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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    8

    Absolute Best Low-Light/High ISO Camera Under $1000?

    Okay, so I've been digging through the web, looking at all manner of digital cameras, and I'm starting to lose my mind a bit. So I realized, I can basically consolidate my true needs down into a single question-

    What is the absolute best camera I can buy for low-light/high ISO image quality under $1000? No other features matter. SLR, point-and-shoot, micro 4/3, fixed lens, interchangeable lens, doesn't matter. All that matters is maximum quality (i.e. low noise) low-light images. Obviously a full-frame sensor is the best bet, but I've yet to find a full-frame camera anywhere near the $1000 mark, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon. So, what's the closest I can come to that kind of low-light performance around the $1000 price point?

    Anyone have any ideas?

    Thanks!

    (Oh, also, has to be digital- not interested in film.)
    Last edited by blabus; 09-30-2010 at 09:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Exeter, UK
    Posts
    883
    The Pentax K-x DSLR seems to be quite well regarded for low noise at high ISO. A good wide aperture lens will help, but that depends on what you're shooting.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,173
    Without specifying what kind of lens you are looking for it's going to be hard to get a DSLR or EVIL camera recommendation that is complete. Lenses are going to play a significant part in the low-light picture. At that price range you may be looking at a 50mm 1.4 lens, but if you want some telephoto to go with your high ISO performance it will be disappointing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    8
    Ah yes, sorry I forgot to specify. I'll definitely be using a f/1.4 prime, or whatever the fastest lens I can find is. I'm not concerned with any type of zoom.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    295
    My best guess would be a Nikon D5000 with a 50mm f1/4. I am sure the Canon counterpart and the others have similar options/performance, but I am not all that knowledgeable in those areas.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    8
    Okay so I have a D60 currently, with a Nikon f/1.8 prime. And the low light shots I get definitely aren't bad, but they're also nowhere near a 5D Mark II (not that I expect them to be). So question would be- would one of the higher-end APS-C DSLRs like the 7D or D7000 provide a noticeable improvement over the D60 in low-light, or are they all basically pretty similar until you make the jump to full-frame?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    756
    Quote Originally Posted by blabus View Post
    Okay so I have a D60 currently, with a Nikon f/1.8 prime. And the low light shots I get definitely aren't bad, but they're also nowhere near a 5D Mark II (not that I expect them to be). So question would be- would one of the higher-end APS-C DSLRs like the 7D or D7000 provide a noticeable improvement over the D60 in low-light, or are they all basically pretty similar until you make the jump to full-frame?
    There's been a big improvement in high-ISO performance since the sensor generation used in the D60. Going to the D5000 or Pentax K-x will provide a meaningful increase.

    If you're highly invested in Nikon accessories already, and/or you really like the system, I think saving up for the D7000 is almost a no-brainer.

    Otherwise, the Pentax K-x gives you the best bang for the buck right now (leaving room to spare under $1000 for both the camera + kit lens and the FA 50mm f/1.4). And the K-r looks interesting as a replacement when it hits the shelves later this month but it won't be as much of a bargain initially.
    Looking to buy a Pentax flash? Check out my Definitive Guide to Pentax P-TTL Flash Options.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    Quote Originally Posted by blabus View Post
    So question would be- would one of the higher-end APS-C DSLRs like the 7D or D7000 provide a noticeable improvement over the D60 in low-light, or are they all basically pretty similar until you make the jump to full-frame?
    the d5000 is about 1 stop better than a d60. 7d is not under $1k.
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    756
    Quote Originally Posted by Rooz View Post
    the d5000 is about 1 stop better than a d60. 7d is not under $1k.
    Hmmm I hadn't really compared the D5000 and K-x before now; I'd assumed they were basically the same since they use a very similar sensor. Looks like the K-x gains you about an additional stop over the D5000 (and saves you $200).
    Looking to buy a Pentax flash? Check out my Definitive Guide to Pentax P-TTL Flash Options.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    God's Country - Australia
    Posts
    10,424
    Quote Originally Posted by mattdm View Post
    Looks like the K-x gains you about an additional stop over the D5000 (and saves you $200).
    lol a stop better ? in your dreams.
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75
    flickr

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