Every few months a new camera comes out boasting an even higher megapixel count and higher ISO numbers. I’ve been in the market for a new body that will shoot 4k video. I’ve been considering the Panasonic GH4 because I already own some compatible lenses. I’ve also had some second hand experience with the new Sony mirrorless offerings. I’ve even had friends try and sell me on the specs of the Sony over the Panasonic stating: “This camera is better in low light. I can crank the ISO so far up without much noise!”
I ended up going with the Panasonic GH4.
Because the shocking truth about low light performance is it doesn’t matter!
There I said it.
I don’t care about it.
And either should you.
Allow me to back-peddle a little bit. I do care. I do love that manufacturers are constantly improving cameras. I love that technology is advancing and camera tech is so cool these days.
When I say I don’t care about low light performance, what I’m saying is that I’d rather just shoot in good light. It’s just so rare that I ever find myself in the situation where I’m thinking “Man, if I just had the ability to increase my ISO a few thousand more intervals THEN I’d have an amazing photo.”
Think about it. The most amazing, awe-inspiring photographs you’ve seen were amazing and awe-inspiring because of the quality of the light. Sure, composition and subject are important too, but without good light it’s hard to have a good image. Part of being a professional photographer or videographer is planing to find and work with good light. If a scene is so dark that the only way I can get an exposure is an extremely high ISO, then I probably need to supply more light via a flash or other source.
There may be other niche uses for extreme low light performance. Astrophotography comes to mind. But even then you can capture great quality images with long shutter speeds and relatively low ISO levels. (See Tutorial: How to photograph stars in the night sky.)
What do you think? Am I way off base? Leave me a comment.