Finding the right camera can be challenging but finding the right camera for a specific kind of photography adds another layer of complications onto your purchase.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a competitive edge, or a curious newbie who’s only ever shot smartphone pictures, everyone knows that shooting in low light can be a blurred, noisy nightmare if you aren’t packing the right gear.
Fortunately for you, we’ve gathered five of the best cameras for low light photography, so they should be up to the task for whatever you have planned.
We’ve written out their pros and cons, as well as small entries explaining why we think they can stand up to the job.
Included below is also a buyers’ guide that will tell you what to look for when buying cameras in order to get low light performance. An FAQ is also attached so that you can see the common questions other photographers have asked get answered.
If you choose to read the guide, you’ll know what to look for next time you make a purchase, and so there’ll be less chance of you being left in the dark.
Are you in a hurry to see the light?
If you need a camera that can squeeze every lumen out of a dark room, we recommend the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 4K Point and Shoot Camera.
We do this because it’s competitively priced for the specs it has, and you can see some of those specs below:
This model has a large one inch 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor and can deliver 4K photography and videography capably in low light conditions.
Its Leica DC lens is perfect for sharp, brightening photography, and is reinforced by an optical image stabilizer that reduces blur.
This camera has integrated smartphone app compatibility if you have the prerequisite Wi-Fi connection, and as mentioned, is more affordable than some of the other products in the below list.
Coming from an established household name in the world of cameras, our top product is the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. This camera is one from a series intended to be able to tackle challenging light levels, hence the Lumix name.
This model has a large one inch 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor that’s good at coping with low light levels. As the name has mentioned, it shoots photos and videos in 4K. This is done at 30P for videography with hybrid 8MP video frames grabbed as photographs.
It uses the Leica DC lens, which is bright and very sharp at 25,400 millimeters, but is capable of macro photography down to three centimeters. The lens is stabilized by a hybrid optical image stabilizer that features five axis correction so that blur occurs less often, and one-handed shooting is a possibility open for you.
One of the features that made this model stand out above the rest was its integrated smartphone compatibility via the Panasonic image app, allowing for remote imaging control as long as you have that app and a Wi-Fi connection.
You get all of the above for what we think is a humble price, too, but everything has its flaws and so we thought we’d address some concerns others have had, for the sake of transparency.
One criticism is that it lacks a touch screen like other, more compact models in the Lumix family, and so can seem unwieldy to some with all of its buttons. Whilst that will be a problem for some, we should point out larger cameras are usually more ideal for soaking in as much light as possible.
Another is that it can make whirring noises and seems to look old-fashioned compared with a lot of other cameras on the scene nowadays, but this is a largely subjective complaint and isn’t guaranteed to be the case with you, so if you like the sound of this model you should give it a try.
The second product we have comes from a name that everyone knows in the industry, it’s the Canon Digital SLR Body EOS 80D.
The body of this camera has a sleek, matte black finish that looks good in your hands, but the real features of this camera that you’re interested in is its capabilities.
It has an intelligent viewfinder that makes shooting wide-angled photographs simpler than ever and uses autofocus points to ensure consistent quality where it matters in all photographs big or small.
It has a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that ensures high resolution imaging, but what really made this camera earn its place on the list is the fact that it has refined individual pixels that enable high ISO speeds, which determines how well this camera performs in low light.
It can hit 16,000 ISO for photographs and 12,800 for video, which should be ample for most dimly lit environments.
You should know, however, that the lens itself isn’t included in the product, it’s just the camera body. You’ll have to source a low-light lens yourself if this is the option for you.
High ISO settings, ideal for low light shooting
Intelligent viewfinder makes wide-angle photography easy
24.2-megapixel CMOS sensors capture images at a high resolution
Sleek black matte body makes this a stylish piece of kit
The lens isn’t included in this product
If you set the ISOs too high, the video quality can get reduced
The product at the mid-point on our list is a camera that’s very effective, but is also very effective at lightening your wallet, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera. The first impressions from the feel of this camera are that it’s a very compact and lightweight model, being made from carbon fiber composite.
Despite its size, it packs a powerful 4096×2160 resolution and is a performance powerhouse at videography thanks to its 4K DKI 60fps video recording capability.
You control the action via an LCD touch screen that’s spread five inches across the back of this model, limiting the amount of buttons and so making it as easy to use as a piece of tech like this can possibly be.
The videoing capability makes this camera, in our considered opinion, better as a videography camera rather than a photography camera. This isn’t just because of that 4K 60fps recording capability, but also because it has built-in microphones that offer good sound quality.
As mentioned, it's also quite expensive and so seems to us a product for those of you who are serious about your camerawork.
High resolution pictures and video
Easy to operate five-inch LCD touch screen
Microphones offer good sound quality, ideal for videoing
The next camera on the list is another Canon, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II. It works off of a large one inch 20.1-megapixel CMOS sensor that takes high quality images and a TTL autofocus system which reduces blur, especially on wide angled shots.
Those wide-angled shots carry an aperture value of F/1.8 that turns to F/2.8 when zoomed in. This camera wastes no time in capturing images by snapping at a consistent 8fps.
This camera is also capable of Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to post images online. It's operated by a three-inch LCD monitor that’s capable of tilting up 180 degrees or down 45 degrees in order to take angled photographs.
However, speaking of degrees, this camera is limited by the fact that it can only operate in temperatures of 0 to 40 degrees Celsius, or 32 to 104 Fahrenheit, before beginning to malfunction.
Large one inch 20.1-megapixel CMOS sensor captures high quality images, and a TTL autofocus system to reduce blur
F/1.8 aperture value at wide angles and F/2.8 when zoomed to 4.2x
Continuously shoots at 8fps
Three-inch LCD monitor that can tilt up or down for angled photography
Restricted to operating temperatures of 0 to 40 degree Celsius (32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
The final camera model on this list is the Nikon COOLPIX A10, a compact and chromed out camera that’s light on the wallet. Its CCD image sensor shoots to the tune of 16.1 megapixels, allowing for good photos and the shooting of videos at 720p in HD.
It has a built-in glass lens capable of zooming in up to five times, which belongs to Nikon’s in-house brand Nikkor and so benefits from its purpose-built compatibility with the rest of the camera.
It has a quaint 2.7-inch LCD display that makes this camera a breeze to operate, and it accepts a wide range of batteries whether they’re alkaline, lithium or of Nikon’s own rechargeable make.
The problem there is the fact that this camera retails with no battery pack, and so it needs to be bought separately.
As said, it’s also very affordable to the point that it’s the cheapest on the list, but it also must be said that it’s the least-powered too. Still, it’s a more than viable option for those who need a little low light performance on a budget.
16.1-megapixel CCD image sensor for good photos and 720p HD video
Best Point and Shoot Camera in Low Light – Buyers Guide
How to Choose the Best Low Light Camera
Before you make your purchase, perhaps you want to read up on these types of cameras and what makes certain models better than others.
This buyers’ guide is here for you to do just that, and in doing so get the knowledge of these cameras you’ll need to make the best purchases now and into the future.
This guide covers the following features of low-light cameras: image sensors, ISO settings, lens, aperture, and of course, image and video quality. We also have a Frequently Asked Questions section below for your perusal, maybe a question you have has already been answered?
Image sensors are solid-state devices that actually create the image you see in the viewfinder by converting light. Smaller sensors, naturally, crop images since they cannot capture the full scene like larger full-frame sensors can.
You’ll see above the sensors come in three types, MOS, CMOS, and CCD. MOS stands for Metal Oxide Semiconductor, named for the specific method by which the hardware is formed on silicon wafer.
MOS sensors create either n-channel or p-channel Field Effect Transistors (FETs) vital to the operation of the camera. CMOS, meaning Complementary MOS, use and toggle between both and so use less power, allowing for healthier battery lifespans.
CCD sensors are Charge-Coupled Devices that function much like MOS image sensor devices but use up more power.
Max ISO Settings
ISO stands for International Standards Organization, but within the context of photography it refers to the quantified measurements of how sensitive the camera is to light. If you’re looking for low-light cameras, you’ll want products with a wide range of ISO settings.
A good number to aim for is around 12,800 or 25,600 since these would be considered at the top end of camera ISO settings. Be aware that the model of camera you get should have ISO settings that are compatible with other features such as aperture or shutter speed.
The lens of your camera is obviously an invaluable component that needs to be considered before making your purchase. A good quality lens will be required to tackle low light environments. Most digital cameras have built-in optical zooming lenses, but DSLR cameras exist which may want to be considered.
Lens aperture is a measure of how much the lenses open. Low aperture means that it is wide open whereas a high aperture means that there’s a very small opening, and so not much light enters through the lens. So, for low-light photography, having low aperture is preferred since it soaks in as much light as possible to produce an adequate photograph.
A lot of cameras with higher ISO settings will often lower your aperture automatically to perform better in lower lights.
Image and Video Quality
What good is a camera if it has a poor image or video quality? When trying to get the best camera quality, it’s important that you remember that the most expensive models of camera aren’t necessarily the best when it comes to quality. That’s why it’s important to keep your options open and consider every alternative and balance their features against each other.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you shoot indoors in low light?
Need some pointers? Firstly, you’ll want to photograph whatever you’re photographing with it as close to the light in the area as possible, whether it’s natural ambient light or artificial light.
Sometimes low light isn’t so much the problem as an unstable camera that’s out of focus, as the two often get conflated, so another thing to try would be practicing good camera holding form with your elbows tucked in and your other hand supporting the weight of your camera from the bottom, if you have a protruding lens.
It may be obvious to state, but we’re compelled to make sure that you’ve set the ISO settings so that they can perform for the environment you’re in.
Are mirrorless cameras better in low light?
This list is for those looking for point-and-click cameras, but generally speaking mirrorless cameras will indeed out-perform those cameras in darker environments. This is because those hefty mirrorless cameras often have larger sensors, which allows for more translation of light input into electronic photographic output.
Mirrorless cameras are, however, outgunned by DSLR cameras simply because their sensors are larger again, and they have variable lenses which allow for specialized, low-light performing lenses to be attached.
Are point and shoot cameras better than iPhone cameras?
Smartphone camera technology, and smartphone technology in general, has come an astounding way in the short decade and a half they’ve been mainstream. That said, even the most compact camera isn’t as slender as smartphones are and that means that their image sensors aren’t as large as camera-sensors.
Name any other factor and a good old camera will likely beat the iPhone on that, too, e.g. optical zoom, image stabilization, the inbuilt flash, and especially battery life. iPhones and other smartphones have it for portability and convenience, we’ll give them that, and there’s a growing contingent of talented photographers and videographers that swear by them, but if you’re serious about getting the best performance, using a camera is usually your best bet.
Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates
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