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Old Oct 21, 2011, 4:24 PM   #1
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Default Low-light / Noise performance test of 4 cameras - !!! lots of images

G'day all

Doing some experimenting [techo description for a bloke mucking-around when the tv is so awful there's nothing better to do] with low-light / noise performance for four cameras that we have in our 'stable' ... those cameras being Panasonic FZ35, FZ100, G2 and a lonely Pentax Kx

The scene chosen was deliberately 'lighting difficult' with the cameras pointed at mirror-backed lights on the back patio [ie-for lens flare responses]

Common camera settings were:-
WB= incandescent / tungsten bulb
Apertures in all cases "A" mode x f8
ISO= 200 + 400 + 800 + 1600 & the 2 SLRs went to ISO=3200 + 6400
Tripod + self-timer set to 2-secs delay
EV set to -1EV to compensate for false metering from the bright lights
The 2 SLRs were set to in-camera NR = OFF

Ex-camera JPG images were opened in U-Lead photo express and an exact pixel image of 1000px wide was taken and pasted into a new canvas of 4050px wide, saved as TIFF format [ULead chosen as I can't get an exact & repeatable 1000px cut in PS Elements]

The TIFF images were then procesed in PS Elements to be sliced to the format you now see & to reduce them to 1200px wide JPGs saved to a file size of ~250kb for posting

Okay -images
Here is the "test bed"


Panny FZ-35, fixed 18x zoom


Panny FZ-100, fixed 24x zoom


Panny G2, panny 14-140 lens


Pentax Kx, sigma 28-300 lens


The 2 SLRs, the Panny G2 and the Pentax both go to ISO-6400, so here's their extended ISO comparisons

Panny G2


Pentax Kx


Several observations here-
While I was looking at 'noise', one thing that grabbed me was the different colours from each camera

Naturally the Pentax images are 'sharper' than the G2 'coz its sensor is twice the area of the G2; however the FZ images, esp the FZ100 images are surprisingly good considering that its sensor is 10% the area of the Pentax

I am still digesting these results and doing further comparisons ~ maybe more will come later
Regards, Phil
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Old Oct 21, 2011, 5:35 PM   #2
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For what it's worth, if I need a sharp photo out of my Canon T2i I need to keep the iso at 400 or better. Shots at iso 800 and 1600 can be usable with noise reduction if we don't crop too much. iso 3200 is strickly out of desparation.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 2:53 PM   #3
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Very impressive results from the K-x- and a pretty decent result(for a bridge)from the FZ100- and bear in mind that the FZ150 is apparently better..!!
The difference in exposure/colour from the Panny' 35 and the 100 is "interesting"...!
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 4:01 PM   #4
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the pns panny really fall off after 800 iso with the sharpness.

But the larger sensor camera live at 800iso allot better.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 4:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iowa_jim View Post
For what it's worth, if I need a sharp photo out of my Canon T2i I need to keep the iso at 400 or better. Shots at iso 800 and 1600 can be usable with noise reduction if we don't crop too much. iso 3200 is strickly out of desparation.

I would say to work on the exposure of your T2i, I get very sharp photos with low noise at 800-1600iso all the time. These were taken with the 60D at 1250iso mostly.

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/wi...bird-pray.html
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 5:26 PM   #6
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It's more of an issue when I print the photos. On-screen, it isn't bad unless I'm pixel-peeping.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 5:43 PM   #7
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I print large allot, as my wife likes to change up posters around the house. Proper exposure really reduce noise.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 7:03 PM   #8
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Interesting... So when I am in a low light situation, do I need to switch to full manual controls? I wonder now if some of my noisier photos were the result of the settings hitting their limits.
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Old Oct 22, 2011, 7:44 PM   #9
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I shoot in Av or M when shooting in low light. In Av, you can EV and manually set iso. But I have seen allot of noise form big sensor dslr, all because they were not exposing correctly. They seem to over expose allot. Which really adds to the noise levels. M really does a nice job in low light to help control the noise when used properly.

The 18mp sensor is very clean at 1600iso when exposed correctly.
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Old Oct 23, 2011, 3:07 PM   #10
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Okay fellas ..... thx for your responses :-)

Several things for each of you -
@iowa - you mention "iso 3200 is strickly out of desparation" ~ maybe, but there are plenty of us 'togs who do lo-light stuff and who, in days past have worked with ISO-3200 film .... are you suggesting that ISO-3200 work is somehow 'flawed' because it shows grain? [not into arguements here - just a rhetorical Q]

and for each of you
BOTH SLRs FAILED THE NOISE TESTS with the in-camera NR set to 'default=ON'

When each SLR was set to its defaults, incl NR='ON', the images at ISO-1600 were just as noisy as the FZ35/FZ100, and at ISOs above 1600, the images were unusable

I would invite each of you to test your own cameras and show us the results - with both in-camera NR='ON' & then NR='OFF'

As to your debate regarding lo-light photography, from experience going back to the mid-60s & film days, lo light work takes many forms, and metering -like at most other times- needs to be done carefully, EV+/- adjustments need to be made intelligently, and whether you use "Aperture" mode or "Shutter" mode or full "Manual" mode varies from subject to subject

Regards, Phil
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