What does it really mean: “No good for low light”

kyteflyer

~@¿@~
Location
Newcastle, Australia
Real Name
Sue
I was in the midst of a discussion in another forum, and as usual, someone weighed in with “oh that camera is just no good in low light”. so my question is this: when you make that claim, how low are you talking about? Seriously... who wants to shoot in the dead dark... because that is the only low light I find difficult to manage, regardless of camera.

Anyone want to weigh in, not just with discussion but also with examples of impossible low light...
 
A perceived notion that one will use the gear under circumstances where one would not use any gear anyhow? I live at a place where the daylight through the winter months are sun up at around 0800 and down at about 1500ish, it is hard, but not impossible to work in the evenings under those circumstanses, as long as one talks outside shooting. The photo in this post is taken handheld with the GX8 at 1600 ISO and at around 1800 hours, it is cropped somewhat. The rims of the shot is probably a somewhat decent representation of what "the dark" would look like. Not much to be had there. And the GX8 is a somewhat old camera now, with first generation full IBIS, M43 camera. Its not technically perfect by any means but it is one of the reasons I somewhat snigger at the M43 deniers.

The second one is the same camera, handheld and with 14-42 kit lens, not the sharpest tool in the lens line-up. taken early in October after rain. It was just to see if it was possible. The worst thing about it, is that I like it somewhat, in all its spectacular faultiness. It somehow reminds me of when pushing 400 ASA films to 3200ASA was a thing and its results...
dark.jpg
Dark001.jpg
 
ving browsed them side by side And since I first had it up, a round through Topaz Denoice and sharpen.
Dark002.jpg


Having browsed them side by side, I think I actually may like the grubby one best. :O
 
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tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
I was in the midst of a discussion in another forum, and as usual, someone weighed in with “oh that camera is just no good in low light”. so my question is this: when you make that claim, how low are you talking about? Seriously... who wants to shoot in the dead dark... because that is the only low light I find difficult to manage, regardless of camera.

Anyone want to weigh in, not just with discussion but also with examples of impossible low light...
It sounds like something they read on the Internet and are spouting as some sort of talking point, the same way people like to throw out terms like micro-contrast and pincushion distortion. I often wonder if they even know what they're saying. It doesn't help that many reviews talk about those things. There's no doubt that some cameras can handle wide disparities in DR better than others. I've been guilty myself of trying to wring the last bit of IQ from images, but I quite like this one from October of 2016, taken with my X30. I was in deep shadow at the bottom of a 1,000 foot deep canyon, looking out into a much brighter sunlit forest. I think the little camera did admirably well.

DSCF4370.jpg
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
SW Virginia
Real Name
Steve
I was in the midst of a discussion in another forum, and as usual, someone weighed in with “oh that camera is just no good in low light”. so my question is this: when you make that claim, how low are you talking about? Seriously... who wants to shoot in the dead dark... because that is the only low light I find difficult to manage, regardless of camera.

Anyone want to weigh in, not just with discussion but also with examples of impossible low light...
But if you don’t shoot in dead dark you’ll never get the ghost pictures 👻
I always seem to find myself in dubious light, shooting at 1600 or higher. I used to love high speed film like Fuji 800 or even 1600. Of course, I think nothing of pulling out the X30 or even the Q at such times. There’s a look to a low light image that appeals to me. The newest Fuji X bodies do well in low light, and of course the A7Riii is very good. By “does well in low light” I mean that the image has low enough noise and high enough DR to look like the low iso images. Still, it’s been fun to pit my noctophilia against small sensors in recent threads. Many times the “problem” with the light gives the look to the image.
 
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kyteflyer

~@¿@~
Location
Newcastle, Australia
Real Name
Sue
But if you don’t shot in dead dark you’ll never get the ghost pictures 👻
I always seem to find myself in dubious light, shooting at 1600 or higher. I used to love high speed film like Fuji 800 or even 1600. Of course, I think nothing of pulling out the X30 or even the Q at such times. There’s a look to a low light image that appeals to me. The newest Fuji X bodies do well in low light, and of course the A7Riii is very good. Still, it’s been fun to pit my noctophilia against small sensors in recent threads.
I prefer not to use higher ISO, I rarely go over 1600, though my one astro effort was at 3200 but that was with a DSLR. I keep meaning to try the same shot with the FZ1000, and the Nikon 1s
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Location
SW Virginia
Real Name
Steve
I prefer not to use higher ISO, I rarely go over 1600, though my one astro effort was at 3200 but that was with a DSLR. I keep meaning to try the same shot with the FZ1000, and the Nikon 1s
I always seem to be at 200 or 4000. I did set the upper limit of Auto ISO to 12800 in both the X-S10 and the A7. Cheap thrill, that.
 

kyteflyer

~@¿@~
Location
Newcastle, Australia
Real Name
Sue
The Nikon j1 and V1 do fine at 400, it was the Nikons that this guy was railing against, mostly..

Here’s one from the J1. I would call it low light, even though it isnt night. Its before dawn tho. The first is not edited at all, the second, a little and the third quite a lot. Either way, I thought the J1 did well under the circumstances. and yeah, I limit ISO too.

Of course, they arent realy printable but that isnt why I do photos anyway. Fine enough for posting online :)

A3A53BC6-B1F4-431B-AFF1-D3D5819A72A4.jpeg


74F9322F-3372-410D-AAF8-BD64296CEF9B.jpeg


96448B55-2749-465F-99ED-93F993A50804.jpeg
 
A lot of people would argue that the Leica M8 is not good for low light. Well stuff 'em.

 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
A camera's low-light capability has two parts:

* how it operates in low light,
* and how are the results (high-ISO).


Both aspects are highly subject to individual taste.

I have shot Leica M for 2+ years now and am too accustomed to the non-dimming optical viewfinder and now every EVF I have tried, fails to refresh fast enough in dark conditions. Of course, can you blame the camera? A fluent refresh rate at 60 Hz would require a shutter speed of 1/100 or 1/120 and that's a tall order with a slow lens, for example a consumer zoom.

For me, choppiness just kills the enjoyment. For someone else, the brightened view to help nail the composition even at the expense of choppy refresh, will be a gamechanger.

AF performance is another place where camera's low-light performance shows big-time.

My Leica M240 wins hugely in low-light operation because its viewfinder never dims much, despite how slow a lens I mount on it, and its AF performance doesn't weaken at all. ;)

M fails in the second category, namely the banding noise that pops up around ISO 6400 (or equivalent) is very jarring indeed. Do I need to shoot at high(er) ISOs? Sadly I think this is something I actually would need. But thanks to operations, the 2012 M still remains my best low-light camera.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Of course it is. But yes, I imagine those who use it might mean night, but most cameras are just fine at night, depending on the subject. Well, thats what I think anyway.
Agreed. The older GR/GRII translated high iso in an amazing and unique way but I believe that was a one off. Aside from that, I don’t really like having to use high iso, however good cameras are at it. There’s no substitute for slow shutter speed and technique, the images will ime just be better. This can be done with any camera. It’s as simple as that.
 

Richard

All-Pro
Location
Marlow, UK
Somewhat off-topic, but my first film camera (the otherwise saintly Olympus Trip 35) would literally give you the finger if it thought there wasn't enough light for a photo. You'd compose a low-light masterpiece (a lovely sunset perhaps), you'd press the shutter release and nothing would happen except a vulgar red plastic finger would poke up from the bottom of the viewfinder frame. "Nope, not gonna do it," was the message from the camera, and that finger made it loud and clear.

-R
 
Bar band shooting and high school indoor sports comes to mind(long distant, foggy memories).
The days of being ISO challenged.
I remember how happy I was with the one stop of improvement between the D200 and D300.
At least AF was pretty good.
The early mirrorless bodies were decent at high ISO but poor at AF.
This is what I’m referring to when I talk about shooting in low light. Bands in bars with crap lighting. Good for those light conditions for me means able to autofocus and get decent images. Which would be be shot at up to 12,800 iso.
 

kyteflyer

~@¿@~
Location
Newcastle, Australia
Real Name
Sue
This is what I’m referring to when I talk about shooting in low light. Bands in bars with crap lighting. Good for those light conditions for me means able to autofocus and get decent images. Which would be be shot at up to 12,800 iso.
Arghhh. As has been said its very much about individual preferences. 12,800 is way way too noisy for my taste (in the cameras I have)
 
This is what I’m referring to when I talk about shooting in low light. Bands in bars with crap lighting. Good for those light conditions for me means able to autofocus and get decent images. Which would be be shot at up to 12,800 iso.

Bands in bars aren't really a good example. I've photographed plenty bands in bars and usually the only well lit parts of said bars are the lights on the stage, lighting the band.

I am reminded of the late, great Francis Wolff, co-owner of the legendary Blue Note jazz record company. Blue Note was famous for its spectacular album covers of its artists, and it was Francis Wolff himself who took those photos, in situ, in bars and in dimly lit recording studios.

 

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