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Old Aug 29, 2006, 8:46 AM   #1
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How do you equate/approximate Digital camera features versus 35mm ones.

For instance, if there's a place I would use 1600 speed film, what equivalent in a digital camera would I then look for?

Any help appreciated.

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Old Aug 29, 2006, 9:37 AM   #2
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I am not clear as to what you are asking.

ISO is ISO wether camera is film or digital, shouldn't matter. If you shoot with 1600 film, you use same setting for digital.
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Old Aug 29, 2006, 10:13 AM   #3
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Here's the camera I have:


I see where it's essentially a 100/200 speed camera.

I see that in the product specs.

I guess though, my question would be more towards one that I asked yesterday which no one has responded to.

How can you judge how a camera will perform in low-light situations? I see where one that I like (Canon 30D) will approximate ISO 1600 (and 3200 with some attachment), but will these digitals function with or without a flash in low light I guess is my question.

I am assuming I'll get good pictures of "normal" shots that are well-lit, but I am more concerned with how well my next camera (I haven't settled on one yet). The pictures here:


were taken on Friday with my 35mm camera w/ 800 speed film. The 18-23 file is typical of virtually 2 rolls of film, the others are the exceptions. Good, but not great pictures. I'm wanting a digital camera that'll give me great pictures in low light - without a flash - and still give me really good pictures in "normal" shots.

Any recommendations for a good low-light camera?

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Old Aug 29, 2006, 11:13 AM   #4
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Consumer film has a larger exposure latitude and film developers use that in their developing. They boost low light shots and are able to get more out of ASA800 film than you can get with ISO 800 in a digital.

You can bring a digital shot up in a good image editor, but the latitude isn't really there and you will find a lot of noise.

It is almost impossible to capture movement in limited light without a flash using any camera. You might do a little better than your 18-23 shot at high ISO with a 30D if you get a really fast prime lens. But you could do that with your film camera just as effectively.

One thing a good digital will give you is a good burst. You have a much better chance of hitting a moment of null movement. And with a large memory card you can have a lot of chances at a good shot without having to pay a fortune for developing. That is the only advantage I can think of with digital for what you are trying to do.

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Old Aug 29, 2006, 11:34 AM   #5
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First, as already indicated by bobbyz, digital cameras have the ability to set ISO which has the same affect as selecting different film speeds. Since you're looking at ISOs between 800-1600 I'm going to suggest you stick with DSLRs - there really is no comparison between digicams and DSLRs (even though some digicams are making excellent strides in this area they still fall far short of the digicams).

Now, ISO, aperture and shutter speed work the same way in digital as they did in film. ISO 800, 1/250, f2.8 in film will give you the same exposure in digital. The same rules apply - doubling the ISO from 800 to 1600 will double the shutter speed from 1/250 to 1/500.

The good news is: the end result of high ISO digital photos is much better than the results achieved from high speed film.

Now, there are certain DSLR cameras that have excellent results at high ISO - Canon 30d, 20d, 350d and Nikon D50 all have very good noise levels at 1600 and excellent at ISO 800. Take an ISO 800 or 1600 image THAT IS PROPERLY EXPOSED from any of the above and run it through noise reduction software (Noiseware, Neatimage, Noise Ninja) and you get excellent results.

But, as with film, you still need fast lenses to take low light shots. Which means you still need f2.0 or f1.8 lenses if you are going to do a lot of low light shots w/o flash that have subject movement. Same as with film. And, in fact, a properly exposed ISO 3200 on the 20D/30D still produces an acceptable image when run through noise reduction software - the key to all this being you still need to properly expose. If your image is underexposed the resulting noise will ruin the image no matter what camera you use.

I do a lot of sports photography so I'm using ISO 400-3200 a lot. I use the Canon 20D by the way:

Here's a sample of an ISO 800 image from a recent vacation:

I've got loads of examples of ISO 800, 1600 and even 3200 shots that demonstrate the Canon 20D can deliver at high ISO. But, my web hosting site appears to be having some serious issues and is taking way to long to get through so let me know if you want more examples and I'll try to post them later.

I'm quite confident from seeing work from other photogs I respect that the other cameras above also deliver the goods at high ISO (although the 20d/30d are the only cameras on the list that give you ISO 3200). Unfortunately the larger sony chips (used by Sony Alpha, Nikon D200) produce more noise than the smaller chips used in these cameras. It's the price the market pays for the megapixel war. it will be interesting to see how the new Nikon D80 and new Canon XTi perform at high ISO - so far no camera above 8.2mp has done well at high ISO.

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