Low Light Myths

Today’s Post by Mark Toal

“Small sensor cameras don’t work well in low light!” If Donald Trump was against mirrorless cameras this is something he might Tweet at 5am. I recently took a walk after dark in Seattle with the new Panasonic Lumix G85 and the Sony a6300. I set both cameras to Program mode and Auto ISO and just shot away as I ate dinner at the Palace Kitchen and walked back to my hotel.


Fact: Yes, a full frame sensor will take better images at very high ISO’s. That’s why you should consider what kind of low light photography that you do before you decide to spend the money and deal with the weight and size of a digital SLR. Also consider if you want to carry a $2000-4000 camera around (a Nikon D810 body weighs 1.93 lbs) in low light situations. I consider Seattle a pretty safe city, but I wouldn’t want to carry an expensive camera at night in almost any city.


As you can see from theses images both cameras did well in low light situations. In my opinion the Sony a6300 had about a one-stop advantage at higher ISO’s, but the Lumix G85 (body weight 1.1 lbs) made up for it with in-body image stabilization that let me shoot at a lower ISO. I never had to go above ISO 6400 with either camera even under extremely low conditions. Did I mention that I was using the kit lens that comes with each camera? These are not fast lenses. Both are f/3.5-5.6. I shot this alley scene in Seattle with both cameras set to Program and Auto ISO.

Put on a fast lens like the Panasonic Leica 12mm f.1.4 and you’re ready for any low light situation with your “small” sensor camera.