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Low light indoor photo point & shoot


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Initial post: Dec 1, 2012 11:22:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2012 12:02:18 PM PST
M. Miller says:
I am looking for a point and shoot or at most possibly a bridge camera to take pictures of my kids & family. They move fast and I need a camera that can focus and take pictures even indoors. I have 2 kiddos under age 3. We are moving to Colorado next year so the camera may also be used while hiking in the mountains or sightseeing so a good zoom would be awesome. I do use the manual controls on my current camera, a Finepix 47D circa 2007. I get some very good to great shots with that little bugger but he kids tend to blur when I'm shooting at low light levels i.e. indoors without the flash. Images from low light levels look very soft when I crop them.

I do not want to learn, carry, and wrangle a DSLR at this point in my life. I have looked at the mirrorless cameras and the ones that I like are out of my budget. I hate AA battery cameras. I really don't care about geotagging, wifi capabilities, or built in photo filters. I have adobe photoshop and use it well. Yes I know the best way to get fast shots is with a DSLR but I'm just not there at this point in my life.

My budget is $250 or less. I am considering the canon powershot sx500, powershot sx260 hs, or fujifilm finepix 770exr. Any I should eliminate or add to the shortlist?

Posted on Dec 1, 2012 11:27:43 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 1, 2012 12:02:24 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 6:11:41 PM PST
Unfortunately -- for low-light MOVING subjects, the preferred solution is: shoe-mount flash bounced off a white ceiling into a LARGE (low-density) sensor... EG: an SLR with an off-camera or shoe-mount flash.

Why?
1) to stop motion requires using a fast shutter speed (or a short/bright flash when the ambient light is too dim to register through a slower exposure). 1/250s is probably the boundary for the slow end (and the fastest shutter at which better cameras can synchronize a flash).
2) Obtaining these shutter speeds means running the sensor at high ISO settings. Unfortunately, sensor noise becomes more noticeable as you boost the ISO -- and sensor noise is most noticeable on high density sensors (a P&S sensor with 10MP may have a density 10 times that of a 15MP APS-C SLR).
3) Built-in flashes were designed to be used as a fill-flash in DAYLIGHT, not as a primary light source in darkness -- as such they typically only range from 7-15 feet, and are so close to the lens that they produce harsh "deer in the headlights" shadows [and maybe red-eye]

Also, SLRs with phase detect focusing can usually focus faster than a P&S using contrast detection (phase detect provides the camera not only with out/in focus information, but can identify how far the focus needs to be shifted -- contrast detect can only say blurry-out/crisp-in, and has to hunt to find out how far and which direction).

Whatever camera you look at, you will need to learn to anticipate... That means setting the camera to "follow focus" (predictive, servo, continuous) and holding the shutter half pressed to keep the camera focusing the subject until the moment you want to capture happens... Even a fast SLR can't do "instantaneous" snapshots -- they can take 1/5 second to wake up from standby, focus, and shoot (P&S with collapsing lenses can take up to 2 whole seconds to wake up and extend the lens -- and then require you to zoom it to the desired setting; the SLR can be pre-zoomed)

While all my gear is Canon (4 SLRs, two video, and a P&S) the only Canon P&S I ever feel I can recommend are the D10/D20 (and only for someone doing snorkeling, white-water rafting, kayaking), and the G-series (which has a flash shoe -- the S100 lacks flash and optical finder). The G-series is twice your budget (a decade ago, the 4MP G2 was over three times your budget; that's my P&S model)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2012 9:07:04 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
Low light capability and more zoom works against each other. If you want both, you're going to have to shell out a lot more money and since the lens would be huge, the camera would be big and heavy. It gets more complicated real fast.

So which one will you value more? Low light performance or more zoom.

If it is low light, Panasonic LX5 or Olympus XZ-1 are your best bets for your money. The zoom range is for general indoor and walkaround photography. You can't zoom far.

If you want twice the zoom range by sacrificing half the low light performance, the Nikon P7100 should be cool. Compared to LX5, it can reach about twice as far.

And if you want to sacrifice some more low light performance for more zoom, check out the Canon SX40 HS. Compared to LX5, it can reach 10 times as far.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 12:16:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2012 12:22:36 AM PST
OldAmazonian says:
The Lumix LX7 with its f:1.4/24mm eq - f:2.3/90mm eq glass is good in low light, yet light and small owing to its 1:1.7 sensor. The range equivalent to 24mm - 90mm is well suited to most of the indoor shooting I've done over the decades.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Optical zoom and 3.0-inch LCD - Black

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2013 9:38:57 AM PST
John Diaz says:
I'll second Neo's suggestion. I own a Panasonic Lumix LX5 and as I experiment more and more with it, I grow to like it more and more. I'm starting to rely on this camera for live music shows where the light is very very poor. And somehow, the LX5 gathers in a very decent amount of light every time. I am learning how to take pictures of moving subjects (in this situation, performers on stage) with a minimum of blurriness in low light and that is a work in progress for me. But I would very much recommend this camera for low light.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2013 11:06:35 AM PST
Gelo says:
I recommend Panasonic Lumix LX3, LX5 or LX7. =)

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 5:31:41 AM PST
Luis Alberto says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 10:06:03 AM PST
Luis, do you work for Snapsort or something? This is the third thread you've posted a link to Snapsort into. I visited the site for the first (and last) time just now, and it seems rather than impart any actual useful information it just attempts to make money as an Amazon affiliate, with links right back to here so they can collect their commission.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 11:41:30 AM PST
EdM says:
I think you know that you are drinking someone's kool aid, as doing what you say you want is not really possible. All decisions are compromises. As I see it, all possibilities at your price level will not do what you say you want.

IMO, the closest you can get to good low light performance in a [more or less] P/S is the Sony DSC-RX100 20.2 MP Exmor CMOS Sensor Digital Camera with 3.6x Zoom. It's much above your stated price level, and although it's good for its type, it is not in the same league as today's better DSLRs or better MILCs.

Check out this page, for sensor ratings of various cameras. This is selecting the low light [also sports] rating aspect.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Cameras/Camera-Sensor-Ratings/(type)/usecase_sports

Now, on the right side is a selector tool; click first the down arrow for "type", and then select "compact". All the scores are low, very low, and this is what you are looking for/at. Then add a click to "High end compact", and you see the scores jump higher. If you mouse over specific triangle data points, you can see what camera that is. The three highest points are generally for ~ $800 and up cameras, all with larger sensors.

The two models at "400" are the Sony RX100 above, and the Nikon 1 V2. The Sony RX100 is pocketable and has a built in zoom lens, while the Nikon 1 V2 takes interchangeable lenses and is more bulky. Still, for the price level of these cameras, you could have a DSLR which would have better performance in low light. [Sports needs are similar to moving kids in low light - action of the subject.]

Also, the longer the zoom range, the worse the IQ or image quality is. That is a known tradeoff with any lens situation.

What should you do? Check out this [or similar] site for its recommendations, in the appropriate categories:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/WB/WB.HTM

In this "Dave's Picks section, they rate cameras which they test. If you look on the right side, check "By User/Use", and select "Sports", for good low light. Among the other top choices listing of cameras, there are some P/S cameras and prices are listed. Also, you can choose a category based on price, such as 200-249 or 250-300, for recommended cameras in the indicated price range.

In the "sports" listing is the "Canon PowerShot SX260 HS", which you asked about, as well as some others including some Panasonic models at under $500. However, if you click through to the review of the SX 260 HS, you will find "In Auto mode, the SX260 is no speed demon when you're trying to take quick individual shots of kids, animals, sports, or other action-based activities. That's because it takes over two seconds after pressing the shutter before you're ready to shoot again. But in Program, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes, you can choose to shoot continuously (with or without autofocus adjusting while shooting) as long as your finger depresses the shutter button, at up to 2.4 frames per second."

This is not exactly what you want - you seem to be asking for the flexibility of DSLR shooting abilities, but that is not possible with a low cost P/S.

So, you need to be realistic about getting a camera that will do everything perfectly, and at a low cost. The truism is that you get what you pay for. OTOH, cameras have improved markedly in the last 5 years. Still, at your price level you will need to reduce your expectations, or perhaps find a great deal on some closeout deal from a "last years" model.

Alternately, increase your budget for a camera and overcome your antipathy against larger sensor cameras, DSLRs and so-called MILCs with larger sensors:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirrorless_interchangeable-lens_camera

Good luck finding a good compromise that will come closest to meeting your needs.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2013 6:57:57 PM PST
"My budget is $250 or less."

It's very difficult to get a "lowlight indoor" point and shoot for under $250. All of the best cameras in that class start at around $350 on a "good day". These are the models that have a larger-than-average maximum apertures and sensors, including:

Panasonic LX series (LX5-LX7K)
Sony RX-100 (this one's at $600 currently)
Olympus XZ-1/XZ-2
Samsung EX2F
Nikon p7 series
Fujifilm XF-1
Fujifilm X10
Fujifilm X100

The only thing I can tell you is maybe look into the Canon Powershot S-series? The S100 is just under $250. Don't expect "DSLR-quality" lowlight shots, though.

Posted on Mar 3, 2013 9:37:57 AM PST
John Diaz says:
I think Atomic Girl has some great points. However, you *can* get a used Panasonic LX5 for under $250 right now on Amazon. The majority of pictures that I take are in low light, indoor settings - for live music at darkly lit clubs. And my LX5 is simply a standout performer. It is a pleasure to use, I get really great results from it, and I'm realizing now after using it a lot that for the money I spent, it was well worth it.

I can't comment on the other cameras that Atomic Girl wrote in her impressive list, though I'd imagine that the LX7 and its f/1.4 lens is even better in low light conditions. With these new cameras that are pretty compact (for the most part - we're not talking about a shirt pocket, but my LX5 fits in my pants pocket) that have a bigger sensor than point and shoot cameras, I'm not sure why non-pro photographers would even need a DSLR these days.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend an LX5 for anyone. At the same time, my brother-in-law, who is actually a pro photographer, just purchased a Fuji XF-1 (which Atomic Girl listed) for a walking around camera, and naturally, he gets beautiful shots with it. Skip the DSLR if you're not making money with your pictures, and research the cameras that Atomic Girl listed!
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Discussion in:  Digital Camera forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  12
Initial post:  Dec 1, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 3, 2013

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