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real world dSLR ISO performance
I've got a fuji S5700 camera. It shoots fantastic sharp photos at ISO 64,100,200, even 400 is pretty good. Couldn't be happier. Above that there can be some pretty noticeable grain. We had a family party last night and I shot a bunch of indoor photos without flash. There was a lot of light in the house and I figured they would turn out OK.

The colors and lighting look right, but the images are incredibly grainy! The might be OK printed at 4x6", but they look pretty bad even at 30% scale on my computer screen..

So, my question is about how an entry SLR would have handled this scenario. I just walked around taking candids of everyone without flash. If I had, say a Nikon D40 or a Sony a200, would all these photos look good even without flash? Does an ISO 800 photo on an SLR look THAT much better than an ISO 800 P&S? Does it look as good as an ISO 200 or 400 from a P&S? I find I get much more natural photos when I don't have to tell people to "say cheese" and wait for the flash, but I can't handle the noisy photos! It is hard to tell how real world ISO performance is going to be when all the ISO tests online seem to be of inanimate objects like hot sauce bottles and statues..

Shutter lag also ruined a few great candids, but that is another story.......

Comments (14)

Tkbslc wrote:.

I've got a fuji S5700 camera. It shoots fantastic sharp photos atISO 64,100,200, even 400 is pretty good. Couldn't be happier.Above that there can be some pretty noticeable grain. We had afamily party last night and I shot a bunch of indoor photos withoutflash. There was a lot of light in the house and I figured theywould turn out OK. When I looked at them on the computer, I noticedmost of them were in ISO 800 and some were in 1600.



So, my question is about how an entry SLR would have handled thisscenario. I just walked around taking candids of everyone withoutflash. If I had, say a Nikon D40 or a Sony a200, would all thesephotos look good even without flash? Does an ISO 800 photo on an SLRlook THAT much better than an ISO 800 P&S? Does it look as good asan ISO 200 or 400 from a P&S? I find I get much more natural photoswhen I don't have to tell people to "say cheese" and wait for theflash, but I can't handle the noisy photos!.

With a proper external flash on a DSLR there should be no waiting as long as it's turned on. Yes, there is a regeneration between flashes, but with good batteries it's only a couple of seconds. Yes, ISO 800 on a good DSLR is much butter than anything on a point and shoot, but it still depends on lighting - the better the lighting, the better the picture quality. For indoor shooting I 'highly' recommend an external flash and learning how to bounce or diffuse it. For those who say it looks unnatural, I ask this - what is so 'natural' about a room dimly lit by incandescent or cfl lights?..

Comment #1

With a dslr there is NO shutter lag at all. except for how long it takes you to push the shutter button. a flash on a dslr there is no wait; I think you might be confusing shutter lag with the flash. a b uiltin flash ona dslr works fine, just the distance is limited to about 12ft or so. for any serious flash work with dslr use an external flash. an external flash cazn go quite a distance my 540 pentax flash on my pentax *istD dslr at f8.0 is full auto to 39ft.



As for noisy images, comparing a P7s(no matter good or what makedr) to a dslr is like night and day. I have no trouble going tom iso1600 if I have to.the butterfly was shot at the niagara falls butterfly conservatory at iso1600..

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The 3 flower shots were taken at the you of Michigan matthei conservatory at iso 800..

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Comment #2

Tkbslc wrote:.

So, my question is about how an entry SLR would have handled thisscenario. I just walked around taking candids of everyone withoutflash. If I had, say a Nikon D40 or a Sony a200, would all thesephotos look good even without flash? Does an ISO 800 photo on an SLRlook THAT much better than an ISO 800 P&S? Does it look as good asan ISO 200 or 400 from a P&S?.

I have Canon SLR (just for info, as you've mentioned Nikon & Sony), but speaking in general (so, no specific brand in mind), difference between p&s and SLR high ISO noise, is huge -when taking photo in dim conditions!.

Not going into "counting grain", I would say, SLR at ISO 800 is similar (or better), than (good) p&s at ISO 200..

But it's not only grain that matter... most (if not all) p&s at ISO200 (and above) have noise grain somehow smudged, which is hard to de-noise later (and keep sharpness/colors). On the other hand, high ISO photos taken with SLR's are still "sharp"... using other words: there's not only difference in noise amount, but also in noise "quality". Somehow hard to describe -but noticeable..

Again, this difference is more pronounced when shooting in darker environment (church, museum or sunset, for example). IMO, in such case, SLR at ISO800 is much better than p&s at ISO200..

Just my 2c,BogdanMy pictures are my memorieshttp://freeweb.siol.net/hrastni3/..

Comment #3

For comparison the following 2 pics were taken recently also at matthei conservatory using a pentax optio S5i at iso200..

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Comment #4

Here is a ISO1600 dSLR sample (full size):.

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VictorBucuresti, Romaniahttp://s106.photobucket.com/albums/m268/victor_petcu/http://picasaweb.google.com/teodor.nitica/..

Comment #5

GaryDeM wrote:.

With a dslr there is NO shutter lag at all. except for how long ittakes you to push the shutter button..

Yes, negligible shutter lag, after focus has been achieved. If the DSLR is set to autofocus, it has to refocus every time you touch that shutter button. In less than ideal lighting situations, the camera sometimes plays at this for what can seem like an eternity. While this is technically not shutter lag, it sure feels the same. I know that there are ways to work around the problem, but promising NO shutter lag might be a bit misleading.Regards, John..

Comment #6

Not misleading. I have the pentax *istD. and I have never waited for it to focus at any time. rather it is the reverse, the camera is waiting for me to make the final composition choice..

In any event, when I push the shutter on the *istD it shoots, if there is a delay I do not know it...

Comment #7

Later Pentaxes a little slower.especially K200D.fps "shoot-to-shoot"(w/o burst mode) comparable yo P&S digicams...

Comment #8

The DSLR will allow you to use larger apertures than are available on most point and shoot cameras. If you pick up a 50mm f/1.4 or 1.8 lens this will let you shoot at ISO 400 in the same light where the point and shoot might require ISO 1600..

Even at ISO 800 you may be able to get fast enough shutter speeds to stop subject movement...

Comment #9

GaryDeM wrote:.

With a dslr there is NO shutter lag at all..

That's wrong. All dSLRs have an easily measurable shutter lag. Even the fastest and most expensive dSLRs have a shutter lag around 50 mS..

...except for how long it takes you to push the shutter button..

If anything is instantaneous, it's the shutter button!.

...a flash on a dslr there is no wait;.

Wrong again. Especially if you use an off-camera flash. All TTL and iTTL flashes send out a pre-flash to "test the water"...then a real flash. There is a small delay between these for the camera to figure out how to expose..

I think you might be confusing shutter lag with the flash..

I think you might be confused yourself. .

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #10

GaryDeM wrote:.

Not misleading. I have the pentax *istD. and I have never waited forit to focus at any time. rather it is the reverse, the camera iswaiting for me to make the final composition choice..

In any event, when I push the shutter on the *istD it shoots, ifthere is a delay I do not know it..

I can't really comment authoritatively about what you don't know, but I do know you are wrong about any dSLR having instantaneous AF and shutter operation...even YOUR dSLR..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #11

And about last "MY DSLR" (traded for 4 month from friend) - is only1/5 sec or less lag ("almost anstateous"), not bigger.after that, using K200, a little ...painful.even my pocket P&S perfrom similar or even little faster.

So, shoot-to-shoot perfromance of K200 - is biggest disadvantages to me, with them(ititially, I planing buy this DSLR).

But, most DSLR really very responsive.thats impressive, if not useful..

I typically not shoot series, but my typical "spray and pray(but aimed " approach - very welcomed fast DC's...

Comment #12

It's hard to quantify these differences! We have no easy way to measure and describe IQ. This is a real problem..

Bogdan points out a major issue with almost all cameras in 2008...most have too many pixels, thus they need to apply noise reduction techniques on the images. These NR algorithms can totally ruin pix! This NR is most obnoxious on small cameras (don't call them P&S) because they have small sensors and small processors: The small sensors have massive noise and the small processors don't have the "power" to do a really good NR job. As the camera size grows, the sensor gets bigger and the processor does too...less noise to begin with and better, less obvious NR algorithms used..

SO, it's really not a P&S vs dSLR issue at all. It's a sensor size + NR algorithm issue..

Hbx2004 wrote:.

Tkbslc wrote:.

So, my question is about how an entry SLR would have handled thisscenario. I just walked around taking candids of everyone withoutflash. If I had, say a Nikon D40 or a Sony a200, would all thesephotos look good even without flash? Does an ISO 800 photo on an SLRlook THAT much better than an ISO 800 P&S? Does it look as good asan ISO 200 or 400 from a P&S?.

I have Canon SLR (just for info, as you've mentioned Nikon & Sony),but speaking in general (so, no specific brand in mind), differencebetween p&s and SLR high ISO noise, is huge -when taking photo in dimconditions!.

Not going into "counting grain", I would say, SLR at ISO 800 issimilar (or better), than (good) p&s at ISO 200..

Digital noise is not "grain". .

But it's not only grain that matter... most (if not all) p&s atISO200 (and above) have noise grain somehow smudged, which is hard tode-noise later (and keep sharpness/colors). On the other hand, highISO photos taken with SLR's are still "sharp"... using other words:there's not only difference in noise amount, but also in noise"quality". Somehow hard to describe -but noticeable..

Yes, that smudging is the result of poor NR. It can happen in ANY camera. As examples, SONY has two different cameras that exhibit this problem: the H9 and the A350. It's interesting that the H3 and the A300 are much better They have lower pixel density)!.

Again, this difference is more pronounced when shooting in darkerenvironment (church, museum or sunset, for example). IMO, in suchcase, SLR at ISO800 is much better than p&s at ISO200..

It's hard to quantify these numbers. Not all "P&S" cameras are the same. Not all dSLR cameras are the same. But in general, the dSLR is much better than the non-dSLR..

The D40, while being a bit old and using a CCD sensor (instead of a CMOS sensor), is known for very good noise characteristics..

I take LOTS of available light, candid photos with my D300. I usually use ISO 800 if I can as that seems to be a "sweet spot". I try to always use a fast lens (f/2.8 or better). I also use an off-camera SB-600 (bounced/diffused) to get even better IQ at times when a flash is appropriate..

If the above fails to give acceptable noise in the shadows, I use NoiseWare Pro with PSE6 to cut it down..

Here is a recent shot:.

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The EXIF data is in there. In case you can't read it...ISO 800, F/3.2, 1/40 sec, 200mm. I used a monopod and no flash. I did a tiny bit of NR in LR, but really not much at all. I think the noise in the shadows (on the left) is pretty good. BTW, this is a small part of the original frame...I cropped it to 2600 x 2600 (then again to 1200 x 1200 for this post)..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #13

Here is a real world test of my 510..

Http://www.pbase.com/maddogmd11/iso_and_is.

JimOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #14

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