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[OP]
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Apr 24, 2012
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Low light

Please help me figure out how combination of sensor size and aperture can be translated into light sensitivity. I'm trying to decide between these two:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panason ... dmc-fz1000
and
http://www.dpreview.com/products/nikon/slrs/nikon_d5300 body with
http://www.dpreview.com/products/tamron ... 00-3p5-6p3

I don't care about changing lenses, so I'm wondering if slightly larger sensor, small bump in resolution and GPS are worth increasing spending from approximately $900
http://www.photoprice.ca/product/05473/ ... price.html
to approximately $1400
http://www.photoprice.ca/product/05088/ ... price.html
http://www.photoprice.ca/product/05414/ ... price.html

I don't understand how to compare light sensitivity of:
1" with F2.8-4
to
APS-C with F3.5 - F6.3

is there a formula for this?

Also, which one will be sharper overall for landscapes? I understand there is some sharpness gain from smaller sensor, but not sure how much.

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Although both sensors are likely similar Sony sensors in the Panasonic and Nikon, you can't deduce the sensitivity from the size of the sensor alone.

DxO measured both camera sensors
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/ ... ___958_919
Given this The Nikon has at least 1 stop more sensitivity than the Panasonic even though the Nikon has a lot more pixels. The Nikon did measure with better dynamic range though.

However, you're losing at least a stop going with the Tamron
On the wide end, you're losing about 1 f-stop
On the tele end, you're also losing about a stop going from 400mm on the Panny to the 400mm eq on the Tamron (the Tamron actually has closer to 500mm equivalency)

So it's going to be pretty close overall, but the Nikon will be much larger to carry (both body and bulk of lens). It's hard to say which is sharper without comparing the two lenses side by side, but I'd be a bit wary of a really wide range/super zoom like the Tamron , usually they have lens distortions which are harder to correct if you're taking picture of architectural objects. The Panasonic has the advantage that their in-body correction algorithm can be fine tuned better since the camera has a fixed lens.
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1" sensor has a crop factor of 2.7, while APS-C has a crop factor of 1.5 (Nikon). This means that diagonally, the 1" sensor is 2.7 times smaller than full frame, and APS-C is 1.5x smaller.

This also means that diagonally 1" is smaller than APS-C by a factor of 2.7/1.5 = 1.8x. This roughly equates to a total surface area reduction of (1.8x)^2 = 3.24 (if you remember high school math, area is proportional to length^2). This means that the sensor has 3.24x less area for collecting light.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

However, aperture is also a linear measurement. It's the linear measurement of the opening where light is allowed through, meaning that F2.8 on a 1" sensor is equivalent to 2.8*1.8 = F5.04 on APS-C. Note that this is 1.8 stops less light, or 3.24x less light. (one stop is double). To understand how this works, remember that halving the aperture size (e.g. from F2 to F4) actually gives you 4x less light (2 stops), because the area of the circle with half the diameter of the original circle is 1/4 as big.

F2.8-F4 on 1" has roughly the same depth of field, etc as F5.04-7.2 in APS-C. Because the sensor is much smaller, the low light performance is expected to be 3.24x worse (assuming similarly advanced sensor technology). In other words, ISO 320 on APS-C will be about as clean as ISO 100 on 1", and ISO 3200 on APS-C will be about as clean as ISO 1000 on 1"

The TL;DR version is this: Bigger sensor = much more light = much better low light performance.

As for the sharpness, that depends more on the lens than the sensor. There's no "sharpness gain" from a smaller sensor. In fact, smaller sensors with the same number of pixels will accentuate/magnify imperfections in the same lens, and appear less sharp (e.g. if you put a full frame lens on APS-C). What you might be thinking about is smaller sensors have more "in focus", and that's due to their larger depth of field given their smaller apertures. If you stop down the lens on a bigger sensor, you will get the same amount of depth of field, and probably a sharper image because the glass is optically better.

Again, the overall sharpness is determined by your lens. I don't know much about that Tamron 18-300 lens, but superzooms tend to be "less sharp" compared to other DSLR lenses, but I would hazard a guess and say that it is probably much sharper than the super zoom on a point and shoot.
[OP]
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Apr 24, 2012
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Vancouver
warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 9:48 pm
Although both sensors are likely similar Sony sensors in the Panasonic and Nikon, you can't deduce the sensitivity from the size of the sensor alone.

DxO measured both camera sensors
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/ ... ___958_919
Given this The Nikon has at least 1 stop more sensitivity than the Panasonic even though the Nikon has a lot more pixels. The Nikon did measure with better dynamic range though.

However, you're losing at least a stop going with the Tamron
On the wide end, you're losing about 1 f-stop
On the tele end, you're also losing about a stop going from 400mm on the Panny to the 400mm eq on the Tamron (the Tamron actually has closer to 500mm equivalency)

So it's going to be pretty close overall, but the Nikon will be much larger to carry (both body and bulk of lens). It's hard to say which is sharper without comparing the two lenses side by side, but I'd be a bit wary of a really wide range/super zoom like the Tamron , usually they have lens distortions which are harder to correct if you're taking picture of architectural objects. The Panasonic has the advantage that their in-body correction algorithm can be fine tuned better since the camera has a fixed lens.
Just to make sure I understood correctly: these (lens and body combines) are fairly equivalent in terms of light sensitivity? Meaning that if I take pictures under exact same conditions there would be similar amount of noise and similar chance of getting blurry image, correct?
I think I'd be fine with lens distortions. Lightroom can auto-correct most of them.
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warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 9:48 pm
Although both sensors are likely similar Sony sensors in the Panasonic and Nikon, you can't deduce the sensitivity from the size of the sensor alone.

DxO measured both camera sensors
http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/ ... ___958_919
Given this The Nikon has at least 1 stop more sensitivity than the Panasonic even though the Nikon has a lot more pixels. The Nikon did measure with better dynamic range though.
The nikon has 2.6x the ISO performance (a bit lower than the expected 3.24x, so it's possible the panasonic is using slightly newer sensor technology), which is about 4/3 stop.
warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 9:48 pm
However, you're losing at least a stop going with the Tamron
On the wide end, you're losing about 1 f-stop
On the tele end, you're also losing about a stop going from 400mm on the Panny to the 400mm eq on the Tamron (the Tamron actually has closer to 500mm equivalency)
Almost. F2.8 to 3.5 is 2/3 of a stop, and F4 to F6.3 is 4/3 stop.
warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 9:48 pm
So it's going to be pretty close overall, but the Nikon will be much larger to carry (both body and bulk of lens). It's hard to say which is sharper without comparing the two lenses side by side, but I'd be a bit wary of a really wide range/super zoom like the Tamron , usually they have lens distortions which are harder to correct if you're taking picture of architectural objects. The Panasonic has the advantage that their in-body correction algorithm can be fine tuned better since the camera has a fixed lens.
That is going to actually depend on what OP wants to shoot. For example, for night time landscapes (and landscapes in general), photos shot on a tripod are shot at base ISO (100 for the Nikon, 80 for the Panasonic). This is done to maximize dynamic range. It looks like the Nikon has 2.2EV more dynamic range than the Panasonic, which is quite a big difference. Optical quality also can't really be judged by numbers alone, but I'm willing to guess that cramming so much zoom into a high end point and shoot size means a lot more compromises in optical sharpness than the Tamron 16-300.


@OP:
Perhaps consider something like the Nikon 18-200mm F3.5-5.6. The long end has 1/3 more stop of light, and the lens itself is quite sharp for a superzoom. It can be had for about $400-500 used, and you might get a rebate on it with a camera body purchase to get it in the $500-600 range anyways.

If you really care about low light sensitivity, you should really use a lens with a wider aperture, like the Nikon 35mm f1.8. That lets in 2 whole stops of light more than F3.5, and is likely much sharper. If you're going strictly with the comparison between these two cameras, I would say that in the majority of situations where light is a challenge, the Nikon will perform noticeably better thanks to its bigger sensor and probably better glass.
[OP]
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antaholics wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 9:56 pm
1" sensor has a crop factor of 2.7, while APS-C has a crop factor of 1.5 (Nikon). This means that diagonally, the 1" sensor is 2.7 times smaller than full frame, and APS-C is 1.5x smaller.

This also means that diagonally 1" is smaller than APS-C by a factor of 2.7/1.5 = 1.8x. This roughly equates to a total surface area reduction of (1.8x)^2 = 3.24 (if you remember high school math, area is proportional to length^2). This means that the sensor has 3.24x less area for collecting light.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

However, aperture is also a linear measurement. It's the linear measurement of the opening where light is allowed through, meaning that F2.8 on a 1" sensor is equivalent to 2.8*1.8 = F5.04 on APS-C. Note that this is 1.8 stops less light, or 3.24x less light. (one stop is double). To understand how this works, remember that halving the aperture size (e.g. from F2 to F4) actually gives you 4x less light (2 stops), because the area of the circle with half the diameter of the original circle is 1/4 as big.

F2.8-F4 on 1" has roughly the same depth of field, etc as F5.04-7.2 in APS-C. Because the sensor is much smaller, the low light performance is expected to be 3.24x worse (assuming similarly advanced sensor technology). In other words, ISO 320 on APS-C will be about as clean as ISO 100 on 1", and ISO 3200 on APS-C will be about as clean as ISO 1000 on 1"

The TL;DR version is this: Bigger sensor = much more light = much better low light performance.

As for the sharpness, that depends more on the lens than the sensor. There's no "sharpness gain" from a smaller sensor. In fact, smaller sensors with the same number of pixels will accentuate/magnify imperfections in the same lens, and appear less sharp (e.g. if you put a full frame lens on APS-C). What you might be thinking about is smaller sensors have more "in focus", and that's due to their larger depth of field given their smaller apertures. If you stop down the lens on a bigger sensor, you will get the same amount of depth of field, and probably a sharper image because the glass is optically better.

Again, the overall sharpness is determined by your lens. I don't know much about that Tamron 18-300 lens, but superzooms tend to be "less sharp" compared to other DSLR lenses, but I would hazard a guess and say that it is probably much sharper than the super zoom on a point and shoot.
Wow! This is exactly the type of answer I was looking for! Thank you very much!
I need time to digest all of that now.
I don't understand why we can't compare aperture directly and need to do this: "F2.8 on a 1" sensor is equivalent to 2.8*1.8 = F5.04 on APS-C"
Are you saying that 1" sensor at F2.8 would receive same amount of light per unit of area as APS-C at F5.04?
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zaporozhets wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 10:19 pm
Wow! This is exactly the type of answer I was looking for! Thank you very much!
I need time to digest all of that now.
I don't understand why we can't compare aperture directly and need to do this: "F2.8 on a 1" sensor is equivalent to 2.8*1.8 = F5.04 on APS-C"
Are you saying that 1" sensor at F2.8 would receive same amount of light per unit of area as APS-C at F5.04?
No problem, I tried explaining as clearly as possible but it's a lot to digest and I'm sure there's places where I'm not very clear. I think Tony Northrup explains it pretty well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5zN6NV ... GQ7ZuDYyaD

F2.8 on a 1" sensor receives the same TOTAL amount of light as F5.04 on APS-C. Meaning if you shot a F2.8 shot on a 1" sensor and a F5.04 shot on APS-C, they should theoretically look very similar.

Edit: Tony also has a super super detailed and technical explanation should you have the time :P https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtDotqLx6nA
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antaholics wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 10:14 pm
The nikon has 2.6x the ISO performance (a bit lower than the expected 3.24x, so it's possible the panasonic is using slightly newer sensor technology), which is about 4/3 stop.

Almost. F2.8 to 3.5 is 2/3 of a stop, and F4 to F6.3 is 4/3 stop.
I said "about". Effectively what I was saying is what he loses in the sensor, he gains back in the lens on average (roughly)
@OP:
Perhaps consider something like the Nikon 18-200mm F3.5-5.6. The long end has 1/3 more stop of light, and the lens itself is quite sharp for a superzoom. It can be had for about $400-500 used, and you might get a rebate on it with a camera body purchase to get it in the $500-600 range anyways.

If you really care about low light sensitivity, you should really use a lens with a wider aperture, like the Nikon 35mm f1.8. That lets in 2 whole stops of light more than F3.5, and is likely much sharper. If you're going strictly with the comparison between these two cameras, I would say that in the majority of situations where light is a challenge, the Nikon will perform noticeably better thanks to its bigger sensor and probably better glass.
I wouldn't say the Nikon 18-200 is a very sharp lens. I've used that lens often on a 12 and 16MP body and it's fine, but when you strap it to a 24MP body, the limitations of its sharpness become pretty obvious. I wouldn't recommend that lens at all for landscape shots on that body, but if the OP is willing to swap in a prime, that is his best bet. OP if you're really interested in that lens, I've got one collecting dust I might be willing to unload.

OP in the end, you'll be further ahead with the Nikon (a lot more so if you're willing to swap lenses), but I think the overall consideration should also be how you'll be using it too (size weight). I know that I got pretty tired of hauling around my D7000/18-200 combo everywhere on vacation.
[OP]
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antaholics wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 10:30 pm
No problem, I tried explaining as clearly as possible but it's a lot to digest and I'm sure there's places where I'm not very clear. I think Tony Northrup explains it pretty well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5zN6NV ... GQ7ZuDYyaD

F2.8 on a 1" sensor receives the same TOTAL amount of light as F5.04 on APS-C. Meaning if you shot a F2.8 shot on a 1" sensor and a F5.04 shot on APS-C, they should theoretically look very similar.

Edit: Tony also has a super super detailed and technical explanation should you have the time :P https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtDotqLx6nA
Thanks for the links! I'm definitely going to watch it now. I think I understand it better now. The reason I need light sensitivity and can't be bothered with changing lenses, while having good zoom range is that I want to take photos and videos from a kayak. A few years ago I realized that my current camera is totally unsuitable when I tried to take some pictures and video of Pulp Factory at night. It was very beautiful, but I was totally powerless. I just uploaded this video now to illustrate the problem. Never shown it before to anyone else because it's fairly unwatchable and I'd be ashamed to show to any normal person, but you guys here are all pros here :cool: . Couldn't take any photos at that place because it was all blur.
Again, this crappy video is just for illustration purposes of what I need from a camera. Changing lenses in a kayak is risky, especially when surrounded by salt water, so I need a superzoom. 200mm is often not enough, when shore can be a kilometer away. Half the video I'm complaining about it not wanting to focus and my wife comments that it makes her sad :facepalm:
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@warpdrive:

I haven't shot with the 18-200 on a 24MP body (only 16MP back then with the D7000), so you are probably right. However I don't think a point and shoot with a super zoom would be any better, considering the tradeoffs they would have had to make to design that lens. In fact I would think the panasonic lens would be a lot worse.

That said, you're correct about the size and weight too.. a DSLR with a superzoom is heavy, and what you're getting out of the performance might not neccessarily be proportional to how much bigger it is. Personally I wouldn't spend $900 on a camera that is limited to doing one thing (and not very good at it, at that).

@zaporozhets:

Shots from a moving kayak at night are going to be very difficult regardless of what equipment you use haha. I think upgrading cameras will definitely get you better shots in those kind of situations, but I feel like that is going to be a limitation of the situation more so than your equipment, since floating in the water is so unstable and there is very very little light. A superzoom with such a small aperture is going to be a limiting factor to image quality, but it sounds like you don't have a lot of choices there =/
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warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 10:52 pm
I said "about". Effectively what I was saying is what he loses in the sensor, he gains back in the lens on average (roughly)



I wouldn't say the Nikon 18-200 is a very sharp lens. I've used that lens often on a 12 and 16MP body and it's fine, but when you strap it to a 24MP body, the limitations of its sharpness become pretty obvious. I wouldn't recommend that lens at all for landscape shots on that body, but if the OP is willing to swap in a prime, that is his best bet. OP if you're really interested in that lens, I've got one collecting dust I might be willing to unload.

OP in the end, you'll be further ahead with the Nikon (a lot more so if you're willing to swap lenses), but I think the overall consideration should also be how you'll be using it too (size weight). I know that I got pretty tired of hauling around my D7000/18-200 combo everywhere on vacation.
Agreed. Weight issue is crossed my mind when thinking of taking it on hikes. At 780g D7000 is rather heavy. 565g for the 18-200. I can see how that would make you tired.

D5300 is 480g. Tamron is 540g for 1020g total. But my alternative choice FZ1000 is 831g - not that significantly lighter. I guess we can describe it like this: light sensitivity, zoom range, weight. Pick 2 out of 3.
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yeah that would be a tricky picture to take on a kayak.

That would be a hard shot even with a full frame camera with a fast prime at a high ISO of 6400
[OP]
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antaholics wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 11:13 pm
Shots from a moving kayak at night are going to be very difficult regardless of what equipment you use haha
warpdrive wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 11:28 pm
yeah that would be a tricky picture to take on a kayak.
Wouldn't need to upgrade if it wasn't for tricky conditions :) My old P&S takes excellent pictures from tripod even at low light. And great pictures even at 20x zoom with good light. Here are couple example taken with old Canon SX10IS
Guys, so your overall recommendation is to go with Nikon for best results, right?
Edit: the one with raccoon is probably overexposed on reflections from wet rocks. I think this would be fixed by better sensor and Lightroom.
ImageIMG_9223 by zaporozhets968m, on Flickr
ImageIMG_9294 by zaporozhets968m, on Flickr
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yeah, the FZ1000 isn't a light camera either, but sometimes the slight saving in bulk goes a lot way.

I changed over to m43 as my interchangeable lens travel camera, I lose about a stop in overall low light performance, but free up a lot of strain from my backpack. Even though the savings in weight don't seem that much it's quite noticeable amplified over miles of walking/hiking.
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zaporozhets wrote:
Dec 8th, 2014 11:40 pm
Wouldn't need to upgrade if it wasn't for tricky conditions :) My old P&S takes excellent pictures from tripod even at low light. And great pictures even at 20x zoom with good light. Here are couple example taken with old Canon SX10IS
Guys, so your overall recommendation is to go with Nikon for best results, right?
Ultimately yes.
The Panasonic should be pretty good in low light but the Nikon will be slightly better. In bright light the Nikon's larger sensor does give it better dynamic range (less chance of blown highlights).

The tradeoff is up to you of course, the sweet spot is different for everybody, that's why manufacturers keep churning out so many different form factors.

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