Low Light Images with a Less Expensive Camera

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For some time now, I have wondered if I can get suitable pictures for my blog with less expensive, smaller, and lighter cameras.  So far I think I have shown that it is possible if you have good light.  See “Shifting my Investment in Photography” as an example of such pictures.

One major open question has been “What about in lower light?”  One evening as I was sitting in my lounge chair I looked across the room and saw Misty sleeping on the couch.  As you can see, Marcia’s Kindle was lying in front of Misty.  This is because she was also taking a nap and that is the reason few lights were on in the room.  Most of the light hitting Misty was coming from the TV which was on.  At this point I need to tell you that I took this picture with my Panasonic LF1 shirt pocket camera at an effective 200 mm focal range.

At this point I am thinking that this camera could be used more than I previously thought providing that it is used right and viewers don’t expect too much from the picture.  I have used the camera to take raw pictures and then process them in LR.  For the above picture I used the camera in program mode with the maximum ISO set at 1600 and the minimum shutter speed set at 1/60 sec.  Keeping the shutter speed up this high is critical to avoid both subject and camera motion.  Without that setting, the camera would have used a slower shutter speed and it would have been so slow that the picture would have been blurred.  The camera exposure would have used a slower speed to “properly” expose the image.  It would have tried to present an 18% gray image that would have been brighter than the scene actually was.  As it was, the image was under exposed and the colors were off, and the noise level was high.  I then used LR and Silver Efex Pro to adjust the exposure, convert the image to B&W, and to remove some of the noise.

I am encouraged by the result.  I think I could use this camera in much lower light than I, or most people thought possible; but primarily for certain style images as long as the viewers are content to look at the overall image and not pixel-peep.  If they blow it up to see the individual pixels it will not be sharp and the noise will look like grain.

The thing I’m still not sure about is whether this is a case of making the best out of the worst or it enables an opportunity to do something different.  It might be the latter if I can think of a way to use this capability along with the large depth of field to do something different.