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At the present time, probably the biggest advantage of the full frame sensor over an APS-C or smaller is its superior performance at high ISOís. (And the ability to use a camera with a film speed of ISO 5000 or more without batting an eye has certainly made a huge change in many folksí photography.)
But there hasnít been a lot of news about new full-framers recently. The Canon EOS-1D X is flying solo with a standard ISO range of 100 to 51,200 which can be expanded to 204,800 with Canon saying high ISO performance is better than any previous EOS digital. Chuck Westfall says that an ISO 51,200 looks like an ISO 12,800 from an EOS-1D Mark IV. I respect Chuckís judgement.
On the other hand, the most recent, smaller, non-mirror APS-Cís are smaller, quieter, more discreet, the very kind of camera you often want to use when shooting candids in the available darkness. But the Fuji X100 tops off at ISO 6400. While the noise isnít horrible, the sharpness isnít great. The Sony NEX-7 has a range of ISO 100 to 16,000. Luminous Landscape reports that the NEX-7 is about one stop noisier than the NEX-5N. Fuji says that in 2012 they will introduce a camera with a sensor smaller than full frame, but with the quality of a full frame. I have no idea what that means.
For those of you who tred in the world of available darkness, whatís important? Small and quiet? Incredible high ISO performance? Or do you want it all? And why did you make the choice you did?
For my needs, it's an apples and oranges kind of comparison. When I'm shooting sports in these dungeons they call stadiums or gyms, I need all the high ISO performance a camera can deliver. For sports, we need high shutter speeds and a reasonable DOF. High ISO rules.
When I am shooting non-sporting events, I get away with much lower ISO settings. If I am shooting people, I can get away with shutter speeds in the 1/30ish range. That a far cry from 1/500 and above required for sporting events. That's a four stop range. I can also often get away with a more shallow depth of field - say 1.2 ish. That's a savings of one stop over the limit of 2.8 or so for sports.
So for me I can get away with 5 stop equivalent reduction in top ISO when shooting non-sporting events. I have not run across any situations where something around ISO 1250 maximum was not adequate. I am usually happy with ISO 800.
So - for sports it's large and beastly, high ISO or bust. For non-sporting, it's smaller, more discreet, lower ISO is fine.
Others with different needs I am sure will have different opinions. This is what works for me.
iso5000 on the x100, f2 and 1/40th. Yeah I love the current high ISO quality from digital cameras. The x100 is stunning in its high ISO performance. I prefer small and quiet/mirrorless for personal dark shooting, but will default back to my 5d for anything really important, with the x100 playing 2nd camera.
For those of you who tred in the world of available darkness, what’s important? Small and quiet? Incredible high ISO performance? Or do you want it all? And why did you make the choice you did?
Larger sensors record more signal than smaller sensors. Noise levels are essentially similar for a given sensor technology (although different generations of sensor technology will have different noise levels).
The most important factor is the largest sensor one can afford. Dynamic range is the most important thing. This means a sensor size of at least APS-C. The current signal-to-noise ratios of APS-C and larger sensors provides printable results at E.V.s below of 5 and below. However noise filtering does not increase the information content in shadow regions. Rarely are the blown highlights in an E.V. 5 scene important. The lens-sensor system must be able to tolerate overexposure with a minimum amount of artifacts. Then there is no penalty for clipping highlights from light fixtures and windows and the increased exposure improves the signal-to-noise ratio (information content) of the shadow regions.
Large sensors increase the odds of having a keeper in Available darkness.
The Nikon D70 I bought in 2004 spent 90% of its time at 1600 ISO, which was also the maximum it was capable of. Why? I was a concert photographer at the time.
I spent a lot of time post processing and had to contend with motion blur and noise, noise, noise.
If I would still shoot concerts on a regular basis I would buy a Nikon D3s without hesitation, DESPITE cost and bulk. As it is, I am quite impressed with what my Sony Nex-3 is capable of.
Nevertheless, hi-ISO performance is the single most important feature a camera can have, at least to me. Available light shooter to the bone.
While I love high ISO (Fuji X100 is my camera of choice for this), the M9 with relatively slow lenses is my most used camera. However, with my shaky hands and the winter light coming, I'm sure glad that high ISO is coming into its own these days.
Me I want 6400 on a leica badly and need it. I am about to experiment with a sony nex 5n just because of this. I am also thinking of selling my soul for a 50 noctilux. I have gotten my sony nex 5n and it works fine on my leica lenses in darkness wish it was abit quieter but it is light tiny and I am pretty happy with it even when leica comes out with a m10 with iso 6400 -they better- i will keep this as my 90 f2 is a 135 f2 . But I want small and quiet I love the specs on the new canon but that is not a street camera. it is a commercial camera. PS with the sony 5n buy the viewfinder worth every penny.
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