Best Low Light Camera

In challenging situations where there is no light in the environment, you need special help. In those circumstances, you need the Best Low Light Camera to make good photos. If there is no light, the picture will be completely dark. Even so, a Best Low Light Camera allows making excellent photographs in the most dismal conditions.

Some of your shootings will be in dark conditions. If you take pictures at night or during concerts, you will need the Best Low Light Camera.

There are low light applications for all sorts of shooters. Wedding, landscape, astronomic, sports and city photographers, they all have something in common. They need to be capable of shooting in dark situations. They also find lovely and attractive conditions in the dark. For example, car or street lights create fantasy scenes during the night.
If you want to profit from what dark environments can offer you, you will need a Best Low Light Camera.

Name Columna1 Overall DxOMark Sensor Score DxOMark Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Sony DSC-RX10 III $$$ 70 472
Sony DSC-RX100 II $ 67 483
Canon G7 X Mark II $ 65 522
Sony DSC-RX100 IV $ 70 562
Canon 7D Mark II $$$ 66 854
Pentax K-3 II $$ 80 1106
Nikon D5600 $$ 84 1306
Nikon D7200 $ 87 1333
Samsung NX1 $$$ 83 1363
Sony A6500 $$$ 85 1405
Sony A6300 $$ 86 1437
Canon 5D Mark III $$$$$ 81 2293
Canon 6D Mark II $$$$ 85 2862
Nikon D750 $$$$ 93 2956
Sony A7SII $$$$$$ 85 2993
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II $$$$$$$$$$$ 88 3207
Pentax K-1 $$$$ 96 3280
Sony A7RII $$$$$ 98 3434
Sony A9 $$$$$$$$$ 92 3517
Sony A7S $$$$$ 87 3702

Variables to look for when choosing the Best Low Light Camera

Exposure

It covers the three pillars of photography: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO levels. The exposure is, in a nutshell, how bright the picture is. The optical diaphragm controls all those variables.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is the speed it takes to open and close. This rate will allow more or less time in capturing the light. Correspondingly, the image will be lighter or darker. Still, the more time the shutter is open, the more blurred will be the image. Long shutter speed is ok using a static tripod and motion blur effects.

Image Noise

You can avoid image noise using a full aperture and lower ISO. Image noise is random grain or dot variations in the picture of color and brightness. The smaller the ISO, the less sensitive is the camera to light so the finer the dots distortion or grain. Besides, you will capture less light, and that is our primary goal in dark situations.

ISO

Some photographers do not opt to shoot with flash at dusk or night. Shooting in low light with a flash can violate the integrity of the image. The lack of natural light in the frame affects very often the quality of the shoot.

ISO is the sensitivity of the camera to light. It is the sensor’s electronic sensibility to the incoming light. The lower the ISO level, the less sensitive your camera is to light and the more delicate the grain.

It is difficult to understand how ISO works to make good pictures. ISO, aperture and shutter speed are the three primary variables in photography. Do not be afraid of using high ISO. Increasing ISO is a useful measure to shoot low-light images.

A higher ISO brightens the image if the shutter speed is constant. That happens at the expense of more image noise. With low ISO you will get a blurry image because of a slower shutter speed. Try to increase ISO where there is still minimal noise. You can achieve that with the least signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio. An SNR of 32.04 dB is equal to an excellent image quality. SNR of 20 dB is an acceptable image quality. Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal-to-noise_ratio_(imaging).

Sensor Size

The bigger the sensor, the more capture of light. Full Frame cameras have the most prominent sensors but are the most expensive. Cheaper alternatives are APS-C sensors or MFT. They do not perform as well as Full Frame on low light conditions.

Megapixels

The noise viewed in an image relates to the sensor size, not the number of pixels. Nevertheless, Canon’s G11/S90 and Fujifilm’s EXR have unique working settings. Those make several small pixels behave as one large pixel improve low-light performance. A lower resolution can imply a cleaner image since each pixel is larger allowing more light.

Best Low Light Camera for Low Light Photography

Ergonomics, weight, innovative features, lens choice, and other intangibles are also important variables. They might have a more significant influence on your buying decision. Your goal is to get the camera that may perform most excellent in low light with quality. Sensor size is, in general, with other features, the critical variable.

A camera of high or middle class, which allows you to shoot at high ISO values, will cost a lot. Most models have large sensors and will enable you to take good pictures.

Full Frame DSLR Cameras

Because of the sensor size and advanced features, DSLR is the best choice to shoot in low light.

You might prefer working at night or not like to shoot with a tripod. Then, the best choice will be a Full Frame DSLR or Mirrorless camera. Such cameras have much more sensitive sensors and offer more technology than most standard solutions. Point-and-shoot or smartphones do not get a sharp enough picture. Even at 100% resolution and under ideal lighting conditions, DSLR performs much better. In low light conditions, non-DSLR/Mirrorless cameras shoot much worse. That is generally due to the sensor size, which is much smaller.

APS-C Sensor Cameras

If you look for a cheaper alternative, APS-C sensor cameras are more affordable and a good option.

Micro Four Thirds MFT cameras

MFT camera sensors are smaller so do not perform like the full frame. Nonetheless, they are more compact thus more comfortable to carry around.

Smartphones

Smartphones cameras are becoming better day by day. You have to know all the new features because they are excellent tools for low light photography.
New manual controls give us DSLR-like control over our smartphones. That enables to meet better exposure and get more creative with our photography.

How to use the ISO settings with the Best Low Light Camera?

To get a sharp shot, free from noise, you will have to experiment with your camera. Especially on shooting with different ISO values. To have a good idea of the quality of your picture, you must enlarge the image. You need to see how it displays on the LCD screen or laptop. If the image looks soft, with indistinguishable edges, the ISO value may be too high.

As an example, if you work with a low-level camera, you can detect and test its lousy quality. The faulty camera does not make sharp, noiseless images without a flash at ISO above, for example, 800. This device is not a camera for night photography. The only way out is if you use a tripod or fix the camera on a stable surface. But even this is not an ideal solution. After dozens of images, you may find that the results are far from perfect.

Other camera models will allow you to take better pictures under similar conditions. So, if you like to photograph at night and shoot without using an external flash, it’s better to buy a new camera. Suitable cameras for shooting under low light are high-end devices. For example, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon 6D Mark II, Sony A7S, Sony A9 and Pentax K1. All brands offer the high-end option.

Budget for the Best Low Light Camera

Latest models of each brand provide new features that outperform the old model (ex: Sony A7SII vs. Sony A7S). Nevertheless, further models are, in general, more expensive. You should adjust your budget to the upgrade that covers your needs. Moreover, the one that stays within your budgets limits.

High ISO Low-Light Rankings with the Best Low Light Camera

To analyze each camera sensor capabilities, you can go to dxomark.com and search your camera. There you can find the Overall Sensor Score. You can also see other measures: color depth, dynamic range, low-light ISO. Within a low-light scenario, you have to look for the cameras with the highest low-light ISO. Then adjust your budget or other preferential characteristics.

Name Columna1 Overall DxOMark Sensor Score DxOMark Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Sony DSC-RX10 III $$$ 70 472
Sony DSC-RX100 II $ 67 483
Canon G7 X Mark II $ 65 522
Sony DSC-RX100 IV $ 70 562
Canon 7D Mark II $$$ 66 854
Pentax K-3 II $$ 80 1106
Nikon D5600 $$ 84 1306
Nikon D7200 $ 87 1333
Samsung NX1 $$$ 83 1363
Sony A6500 $$$ 85 1405
Sony A6300 $$ 86 1437
Canon 5D Mark III $$$$$ 81 2293
Canon 6D Mark II $$$$ 85 2862
Nikon D750 $$$$ 93 2956
Sony A7SII $$$$$$ 85 2993
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II $$$$$$$$$$$ 88 3207
Pentax K-1 $$$$ 96 3280
Sony A7RII $$$$$ 98 3434
Sony A9 $$$$$$$$$ 92 3517
Sony A7S $$$$$ 87 3702
James Heidel
 

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