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x10: pro low light mode


Richmond, US
28713 posts

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Sat 29-Sep-12 10:46 AM

The x10 has several "Adv"anced Modes, one of which is "Pro Low Light" mode. This one captures more than one frame and then combines them "vertically." Since the frames are theoretically equivalent, any differences between them are created by the capture process, and therefore are probably noise. This is NOT - apparently - the same as some of the EXR modes; you have to turn the mode wheel to Adv, and then you have to select the Pro Low Light mode from the menus. The output is 5.9mp, so I think it does some of the EXR tricks in addition to whatever it is doing for PLL.

I was tagging along with a Scottish folk band last night, and as usual the lighting was dim. So I tried the pro low light mode.

It does seem to eliminate a huge amount of noise. Here's a shot straight out of camera:

Click on image to view larger version

This is 45mm equivalent, 1/40th, f/2.2, ISO 2500. This is as clean as a baby's bum - it's cleaner than my D3 at ISO 2500, although of course the D3 has none of this special software trickery. I find this extremely impressive, because the x10 at ISO 2500 is a pretty noisy little thing. That's not surprising given the size of its sensor, either.

On the other hand, as you can imagine from a take-two-and-combine strategy, things don't work so well if there is movement involved. The image stabilization helps, but not completely. If you wobble the camera between its captures, you get a very wobbly result. And the in-camera processing to do this is not easily able to deal with subject motion, which it renders as simple ghosting - even though shutter speed may be as high as 1/200th. I fully realize that the software guys were working with in-camera processing power, so I am tipping my hat to them rather than complaining. But I'd like to see more advanced software such as this... in say, Lightroom5 or CS7. (CS5's HDR has an option to remove ghosts, and that seems to work pretty well, just as an example.) From the results I got last night, I think I'd recommend a tripod for the pro low light mode if possible. My "tripod" is only 3" tall and is more flexible than a gorillapod, so for me that means tripod and self-timer.
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Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

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