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Old Jun 24, 2009, 1:46 AM   #1
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Default Low light


It seems like this has been answered so many times on this forum, but here goes another one.

1. I am not looking at a dSLR
2. Open to the idea of compact or prosumer (though compact - wife factor - would be a preference)
3. Will never carry a tripod as it is too much to lug on a holiday
4. MAIN - AM LOOKING FOR A CAM WHICH WILL BE BEST FOR NIGHT SHOTS. This is the main criterion. Low light / indoor / night shots. We want to take shots at parties at night without going through 3-4 pages of settings for ISO, exposure, etc.
5. I hate how the flash makes the edges on the subject
6. I want to remain mostly in Auto Mode (wife factor)

What do you guys suggest? Budget US$200-US$650.

I have a Lumix LX1 and I think it sucks in low light. Even normal images are too grainy above ISO 80. Had a Sony 5MP one a couple of years back - had good day shots but was bad indoors and at night. Also, please don't suggest Nikon as I find these fairly complicated to use

I am inclined towards Canon as their picture quality is great mostly. Had a look at SX1 and Digital Ixus (wife preferred Ixus and I went in for SX1 - so the decision is still pending)

Thanks in anticipation

Last edited by amitahuja; Jun 24, 2009 at 2:07 AM.
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Old Jun 24, 2009, 3:52 AM   #2
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You are asking a lot as low light photography needs good high ISO and a bright lens. The only option out there currently is the Panasonic LX3 which has f2.0 when wide and f2.8 at the long end.

If you are looking at the size of the SX1 I would check out the FZ28 from Panasonic as the lens is a bit brighter than the Canon.

I have an SX1 on my lineup and the higher ISO results are not great, but very similar to the FZ28, it is just the brighter lens on the Pana that helps.

The FZ28 also has a brighter onboard flash than the Canon however the Canon can take an external flash which really helps.

All of these cameras will have preset options that will set things up for you and the Pana's have intelligent auto that does quite a good job at guessing what you want to do.

All I will say is don't expect miracles from any of these cameras but if you set them up correctly then you can get good results.

Here are some night shots using the LX3, but you can't just take this sort of shot as the shutter speeds are so long you would have to rest the camera on a wall or something.

LX3 - San Diego at night

Basically there is no camera that would take these sort of shots without having it supported so you have to work within the limitations of light.

Do you have some sample shots that you've not been happy with in the past then we can work out if a different camera will sort it or if it is to do with technique? I wouldn't want you spending hard earned cash if you will still not get the results you desire.
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Old Jun 25, 2009, 1:21 AM   #3
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Here is a link to another thread on compacts for low light -

Looking forDig Cam for low lighting

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Old Jun 26, 2009, 11:16 AM   #4
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Mark hit the nail directly on the head. Low light night photography is difficult, for any number of reasons. Mark linked to my San Diego Night posting, and thank you very much for even thinking that the images were even reasonable. Here is another link to some additional images that I took...

LX3 Night Imagery

For low (available or ambient) light photography you only have a limited number of items under your control.
  • Aperture (f stop) or lens -the lens used and its lowest f stop. For night photography your usually using (for the LX3) f2 if your not zoomed in at all.
  • ISO Speed - I have been using the ISO 80 almost as a default, however going up to ISO 400 (on the LX3) still keeps noise in check. The higher the ISO speed enables you to use a faster shutter speed.
  • Shutter Speed -When you are already using f2 and ISO 400 (to limit noise), the only other thing to do is to suffer a longer shutter speed. And that is where a tripod comes in, so as to limit the movement of the camera.
On both the San Diego and the other postings, I was using up to about 15 second shutter times. Tripods do not have to be large and bulky. Here is one that will work and fit into your pocket weighting just a couple of ounces... and its cheap!


Now I do night landscapes, however your are also speaking about interior shots. These are not as demanding, since you have interior lights. Light is everything in low light photography. Add some light (turn on a lamp in the room), and all of the other variables (aperature, ISO and shutter speed) all re-adjust.

Also, there is another aspect here that you can apply, after taking the image. That is noise reduction programs like noise ninga. They are utilities that you run your image through and it removes quite a lot of the noise in the picture. Here is a link...


They also have a free trial version you can try (plus there are also other utilities that do the same thing)...


... and a discussion on other noise removal utilities...


Overall, you are somewhat limited in low light photography, especially with other than dSLRs. The LX3 is just about the only P&S available that has a high quality fast lens (Leica f2-2.8), a somewhat larger sensor with a lower than normal pixel density, offers lower ISO speeds with an adjustable cap (you can set it to go no higher than say 400), and that offers either fully automatic or manual or somewhere in between controls. I think that the various camera makers are taking note and may be coming out with new models that are similar. Leica offers the DLux 4 - but it is the same camera as the LX3.

Before I forget, in the San Diego posting, there is a image of a clock face, shot at 60mm, f2.8 ISO 640, 1/30 of a second, hand held with image stabilization, that does not have a lot of noise (and a noise reduction program was NOT used on any of these). So it can be done, and the LX3 is really the only tool - camera I know of that has all of these features available together in one single package. You can even do better by not zooming out , thus the aperature would be f2.0.

I might also suggest, getting the trial copy of noise ninga and running your LX1 noisy images through it and taking a look at the results.

So hope that helps....

Last edited by interested_observer; Jun 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM.
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