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Author Topic: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?  (Read 6378 times)

mStevens

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Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:54:31 AM »
Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions such as in a high school gym or at an outdoor stadium at night? Would a 5D Mark II be my best choice for upgrading from a 40D? I was considering a 7D, however, I have read a couple of entries on this forum where it is mentioned that the 7D is not as clear as the 40D.

I have been using a 40D with my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM lens. I mainly shoot High School soccer in daylight. I am happy with my clear shots. I want to upgrade my camera. I want a camera that I can shoot indoor sports such as basketball/volleyball in a school gym and nighttime outdoor stadium games. Even with my 2.8 lens (and high ISO setting), I am not happy with my indoor sports shots.

I look forward to your advise on which type of camera I should purchase next.
5D Mark III | 40D| 2.8L IS II 70-200| 2.8L 24-70| 1.8 EF 85| EF 2X II| 600 EX-RT

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Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« on: February 04, 2012, 11:54:31 AM »

ejenner

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012, 12:08:08 PM »
If reach is not a problem, then yes.  If you find yourself using the long end of the 70-200 a lot then possibly not.  Although FF does have better high ISO, if you crop the noise is magnified and in general an uncropped 7D image will be less noisy than a 5DII image cropped to the same FOV.

I don't know about how a 7D or 60D would compare to the 40D though.

A 135L would gain a bit if you can live with the FL.

mStevens

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012, 12:38:39 PM »
Actually I am not worried about reach inside a gym. With my 70 - 200mm I shoot at the low end. However, I do crop all my shots very tight. So your comment about noise concerns me. Thanks for your input.
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Kernuak

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012, 12:58:17 PM »
My 7D gives me around an extra stop in comparison to the 40D in terms of noise, but it obviously isn't as clean as the 5D MkII. In fact, I find it superior in every way ot the 40D, but it is less forgiving. The higher resolution magnifies all the imperfections of lenses and slight motion blur or focus problems, each of which will soften the image, but reduce the image to that of the 40D and it will be just as sharp, plus you have more latitude in ability to sharpen images in post. While the 5D MkII does produce higher image quality, with fast moving action, it will start to show its inadequacies, particularly with tracking focus, although for static scenes, in low light, it will have better focusing than the 7D if the centre point is used. Also, you will have to be much more careful about timing the instant, to get the shot you want, due to the slower frame rate.
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briansquibb

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012, 01:06:36 PM »
Actually I am not worried about reach inside a gym. With my 70 - 200mm I shoot at the low end. However, I do crop all my shots very tight. So your comment about noise concerns me. Thanks for your input.

If you take the pictures at the low end then you will be getting a full frame image by using a longer focal length.

A 5DII is very confortable with iso 3200 an there is not significant noise there. At iso1600 even a cropped 5DII would not show as much noise as the 40D

Not sure what your concerns are????

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012, 01:09:32 PM »
A FF body definitely has a large advantage.  My 5D MK II looks much better at ISO 3200 than my 7D at ISO 1000.  I would not use my 40D over ISO 800.

Using your 70-200mmL at 200mm makes absolutely no difference in the noise or high ISO performance.  Neither does any other focal length.  The ISO setting is the big factor.

Neither does cropping.  The noise is either there, or it isn't.  You can see it better at 1:1, so in that respect, it is more visible in a crop.

This is a image taken at ISO 6400 last week with my 5DMKII using a 135mm L at f/2 and 1/125 sec.  The lighting was very dim!


mStevens

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012, 02:43:06 PM »
briansquibb, one of the concerns I have with a 5D Mark II is that I would be giving up FPS. My 40D has 6.5 and the 5D has 3.9. I also prefer a cropped frame since I like to shoot zoomed in sports shots. Finally, I was worried that the ISO on the 5D would not live up to my expectations. My 40D ISO is awful at 1600. But as Mt Spokane Photography pointed out, I should keep my ISO below 800 on my 40D. This means I cannot get decent shots shooting outdoor soccer after 5:30 pm, this time of year  :(.

However, I think I can compromise and keep my 40D as a backup for outdoor sports when shooting in bright sunlight and the 5D for sports shots where there is poor lighting conditions and where I don't need as much reach (i.e. inside a gym). I'm just waiting for this month's announcements before I make a final decision :-\.

BTW, Mt Spokane Photography nice shot! I am glad to see that the 5D has good ISO performance.
5D Mark III | 40D| 2.8L IS II 70-200| 2.8L 24-70| 1.8 EF 85| EF 2X II| 600 EX-RT

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012, 02:43:06 PM »

briansquibb

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2012, 02:59:31 PM »
briansquibb, one of the concerns I have with a 5D Mark II is that I would be giving up FPS. My 40D has 6.5 and the 5D has 3.9. I also prefer a cropped frame since I like to shoot zoomed in sports shots. Finally, I was worried that the ISO on the 5D would not live up to my expectations. My 40D ISO is awful at 1600. But as Mt Spokane Photography pointed out, I should keep my ISO below 800 on my 40D. This means I cannot get decent shots shooting outdoor soccer after 5:30 pm, this time of year  :(.

However, I think I can compromise and keep my 40D as a backup for outdoor sports when shooting in bright sunlight and the 5D for sports shots where there is poor lighting conditions and where I don't need as much reach (i.e. inside a gym). I'm just waiting for this month's announcements before I make a final decision :-\.

BTW, Mt Spokane Photography nice shot! I am glad to see that the 5D has good ISO performance.

As I see it you are shooting at the low end - say 100mm. On a 5DII you would be getting the same image with 160mm - which works with your zoom

At iso3200 you would be shooting at 2 stops faster than on the 40D so motion blur would disappear and background blur would improve at the same time

You will also be shooting at 21mps and getting better IQ

1fps reduction is not too critical for your sports - you should be able to anticipate when things are going to happen.

So what is the alternative? a 7D with all its issues or (relatively) low light performance.

Your choice

Kernuak

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2012, 03:56:27 PM »
briansquibb, one of the concerns I have with a 5D Mark II is that I would be giving up FPS. My 40D has 6.5 and the 5D has 3.9. I also prefer a cropped frame since I like to shoot zoomed in sports shots. Finally, I was worried that the ISO on the 5D would not live up to my expectations. My 40D ISO is awful at 1600. But as Mt Spokane Photography pointed out, I should keep my ISO below 800 on my 40D. This means I cannot get decent shots shooting outdoor soccer after 5:30 pm, this time of year  :(.

However, I think I can compromise and keep my 40D as a backup for outdoor sports when shooting in bright sunlight and the 5D for sports shots where there is poor lighting conditions and where I don't need as much reach (i.e. inside a gym). I'm just waiting for this month's announcements before I make a final decision :-\.

BTW, Mt Spokane Photography nice shot! I am glad to see that the 5D has good ISO performance.
With my 40D, I wouldn't go above ISO 800 either, whereas with my 7D, I won't go above ISO 1600. For critical shots, I wouldn't normally go beyond that with my 5D MkII either, but I know that I have the option if I need it. I tend to use my 7D for situations where I need the faster focusing and might need the frame rate (although it's actually quite rare I use the motor drive, I prefer to time it instead if possible), but switch to the 5D MkII for higher image quality, where detail is important, such as for macro and landscape or in low light.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2012, 04:16:04 PM »

However, I think I can compromise and keep my 40D as a backup for outdoor sports when shooting in bright sunlight and the 5D for sports shots where there is poor lighting conditions and where I don't need as much reach (i.e. inside a gym). I'm just waiting for this month's announcements before I make a final decision :-\.

BTW, Mt Spokane Photography nice shot! I am glad to see that the 5D has good ISO performance.

I loved my 40D's, I had five of them, and they were definitely a wonderful camera.  However, after keeping my 40D as a backup and studio camera for product photography, I found that I used the 5D for almost everything, it is much better.  I replaced the 40D with a 1D MK III, it was also a huge improvement accross the board.  I found that, I still preferred my 5D MK II almost all the time, except for focal length limited shots.  I never found much use for the high FPS.  If you do sports seriously, then consider a 7D or 1D MK III.

For casual sports and center point AF, the 5D2 is fine. (See some jr hS track shots below)

Finally, I sold the 1D MK III and bought a refurb 7D thru Canon CLP for half the price that I sold my 1D MK III for.  It really had to do with needing a product photography body and a close focusing lens with the right focal range, and both the 17-55mm and 15-85mm EF-s worked with my setup better.

The 1D MK III had better high ISO performance, but the fine grained noise of the 7D made NR work fairly well, so it wasn't a huge difference.

My grandchildren's soccer meet with 5D MK II and 70-200mm f/4 IS:

Full frame




100% Crop



Full Frame



100% Crop

« Last Edit: February 04, 2012, 04:25:43 PM by Mt Spokane Photography »

archangelrichard

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2012, 05:14:24 PM »
"Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions such as in a high school gym or at an outdoor stadium at night? "

What do you mean by "perform better" Better IQ, Better sensitivity, faster focusing, faster metering?

There are different answers to these different questions, you need to prioritize the issues so you can get an answer that meets your needs

Some of the answers you are getting refer more to the magnification of APS-C using the same lens focal length but they fail to mention: Lenses are compromises; they are sharpest in the middle of their zoom range so let's say you are using a 70 - 200mm the sharpest area is going ro be 135 - 170mm (the difference at lower lengths is greater than the difference at longer lengths so the lowest end is usually the worst) regardless of the camera but the APS-C sees that as 210 - 270 equivalent being the sharpest; and THEN we look at the noise / grain / cropping issues -- you also have to realize that the longer the effective focal length, the more blur you get from any movement, you or the subject moving so a larger image that you crop may also be a sharper, clearer image that you crop while the APS-C sensor image may get much more blur from movement

Others are pointing out that with the ability to use ISO 3200, you can get shots with the 5D you simply can; not get with any APS-C, 7D included; lower light or stopping action with higher shutter speeds

And then the Autofocusing speed and metering speed come in to play as these, too, will limit your ability to get that special shot

There is no absolute here, you need to prioritize your needs and go from there or you will end up with a combination that fits someone else's needs and not yours

gabriele

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2012, 06:53:28 PM »
Although FF does have better high ISO, if you crop the noise is magnified and in general an uncropped 7D image will be less noisy than a 5DII image cropped to the same FOV.

Strongly disagree. Probably you have never tried a 5D mark II, otherwise you woud definetely notice the difference on a 100% crop picture.
Full frame cameras have way better picture quality, that becomes even more noticeable if you raise the ISO and compare it to crop cameras.
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mStevens

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012, 09:48:04 AM »
"Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions such as in a high school gym or at an outdoor stadium at night? "

What do you mean by "perform better" Better IQ, Better sensitivity, faster focusing, faster metering?

There are different answers to these different questions, you need to prioritize the issues so you can get an answer that meets your needs

And then the Autofocusing speed and metering speed come in to play as these, too, will limit your ability to get that special shot

There is no absolute here, you need to prioritize your needs and go from there or you will end up with a combination that fits someone else's needs and not yours

archangelrichard, My needs are a new body that will allow better hand held shots in less than perfect lighting. By this I mean action shots with no blur, no underexposure, no noise. Yes there are many factors that contribute to the ideal shot and for every feature there appears to be some give and take. I guess my initial thoughts were that a camera with good ISO would solve most of my problems and I never considered Autofocusing speed and metering speed. Thanks for bringing this up! Can you and other CR forum members please provide your comments on Autofocusing speed and metering speed for the 5D Mark II and the 7D.
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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012, 09:48:04 AM »

briansquibb

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2012, 10:40:39 AM »
The 5DII has better high iso performance therefor will allow you faster shutter speeds therefore less or no motion blur

thatguyyoulove

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012, 01:18:11 PM »
Although FF does have better high ISO, if you crop the noise is magnified and in general an uncropped 7D image will be less noisy than a 5DII image cropped to the same FOV.

Strongly disagree. Probably you have never tried a 5D mark II, otherwise you woud definetely notice the difference on a 100% crop picture.
Full frame cameras have way better picture quality, that becomes even more noticeable if you raise the ISO and compare it to crop cameras.
Actually I'm fairly certain he is correct. The 5D has lower noise overall(per pixel), but the 7D has less noise per area. This is just due to the crop mainly, which will magnify the 5D's noise 1.6 times. In real life you would just buy a lens that is 1.6 times the focal length of what you would use on the 7D so that you get the same FOV, but less noise. So, yes, he was right. However I would wager that it doesn't really matter in the real world. And I'm a 7D owner.

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012, 01:18:11 PM »