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Author Topic: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?  (Read 6039 times)

neuroanatomist

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 01:49:15 PM »
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.

I think you're missing the point.  Yes, if you view a 7D image and a 5DII image as 100% crops, the 5DII image will have a lot less noise.  But for a given focal length, the 5DII will have far fewer pixels on target.  The question at hand is comparing the noise in a 7D shot to a shot taken with the same lens on a 5DII and then cropped to the same FoV as you'd get with the 7D.  When you do that (and since I have both cameras, I have done it), you find that the images have pretty similar noise, but you've got 18 MP from the 7D and only 8 MP from the 5DII. Now, if you take both of those resulting images and print them at a fixed size, say 8x10", you'll be downsampling the 7D image more, and it will actually appear to have less noise than the 5DII image.

Obviously, the above only applies when you're limited by focal length. If you can use a lens with a 1.6x longer focal length on the 5DII so you don't have to crop, you'll get a much better image from the 5DII (assuming the 5DII's AF is able to keep your subject in focus).
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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012, 01:49:15 PM »

dtaylor

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012, 02:19:30 PM »
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.

The 7D out performs the (still quite good) 40D in every way. But people have a tendency to compare images at 100% in PS. They fail to understand that higher resolution at 100% = greater magnification of the APS-C or FF image. At a target print or screen size the higher resolution image will be better even though it may look "worse" at 100% where any softness, blur, or noise is magnified more.

The 5D2 has about a 1 to 1.5 stop noise advantage at high ISO (i.e. 3200, 6400). I don't find this to be noticeable in small and medium prints. ISO 1600 and 3200 are perfectly usable on the 7D. I've printed plenty of ISO 3200 8x10's from HS gym basketball games and they are clean. The few 16x20's I've done do show some noise, but they're still very good prints.

The 5D2 would show an IQ advantage for a 16x20 under gym conditions, but I'm not confident the AF would hold up. Nor do I think I would trade 8 fps for 1 stop lower noise.

FYI, in a gym I generally shoot my 85 f/1.8 at f/2 or f/2.8 with ISO ranging from 1600-3200.

dtaylor

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012, 02:26:41 PM »
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

Not to pick on your post in particular, but...it's ridiculous to claim the 7D is unusable at 3200. The 7D is quite good at 3200. I do apply NR at that ISO, but I would with a 5D2 as well. It's at 6400 that things start to become iffy on the 7D, where the 5D2 is still easily usable.

Anyone who gets an unusable 3200 shot from a 7D is either a) severely underexposing, or b) using a workflow that exaggerates noise.

That said, I have found myself in gyms where I was pushed to shoot f/1.8 and ISO 3200, right at the edge on the 7D's envelope so to speak. I don't know what the gyms are like where Stevens is shooting.

Mooose

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2012, 05:47:29 PM »
My grandchildren's soccer meet with 5D MK II and 70-200mm f/4 IS:

it's about time they livened up the game with a few hurdles.
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gabriele

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2012, 03:02:57 PM »
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.

I think you're missing the point.  Yes, if you view a 7D image and a 5DII image as 100% crops, the 5DII image will have a lot less noise.  But for a given focal length, the 5DII will have far fewer pixels on target.  The question at hand is comparing the noise in a 7D shot to a shot taken with the same lens on a 5DII and then cropped to the same FoV as you'd get with the 7D.  When you do that (and since I have both cameras, I have done it), you find that the images have pretty similar noise, but you've got 18 MP from the 7D and only 8 MP from the 5DII. Now, if you take both of those resulting images and print them at a fixed size, say 8x10", you'll be downsampling the 7D image more, and it will actually appear to have less noise than the 5DII image.

Obviously, the above only applies when you're limited by focal length. If you can use a lens with a 1.6x longer focal length on the 5DII so you don't have to crop, you'll get a much better image from the 5DII (assuming the 5DII's AF is able to keep your subject in focus).

Well the point was "Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions"...the answer is  YES.
We're not talking about crops but final picture quality, if you want to zoom in more get a more powerful lens.
Thinking the way you do you should (to do a fair comparison), zoom in a 7D picture the same amount you zoom in a 5D Mk II picture and then compare the noise, or just compare standard 100% crop noise on both.
If you can't get a more powerful lens most likely you can get closer to the subject, which is something that lot of photographers seem to have forgotten since the advent of zoom lenses.
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CanineCandidsByL

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2012, 03:17:43 PM »
To keep it simple....lower pixel density sensors, in the same generation of technology, will generally perform better in low light.

So as others are saying, you can't simple say that FF performs better in low light, but if two cameras are released near the same time (i.e. same technolgy generation) and one is full frame and the other crop, AND they have the same number of pixels, then the full frame camera will have lower pixel density (pixels per inch) and thus give better low light performance.

But really this is just academic.  Look at the cameras you can afford and then look at the web sites that let you compare the same image taken with both. That will let you see how equivalent that are or aren't. I like dpreview.com and imaging-resource.com  If your choice in camera will effect how fast a lens you can get, look at that too. (i.e. if the cheaper camera lets you buy an f2.8 instead of the equivalent f4.0 lens, then you should look at an image on that camera shot one stop faster since the lens will allow that.)

Hope it helps.


briansquibb

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2012, 03:31:11 PM »
Where the comparison gets more complicated is that to get the same framed picture between the ff and 1.6 then the quality of the lens will favour the ff. Therefore a same framed picture there will be as least as many pixels from the ff as well as better glass

So there is a good chance that ff will win the IQ race but lose out in the cheapness stakes.

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2012, 03:31:11 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2012, 06:23:59 PM »
A few days after buying my 2nd 7D, I gave it a ultimate workout.  I took it to a local small town rodeo held at night with really weak lighting.  A high school gym is blinding by comparison.  The sun was barely up to start, so I was able to use my 70-200mm f/4L.  As it dimmed, and I got up to ISO 1600, I was forced to switch to my 85mm f/1.8, and my ISO continued to climb to 4000.  Then, since the 85mm was not long enough, I was doing 100% crops.

Here are a few shots taken as it got darker.  Judge the 7D's capabilities for yourself.  I will say that autofocus was supurb and beat my expectations.

ISO 1600 1/800 sec



ISO 3200 1/400 sec 85mm cropped



ISO 4000  1/400 sec 85mm severe crop.




ISO 4000 1/320 sec 85mm 1:1 Crop.  There is very little detail left and a lot of NR.  1/320 sec also makes for a lot of motion blur.

« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 06:25:55 PM by Mt Spokane Photography »

JonJT

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2012, 08:50:19 PM »
The measured and perceived performance of the latest FF cameras is definitely superior at high ISO.  Having said that, you can do very well with Canon's latest APS-C cameras at high ISOs IF you take care to expose properly and use a good de-noise plugin/software like Noise Ninja or Topaz Denoise. 

Take care to expose as far to the right as you reasonable can and then bring it back down in post.  If you add a good noise reduction step in your workflow, you can shoot a stop or two higher than you other wise would and still get very acceptable photos.  I'll go up to ISO3200 without thought and, when possible, I'll also go up to ISO6400 on my 60D.  The latter doesn't produce the best results but, in those situations, having the lower quality photo is better than having nothing at all.

Michael7

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2012, 09:24:55 PM »
Yes. FF sensors are much better for low light work.

Where a crop camera wins is versatility. A 300 mm lens becomes an almost 500mm lens, and you can buy decent ultraw wide angles.

I owned both the 5D II and the 7D (bought the 5D II and 24-105 for $2700). I ran them through their paces in tough light at a dog park across a period of two weeks, which also luckily included some birds in flight. Here's what I found:

1.The 5D II has plain better IQ. Sharper, cleaner, better colors.
2. The 5D II center focus point in AI servo is superior to the 7D center focus point in AI servo in poor light. The difference in noticable.
3. The 5D II's outer focus points are inferior to the 7D's outer focus points.
4. The 7D is built better and feels much better in hand.
5. ISO 1600 on the 5D II looks far superior to ISO 800 on the 7D.
6. There is no comparison in sharpness. 5D II destroys 7D.
7. The 7D's 1.6x crop factor makes it more useful for wildlife, even though 5D II has better IQ.

That said, I kept the 7D, kept the 24-105, and sold the 5D II. I like to shoot wildlife. A lot. I can often be found standing inthe rain with my monpod waiting for animals. The 7D wins for this pursuit thanks to the extra reach and improved sealing. I also shoot landscapes, but the 7D is pretty good at those too at ISO 100. If  I shot nothing but landscape/portrait, I would own the 5D II and not the 7D.

I see all these rules applying to the 5D III as well.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2012, 09:31:22 PM by Michael7 »

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2012, 10:00:10 PM »
My grandchildren's soccer meet with 5D MK II and 70-200mm f/4 IS:

it's about time they livened up the game with a few hurdles.

LOL! No, genuinely - I laughed out loud just then. And it's currently 2am in the morning here and I just woke up my wife next to me in bed... Thank you for the awesome post, at least in my mind - made my day, morning, night, whatever. Hats off.
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Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2012, 10:51:45 PM »
My grandchildren's soccer meet with 5D MK II and 70-200mm f/4 IS:

it's about time they livened up the game with a few hurdles.

LOL! No, genuinely - I laughed out loud just then. And it's currently 2am in the morning here and I just woke up my wife next to me in bed... Thank you for the awesome post, at least in my mind - made my day, morning, night, whatever. Hats off.

My granddaughter is a soccer nut, and it just slipped in rather than track meet.  I wonder how a combination soccer / hurdles would play out?   :)

briansquibb

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2012, 02:23:10 AM »
Yes. FF sensors are much better for low light work.

Where a crop camera wins is versatility. A 300 mm lens becomes an almost 500mm lens, and you can buy decent ultraw wide angles.


I would suggest wins on the budget front as you can always buy a 500mm lens

With WA then ff is king with the 14mm and 8-15. The 10-22 doesn't even get close for IQ.

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Re: Do FF cameras perform better in low light conditions?
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2012, 02:23:10 AM »