest and budget–oh and card capacity . Many photographers shoot jpg and if you aren’t comfortable or likely to use RAW, then that’s a different story.
The next factor to consider is low light shooting techniques as mentioned above. Basically, you want to stay as still as possible and hopefully you subject can do the same, while you capture your image. There are several books that talk about the idea methods for capturing images in low light situations.
Whenever you can lock your body and limbs down to become a kind of immovable object, your pictures improve tenfold. Like hunters, too, a good photographer will often employ breathing techniques which help control the motion that comes with the natural cadence of breathing.
Like the other post suggests, however, a tripod is probably the very best assistant in getting sharp images in any situation, but certainly most of all in low light situations. If you can’t use a tripod, or a monopod, then get creative about how you position yourself. Brace your body in a doorway or against a wall. Another great trick is to actually firmly press your camera against a sold immovable object, like a tree trunk for example. Without an anchor or at the very least, proper body positioning, the image will invariably end up blurry.
In dark situations I always reach for the fastest glass I have with focal length as the only other factor balancing my decision. Typically 2.8 or below is my choice, though 1.8, 1.4 and 1.2 are far, far brighter. Faster lenses do present their own challenges as mentioned above as well. It can be hard to ensure your subject doesn’t advance or retreat outside your depth of field. Without proper holding techniques a photographer can make matters worse regarding shallow DOF.
I did a Google search to come up with these books on low light shooting techniques and I think this in conjunction with camera reviews will give anyone who is interested in low light photography a better edge:
Source Link: Low Light Photography
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