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better low light performance

dcs85

US
20 posts

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dcs85 Registered since 08th Feb 2012
Sat 27-Apr-13 10:35 AM

I have searched several ways and can’t seem to find an answer to this.
What I am looking for is better low light performance. I currently have a D3100 and have been planning on purchasing a faster long lens like a 300mm f4 and eventually a fast wide angle lens. I have found that pushing the iso to 800 or above on the D3100 usually provides less than satisfactory photos. Rarely do I push it above 400.

I have been told that I am better off putting money into better glass rather than a better body. But with the refurbished D7000 selling in the mid to low $700.00 range I think that may be a better option.
The better high iso performance would be helpful with my current lenses and allow more options down the road with some of the older Nikon lenses that will not autofocus with the D3100.
I am an amateur but trying learn and improve. I enjoy photographing my kids sports, wildlife, and general family stuff.

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nrothschild

US
10916 posts

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#1. "RE: better low light performance" | In response to Reply # 0

nrothschild Neil is an expert in several areas, including camera support Registered since 25th Jul 2004
Sat 27-Apr-13 10:37 AM

Based on Bill Claff's tests and DXO's tests, the D7000 only rates 1/3 to 1/2 stop better high ISO performance than your D3100.

If you went to FX with a D600, for example, you would pick up 2 stops. That is probably out of your budget, especially considering the inevitable lens upgrades, but I add this just to suggest that FX inherently outperforms DX by one stop, all else equal. There are some caveats, though, especially with a lens like the 300/4. If you have to add a TC on FX to get the same reach then there goes that stop .

Camera sensors are approaching ideal performance, which is why it is difficult to get huge gains by upgrading unless you switch to a larger sensor and deal with the related issues of doing so.

There is usually a lens one stop faster (or more) than the one you are using (at a price!) and that is why fast glass is usually recommended.

You already own the 35/1.8, which is the lens I would suggest for low light work. Or the 50/1.8 if that is a better focal length. In DX those are the best bang for the buck lens values.

If you want to pin it down to a cost per stop basis then you have to get very specific about the lenses!

I have to add that user perceptions of the gains had from upgrading cameras often seem to exceed the test stats. And it is only the user's perception that counts! That is harder to discuss though, and I surely cannot, not owning the specific bodies involved.

_________________________________
Neil


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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3571 posts

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#2. "RE: better low light performance" | In response to Reply # 0

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Sat 27-Apr-13 02:39 PM

Yes to all that Neil wrote....
Can you post a typical photo that has too much noise for the conditions, it might be usage. The D3100 is not a noisy camera.
Are you printing large or viewing on a screen, and if on a screen, are you seeing the entire image or zooming in and seeing unacceptable noise? Pixel peeping will ruin confidence for any camera because it is not a reasonable test.
Lower light requires more exposure time, steadier holding/tripod, hire noise reduction settings, higher ISO, wider aperture lenses and patience or any combination of those.
Using an external flash and getting to know how to use it well can make all the difference in the world. Controlling and manipulating light is one of the key elements of good photography.

The next step uo that would give a noticeable increase in low light quality would be the D600 or used D700. The D90, D5200 and D7000 are all good in low light but not the dramatic improvement you believe you need. ISO 400 on a D3100, if well exposed should yield almost noise free images, which is why I suggested posting an example photo.

Stan
St Petersburg Russia

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dcs85

US
20 posts

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#3. "RE: better low light performance" | In response to Reply # 0

dcs85 Registered since 08th Feb 2012
Sat 27-Apr-13 08:52 PM | edited Sun 28-Apr-13 09:46 AM by dcs85

Thank you both for your responses. My issues start at iso 800 not 400. I could not find a good example so I took a photo of some bananas at 200 and 800 and uploaded them. I see your point. While the photo at 200 is better the higher iso is still fairly good which verifies the comments you both made. I think I am getting poor results because I am pushing several things to the limit and all of them are contributing to poor quality. The D7000 would undoubtedly help but i guess it is only one piece of the puzzle.

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Chris Platt

Newburg, US
481 posts

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#4. "RE: better low light performance" | In response to Reply # 0

Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012
Sat 27-Apr-13 10:18 PM

By "less than satisfactory performance" do you mean excessive noise? If so you might also consider purchasing one of the software products that is good at reducing noise: Topaz Denoise, Noise Ninja, etc. They really can do a remarkable job cleaning up noise, especially if you shoot raw. Far less expensive than either a new body or lens.

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G