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Old Sep 28, 2008, 12:41 PM   #1
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Right now, I have an Olympus Stylus 800 (got it in 2005, I think) for my pocket camera. It has some sort of low light mode that basically just kills the resolution and cranks up the ISO. The results, obviously, are not too great, leaving me with pictures that look like this:

http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~jchendy/lowlight.jpg

So in the last three years, have there been any ultracompact cameras released that through some combination of bigger aperture, optical image stabilization, and better high ISO performance will give me significantly better results? Playing with some newer cameras in stores makes me think so, but of course viewing the images on the camera screen is completely different than looking at them full size on a computer.
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Old Sep 29, 2008, 8:06 AM   #2
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You can consider Fuji F100.
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Old Sep 29, 2008, 8:29 AM   #3
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I don't think you'll be able to do much (if any) better than that with another ultracompact camera model.

That photo was taken at f/4.7, 1/20 second and ISO 1000. You're seeing blur from subject movement because your shutter speeds are very slow.

Set it to ISO 1600 in that lighting and you'll get a bit faster shutter speeds (each time you double the ISO speed, the camera will use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture).

Also, don't zoom in as much. Move closer instead. Your lens loses light as you zoom in more. It's f/2.8 on it's wider end. But, drops off as you zoom in more. You'll see that same trait with lenses on other subcompact cameras. You would have gotten shutter speeds more than twice as fast if you had not zoomed in any (that was near the longer end of the lens at f/4.7).

Your camera's built in noise reduction and downsizing algorithms seem to do a pretty good job from what I can see of the detail in our sample images at higher ISO speed.. I doubt you'd get much better images from another compact camera at the same viewing size at the same ISO speeds.

If you want to do much better, you'll need a dSLR with a brighter prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) lens. You'll want lenses with f/2 or wider available apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers). For example, a 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.7, or 50mm f/1.8

You'd get shutter speeds twice as fast with the same ISO speed shooting at f/2 with one of these lenses, compared to what you'd get without zooming in any with your camera (since f/2 is twice as bright as f/2.8, and f/2.8 is the brightest your lens gets).

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Old Sep 29, 2008, 9:12 AM   #4
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P.S.

Shoot in P mode instead of full Auto, set your White Balance to Tungsten (Incandescent) in that lighting, and watch out for overexposed subjects in lights, using a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation for a darker exposure. You'll probably need ISO 1600 in most similar stage lighting.

Don't zoom in as much (move closer instead) for faster shutter speeds (P mode will use the widest available aperture for the amount of zoom you're using in low light without a flash). Since the lens is brighter on the wider end of zooms you find on a subcompact camera model, you'll get faster shutter speeds that way.

If you still can't get the results you need, move to a dSLR with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) lens on it. For example, one of the entry level Canon dSLR models coupled with a 50mm f/1.8, or a Sony A200 coupled with a used Minolta 50mm f/1.7 or new Sony 50mm f/1.4, or a Pentax K200D coupled with a Pentax 50mm f/1.4. Or, go with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or 50mm f/1.4 instead.


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Old Sep 29, 2008, 11:25 AM   #5
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Thanks Jim for the two very thorough replies!

JimC wrote:
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If you still can't get the results you need, move to a dSLR with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom) lens on it. For example, one of the entry level Canon dSLR models coupled with a 50mm f/1.8
I already have one of those. I was just hoping that some miracle had happened in the ultra compact range because SLRs are often inconvenient to carry around and tend not to be allowed in places like concerts.

The example I posted was taken in the "anti shake" (not sure if that's the official name) mode. I hadn't checked the details before, but it's interesting that it only uses ISO 1000 when the camera goes up to 1600. I'll play around with the settings in program mode to see if I can come up with anything better. What I really don't like about the anti shake mode is the way that it cuts the resolution so drastically (an 8MP camera being used at 3MP) and the huge amount of noise introduced by the high ISO.

You don't think it's possible that, for example, one of the newer Canons with optical stabilization and the Digic 4 processor or the "dual image stabilization" in the new Olympus cameras would improve things significantly?


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Old Sep 29, 2008, 12:35 PM   #6
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I really don't think you'd do significantly better with another compact camera after downsizing to 3MP (if any better at all), when comparing images at a similar viewing size.

The main problems with that image are shutter speed (too slow to prevent motion blur), white balance (you had it set to Auto versus Tungsten, which produced a warm cast in that lighting). and Exposure (after correcting your white balance settings, you'll probably need to use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation to get the subjects under the lights properly exposed, since the dark areas of the frame fool the metering).

Then, don't zoom in as much for even faster shutter speeds after setting your ISO speed to 800 or 1600, depending on lighting.

You'd have the same issues with another subcompact model, as Auto White balance tends to leave something to be desired in artificial lighting with most, with metering systems leaning towards overexposure with stage lighting due to most of the stage being darker, with lenses losing a lot of light as you zoom in more on pocketable size cameras.

For much better results, you'll need a larger camera (with a dSLR wearing a bright prime being your best choice for those conditions).

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Old Nov 21, 2008, 3:24 PM   #7
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I just ran a low light trial with my Fuji F45fd. Messing about with the various Scene selections and other controls. Linky -

http://fujif45fd.needsabeach.com/F45...ht/HTML_Index/

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Old Nov 21, 2008, 7:43 PM   #8
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Following Kelly's advice, I made a few low light shots with my f40fd. Here is the comparison at original resolution but cropped and passed through PaintShop Pro's auto contrast (normal) for a better comparison. I agree with him that PARTY and PORTRAIT are two of the best low light settings

Anour


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