Good digital camera for low light conditions

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by pakrat, Nov 23, 2004.

  1. pakrat

    pakrat Guest

    I'm looking for ideas on a digital camera suitable for flashless photography
    in low light conditions such as concerts, horse shows, and forests.

    I'm looking for compact, but I haven't seen any point 'n shoot or ZLR
    cameras that are very good with low light.

    Any ideas would be appreciated.
    pakrat, Nov 23, 2004
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  2. wrote in
    Any of the big pixel DSLRs. Pentax *ist Ds is about the cheapest of those
    which go up to ISO3200 and its also the smallest and lightest but if you
    don't need ISO3200, then the EOS 300D is the cheapest and most widely
    available. D70, 10D, *ist D are the next price rung up with the EOS 20D,
    Dynax 7D perched on top of that. I assume, since you're mentionning pro-
    sumer gear such as P&S and ZLR that you can't afford an EOS 1D Mark II,
    which is certainly the class leader. The smaller pixel DSLRs - both of
    Olympus's, any of Sigma's - aren't as good at low light work. Having got
    one, then a 50mm f1.4 lens is your next port of call with an 85mm f1.4 lens
    close behind (vying with a 70-200 f2.8, I expect).

    Sophie Wilson, Nov 23, 2004
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  3. pakrat

    YAG-ART Guest

    Canon EOS 1DMark2 comes to mind
    YAG-ART, Nov 23, 2004
  4. pakrat

    pakrat Guest

    Outside of my price range.

    Of the ideas mentioned by Sophie, the EOS 300D most closely matches what
    I can afford on the short term. The Pentax *ist DS and Canon EOS 20D
    would have me waiting until the next generation of DSLRs is out.

    So, of those does anyone have experience with them with dim lighting
    conditions and something as fast as a horse at a trot? Or taking
    photos of wildlife at dusk?
    pakrat, Nov 23, 2004
  5. wrote in
    Well, yes. And I think you'd find it a smidgen heavy, too...
    *ist DS is as cheap as the 300D in the UK. And my friend Emma's 20D
    should have been delivered yesterday (I'm taking the lack of email as
    positive confirmation that she's spending every waking minute with
    I could ask my dad - he's got a 300D. My experience with the *ist D (the
    *ist DS's bigger brother) is that it is literally incredible (spooky!)
    what it can do in dim light - with the right lens. You should get similar
    performance from the 300D up to ISO1600, but if you're desperate for
    speed, it doesn't have ISO3200 which the *ist DS does. You can buy image
    stabilised lenses for the Canon, but clearly those have no shutter speed
    advantage and aren't going to help with a moving horse: you will need the
    fastest lenses you can get instead. A 50 at f1.4 or f1.2 and an 85 at
    f1.4 are available and you will get results as good as can be got. If you
    have difficulty framing the shot, then a 70-200 f2.8 is about the best
    option I can think of! (If you want a tripod, then get one upon which you
    can mount a Manfrotto grip head - 222 or 322.)

    Traditionally, at this point, I'm supposed to point you to pictures of a
    horse shot with an f1.4 lens in low light. But I don't do horses in low
    light - I can point you to a wedding in low light instead!


    (Yes, I know - it seems like everyone has a DSLR. I live in a strange
    world in that I even know someone else with a Pentax *ist D (i.e. not via
    the internet), but appearances to the contrary, not everyone has one yet.
    But for low light, they're probably obligatory.)
    Sophie Wilson, Nov 23, 2004
  6. pakrat

    Ken Ellis Guest

    I have just answered these questions for myself recently. My answer
    included a canon d20. Since that's not an option; my 2nd choice was
    the 300d - cost less and has alot of the same features. You will need
    to have a full pocket to buy len's for whatever you get. The lens,
    imo,is at least as salient (probably more so ) in terms of dictacting
    what you will and won't be able to do. You will spend more for a
    good telephoto, than you will for the rebel (which btw you can
    get a firmware hack to open some of the functionality i'm told).

    And do you wan't wide angle shots? The glass is more important
    it seems than the particular "flavor" of dslr ...all things being
    remotely equal.

    I had a sony f707..and it was pretty nice for what it was. So is the
    newer f717 or 828...Very nice point and shoot. They will do what you
    want i imagine ..though to a limited degree. But..what they are - is
    all they ever will be. You want an SLR..because of the INTERCHANGEABLE that's where the action is. --so find out what you can
    afford vis - lens..and what you "will" be able to afford - vis lenses
    and accessories, and then look over your shoulder at what cam
    is keeping up with you. I chose the 20d because there was alot
    of fine points i could use now...and down the road. Either that or
    maybe a used 10d..(fine cam i'm told). Also the Nikon d70 has just
    been proclaimed by some as cam of the year. That's a slightly
    different ball of eels. If my memory serves me can get
    a little better deal on some nikor lens's...dunnoh though 'cause went
    for a canon.

    You need to put an entire package together for yourself and have some
    vision of where you're headed and have a little patience to complete
    your ensemble.

    I hope this answer is not too philosophical and lacking in actual
    lens ref's like some of the other fine answers you gotten.

    Good Luck and Enjoy.

    Ken Ellis, Nov 24, 2004
  7. pakrat

    Lionel Guest

    Kibo informs me that stated that:
    Neither of those are a practical proposition with low-priced DSLRs. You
    *might* be able to get usable images with a high end DSLR (such as the
    Canon 1DmkII), equipped with F1.2 or 1.4 prime lenses.
    Lionel, Nov 26, 2004
  8. pakrat

    MarkH Guest

    wrote in
    Canon 20D, Canon 70-200 f2.8L (preferably the IS model), Canon 580EX
    speedlite for when it doesn't need to be flashless.

    Unfortunately the cost is high for the good lenses (dearer than the

    On a budget there is the Canon 300D and the 50 f1.8 and the 85 f1.8. You
    do need to pay attention to the max lens aperture, a lens with f5.6 is not
    going to do so well in low light. F5.6 requires a shutter speed 4x as long
    as f2.8 and over 8 times as long as f1.8.
    MarkH, Nov 27, 2004
  9. Maybe it's not just the camera. If you need to use a long focal length the
    bigger investment needed is a low F-stop lens.

    Michael Schnell, Nov 27, 2004
  10. pakrat

    fortknight Guest

    You need Very Fast Lenses and really good sensors for low light

    You will either need to invest several thousand dollars for lens and
    body, or save a thousand and start with film and very fast lenses.

    But point and shoot lenses of any type just do not put enough light on
    the sensor to do well in low light.
    fortknight, Dec 18, 2004
  11. pakrat

    JC Dill Guest

    For low-light horse show conditions, you need A) fast shutter
    response, B) a relatively noise free high ISO, C) fast shutter speed
    and D) fast glass.

    You aren't going to find all of that in a low cost PnS or ZLR camera.

    (top posting fixed)

    I'm using the 300 D and a 70-200 IS f2.8 to shoot horses, and it does
    very well in low light, until I have to crank the ISO above 400 at
    which point the images are pretty noisy. I'm itching to get a 20D as
    I believe that the improved image quality at the higher ISOs will be
    just the ticket.
    The PoS built-in camera in my Treo 600 does amazingly well in low
    light, for what it is, but you aren't going to be able to use it to
    take photos of horses at a horse show. :)

    JC Dill, Dec 18, 2004
  12. I think you'll be very pleased with the 20D. At 1600 its noise level is
    tolerable. I have yet to crank it up to 3200. Now, the lens you have is
    one I am thinking about...
    John McWilliams, Dec 18, 2004
  13. pakrat

    RichA Guest

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