The modern cameras have the tendency to take good pictures. However, not all of them are meant to be used in tough conditions. The quality of the camera has to go up with tougher shooting conditions. Photography is all about apprehending outdoor and indoor environment. However, little light can be a challenge, even for the best low light cameras.
A camera doesn’t just need to have good low light capabilities for the dark concert venues or the Northern Lights. The low light applications are available for all sorts of shooters. The sports photographers will be able to shoot high ISOs in the arenas and wedding photographers will be able to take clear photos in dimly-lit reception venues.
It is a common perception of the street photographers that a lot of a city’s most interesting people come out in the dark. The low light cameras will benefit such photographers as well. Moreover. landscapes look more dramatic in the dark, regardless to suggest the challenges of astrophotography!
All these tasks require a camera that exceeds in low light. While there are countless options available to your escort, buying a $20000 camera isn’t as attainable for all, is it?
In this article, I will take you through some of the important segments of the best low light camera. It will follow some awesome suggestions of the products that don’t completely rob you off of your money and still give decent shots. Interested yet? Let’s check them out:
Before we go any further, it will be best if we discuss the buyer’s guide.
Buyer’s Guide On How To Buy The Best Low Light Camera
As a photographer or an avid traveler, you will come across many such situations when you would want to have a low light camera. Features like high ISO range, noise control, bright lenses, large sensors, superior autofocus, and picture stabilization define the characteristics of the best low light camera. These are some of the specifications that can influence your decisions while determining the right model.
The sensors of a digital camera have small units known as “pixels.” To make it clearer, a 20MP camera will have 20 million light-capturing units. On the opening of the shutter and the time light reaches the sensor, the pixel is meant to measure the light’s intensity. This is down by calculating the number of photons hitting each unit.
On comparing two 20 megapixel sensors in one Full Frame size and another APS-C size, on a full frame sensor, the area of each pixel is 2.3 times greater than the area on the APS-C sensor. Concludingly, this elongates the capability of a full frame sensor in measuring the light’s intensity as it is recorded with high intensity.
One of the biggest manufacturers of digital sensors in the world is Sony. That is why, most of the mobile phones, point and shoot cameras, and even professional cameras use Sony sensors.
ISO measures the amount of light that the camera sensor is capable of capturing. With an increase in the ISO value, the shutter speed also increases. This feature comes handy when you want to take pictures of objects while they are in movement or there is no tripod for shooting. At the same time, you should also acknowledge that high ISO shooting has its own fair share of complexities and disadvantages.
First of all, the amount of noise will potentially increase with increased ISO rates in a camera. Therefore, if this criterion is mattering to you then make sure to choose models with good performance and higher values. The optimal indicator for the shooting is 1600 – 3200 ISO. However, if your requirement is of shooting in low light conditions then you will have to buy a high ISO camera because it will perform better.
In such a case, a camera with ISO settings up to 6400 will be able to produce effective results. With such adjustment, the camera gets prepared to perform effectively in the minimal light condition as well. Photos that you click turns out to be sharp and clear. The amount of noise is less, and it can also be reduced further by editing the picture. However, it is significant to take into account the features of your low light camera and the circumstances in which the photography is being done.
#3. White Balance Adjustability
When operating in less light conditions, it’s extremely significant to have an accurate white balance. Most of the cameras come with an automatic white balance. Regrettably, it can make the images look little less warm then they usually look.
Unless you’re looking for a certain kind of camera, it’d be ideal to settle for a camera with an adjustable white balance. But most importantly, you need to learn how to adjust the white balance before buying a camera so that from the very beginning, you can capture the finest shots.
#4. Noise Control
Noise control is yet another significant feature to look out for. The amount of noise increases with enhanced ISO. You should also know that the increase in noise control also affects the aperture and sensor. Talking about DSLR low light cameras, they possess a wider aperture, and the full-frame ones normally have a larger sensor.
Want to pick the best low light camera? Well, you should never forget about the right lenses. Bright lenses are considered to be perfect for shooting in a poorly lit environment. Such lenses allow in a shallow depth of field while making more light to enter the sensor. This largely impacts the photography.
Thus, the quality of photographs taken with a brighter lens is much better. Another thing that you must consider while choosing a lens is the aperture value. The brightest models available in the market will have f/3 or lower number. For shooting in low light conditions, you must pick a camera with the brightest lens.
In reality, autofocus is there in all the cameras to help you take excellent pictures under poor lighting. Thus, while taking a photo, the lens works practically without lags. The rule of camera making says that the best low light camera with a wider range of ISO is meant to have better autofocus. Considering this aspect, the kind of camera that you are seeking to buy will have a major impact.
Top 10 Recommendations On The Best Low Light Cameras
In this part of the review, we will discuss some of the greatest low light camera models available in the market.
This model has proved to be the best full-frame DSLR cameras on the market today. Not just that, the Nikon D850 is also among the most impressive low light cameras ever made. This one is known to deliver high sensitivity, lightning fast speed, unimaginable detail, and other completely amazing features. Certainly, this is an exclusive camera which is made for photography enthusiasts and professionals.
Getting into some of the important segments of this model, it is equipped with a jaw-dropping 45.7-megapixel back-side illuminated FX-format full-frame CMOS sensor with a no optical low-pass filter. Because of this feature, the camera ensures exceptional image quality, matchless light gathering efficiency, and true-to-life colors.
Furthermore, it is backed with the EXPEED 5 image processor. The D850 has the ability to process data faster than ever before for sharp textural details, 4K video recording, less noise, a wide dynamic range, and continuous shooting at 9 fps.
It also comprises of an incredible autofocus system which offers 153 focal points, and 99 cross-type sensors. There is a dedicated processor for accurate and rapid tracking as low as EV -4. To top it all, the camera is enriched with a native ISO range of 64-25600, which can be expanded to 32-102400. All in all, this camera is a powerhouse capable of remarkable photography in the darkest of the environments.
Expandable ISO range
Amazing AF System
Among the most expensive cameras in the market
The Nikon D7500 is another excellent choice to make when it comes to low light cameras. The cropped sensor technology helps in attaining all kind of amazing features such as unparalleled image quality, color rendition, and speedy performance. Furthermore, the ISO range simply put it out of charts for the kind of resolution you get. This is a budget camera and still comes with all these incredible features. It surely deserves rank among the best low light cameras in the market.
Going further, the 20.9-megapixel image sensor in collaboration with EXPEED 5 image processor puts it in the category of extremely expensive cameras that produce results at the ISO range of 100-51200. The detailing of the images is also extravagant and it does not produce any noise even on reaching up to the ISO level of 1500.
This is a choice model with classic features of various full-frame cameras in the market. To make it perform better in bad lighting environment, the brand has given it a fine AF system along with 52 focal points as well as 15 cross-type sensors. The object is detected at spontaneously in dark environments as well. Due to the stabilization system, the noise is kept to the minimum and the Monocoque design ensures that it is completely resistant to dust and moisture.
Great ISO range
Excellent image quality
Not extremely recommended for the professionals
The X-T2 seems to tick all the right boxes when it comes to the best low-light camera. This one has a 24.3 MP CMOS sensor and it comes in handy in detecting light and reducing the appearance of artificial colors. With the enhanced ISO range, this model has proved itself to be exceptionally well-performing in the market. It also has an OLED viewfinder. This camera gives you all the power of magnification you need to get the finest shots. Going further, there is an LCD tilting monitor with this model which packs 1.04 dots for great precision. Also, it has more than 100FPS in live view.
For the rough users that are indulged in outdoor or landscape photography, this camera has got a well-built aluminum body which is not just moisture and dust-resistant but also completely weather-sealed.
Now, coming down to the processor, it is practically a workhorse. It performs at speeds of up to 4X than the competitive models in the market. Moreover, there are features like speed tracking sensitivity and zone area switching which makes it an exceptional pick. This is a highly-recommended camera for beginners or leisure photographers.
Solid & weather-proof
Suitable for low light environments
Might require battery grip if you have prolonged usage
So, are you looking for a camera that is below the budget of $1000? Well, you cannot go wrong with this model from Nikon. You might appreciate the low noise levels of this model. The next thing, this model boasts an incredible dynamic range. Also, there is a wide aperture which makes it simply the finest piece on the market.
Another thing that will entice you about this camera is its 36.3MP capacity. Yes, you heard it right. This one has beat most of the cameras in this kind of price. Furthermore, for the quality-conscious buyers, this is among the most suitable cameras. However, I am a little appalled with a low pass filter in this model.
However, I would say that this is a complication observed across all Nikon cameras. I seriously think that with such ruthless competition out there, Nikon should consider doing away with the OLPF. Moving on, this model is constructed and designed to provide a full cinematic experience. What I really liked about this model is its microphone sensitivity which is simply out of this world.
One of the most interesting features is the liberty to remotely start and stop videos. This one is certainly one of the finest cameras that you will find in the market today.
Remotely start and stop videos
Pictures might get blur because of OLPF technology
Well, this one has got exceptional performance in dim lighting situations. Features like a massive sensor and incredible image quality make this model stands out from the crowd. The Sony Alpha a7S II is one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras that you can ever find in the market. It has got a fantastic 12.2 megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor and the BIONZ X image processor. You won’t just find speed in this model but it also offers a tremendous signal-to-noise ratio and possesses the capability of collecting maximum light for impressive performance in poor lighting conditions. Plus, for the gorgeous performance, you will find this model boosting a surprisingly high ISO of 409600.
Photographers don’t usually need to use the camera at such high levels, this one has the tendency to delivers low noise images at up to 6400 ISO. This is a point where many of the other cameras in the market start losing picture quality. An upgraded autofocus system offers 169 AF points to make sure highly accurate and fast focusing of the camera. Moreover, because of the low signal-to-noise ratio produced by the sensor, the AF system can perform incredibly well down to EV -4.
How can I forget about the 5-axis image stabilization that offers 4.5 stops of shake compensation? This model can produce amazingly detailed stills and videos in even the darkest of shooting conditions.
5-axis image stabilization
Phenomenal ISO range
Certainly, this should not come as a surprise that Canon makes our list of the top low light cameras with the 5D Mark IV. You can consider it as a mid-range professional DSLR camera that delivers the outstanding image quality. This one is surely among the best and most reliable cameras available in the market. I will start by saying that it has a massive 30.4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6+ image processor. This model is astonishingly fast and offers unmatched high-resolution image quality. If you are a serious photographer and need something to match your skills then this model will serve you fine. It has the ability to shoot up to 7 fps and 4K video recording.
The ISO range of 100-32000 is expandable and can reach up to 50-102400 which allows this model to tackle any kind of lighting conditions. To top it all, there is an outstanding autofocus system offering a 61-point high-density reticular mechanism along with 41 cross-type points.
The camera can be taken down on the sensitivity grounds to EV -3 and even EV -4 with a quicker lens and the camera set to Live View. This amplifies the performance of the camera and allows it to perform splendidly in the darkest situations.
Ideal for mid-range professionals
Expandable ISO range
6+ image processor
This is yet another impressive camera in a suitable budget. This model is enriched with a hefty ISO range of 1600-6400 Surely, it’s meant to achieve a pretty high shutter speed. It has a superb ability to detect light, irrespective of the lighting conditions. Then there is a DX crop factor makes it a fine choice. The interesting feature is the 24.3-megapixel sensor. The sensor strikes considerably above its weight, especially when paired up with a great ISO setting.
This model uses a Multi-CAM 4800 DX phase-detect AF system.
There are 9 AF points of the cross-type. If you ask me, that’s a decent tendency. Its 18-55mm AF-P kit lens provides a wide aperture which comes in handy in letting in as much light as possible. With the help of a well-made viewfinder, you will be able to capture great shots. This camera also brings in a lot of different shooting modes. You can use the effects mode for special filters with stuff such as high key, low key, silhouette, super vivid, selective color, and night visions. This camera does lack in special movie recording mode.
Best in class
Comes with excellent speed
No dedicated movie recording
The list of best low light cameras is incomplete without mentioning Fujifilm in it. This is a splendid low light camera of 2019 with the X-T2 Mirrorless abilities. Fujifilm is known for manufacturing cameras that render outstanding image quality in bright, vibrant colors, and this specific model delivers both in any kind of lighting condition. A large 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor captures in all kind of light. The X-Processor Pro engine offers spontaneous response times, true-to-life colors, low noise, and faster AF.
It has an ISO range of 200-12800 which is also expandable to 51200. Also, it has excellent internal and image stabilization systems. The camera is equipped with all the features to work well in all kind of lighting conditions. Also, there is minimal noise and disruption in the images.
This camera is a considerable option for someone who is looking for a camera for videography or still photography. Just like any other mirrorless camera, this one is also remarkably compact and lightweight. And, it comes with 63 points of weather sealing which makes it dust, moisture, and cold resistant. In short, you can count on this model for durability and high performance.
Not exceptional for the professionals
The Canon EOS 80D DSLR is among the finest performers in low light conditions. It delivers sharp image quality, the versatility of a DSLR with impressive features. The camera is also priced suitably for a beginner. It has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 image processor. the camera is known for its speed and delivering true-to-life still image quality. Also, the autofocus boasts a 45-point all cross-type mechanism. This helps in quickly and accurately focusing on subjects, irrespective of the lighting conditions.
The AF is capable of focusing down to -3 EV. Thus, the camera has the tendency to focus even in the darkest light conditions. Furthermore, the sensor’s analog-to-digital converter chip, the noise created in the images is considerably low even at the high ISO settings. This model allows you to shoot at the lower ISOs in which you are most comfortable. You don’t need to change the aperture or shutter speeds.
Ideal for low-light conditions
ISO range not expandable
At the end of this review, I would like to mention the Alpha a6300 the brings 11FPS to the table which is a rare feature to have in top-notch cameras. Why so? Because this is made with a relatively wide aperture. As a professional, you might know the benefits of such a wide aperture.
It allows more light to come inside and strike the lens. As a result, the shots will be brighter and brilliant. This feature is especially significant in low light conditions.
Having a high penetration of light is one thing and detecting it is another. Fortunately, this model brings the clarity of 24.2MP sensor on the table. The CMOS sensor clearly goes over the board to ensure maximum quality of the images that can be made possible. Furthermore, the built-in features of the camera do an excellent job in noise reduction. You should know that it’s rare to find a camera that minimizes noise while still expanding on sensitivity. So, I am really happy to be reviewing this camera in my recommendation list today.
High penetration of light
Suitable for low light conditions
What Are The Best ISO Camera Settings For Low Light?
ISO settings are considered to be responsible for the adjustment of lights while clicking in low-light situations. Not all cameras allow manual settings adjustments. However, the ones that do offer varying ISO range, determining the maximum setting can be difficult. As you work with the ISO settings, there will be effects such as blur or even the noise in the pictures that you take. This will lead to the overall quality of the image.
By now, you must know that ISO settings are crucial. Therefore, in this section, I will illustrate the finding of accurate ISO range needed for a specific task. While shooting in the dark environment, one must prepare to compromise on the image quality. It is because as you increases the ISO, the performance setting of the camera goes down. I will simplify while shooting at the higher ISO range, the image can either get noisy or blurry.
Want to know the causes of this choice? Well, there are two prime choices available in the dim light shooting. You can either use a lower ISO on less shutter speed. This will allow exposure of light to the sensor. This will make the image appear to be blurry. Or, you can choose to operate at a higher ISO and a faster shutter speed. With this, the image can have noise or graininess.
No doubt this is a difficult decision, however, the advice is to work at the higher ISO range since a small amount of noise is better than blurry details. But most importantly, the noise can be fixed by using post-photography practices while nothing can be done to the blur.
According to the professionals, the recommended ISO range is between 1600 to 3200. However, it can go more to the maximum level of the camera. These camera settings allow it to capture great images in the darkest conditions and give minimal noise. You can also test a camera at different ISO setting to determine the best one.
Well, long gone are the days when I was a beginner and trust me, I have made some pretty expensive mistakes in my search to the best low light camera. Now that I have my fair share of experience to share, I would like to recommend Nikon D850 FX-format to be the star model in my list.
I understand that the price is high and that it is not attainable for everyone. But the ones who can buy it should not miss. If you need a quick affordable model recommendation then I will go with the Sony Alpha a6300. It is also a wonderful camera with all the exclusive features.
Without any second thoughts, you can pick any model of your choice from the above recommendations.