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Author Topic: Cameras for low light event shooting without flash  (Read 2734 times)
jfirneno
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« on: December 05, 2012, 09:06:29 AM »
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So I imagine there is a good cross-section of folks doing this type of photography for a living.  What current cameras can produce clean ISO 3200-6400 for commercial use (event photographers especially).

Thanks,
John
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 11:59:01 AM »
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The Nikon D4 and Canon EOS 1D X are excellent up to ISO 10,000 and then need only a little NR fine tuning in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw to be really good up to ISO 25,600. If you aren't enlarging above 8x12 you might not even need any noise reduction.
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Ellis Vener
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k bennett
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 12:44:01 PM »
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I just had a 1Dx from Canon for a week. It's the finest Canon body I have ever used. Shooting at 6400 provides excellent quality, and 12,800 is still very, very good. Focusing is superb, too. They've made enough little tweaks to everything that the camera stands head and shoulders above my 1D Mark IV's. It was really hard to box it up and send it back to CPS....

If you don't feel like spending $7000 on a camera, then 5D Mark III has similar high-ISO image quality at less than $3K. Heck, my 5D Mark II does pretty darn well at 3200 and at 6400 is no slouch. I don't feel any qualms about shooting 6400 with either the Mark II or the 1D Mark IV when the need arises.

All that said, you may be able to get a lot more bang for the buck with a faster lens. What are you shooting with now, and what sort of events are you trying to cover?
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jfirneno
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 01:44:17 PM »
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Ken:
Specifically I was shooting a wedding party taking place in a Manhattan restaurant that I would describe as dimly lit.  In order to avoid motion blur (especially for the younger guests) I found myself shooting at 3200 and 6400 ISO.  I was using fast lenses (1.4 and 1.8 lenses) but it was too dark to dial down the ISO.  I was using a Sony A-850 (which I actually like a lot) and at about 3200 ISO it begins to get very grainy.  With some LR work the files were useable but I'd love to have another stop (or 2?) to work with.

Regards,
John
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Petrus
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 01:58:54 PM »
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If you are not shooting sporting events, Nikon D800 and D600 (?) might also be worth considering. I am using Nikon D4 and it is terrific, as is Fujifilm X-Pro1, but that would not be my first choice for fast paced situations.
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k bennett
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 02:54:59 PM »
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Wow, yeah, at some point you run up against the laws of physics and it's just too dark to shoot....but I totally understand.

Doesn't Sony have a new full frame camera out? I haven't seen any real tests, but that might be a place to start.
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MatthewCromer
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 04:27:51 PM »
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The Alpha 99 does a great job at higher ISOs.
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stever
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 05:13:47 PM »
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i recently used my 5D3 in the Madagascar rainforest and in the late afternoon in Namibia with a lot of shots at ISO 3200 - 640. With a small amount of luminance NR and attention to color balance in LR4 i've made satisfactory prints up to 17x25.  both the 5D3 and LR4 are improvements from the previous versions
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 06:41:33 PM »
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It seems he was not 100% happy about the D4 AF to start with, but for what it is worth:

http://mortenhilmer.com/2012/photo-gear/working-with-d4-and-eos-1dx-autofocus-in-very-low-light/

This may be a bit specific applications though.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 07:38:41 PM »
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The older Nikon D3s also does a bang up job at ISO 6400.
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Ellis Vener
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jfirneno
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 07:55:19 PM »
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Ellis:
I, in fact, had heard that and have been weighing the pros and cons of the D3S vs the D800 if the A-99 didn't pan out.  But I figured I'd be better off hearing what people actually were having success with rather than weighing a million camera reviews.  Also sometimes an unconsidered factor can make a seemingly good camera unworkable for a specific task.  For instance, if high ISO capability doesn't also include good low light AF the result isn't perfect.  But someone who has tried a few of these cameras may have a very informed opinion.

Regards,
John
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RobbieV
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 09:25:52 PM »
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Just a question for one to ponder: would the EVF in the Sony make it easier to compose and shoot in dimly lit situations since the EVF adjusts itself according to your shot settings?
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Hans van Driest
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 07:28:05 AM »
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The EVF indeed shows more detail in dim lit situations. What I especially notice, is how much better I can see color with the EVF when the light goes down.
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k bennett
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 10:10:49 AM »
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I agree about the EVF. In very low light (candlelight), I can't see much through the viewfinder on my Canons, but my Panny GH2 shows the scene. It's very grainy in the EVF, but it shows up.
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KevinA
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 11:52:26 AM »
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So I imagine there is a good cross-section of folks doing this type of photography for a living.  What current cameras can produce clean ISO 3200-6400 for commercial use (event photographers especially).

Thanks,
John
1D X for me as I have a number of L lenses, I suspect the D4 is good if you have Nikon lenses.
My last night shoots 8000iso if I remember correctly about 1/2 hour after sunset http://kevinallen.photodeck.com/-/galleries/night-flights

Kevin.
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jfirneno
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« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 07:39:54 AM »
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Folks:
Thanks for all your responses.  I've read that Canon's 1DX and 5D3 and Nikon's D4, D3S, D800 (and maybe D600) are viable options.  I've seen some things posted on the Sony A-99 (and that would allow me to use my existing gear).  I guess I'll just have to try some of these cameras out and see what suits me best.

Best regards,
John
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petermfiore
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2012, 03:26:05 PM »
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I use a Panasonic Gx-1 with 20mm f/1.7 in the lowest of light with success. The optional EVF lights up the world for easy viewing.



Peter
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2012, 04:17:21 PM »
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"I guess I'll just have to try some of these cameras out and see what suits me best."

Exactly.
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Ellis Vener
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kirktuck
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« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2012, 08:38:57 PM »
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I took delivery of an a99 a week ago and have shot several jobs including a theatrical dress rehearsal. I stuck at 3200 ISO and the noise was very well controlled. I'll second the people who've said that the EVF ramps up the apparent illumination and makes composing easier. I'm shooting four days of a corporate conference this week here in Austin and intend to use the a99 and as little flash as possible. The camera handles very well and focuses quickly in lower light, although that is a bit lens dependent. I'm using a few primes but the lens that's on the camera the most for working an event will probably be a middle focal length f2.8 zoom.

For those moments of "no light" I have ordered (hopefully to be delivered tomorrow....) the new HVL F60 flash. Fingers crossed on that one as the flash control on the a77 has been rightly critiqued.

Try an a99 before you jump systems. And kudos to Sony for maintaining the same battery in the line of prosumer and professional cameras.
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jfirneno
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2012, 07:35:39 AM »
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I took delivery of an a99 a week ago and have shot several jobs including a theatrical dress rehearsal. I stuck at 3200 ISO and the noise was very well controlled.  Try an a99 before you jump systems. And kudos to Sony for maintaining the same battery in the line of prosumer and professional cameras.

Kirk:
Thanks for the information.  As a Sony shooter I'd like to ask you two questions:

1)  Comparing the A900/A850 to the A99, how many stops of improvement would you say there are in low light high ISO shooting?  I found that with the A850, for available light, ISO 1600 was good.  3200 was usable with some NR and 6400 was a different kind of file.  Basically a high grain image that could be attractive depending on the composition but not a sharp photo.  Could you equate the ISO levels on the A99 for these three noise levels?

2)  How would you rate the low-light auto-focus vs. the A900/A850?

Regards,
John
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