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Old Sep 10, 2012, 10:14 PM   #11
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Hi, thanks so much for all of the responses.

Just to clarify: My real concern here is the image noise at higher ISO, and producing a clear image in the low light. The sound of the shutter isn't really important in comparison.

So, today I went to the birth center to get a feel for how my camera would preform under the lighting there. I brought both my 20mm 2.8 minolta, and my 18-125 3.5-5.6 sigma. Neither seemed to do well. I tried both 1600 and 3200 ISOs, and 1/60 and below, and various apertures.

I of course Do have an external flash, that I could use at some points, but not for photographing the mother in labor. It would not be appropriate to the situation, and so I have to find a way to use the ambient light that is available, and make the best of it.

I guess I am just so frustrated at this point, because I don't know where to go from here. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need a better camera, or lens? Would a lens capable of 1.4 make a big difference? A higher ISO? If I am already having noise issues at 1600 and 3200 and 2.8, will I not have even more issues with that once I increase both of those?

When I read the comparisons between a Sony camera and say a Canon Mark or a Nikon - the sony always seems to score MUCH lower in terms of image quality at higher ISO. Am I asking too much from my 350 - or any Sony for that matter? Or again, am I missing something and I need to make adjustments on my end?
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Old Sep 10, 2012, 11:01 PM   #12
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Default aspect ratio?

I was wondering: Does the aspect ratio have any bearing on the image quality that I am getting? I typically keep my setting on 16:9 as opposed to 3:2.




If I did go with an SLT, would I be able to carry my lenses over?
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 4:17 AM   #13
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I was wondering: Does the aspect ratio have any bearing on the image quality that I am getting? I typically keep my setting on 16:9 as opposed to 3:2.
The native aspect ratio of the image sensor is 3:2. Selecting any other aspect ratio just crops away portions of the image before you even get a chance to see it. I suggest you leave the aspect ratio at the default of 3:2 and worry about cropping later.

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If I did go with an SLT, would I be able to carry my lenses over?
Yes. All Sony, Minolta, and third party A-Mount lenses work fine with the newer bodies. There are some problems with some older ('80s and '90s) Sigma lenses that can no longer be corrected, and some more recent Sigma lenses that can, but all other A-Mount lenses work perfectly.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 5:23 AM   #14
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So, today I went to the birth center to get a feel for how my camera would preform under the lighting there. I brought both my 20mm 2.8 minolta, and my 18-125 3.5-5.6 sigma. Neither seemed to do well. I tried both 1600 and 3200 ISOs, and 1/60 and below, and various apertures.

I guess I am just so frustrated at this point, because I don't know where to go from here. Am I doing something wrong? Do I need a better camera, or lens? Would a lens capable of 1.4 make a big difference? A higher ISO? If I am already having noise issues at 1600 and 3200 and 2.8, will I not have even more issues with that once I increase both of those?
You want to take photos in the dark. That's always going to be tough. You need to take every advantage you can.

Getting larger aperture lenses will help a lot. f/2.8 on your 20/2.8 is probably a good place to start. Your Sigma 18-125/3.5-5.6 probably just won't cut it for what you want to do. If you could narrow down the focal length(s) you want to shoot with, that could help a lot with your lens selection. There are several good lenses that have larger apertures than the Sigma you're using. Depending on the aperture you actually used with your Sigma, an f/2.8 zoom lens would let you use shutter speeds that were up to four times faster. Here are some good choices for some large aperture zooms:And if f/2.8 still won't do it for you, there are also some exellent large aperture primes:An aperture of f/1.4 will allow you to shoot with shutter speeds 16 times faster. (An aperture of f/1.8, about 10 times faster.)

And, of course, you can trade any increase in shutter speed for a decrease in ISO, lessening the noise.

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Originally Posted by blonde n disguise View Post
When I read the comparisons between a Sony camera and say a Canon Mark or a Nikon - the sony always seems to score MUCH lower in terms of image quality at higher ISO. Am I asking too much from my 350 - or any Sony for that matter? Or again, am I missing something and I need to make adjustments on my end?
You should remember that your A350 is a couple of generations behind as far as image quality is concerned. The A350 is still a fine camera, but for what you want to do now, there are better choices.

DxOMark is the only source of objective tests and comparisons for noise and dynamic range. Here's a comparison of your A350 with the current A57 and A77. (Click on the Measurements tab, then the SNR 18% and Dynamic Range links.) Either the A57 or the A77 (and, by extension, the A37 and A65) will give you a 1 to 2 stop advantage in noise and dynamic range over your A350.

And as for comparing Sony's current products to the Canon and Nikon equivalents, this is a DxOMark comparison of the Sony A57 with the Nikon D5100 and the Canon T3i. While the Canon and Nikon models do perform better, the difference is very slight, and in the higher ISOs you'll be needing, there's no difference at all.

Another thing I think you may need to consider is that, during the birthing, there may be a lot of white (or light colored) linen in the scene that wasn't there when you were there doing your dry run yesterday. That may help when the actual time comes to take some shots. The flip side of that is that the complexion of the subjects could also have an effect on your efforts as well.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 7:46 AM   #15
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There are a couple of other aspects that you should probably consider.

You're A350 has a 14MP sensor. The A57 and A37 have a 16MP sensor, and the A77 and A65 have a 24MP sensor. Resolution, all by itself, has the effect of reducing the impact of noise. Noise is random. Even if a 24MP sensor has more noise than the 14MP sensor in your A350 (It does not, btw.) the individual noisy pixels are much smaller, which means that the noise will have less of an impact on image quality. That is, the noisy pixels will be much finer, and so, less noticeable.

Something else I think you should consider is Noise Reduction. To much noise reduction has the effect of washing out detail and texture. I don't think you'll have much of that to deal with (unless the parents bundle up the newborn in finely crocheted blanket), so you could probably get away with a moderate amount of NR.
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Old Sep 11, 2012, 7:56 AM   #16
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BTW, LensRentals has the Sony A77 and A65, the Tamron 17-50/2.8 and 28-75/2.8, the Sony 16-50/2.8 and 50/1.4, and Sigma 24-70/2.8 available for rent.

You can try them all out to see if they'll work for you, before you buy them.
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 11:20 AM   #17
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  • You forgot the new Tamron 24-70 f/2.8!
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Old Sep 12, 2012, 12:46 PM   #18
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I didn't mention it, but I limited the list to lenses under $1,000.
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Old Sep 14, 2012, 9:37 PM   #19
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OK, so this is a lot of good info, more continued thanks. :-)

I have come to the conclusion that my camera will not do well, or at least as well as I would like for it to do. But, I do not want to invest in a new camera body quite yet. I want to explore my options as to which one to go with. I also like to purchase more expensive equipment as long as it will pay for itself pretty quickly. So, I've decided to explore a decent external flash to replace the one I have now, and perhaps a new lens that will improve things enough for the time being.

When I'm deciding on lenses, I want to know if I'm in the birthing room and anywhere from right in front of, to maybe 20 feet away at the VERY maximum at any point, what do I want as far as focal length? Do I go for a zoom lens or a prime? If a prime lens, would I be making things look funny if I went with something like a 28mm? I have noticed that when I used my sigma right up close at 18, and when I have used the 20mm lens, two people have said that their faces "don't really look like that", and "that part of my face really isn't that big". At what point does the focal length distort the image, or does it matter in this circumstance? Etc. Basically, if I go with a prime, I definitely want a 1.8 or optimally, a 1.4. If I go with zoom, am I losing speed or low light capabilities in any way besides them being a 2.8? ... All in all, for this situation, which type of lens is best?

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Old Sep 14, 2012, 9:43 PM   #20
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The other reason that I don't want to upgrade camera bodies is that when I looked into the SLTs - 35, 65 and even the 77, their performance in high ISO was like a fraction of the Canon Mark III. I believe the rating was something like 2275 for the Mark III and 795 for the SLT77. The lower SLTs were even worse. That is a pretty minuscule difference for spending $1500-$2000 on a camera! I'd rather spend my money on the Canon.
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