We’re firmly into that time of year again, when daylight photography is often off the menu. Unless you’re working nights, it’s probably dark all the time you’re not at the office. The good news is that, compared with film relics, digital camera features now include a number of tools that have great potential for low-light photography.
High ISO settings
You can easily adjust white balance to the prevailing lighting conditions, for instance. Better still, you can check the results while you shoot, taking the guesswork out of exposure settings. Even so, when it comes to dark arts, some digital camera features offer more than others.
The presence of at least some light is essential for night photography. But with little light, good performance at high sensitivity (ISO) settings is a huge bonus.
This gives the option of handheld shooting in low-light scenarios, plus enables sufficiently fast shutter speeds to freeze motion – something no amount of image stabilisation can achieve.
In digital cameras that have image sensors with high pixel counts, individual photosites are smaller and have less light-gathering potential. This makes high signal-to-noise ratios trickier to achieve, so cunning sensor design and good image processing are required to avoid grainy-looking pictures.
It’s even more of a challenge in Micro Four Thirds cameras, as the physical size of the image sensors is smaller than in the other four APS-C cameras.
Sony’s DSLT cameras face a different challenge for low-light photography. Whereas Canon, Nikon and Pentax DSLRs have a conventional reflex mirror that flips up out of the way during exposures, the Sony’s translucent mirror remains fixed in place. This reduces the amount of light that can pass through from the lens to the image sensor.
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