DSLR better at low light than Powershot G10?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by linda_williams|4, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. I have a Canon Powershot G10. I shoot aperture priority. In low light situations such as cloudy day or even indoors where there seems to be enough light in my opinion, I see the camera shake icon. My aperture is usually somewhere around 3.5. I don’t like to increase ISO beyond 200 because I will get too much noise. I seem to get the shake icon often as the shutter speed is 1/60 or slower.


    This got me to wondering if the T3i, 60D or 7D cameras with larger sensors than the G10 and the ability to raise the ISO higher without increasing noise have this problem at apertures of 3.5 or 4. As much as I would like to purchase a SLR, I don't want to buy one thinking that it will be better at low light and finding out otherwise.
    Some of the lens that I would want would be the 70-200mm f/4, 17-40mm f/4, 24-105mm f/4. So, would I still have this problem? Or would the ability to increase ISO help in low light?
     
  2. The larger sensor should help a bit, because you would be able to shoot at higher ISO values with less noise (but not NO noise).
    There are other ways to combat camera shake. The classic one is camera support like a sturdy tripod.
    Another one is Image Stabilization. I would guess that you're G10 probably has this feature. Are you using it? Some DSLR lenses have IS, and some do not.
    Another solution is to use very fast lenses (f/2.8, f/2, or even f/1.4). However, these models are expensive. Make sure to add it all up before you trade in your G10.
    Happy (shake free) shooting!
     
  3. I have used a tripod but sometimes it is inconvenient because I like to shoot crouching or lying down.
     
  4. Your noise performance will definitely increase with either three of those models. On my 7D, 1600 comes out pretty clean on a properly exposed photo. As Dan said, having faster lenses does help, but they can be pricey.
     
  5. I thought that the 'shake' icon appeared when the camera activated the built in IS on the G series. Could be wrong, I've never owned one.
    As to your question... Yes, a larger sensor (such as the APS-C sized ones in the t3i, 60D, and 7D, or the FF ones in 5D and 5D2) allows less noise as the ISO increases. In (virtually) ALL cases, as ISO increases, noise increases, but a larger sensor has larger pixels, which are less 'noisy' when pushed.
    You should be able to shoot at 400 or even 800 ISO comfortably on the current generation of APS-C sensors with little noticeable impact to your images. On a current FF sensor (5d2) , ISO3200 is about equivelant noise wise to test shots I've seen from the G10 @ iso200.
    That said, the t3i, 60D, and 7D all have virtually the same sensor, and are all pretty equally capable in 'low light'. Of course the magic from DSLRs doesn't come from the camera body, but the lenses you select. If you are constantly shooting in low light, all those slow f4 lenses will be worth nada to you. Instead look at primes (as Dan pointed out) and fast zooms. That extra stop or 2 of light the lens lets in can make a world of difference.
     
  6. The G10 should easily go beyond ISO 200 without any problem. If you are already taking a picture at 1/60 and f/3, for example, going up to ISO 400 will give you a shutter speed of 1/125 or so... thereby causing that little blur icon to go away.
    The blur icon is just an aid. It doesn't mean you can't take the picture at 1/60. Such a speed should not be a problem if you have image stabilization turned on. Just try to hold the camera as steady as you can. If your picture still comes out blurry because of camera shake, steady the camera in your hand against something solid, like a table, a wall, a post, a chair, a fence, ...etc. Also, sometimes it's perfectly appropriate to let the flash do its thing.
    A DSLR is somewhat better at dealing with lower levels of light, but keep in mind that it probably won't be that much better if all you get to use on it is the slow zoom lens that came with the camera. Not slow zoom lenses are very expensive.
     
  7. I've owned and loved the G10 and switched to a Rebel XS DSLR in the past. The noise improved quite a bit above ISO 200 but the kit lens wasn't as sharp as the G10. It's a trade-off unless you spend a lot more money on faster lenses (with larger light gathering elements) for the DSLR.
     
  8. A good tripod should be adaptable for shooting low to the ground. It is has a telescoping center post, replace it with a flat plate. I can get my Gitzos down to lower than a foot off the ground (head and camera included) when I spread the legs out wide.
     
  9. My 7D is excellent up to ISO 800 and very good at ISO 1600. When I moved up from my G9 I went straight to the 5D MkII, which has excellent high-ISO performance up to ISO 6400.
    Remember that you don't want to underexpose in low light, so you should be shooting at +1EV unless there are important highlights that you don't want to wash out. Shoot in RAW and then pull the brightness down in RAW conversion. Pulling brightness up in RAW conversion adds noise dramatically.
    The DSLRs that you mention allow both larger apertures and higher ISOs. You really need both when you start using +EV in low light.
    ISO 6400 with 5D MkII:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Thanks for all the responses. I plan on keeping my G10, but would like to have a DSLR for flexibilty. Many times I wish I had more reach to take shots that I can't physically get closer to. My budget for a lens doesn't include the $5,000 + for the 200 or 300 mm fast glass, so I would be looking at f/4.
    So would f/4 on a larger sensor be an improvement over f/4 on the teeny sensor of G10? In other words, what the G10 sensor considers to be low light might not be considered low light to a larger sensor?
    Concerning the kit lens, I would probably just buy the camera body and choose a better zoom lens or a prime.
     
  11. In my non-pro eyes, you are a good candidate for the upgrade. You should be fine with the new camera/lenses for your indoor need. It would only be challenging if your need includes indoor sports.
    Don't discount the 18-55 IS kit lens. With that, it is possible you may not even need some of your intended lenses.
     
  12. One thing I really like about the G10 is changing the EV using the dial on top (just like my film SLR) while looking at the histogram in the LCD to see the effects.
     
  13. Any of the DSLRs you listed with a 300/f4 and, optionally, a 1.4x TC, will cover lots and lots of ground for you. Canon also has a new 70-300mm variable aperture zoom lens that's getting good press. Not knowing exactly what you're reaching out for, the 70-200mm f/4L IS is a favorite lens of mine.
    I'd go with the lower cost range unless you're going to shoot wildlife and/or professional sports. For kids sports, generally, you can make do with the lesser cost options.
     
  14. Linda said:
    "One thing I really like about the G10 is changing the EV using the dial on top (just like my film SLR) while looking at the histogram in the LCD to see the effects."​
    Understanding that puts you ahead of about 80% of the DSLR users. If you haven't already, try shooting in RAW and pushing ISO up twice as high as you do now with your G10. Exposing to the right of the histogram greatly reduces noise, just don't blow out highlights. You might be surprised at the quality of some ISO 800 shots.
    You'll still have a "reach" problem with the G10. The DSLR bodies are not too dear vs. the G10, but the lenses can really set you back, particularly when you start talking about "reach."
     
  15. You will have far more ability with the newer Dslr even as old as the xti will still shoot at very low light as far as Hand
    shake it does very on the lens but the kit Lens 18-55 IS does a pretty good job at that ,and normally you can get
    down to shutter speed of 40 I prefer a bit higher but it will work in dim light and if you have a external flash then you
    can do about anything within reason
     
  16. you should be shooting at +1EV​
    I am going to guess that you meant an Exposure Compensation of +1. "+1 EV" means something entirely different.
    Selection of an Exposure Compensation factor would depend a lot on the metering patten selected and the luminance of various regions of the frame. If the center is considerably darker than the edges of the frame and you shoot at +1, the edges will overexpose badly.
    Dialing in +1 or any other EC amount as a general rule is probably not a good idea. If your subject is light in color, it might work. If it's really bright (snow), it's won't be enough compensation. If it's dark with bright highlights, you'll burn those highlights. Unless you understand the effect of EC on this particular shot, it's probably best avoided.
     
  17. Oops, I did mean exposure compensation dial.
    "Selection of an Exposure Compensation factor would depend a lot on the metering patten selected and the luminance of various regions of the frame. If the center is considerably darker than the edges of the frame and you shoot at +1, the edges will overexpose badly."
    Okay Dan. I am using digital and can just delete those pics that don't look right because I didn't take the time to judge the luminance of the various regions in the frame just before I pressed the shutter button. And then, since I have 15mp to work with, I can just crop out the badly overexposed edges. Sorry, but I don't like to over think or over analyze camera settings. Besides I might be in trouble with the P&S police since I am using a point and shoot!
     

  18. So would f/4 on a larger sensor be an improvement over f/4 on the teeny sensor of G10?​
    Yes.
    The other consideration is what size do you print to? The larger the print the more noticeable the noise will be. If you enlarge to 100% on screen you'll certainly see the shortcomings of either camera, but if only making small prints you can get away with a fair bit of noise.
     
  19. Linda, since your have a rough understanding of EV, turn on the "blinkies" that'll warn you during Preview if anything is blown out. Also have the histogram show in Preview. (I think the G10 allows for this). If you use RAW, then you'll want to expose up to the point of blow out. The subject is more important than the BG and when the subject is large in the frame the viewer will ignore the blowout of the BG.
     
  20. Some tripods you can remove the centre column and it it back upside down so the mount is under the tripod. The camera is then upsidedown to but this way I can get my camera right on the ground so the flash mount on the camera is touching the ground.
     
  21. It absolutely amazes me that no one has responded with the fact that the G10 has a dire reputation with regards to iso performance. Thats why Canon concretrated not oin the MP performance but the iso performance with the g11
    secondly, you mention not wishing to go over 200 iso, you are always better to expose correctly in low light that underexpose, which creates more noise
     
  22. In general a full frame DSLR will have lower noise the a cropped sensor DSLR format. However I expect that most DSLR's will do better with noise than your G10 at a given ISO.
     
  23. Linda, my +1 EC comment was in response to a statement that I quoted from Stephen, but I hope that it will be helpful
    to whoever reads it.

    No one wants you to over think anything, but at the same time one should avoid following rules of thumb without some
    thought. I have met new camera owners who shot in Manual exposure mode all the time become someone on the
    Internet said that that was the right thing to do. So please be careful with advice such as "shoot at +1 EC" -
    sometimes it might work, and many times it won't. An understanding of metering basics will help you to decide when
    to use EC if at all. Personally, I can't recall the last time I used EC, so it's hardly a must do.
     
  24. Dan said:
    " I can't recall the last time I used EC, so it's hardly a must do."​
    If you're not using +EV much or most of the time, then you're not maximizing the dynamic range of your digital images. Of course, this only applies to shooting RAW, because you'll bring the level down in RAW conversion, but +EV will preserve much more shadow detail and subtle dark details. Just don't blow out the highlights.
    Linda, you understand what you're doing better than some of your advisors here. Yes, don't blindly at +1EV, but if you're looking at the histogram and considering the scene, then you're doing it right.
     
  25. G10 is a very good camera indeed but has very poor low light performance compared to recent Canon DSLR bodies, even of the lower end. The other route might be to get a used micro-fourthird body, still compact, and a good used fast prime. The price should be the same as a new Canon DSLR plus its kit lens.
     
  26. Linda, I definitely feel that a dslr will give you the better results you're looking for. I'm very happy with the shots from my 7D at ISO 3200 and am still impressed with the results at 6400; I still shoot film a lot so seeing what film can and can't do at higher ISOs makes me appreciate my 7D even more. That being said, aside from the "reach" issue, if you're wanting improved low-light performance then you might consider moving to the G11/G12 since they show improvement in the low-light/noise control area. I find it nice to be able to consistently shoot my G12 at 800 and come away with excellent shots, especially when I wouldn't have dreamed of shooting above 400 on previous PowerShots, and even then I would have expected a significant amount of noise in the shadows. Here's a shot from the recent U2 concert at Soldier Field in Chicago. I chose this shot just to show the control of the noise in the shadows with the G12 at 800 ISO. Yes, my 7D would have captured even more detail at an even higher ISO but not being able to take it into this venue, I'm pleased with how the G12 performed.
    00Z5A4-382511584.jpg
     
  27. Here's another with more light in the foreground but still with heavy shadows around the edges...
    00Z5A5-382513584.jpg
     
  28. So, there you go. Not outstanding shots by any means, but they give you an idea of how the G12 handles the brightly lit areas alongside the areas with heavy shadows. I would certainly add a dslr if you can, but the G-series are really nice, capable cameras that pack a lot of punch and capability into a small package. My significant-other used a G11 to shoot this concert and came away with the same kind of results. If you go the dslr route, I think you'd be happy with any of the recent Canon offerings from the T2i on up through the 60D and 7D. They are really impressive bodies and some of the consumer lenses are also quite capable performers. Just a few thoughts to consider...
     
  29. I can’t recall the last time I used EC​

    You must be a young boy and therefore have never used a film camera because my Minolta SLR has the same dial on it that my G10 has and I use it.
     
  30. you might consider moving to the G11/G12 since they show improvement in the low-light/noise control area.​
    Andy, I would like to have the 11 or 12. If I sold my G10 for $100 (don't know what I could actually get for it), I still would have to spend $300 more for a new one. It's a lot of money to spend for a compact camera and until mine is worn out, I'm not inclined to pay that much again any time soon.
    I'm happy with the pictures I get from it and the compact size, so I probably would carry it with me even if I purchase a DSLR. I have been lusting after the 7D, but the price is a little bit more than I want to spend. I'm considering the 60D because I like the two dials and the LCD panel on top. Also it has a pentaprism instead of a pentamirror. Supposed to make for a brighter viewfinder which I definitely need. Also all 9 focusing points are cross-type.
     
  31. This got me to wondering if the T3i, 60D or 7D cameras with larger sensors than the G10 and the ability to raise the ISO higher without increasing noise have this problem at apertures of 3.5 or 4. As much as I would like to purchase a SLR, I don't want to buy one thinking that it will be better at low light and finding out otherwise.​
    Yes, absolutely less noise though with good NR software good results can be had at ISO 800 with the G10.
    And yes you should probably be able to sell the G10 for $250-$300, if it's in excellent condition and you have the boxes and so forth.
    If $100 is all you can get then just keep it or gift it to someone else if you don't want the camera, at least that's my take.
     
  32. First off, keep in mind that the G10 is known for excessive noise reduction leading to reduced detail retention and lots of noise reduction artifacts.
    Second, you can configure direct output comparisons at http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos60d/page18.asp to show the difference in high ISO noise in RAW and JPEG images on the Canon 60D vs the powershot G10 and G12. When you do so, you will find about the same approximate level of noise and detail retention between the G10 and G12 at similar ISO settings (although the G12 avoids the blotchy color at high ISOs). In the same comparisons, the 60D has slightly better noise control and more detail retention at ISO6400 than the G10 does at ISO1600 in both JPEG and RAW. The 60D always has much more detail in the image at any similar setting than the G10 does. Image artifacts are also usually less visible on printed photos taken with a dSLR due to fewer sharpening artifacts, more grainy than blotchy noise, etc.
    The approximate benefit in noise control is about 2 stops, while detail retention is always better related to better optics and processing between cameras. The improved detail retention also makes it harder to see flaws. If you can afford f/1.4 lenses, then the light gathering ability is quadrupled compared to your widest G10 aperture of f/2.8. This means you could get the same exposure brightness at ISO100 on the 60D as you do at ISO400 on your G10. Add this to the improved noise handling and your ISO1600 60D image could have the same or less noise as, and better detail retention than, your ISO100 G10 image. Of course, depth of field becomes a new factor to consider.
    Do not associate 100% zoomed-in pixel peeping flaws with flaws that will show up in prints, because that is not how it works. Nobody looks at printed photos closely enough to approximate visual clarity of a printed photo to the size of the image on your screen. You'd probably need a magnifying glass.
    5D mark II is about 1-1.5 stops better than the 60D/7D in noise control.
    Responsiveness of a dSLR is completely different from any compact camera I have ever tried, except focusing with the LCD. Compacts are sluggish to respond in comparison to an appropriately configured dSLR. The viewfinder is very different and much better on any dSLR than the G10.
     
  33. First off, keep in mind that the G10 is known for excessive noise reduction leading to reduced detail retention and lots of noise reduction artifacts.​
    Shoot in RAW mode not JPEG. If you shoot JPG high ISO then the camera makes decisions for you which probably will not like. Once you learn the limitations of the G series you are then able to make powerful images.
    I don't know why we are comparing the G10-G12 to DSLRS and trumpeting the fact that DSLRs have less noise. Well YEAH! Sort of like comparing the performance of a Vespa to a BMW F 800 ST.
    At any rate, if you want a DSLR just buy one; all new modern digital cameras pose a learning challenge to the beginner. Though putting the cameras into AUTO mode is usually a good place to start. In that regard the DSLR becomes a big point and shoot with superior IQ at elevated ISOs.
    Also don't forget that if you use Canon flashes they can also be used on the G cameras which is another reason to keep your G10.
     
  34. I don't know why we are comparing the G10-G12 to DSLRS and trumpeting the fact that DSLRs have less noise. Well YEAH!​
    Because I asked the question if DSLR (larger sensor) f/4 lens are better at low light than my G10. The faster lens are more expensive and heavier; so for the most part I would be opting for the f/4 if I were to consider for example the 70-200mm lens.
    Also, because buying a DSLR system is more costly than my G10. So, honey if you want to buy me a new camera for my birthday or Christmas, both are in December!
    I now recall an early morning shoot at the zoo. Some of the exhibits were under trees making it darker and other photographers with DSLRs were having the same problem as me; not enough light. At the time I didn't think about it and didn't ask any questions about what settings they were using. Other than low light situations, I'm happy with my G10.
     
  35. The other photographers shooting with DSLRs at the zoo most likely didn't know what they were doing. In that situation you need to bump the ISO up and shoot with +EV for the best results, either with a DSLR or one of the G-series. Most of the consumer DSLRs are going to be a stop or two superior to your G-series in low light and high ISO.
    BTW, sticking with f/4 makes lots of sense to me. Going to f/2.8 is only one-stop and a very expensive stop. You could upgrade to a 5D MkII for the difference on one of those lenses. Getting your speed from your camera body is now a very viable alternative.
    I've got a December birthday also. I still remember many years ago when an aunt would two would give me my b'day gift and say, "Christmas is so close, this'll serve for both..." Ugh. Not something you say to a five year old, is it?
     
  36. If you want to shoot in low light a lot, in my opinion you need both a large sensor camera (preferably full frame) and fast lenses (f/2.8 minimum, preferably f/2-f/1.4). By combining those two you can shoot in any light in which you can see and get good results. And darker, at least with lenses like the 24/1.4. If you choose an intemediate path and a 1.6x sensor with slow lenses (f/4 is slow) then you will not get what you need. An f/4 zoom is good for tripod-based landscape photography outdoors, for example, not indoor event photography.
     
  37. f/2.8 is only one stop faster than f/4. I shoot night street scenes almost every time I travel and I hand hold my 24-105mm f/4L IS. Shooting at ISO 6400 (and higher really) is now a liberating reality for most of us. I pull out the tripod for long exposures and streaming lights, etc., but most of my "people shots" are hand held, as below:
    [​IMG]
     
  38. Agree to disagree. F/2.8 activates the high precision AF sensors, which even many Rebel-class DSLRs have. This is the kind of help that can be quite nice in poor lighting.
     
  39. Yes, f2.8 is nice. But do not knock f4 zooms with IS.

    Unless you need f2.8 to get paid as a working photographer OR you don't mind the size, weight an cost increase.

    And in those cases a carefully chosen right-focal-length prime would probably help more.

    Spending other peoples money is easy so... I'd say 60D, EF-s 15-85 and 70-200/4IS would be a great set up.

    (depending on your wishes the other two bodies are also great, alternative lenses would be a great subject for a new
    thread...)
     

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