Are all the complaints about APS-C low light performance exaggerated?

These aren’t typical shots I would shoot at high ISO and this wasn’t a planned test. I pulled out my camera for a couple of product shots of the X100F and I must have bumped my ISO to 25600.

The First shot was well overexposed, largely because when using an AD600 Pro, the minimum power at 1/128 was still too powerful for f/16 @ ISO25600.

20180712-DSCF6735 6000 x 4000

I switched down the ISO to 200 and the result was this under exposed image at f/16.

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The purpose of this isn’t to show my lazy stock photography skills, unlike shooting with a model, I am sometimes lazy when it comes to camera setup because I can easily change the settings to what I want, and as a result within 2 or 3 frames it’s pretty much perfect. The purpose of this article was to show 2 things that people constantly complain about…dynamic range and high ISO noise.

Let’s take shot number one which was overexposed. JPG has noise reduction built in which is obviously fairly good, so if I drop the exposure by 2.5 stops and correct the white balance, I am left with this, a perfectly good stock image…taken at a ridiculous ISO25600.

20180712-DSCF6735 6000 x 4000-2

If I did some basic editing to the raw file, 20 noise reduction in Lightroom, set the white balance to flash, some small vignette, set the film simulation to Class Chrome, I get this. It’s not spectacular, but it’s still pretty decent, when you consider it is an ISO25600 file.

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I’d argue that if I posted this on instagram, most people wouldn’t actually know it was ISO25600.

Obviously this is one extreme, but lets take another. My next photo taken at ISO200 isn’t worth using for stock, but let’s lift the exposure on the jpg by 5 stops and apply 20 noise reduction, then this is what we get. It’s not horrendous but obviously expecting dynamic range in a JPG is unreasonable so it isn’t great either. You can see the discoloration in the noise:

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What people often forget however is even with the discoloration of the noise, you could switch to black and white and still get a nice image.

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Playing with the raw file gives us much better results. This is with some basic vignette, 4 stops of lifted exposure, and 20 noise reduction.

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Looking at that, it’s clear that many of the people claiming they are jumping ship because of ISO noise, dynamic range and any other reason they might have, are probably kidding themselves unless they are really pushing the limits. There is nothing wrong with Fujifilm. The image quality of these is better than full frame was 5 years ago, and most photographers were producing spectacular images then.

Don’t believe me? Here are the raw files to play with.

This is the overexposed

This is the underexposed

What do you think? Are people exaggerating?

Published by

The Overrated Photographer

I am a forty something year old Melbourne based photographer covering a broad range of genre’s from sports to portraits and travel. My introduction into photography started with doing some kitesurfing photos, but with the arrival of my first daughter, my focus shifted to family and the vast majority of my photos are either family or street. I still try to get extreme sports when I am not kitesurfing myself. My current non-personal photography work is confined to charity and not-for-profit engagements where I am engaged in photography for a number charity events to give back to the community and help support fund raising for these organisations. These include the homeless and cancer events. I do not currently do any paid commercial work as I run a successful non-photography business and this allows me to explore my personal creativity with photography.

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