The Top Camera for Low Light in 2018
While most cameras today can take impressive pictures in normal lighting conditions, if you want to produce sharp images in challenging shooting environments, then you need the best low light camera that you can find. Photography is about capturing the moment and, unfortunately, many of those moments are going to happen when there’s very little light. To capture the moment, and as much light as possible, owning a camera with great lower lighting capabilities is essential. If you’re just beginning your photography journey, or looking for a cheaper option, head over to our review on the top digital cameras under 200 dollars.
Table of Contents
- What is the Best Camera for Low Light Photography?
- What is Low Light Photography?
- Mirrorless vs DSLR
- Best ISO Camera Settings for low Light?
- How to Take Low Light Photos?
- What is the Best Aperture for low Light?
Many people tend to dismiss this performance factor when purchasing new cameras, favoring things like megapixels, zooms, and Wi-Fi connectivity. But while all of those factors are clearly vital, if your product doesnt shoot high-quality photos in dim lighting, youre going to be missing out on a ton of amazing photographic opportunities. Photos of weddings, concert, landscapes, nature scenes, sporting events, and countless other events will come out rough and grainy, if they come out at all.
To capture these amazing moments, you need a product that excels in these difficult shooting conditions. High ISO ranges, large sensor sizes, and exceptional stabilization are essential in these situations. But with so many cameras on the market today, choosing the best low-light model can be incredibly frustrating. Looking for a camera for youtube? Read the guide here.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the 10 best low-light cameras that are on the market today. We’ll judge these cameras based on their build, design, price, and most importantly, their performance. After reading through our article, we’re confident that you’ll be able to decide which camera is best for you.
Are you an aspiring YouTuber? Head over to our review on the best camera for vlogging – flip screen included! If you don’t necessarily need a flip screen you can check out our overall favourite video blogging cameras here.
What is the Best Camera for Low Light Photography?
|Picture||Low Light Cameras||Shutter Speed||Optical Sensor Resolution||ISO Sensitivity|
|Nikon D750 FX-format 1549||30 - 1/4000||24.3 Megapixels||Auto, 100-12800, Expandable to 51200|
|Nikon D5 FX-format 1557||30 - 1/8000||20.8 Megapixels||Auto, 100-102400, Expandable to 3280000|
|Sony Alpha a6300||30 - 1/4000||24.2 Megapixels||Auto, 100-25600, Expandable to 51200|
|Canon EOS 80D Kit||30 - 1/8000||24.2 Megapixels||Auto/Manual, 100 - 12800, Expandable to 25600|
|Panasonic LUMIX GH5 Body||30 - 1/18000||20.3 Megapixels||Auto, 200-25600, Expandable to 25600|
|Fujifilm X-T2 18-55mm XF Lens||30 - 1/32000||24.3 Megapixels||Auto, 200-12800, Expandable to 51200|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||30 - 1/8000||30.4 Megapixels||Auto, 100-32000, Expandable to 102400|
|Sony a7S II ILCE7SM2/B||30 - 1/8000||12.2 Megapixels||Auto, 100-102400, Expandable to 409600|
|Nikon D7500 DX-format||30 - 1/8000||20.9 Megapixels||Auto, 100-51200, Expandable to 1640000|
|Nikon D850 FX-format||30 - 1/8000||45.7 Megapixels||Auto, 64-25600, Expandable to 102400|
1. Nikon D750 FX-format 1549
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The Nikon D750 DSLR is one of the best cameras for low light photography on the market today. As far as full-frame cameras go, it’s rather affordable but still delivers the features and performance that even photography professionals will appreciate. The D750 boasts a large 24.3 megapixel FX CMOS sensor that is great at capturing any available light and the EXPEED 4 image processor allows this camera to perform quickly and smoothly. A 51-point sensor-based autofocus system locks onto subjects in seconds and tracks them no matter how fast they move.
And with a sensitivity of up to -3EV and an ISO range of up to 12,800, the D750 DSLR Camera performs impressively well in low light conditions, producing images with less noise and stunning clarity. The D750 also includes some impressive features such as Auto ISO control. This terrific feature allows for smooth exposure transitions, even while shooting in manual mode. And with ISO invariance, this camera allows you to shoot at a low ISO setting and retain information when pushing the limits on the exposure in post-processing without adding any additional noise.
Why We Like It
- Full-Frame 24.3MP DSLR camera with fast EXPEED 4 image processor
- Full HD video recording at 60/50/30/25/24p
- -3EV sensitivity and ISO up to 12,800
- ISO invariance and Auto ISO control boost image quality in dim lighting
The Nikon D750 is one of the most impressive cameras for capturing high-quality photos in difficult lighting situations. With only 15 cross-type AF sensors, it lacks some of the autofocus ability and some of the performance delivered by more advanced systems found in its more expensive competitors. But the D750 delivers exceptionally clear images in any lighting condition, is easy enough for a beginner to use, and has enough features to keep a professional happy. Overall, it’s one of the best performers in low light and is one of the most impressive cameras on the market today.
2. Nikon D5 FX-format 1557
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If you are looking for a premium camera, the Nikon D5 is the brand’s flagship full-frame DSLR and is one of the most impressive low light cameras ever. With spectacular image quality, an impressive AF system, and the widest native ISO range ever in a Nikon full-frame DSLR camera, the D5 is a true workhorse that you can count on in any low light shooting condition. The D5 offers an impressive 20.8 megapixel FX-Format CMOS sensor and the company’s fastest image processor, the EXPEED 5. Best of all, it features an amazing native ISO range from 100 to 102,400, expandable to 3,280,000.
And with a redesigned AF system that performs in near dark EV -4 and boasts 153 focus points, 99 cross-type sensors, and a dedicated processor, this camera can smoothly track your subject across the entire ISO range while delivering impressive noise reduction and color fidelity. With a fast 12 fps continuous shooting speed and 4K video recording capabilities, this is one DSLR that can tackle practically any situation with ease.
Why We Like It
- 20.8MP image sensor and EXPEED 5 processor
- Widest native ISO range in its class at 100-102,400
- Exceptional AF system offers 153 focal points, 99 cross-type sensors, and performs up to EV -4
- Great image stabilization system and impressive noise reduction, even at high ISO
While the Nikon D5 is expensive, it’s also the best overall low light camera available on the market today. With a maximum ISO up to 3,280,000 and a 20.8 MO sensor, it takes stunningly clear images in practically any lighting condition. The AF system is out of this world and blows away the competition. If you are serious about photography, spend a lot of time shooting in low light conditions, and can afford the $6,500 price tag, this is one of the best options out there for you.
3. Sony Alpha a6300
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Combining performance and affordability, the Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera is one of the industry’s best mirrorless cameras for capturing stunning images in poor lighting conditions. This crop sensor camera delivers high quality still and video recording in a compact, durable body that can easily be taken anywhere. A 24.2 megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor pairs with Sony’s BIONZ X image processor for fast speeds and exceptional image quality. And with an impressive ISO range that can shoot with minimal noise at 25,600 and maxes out at 51,200, you can use this camera in any low light situation.
Backed by the world’s fastest autofocus speed of 0.05 seconds, you can count on the a6300 Mirrorless Camera to lock onto your subject easily and thanks to the processor, shooting at low ISO and pushing your exposures during post-processing delivers a great dynamic range and without introducing additional noise. And with 11 fps continuous shooting, 4K and Full HD video recording, and a weather-sealed magnesium body, this is one of the best cameras in its class.
Why We Like It
- 24.2MP sensor and BIONZ X image processor for speed and high-quality photos
- Impressive ISO performance up to 25,600, expandable to 51,200
- Terrific dynamic range even when pushing exposure in post-processing
- Compact, weather-sealed magnesium body
The Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Camera is one of the best options out there for anyone interested in a compact mirrorless model that offers DSLR-like image quality and performance. It delivers exceptional results in dark lighting conditions while offering a great design and one of the greatest autofocus systems in its class. At only $848, it’s also one of the most affordable cameras featured in our list and shows why Sony is the leader in low light mirrorless cameras.
4. Canon EOS 80D Kit
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The Canon EOS 80D DSLR is one of the best performers in low light conditions on the market today, delivering sharp image quality, the versatility of a DSLR, and impressive features in a mid-range camera model that is perfect for anyone photographer whether they are a beginner or a professional. Built around a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 image processor, the 80D DSLR Camera is fast and delivers true-to-life still image quality. And its autofocus system boasts a 45-point all cross-type mechanism that allows it to quickly and accurately focus on subjects, even in poor lighting conditions.
And since the AF is capable of focusing down to -3 EV, this camera allows you to autofocus even in very dim lighting. Thanks to the EOS 80D sensor’s analog-to-digital converter chip, it is capable of significantly reducing camera noise even at high ISO settings. This is perfect for when you are pushing the exposure of images shot at low ISOs in post-processing, delivering results with a high dynamic range and limited addition of grainy noise. This will allow you to shoot at the lower ISOs that you’re more comfortable with, without having to change your aperture or shutter speeds.
Why We Like It
- 24.2MP CMOS sensor for high-resolution images
- Impressive low light AF system with 45 cross-type sensors
- Wide ISO range of 100-16000 for stills and 100-12800 for videos
- Low noise even at higher ISO limits
The Canon 80D is a powerful mid-range camera that is wonderful in dim lighting. With an impressive ISO range, large 24.2MP CMOS sensor and a great 45-point all cross-type AF system, it’s capable of producing stunning photos and videos in any situation. And at just under $1,300, it’s one of the best performers available in its class.
5. Panasonic LUMIX GH5 Body
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The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 is one of the best low light performers in its class today. As the brand’s flagship Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless camera, this durable, compact powerhouse offers all of the performance and features that any professional would crave while being simple enough for even a beginner to use. With a large 20.3 Micro Four Thirds sensor with no low pass filter and an impressive ISO range of 200 to 12800, this camera can be used in practically any shooting condition, delivering stunning clarity, low noise, and a high dynamic range.
Its ability to shoot cinema-quality 4K video at 60/50p is perfect for any video buff. And with a 5-axis photo/video dual IS system and in-body stabilization, this camera reduces image shake for smoother, more detailed results. Compatible with LUMIX MFT lenses, it’s an incredibly versatile option for any photographer. And thanks to its solid magnesium alloy body, it’s highly portable and can be taken practically anywhere, making it one of the best all-around cameras on the market today.
Why We Like It
- 20.3 MFT sensor for stunning DSLR-like image quality
- Highly versatile model with great auto and manual exposure settings
- ISO range from 200 to 12800 for low noise performance in any lighting condition
- Lightweight but durable magnesium alloy body
The LUMIX GH5 is one of the best cameras available for anyone looking to capture impressive stills and videos in dark lighting conditions. With some of the best low light performance in its class, it will be your go-to camera for years to come. And thanks to its light weight and durable body, you can easily pack this camera up and take it anywhere. At just under $2,000, this is one of the best buys on the market today and is perfect for anyone looking for professional-quality results in any lighting condition.
6. Fujifilm X-T2 18-55mm XF Lens
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Fujifilm makes our list of the best available low light cameras of 2018 with the X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera. Fujifilm is known for offering cameras that render exceptional image quality and bright, vibrant colors, and this powerhouse delivers both in any lighting condition. A large 24.3 megapixel X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor captures as much available light as possible and its X-Processor Pro engine offers lightning fast response times, low noise, true-to-life colors, and faster AF.
And with an ISO range of 200-12800, expandable to 51200, and excellent internal and image stabilization systems, this camera works great in low lighting, producing crisp photos with minimal noise and distortion. For anyone planning on shooting video or still photography outdoors, this camera is one of the best options available. Like all mirrorless cameras, it’s remarkably compact and lightweight. Plus, with 63 points of weather sealing, this camera is dust, moisture, and cold resistant, meaning that you can count on this durable camera to perform well in even the most demanding of situations.
Why We Like It
- Large 24.3 megapixel sensor is great at capturing light
- Fast X-Processor for high quality details, speedy performance, and stunning colors
- 63 points of weather sealing for performance in any weather condition
- ISO range up to 12800 with minimal noise towards higher settings
The Fujifilm X-T2 is one of the most impressive mirrorless cameras on the market today. It’s easy to use but delivers the high resolution and dynamic colors that make this brand so popular with professionals. At $1799, it’s certainly a premium camera but it delivers DSLR-like quality and with its light weight and weather-sealed body, it’s one of the best buys out there and is a camera that you can use anywhere.
7. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
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Canon makes our list of the top low light cameras again with the 5D Mark IV. This mid-range professional DSLR camera delivers exceptional image quality and has one of the best and reliable AF systems on the market today. With a massive 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6+ image processor, this workhorse is remarkably fast and offers unparalleled high-resolution image quality. With the ability to shoot up to 7 fps and 4K video recording capability, it’s the perfect camera for any serious photographer.
An ISO range of 100-32000, expandable to 50-102400, allows this DSLR camera to tackle any lighting condition. And the outstanding autofocus system offers a 61-point high-density reticular mechanism with 41 cross-type points and sensitivity down to EV -3 and even EV -4 with a quicker lens and the camera set to Live View. This means that you can lock onto a subject in even the darkest shooting situations.
Why We Like It
- Large 30.4 megapixel full-frame sensor for optimum light capture and resolution
- Lightning fast DIGIC 6+ image processor
- Solid ISO range capable of shooting up to 32000 with expansion to 102400
- Amazing AF system with sensitivity to EV -3 in AF-S mode
With unsurpassed autofocus capabilities in poor lighting conditions and an impressive ISO range, the 5D Mark IV is one of the best cameras on our list. This is a serious camera that is great for semi-pros and professionals looking for a more affordable alternative to the higher priced top-of-the-line pro cameras that are on the market. With crystal clear images, vibrant colors, and a terrific stabilization system, this is one of the best cameras featured in our list.
8. Sony a7S II ILCE7SM2/B
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With exceptional performance in dim lighting situations, a massive sensor, and incredible image quality, the Sony Alpha a7S II is one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras to ever hit the market. With an amazing 12.2 megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor and the BIONZ X image processor, not only is the a7S II remarkably fast, but it also offers a terrific signal-to-noise ratio and is capable of collecting as much light as possible for impressive performance in poor lighting conditions. And for truly amazing low light performance, the a7S II boasts an astoundingly high ISO of 409600.
While you will likely never need to use your camera at such high levels, it’s great to know that this camera delivers clean, low noise images at up to 6400 ISO, a point where many of its competing cameras start losing picture quality. An upgraded autofocus system offers 169 AF points for highly accurate and fast focusing and, thanks to the low signal-to-noise ratio produced by the a7S II sensor, the AF system can perform exceptionally well down to EV -4. Add in 5-axis image stabilization that provides 4.5 stops of shake compensation and this camera is capable of amazingly detailed stills and videos in even the darkest of shooting conditions.
Why We Like It
- 12.2 megapixel full-frame sensor for high-resolution images even in poor lighting
- Impressive 5-axis image stabilization for reduced camera shake and distortion
- Phenomenal ISO range up to 409600
- Fast and accurate AF system boasts 169 points and sensitivity down to EV -4
The Sony a7S II isn’t just one of the best cameras for working in poor lighting, it’s one of the best mirrorless cameras, period. With an unheard of ISO range, lightning fast AF, large image sensor, and impressive image stabilization systems, it’s one of the best cameras for any photographer interested in producing professional-grade stills and videos in any lighting situation.
9. Nikon D7500 DX-format
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One of the best of the low light cameras in its class, the Nikon D7500 is a fantastic cropped sensor DSLR camera which offers terrific image quality, accurate color rendition, fast continuous performance, and an impressive native ISO range, making it one of the best purchases for anyone looking for a high-resolution low-light powerhouse at just over $1500. The D7500 offers a 20.9 megapixel DX-format image sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor similar to the more expensive D500, allowing it to produce high-quality images and videos at an impressive native ISO range of 100-51200.
While you might sacrifice some quality at the higher end of the spectrum, the D7500 DSLR Camera offers impressive detail and no visible sign of noise up to around 1500, which is better than many full-frame cameras on the market. For added versatility in poor lighting, this camera also offers a great AF system with 52 focal points and 15 cross-type sensors for faster detection in poor lighting. An impressive stabilization system ensures that your shots have minimal noise and, thanks to its Monocoque design and weather-sealed body, the D7500 is durable and moisture and dust resistant.
Why We Like It
- Affordable entry-level DSLR with fantastic low light performance
- Large 20.9 megapixel DX-format image sensor
- Fast AF system with 51 points and 15 cross-type sensors
- ISO range of 100-51200
The Nikon D7500 is one of the best cameras out there for any photo enthusiast who is looking for an affordable DSLR camera. It works remarkably well in poor lighting and delivers clean, crisp photos with a high dynamic range. The fact that it’s a DSLR camera means that beginners can enjoy a very efficient automatic shooting mode while more seasoned photographers can adjust their exposure settings to perfectly capture any scene. It’s a camera that you can certainly grow with while being capable of producing professional-grade stills and videos right from the start. And at only around $1500, it’s one of the best buys on the market today.
10. Nikon D850 FX-format
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One of the best full-frame DSLR cameras on the market today, the Nikon D850 is also one of the most impressive low light cameras ever made. Delivering high sensitivity, lightning fast speed, incredible detail, and some truly amazing features, it’s a premium camera designed for serious photography enthusiasts and professionals. Nikon built this camera with a jaw-dropping 45.7 megapixel back-side illuminated FX-format full-frame CMOS sensor with a no optical low-pass filter. This allows it to deliver exceptional image quality, unrivaled light gathering efficiency, and true-to-life colors.
And backed with the EXPEED 5 image processor, the D850 processes data faster than ever before for less noise, a wide dynamic range, sharp textural details, 4K video recording, and continuous shooting at 9 fps. An incredible autofocus system offers an unrivaled 153 focal points, 99 cross-type sensors, and a dedicated processor for accurate and rapid tracking as low as EV -4. And with a native ISO range of 64-25600, expandable to 32-102400, this camera is a powerhouse capable of stunning photography in the darkest shooting environments.
Why We Like It
- Massive 45.7 megapixel back-side illuminated full-frame CMOS sensor
- Lightning fast EXPEED 5 image processor
- ISO range of 64-25600, expandable to 32-102400
- Amazing AF system with sensitivity down to EV -4
The Nikon D850 DSLR Camera is a serious workhorse with some of the best specs on the market. This allows it to deliver exceptional image and video quality in almost any lighting condition. A huge sensor and powerful processor allow it to gather as much light as possible and deliver true-to-life colors and sharp details. Its AF is fast, powerful, and smooth, allowing it to stay locked on any subject, even in virtual darkness. At $4000, it’s one of the most expensive cameras featured in our list but, if you can afford it, it’s simply one of the best options on the market.
Buyers Guide Questions
What is Low Light Photography?
Photography is about capturing moments with stunning detail, true-to-life colors, and amazing artistic flair. But unfortunately, not every moment is going to happen in optimal light. Besides that, sometimes the most stunning visuals can occur in dark scenes. Low-light photography is the practice of capturing photos of the moments that happen in these less than ideal lighting conditions. If you don’t think you’re ever going to have the need to take photos in poor lighting, think again.
There are countless situations where this will be called for including taking photos in your home, at sporting events, in theaters, at your child’s recital, or capturing an amazing nighttime landscape or street scene. Luckily, with a little work, a camera with the right specs, and a little experience, producing great photos in low-light conditions is actually pretty easy.
Cameras that perform well in dark environments offer wide ISO ranges, solid image stabilization, aperture settings that capture the maximum amount of light possible, large image sensors, and powerful processors which enables fast and accurate autofocusing.
Mirrorless vs DSLR
Before mirrorless cameras entered the marketplace back in 2009, the undisputed champion of photography was the DSLR. And for a few years, this continued to be the case. But as mirrorless cameras have evolved and improved thanks to innovations in photographic technology, they’ve grown into true rivals to the DSLR. While mirrorless options and DSLRs both have incredibly enthusiastic supporters, the best way to decide which model is right for you is to look at the similarities and differences between these two styles of products.
DSLR means digital single-lens reflex. These cameras are a digital version of the older film SLR format and use a digital imaging sensor to take images. When light comes in through the lens, it bounces off of a mirror in the device’s body into the viewfinder. Once the user hits the shutter button, the mirror is flipped, revealing the digital sensor that takes in the light and produces the photograph. Mirrorless cameras don’t have the built-in mirror that DSLRs have. DSLRs are a lot heavier, so some people tend to have DSLR Shoulder rigs (click for guide).
This means that there isn’t a way for the image to be previewed through the viewfinder naturally. Though many models now send a miniature version of what is shown on the device’s LCD screen to an electronic viewfinder as a work-around to this limitation. The benefit of this simplistic design is that, with less complicated internal components, mirrorless cameras can be lighter, more compact, and far more portable than bulkier DSLRs.
While this might seem like a step back in technology, it’s actually quite an advancement. Film cameras have utilized the flipping mirror for years and DSLRs basically adopted this mechanism into a digital format. Modern advances in technology have allowed cameras to now capture images without the flipping of the mirror and this feature has been built into various photographic devices.
In fact, even smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras are versions of mirrorless camera. For budget point-and-shoot cameras click here. With an understanding of how these two operate differently, let’s take a look at how they compare when it comes to some of the most important specs and features.
Size and Weight
One of the biggest selling points for mirrorless models is that they are significantly lighter and more portable than DSLRs. This is because a DSLR has more components including the mirror, a pentaprism, and a secondary autofocus mirror. This is a major advantage if you find yourself taking photos on the go. One thing to keep in mind though is that if you purchase a mirrorless device that offers interchangeable lenses, most mirrorless lenses weigh about the same as DSLR ones.
This can lead to a little imbalance since the body is relatively light while the lens in rather heavy. Since DSLRs are heavier, they tend to feel more balanced even with a heavy lens attached. Still, if having a lightweight, compact device is a priority, a mirrorless model is a great purchase.
If having the largest possible selection of lenses at your disposal is important, DSLRs are the perfect model for you. Since they’ve been on the market longer, there’s simply a wider assortment of options available. This doesn’t mean that there are no lenses available for mirrorless cameras. There is still a decent amount of quality glassware on the market. And as mirrorless models continue to advance and gain a foothold on the market, manufacturers are offering more and more lenses that are compatible with these devices. There are many different lens sizes available such as 50mm lenses and so on.
Plus, mirrorless models offering Micro Four Thirds technology such as some amazing models made by Panasonic and Olympus have a wide-assortment of lenses already available. And if you are insistent on using DSLR lenses, there are adapters on the market which allow them to be mounted to a mirrorless device, though this can have a negative effect on things like zooming quality and autofocusing. Weighing both models out, with a larger collection of lenses already available, the DSLR takes a slight edge in this category.
Image and Video Quality
Both mirrorless and DSLR models can produce amazing still images. And since sensor size is a critical factor when it comes to image quality, this is especially when looking at the impressive full-frame sensor models that are on the market in both classes. While other factors like AF, low-light capability, stability, and resolution also play a role in image quality, neither style of camera has an edge here since these specs are fairly similar when looking at comparable models in each class.
Taking photos with a DSLR or mirrorless model with the same size sensor, whether APS-C, full-frame, or Micro Four Thirds, will yield results that are almost identical, giving neither format a leg up in this category. But as far as video quality is concerned, mirrorless models tend to have the advantage over their DSLR rivals. This is because only DSLRs on the higher end of the market tend to be capable of recording at stunning 4K levels.
Compare this to many affordable mirrorless models, which offers 4K recording at a fraction of the price, and it’s clear that mirrorless options are the better choice for videographers unless they are willing to invest in a rather expensive, professional-grade DSLR.
When mirrorless models didn’t offer electronic viewfinders, the DSLR clearly had the advantage. But since many mirrorless devices now offer these electronic viewfinders, which format is better is now a matter of personal preference. Since DSLR cameras reflect the light and image from the mirror to the viewfinder, users get an accurate view of what they are shooting. Whatever your device is pointing at will be shown precisely in your viewfinder.
Since mirrorless models create this image electronically, they actually offer an added benefit to users. Exposure adjustments such as changes to ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are taken into account when you look at your shot through an electronic viewfinder. This offers users a true “what you see is what you get” style of shooting.
Autofocus and Low Light Shooting
Only a few years ago, the DSLR was the clear victor in these two categories. But as advancements have been made in mirrorless models, there are some truly impressive options out there. The Sony A6300, for example, now offers the world’s fastest autofocus speed at 0.05 seconds. And models like Sony’s a7S, is a true low-light powerhouse with a staggering ISO range and the capability of producing amazing clear images in virtual darkness.
Depending on the models you are looking at, comparable models in each format will deliver around the same results, making this category a draw. The only time that there is a clear winner is if you intend to be taking plenty of fast-paced shots, such as those required for wildlife or sport photography. In that case, DSLRs tend to be more capable of locking onto fast-moving subjects, giving them the advantage.
For a lot of people, it can come down to price. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, the DSLR is the perfect option for you. Mid and entry-level DSLRs are fairly affordable and offer impressive specs, great performance, and countless useful features. Meanwhile, if you are looking for a similarly-priced, affordable mirrorless model, you will likely have to sacrifice something in terms of resolution, lack of an electronic viewfinder, or battery life.
This discrepancy really only presents itself in the entry and mid-level models though. Once you wander into the professional-grade, more expensive models, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will cost you roughly the same amount of money and both formats will deliver impressive performance and power.
While both mirrorless and DSLR models can deliver truly stunning image quality and performance, deciding which format is better comes down to a personal preference. DSLRs offer more lens options and a performance edge in the entry to mid-level categories compared similarly-priced mirrorless models.
But mirrorless cameras are significantly more compact and portable, offer faster continuous shooting speeds, and provide superior video quality, even in lower-priced models. While both are fantastic options for photographers of any level, which you prefer ultimately comes down to which features are most important to you.
Best ISO Camera Settings for low Light?
One of the most important settings that you need to adjust when taking photographs in poor lighting is your camera’s ISO. But since most cameras now allow this setting to be adjusted manually and with some models offering staggering native ISO ranges, choosing the optimum setting can be tough. Especially since, as you progress up the ISO spectrum, you’ll tend to introduce effects like noise or blur into your work, which will drag down the quality of your image.
So let’s take a look at how to find the right ISO setting for your needs. When shooting in dark conditions that require high ISO performance, you’ll often have to compromise a bit on image quality. This is because as you crank up the ISO, you are bringing your device further away from its optimum performance settings. This means that when shooting at the upper end of the ISO range, you’re going to have to choose between one of two exposure issues: noise or blur.
The reason for this choice is that you basically have two options when shooting in dim lighting. The first option is to use a lower ISO but with a lower shutter speed that allows as much light to reach the sensor as possible. The problem here is that images tend to come out with a blurry effect. The other choice is to operate at a higher ISO and a faster shutter speed. The problem here is that this means you will likely introduce some digital noise or graininess into your images.
While this can be a tough decision, the recommendation is usually to work at the higher ISO range since a slight amount of noise is almost always favorable to a blurry image that loses detail and sharpness. Unless you are want a blur in your photo due to an artistic preference, a small amount of noise is far more preferable to any photography. And since, unlike blur which can’t ever be fixed, noise can often be edited post-processing by using tools like Photoshop, risking a bit of noise is usually the safest bet.
Most professionals recommend shooting at an ISO range between 1600 to 3200, while ranges up to 6400 can still come out remarkably clear with a solid low-light performer. At these ISO settings, the camera is sensitive enough to capture great image quality in most dark conditions while introducing a minimal amount of noise that can usually be edited out in post. The reason for this range instead of a specific number is because every setting is different and places different demands on your device.
The smartest advice is to test your camera at these different ISO levels and see what the results are. Working in a set environment with poor lighting, take a still image at 1600 and gradually work your way up the spectrum, increasing a step or so each time. Then compare your results. By being able to judge what each setting will render in different lighting settings, you’ll be able to quickly adjust your ISO setting to a number that will produce the most impressive results.
How to Take Low Light Photos?
When you’re shooting in a dim location, you have 2 options. You can either physically create more light or you can adjust the settings of your device so that it reacts differently to whatever lighting is available. Let’s take a look at how to optimize your camera to deliver impressive results in low-light situations. When it comes to adjusting the exposure of your camera, you basically have three settings that you can change: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Aperture is simply the hole through which light passes to your device’s lens. The wider you make the aperture, the more that the available light can come in. Aperture is measured in f-numbers. The only trick here is that aperture numbers are actually in reverse. This means that the lower the f-number, the wider the aperture. While adjusting the aperture is normally the first step you’d take in taking photos in poor lighting, it’s normally not too useful if you’re using a standard kit lens.
This is because most of these pieces of glass will only have a maximum aperture of about f/3.5 and that isn’t large enough to do the job. For a well-exposed low-light photo, you should purchase a lens that offers a maximum aperture of around f/1.8. While it will produce a more shallow depth of field, it is capable of letting in 4 times the light that a lens set at f/3.5 will.
Shutter speed is the next step to take to control your exposure when taking photos in poor lighting. Basically, the slower your shutter speed, the more light can enter. While this sounds like the perfect solution, if you aren’t shooting with a tripod, you can’t adjust your shutter speed too low because you will end up with blurry images. The general guideline is that, for sharp images without blur, you can set a full-frame model to a fraction of the focal length of the lens.
This means that for a 30mm lens, you can adjust your speed down to 1/30 of a second. Crop sensor cameras are better suited to speeds around 1/45 of a second. This will prevent blur from occurring on occasions when you don’t have a moving subject.
ISO is the final step that you can take to perfect your exposure to lighting conditions that are less than ideal. The only thing to keep in mind is that, as you raise the ISO, more digital noise will be introduced into your image. This means that, for most cameras, capturing photos at very high ISO can render stills with very poor image quality.
But if you’ve adjusted your shutter speed and aperture and still can’t capture the quality of photo that you’re looking for, your next move will be to raise your ISO. ISO works by stops. This means that when you double your ISO, you are doubling the amount of lighting that your camera can detect.
In order to avoid excessive noise in your images, the suggestion is to only raise your ISO to around 1600 or 3200, though in some situations a value up to 6400 can still achieve impressive results.
By combining these 3 techniques you can capture truly impressive photos even in the lowest lighting conditions. Simply adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to values that are more receptive to light and experiment with the different settings until you are comfortable with how your device performs.
What is the Best Aperture for low Light?
If you’re shooting in a dim setting, you need your camera’s lens opening to be wide enough to allow as much light as possible into your device. Photographers use the word aperture to refer to the size of this opening. Cameras measure aperture in a value called an f-stop. Some of the most common values are f/8, f/11, and f/16. The only tricky thing to remember is that the larger the number of the f-stop, the smaller the aperture or opening. So, an f-stop of f/3 is much larger than an aperture of f/11.
In poor lighting, you want to set your device to low f-stop numbers which will allow as much lighting as possible to enter your camera. An f-stop of f/4 is adequate but if you plan on spending a considerable amount of time taking photographs in dimly-lit areas, you might want to invest in a lens that has a wide maximum aperture that can go somewhere around f/2 to f/1.4. You don’t want to go much wider than this when adjusting your aperture. Instead, you’ll use this adjustment in conjunction with adjustments to your shutter speed and ISO.
This is because increasing the aperture does present some disadvantages. The wider the lens opening, the smaller the area of focus, or depth of field, will be in your photo. If you only have one subject in your shot, a low depth of field is fine since your sole subject will be in focus while everything else will be out of focus.
But if you have several subjects in your image that are scattered at different points or distances in your frame, you’ll have to choose which objects are held in focus and which ones are blurred. Because of this, it’s not advised to go much wider than an aperture in the suggested range, with a solid starting point for test shots being around f/1.8.
Our choice for best pick on the market today is the Nikon D750 DSLR Camera. It’s rare to find a solid full-frame model for just under $2000, but this powerful camera isn’t just relatively affordable, it also offers the specs and features that you want in a low-light model.
Its large 24.3 full-frame CMOS sensor is perfect for capturing as much natural lighting as possible and renders truly beautiful still images and videos. And the EXPEED 4 image processor allows it to perform remarkably quickly while reducing noise and offering an impressive ISO range of up to 12,800.
With an impressively fast and accurate AF system that offers 51 focal points, it’s great at quickly finding your subject and staying locked on target. And with ISO sensitivity to EV -3 and a reliable Auto ISO control feature, this is one of the best full-frame DSLR cameras available.
If you’re on the market for a truly premium camera that is capable of delivering unrivalled performance in dim light conditions (For the study on up and coming advances in low-light photography click here), the Nikon D5 DSLR is the perfect camera for you. If you’ve read through this article then you’ve probably noticed that Nikon has had quite a few cameras featured on our list. And the D5 is the brand’s flagship full-frame DSLR powerhouse. With a full-frame 20.8 megapixel CMOS sensor and the amazingly fast and powerful EXPEED 5 image processor.
This model offers true-to-life colors rendering, unparalleled image quality, and an outstanding native ISO range of 100-102400, which can be expanded to 3,280,000. This best-in-class native ISO range is enhanced by the D5’s outstanding autofocus system which boasts 153 focus points, 99 cross-type sensors, and sensitivity down to EV -4, allowing it to swiftly lock onto subjects in even the darkest shooting environments.
And with a great image stabilization system, a fast continuous shooting speed of 12 fps, and cinema-quality 4K video recording capability, this DSLR is the ideal camera for both die-hard enthusiasts and professional photographers. At around $6,000, it’s one of the most expensive cameras on the market but it’s also the only camera you’ll need for any shooting situation.
If you want to capture sharp images and videos in even the lowest light but are also interested in getting a great value, the Sony Alpha a6300 is one of best cameras out there. Compact, powerful, and perfect for capturing vibrant photos in dark conditions, this mirrorless crop sensor dynamo is one of the best values in its class. With a 24.2 megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and the BIONZ X image processor.
The a6300 offers exceptional image quality and faster processing times than many of its similarly-priced competitors. And with an ISO range that can max out at 51,200 with minimal noise up to 25,600, it is great in any light condition. Add in the world’s fastest autofocus speed at 0.05 seconds, the ability to shoot up to 11 fps of continuous shooting, and stunning 4K video recording capability and this is an incredibly powerful and versatile device.
And thanks to its weather-sealed magnesium body, it’s not only lightweight but can be used in any weather condition. At under $850, the a6300 is a great value for anyone looking for an affordable model that doesn’t force you to sacrifice performance.
As the holidays are approaching, the time has come for the christmas lights! We all love taking pictures of the beautiful lights at christmas, this study will help you get the best out of your camera for this.