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Old Feb 14, 2013, 9:18 PM   #1
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Default cheap DSLR lowlight quality? (better than compacts?)

I own the compact cameras Samsung WB210, Jenoptik 4.1 x z3, Canon Ixus 800IS (and many non-zoom cheapos) those all have limited focussing capability and some snow in indoor (incan lamp) lowlight situations when used handheld without flash.

I don't think I will need exchangeable lenses, but it makes sense to me that a big SLR lens is most important for good lowlight behaviour. Otherwise only expensive highend SLR have bigger image sensors, so some people claim that it is mainly that big sensor that improves lowlight image quality. What is true?

- Is the lowlight behaviour of cheap SLR (used eBay price range 100..200EUR) really much better than normal compact cameras?

If they are better, I would likely buy a Canon (due to CHDK support), but I will definitely need one with sufficiently large screen and life preview, which excludes very old models. Had such early (6 or 8 megapixel) models better lowlight (due to bigger sensor)?
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 1:39 AM   #2
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You're trying to isolate one characteristic and say that's the reason for better performance. That's not true. A 5 year old dSLR will perform about as well as todays P&S for about the same price.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 3:35 AM   #3
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All else being equal- and with someone competent behind it- something like an "old" Canon 350D will have the potential for FAR superior low light performance,when compared with ANY point and shoot- and I mean ANY- primarily due to its large sensor.
Of course,much of what the DSLR can achieve depends greatly on the lens attached to it- but with regards high iso noise levels and detail retention- small sensor point and shoots really struggle in comparison. Many P+S's try and get round their inferior high iso performance by equipping them with fast lenses,thus lowering the need for high iso settings. Cameras such as-
Samsung EX-2... f/1.4-2.7
Panasonic LX-7... f/1.4-2.3
Nikon P7700... f/2-4
Canon G15... f/1.8-2.8
High end P+S's are improving with regards low light performance,but I wouldn't be going down that avenue if low light work was a priority- except maybe something like Sony's RX100- which with it's fairly sizable 1" 20mp sensor,delivers pretty impressive low light performance. I'm not sure its current price puts it in the P+S category,but at least it's small enough...!

Of course,much of this depends on your level of expectation- and for my money,acceptable low light results are achievable with smaller sensor,fast lens compacts- and let's not forget- equipping your DSLR with a fast lens AND a wide angle (which most compacts have...) would cost you a pretty penny...!

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Old Feb 15, 2013, 6:48 AM   #4
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New point and shoots, while they have gotten better, still can not shoot past 1000 iso for consistence low light quality. While a 5 year old dslr can sit at 1600iso all day.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 7:21 AM   #5
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According to DxOMark, the new Canon Powershot S110 scores a SNR of 31.8 dB at 100 ISO, while the 10 year old Canon EOS 300D scores a SNR of 33.6 at ISO 200. That's a one stop difference, and the Powershot has a better Dynamic Range.
Plus, the Powershot has a 12MP sensor while the 300D is 6MP, the Powershot is stabilized, and it has a faster lens.

At worst, I'd call it a wash.

That is, unless you want to mount a $700 lens on the 300D.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 7:35 AM   #6
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now compare it to a 5 year old 450D or 500D. Which is not to expensive anymore. Who has the better low light performance in that case.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 8:52 AM   #7
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TCav- could you have picked an older DSLR...? And even then,the "old" 300D is superior overall,with a better colour depth and high iso performance.
The 350D was quite an improvement over the 300D,with a clear advantage in high iso performance over something like the S110- with the SNR of the 350D at iso 1600 almost identical to that of the S110 at iso 400. Also,as shoturtle suggests- the 450D extends the lead some more- with the 500D squeezing out more DR.
That said- I don't read too much into lab tests- as out there in the real world differences really start to show.
Interestingly,however,when you compare the 350D with the 450D in the lab- features aside- the 350D fares extremely well,especially when you consider the inaccurate iso settings of the 450D- which may suggest for a cheap second hand buy,the 350D is the best out there pound for pound...assuming you don't need the extra resolution the 450D offers.
I'm waiting for a "Nikonite" to come in here...

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Old Feb 15, 2013, 9:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIMON40 View Post
TCav- could you have picked an older DSLR...?
Ok, let's step forward a few years. The 8MP 350D (XT) and the 10MP 1000D (XS) still aren't stabilized, still have slower lenses, and still aren't more than a stop or two better with noise, which the Powershot's stabilization and faster lens can more than compensate for.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 9:16 AM   #9
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It is pretty simple to get it stablized and pretty dame cheap to do so. Under 40 bucks on ebay to get a 18-55 IS lens.
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Old Feb 15, 2013, 9:21 AM   #10
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The Powershot is still f/2.0 versus f/3.5 for the 18-55 IS.
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