Can any compact format fullfill this need really well ??

Started Sep 17, 2012 | Discussions thread
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thesurfguide
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Can any compact format fullfill this need really well ??
Sep 17, 2012

Hi all, firstly please forgive the length of this 1st post but I figure more information is better than less and I am intending to cut and paste this to both M4/3rd fans and to some DSLR / EOS forums as I want to get all perspectives. I actually have had to chop this into multiple chunks.

The short version is I am trying to capture low light, non flash, bar life, candids.. Down and dirty in the neon !! So fast primes fairly wide.

I am connected to a bar in Phnom Penh and want to keep producing shots of the bar and staff for facebook / social media etc. Also this type of night low light photography is a niche I really like to see, have always wanted to take, but have always struggled to capture. Recently I used a Canon 5D Mk3 with the 50mm f1.2 prime and just WOW.. I came away from that ready to upgrade there and then. Thankfully I have had a cooling off week but still want that or closer to that kind of image capture.

The long version I guess starts with what I use now and what doesnt work for me. My walking around snapper camera is a s95 which I am pretty happy with as a well lit snaps cam it is f2 at wide but its not fast enough to work without a flash much in the context I mean here. I also have a Canon D450 with a couple of zooms and the F1.8 50mm prime. This of course on the D450 APS-C sensor has a 1.6 crop to make it equivalent 80mm. The DSLR is my 'better camera' and for everything apart from this type of shooting its enough for me. Of course the DSLR and lenses is big, a pain to cart around, and hence gets left when a smaller camera might come, but even the M 4/3rds systems with a decent lens present something to carry rather than pocket. Still the actual use of the DSLR is low, something I am thinking about when I consider dropping multi 1000 USD on a better 'better camera' !! Another thing is a 5d and large lens gets attention, your subjects pose, its hard to be discreet, all those reasons are factors in the size game as much as the physical of it.

I am not a 'serious shooter' and am far more likely to be in auto than full manual.. I am not a pixel peeper, I dont print high resolution and I am not much of a sharpness nazi for lenses.. So I should be pretty easy to please right ??? The problem is, I want to take handheld shots in very very dim light, without flash, candids of subjects who are working and while not high speed, are not fully still either. Those kind of images with that multi point glow from every light source around a room.

I had been struggling to achieve these kind of shots with my f1.8 prime, I would say I was getting only about 30% of my shots clear, without some shake or blur and while I can just spray and pray its annoying to lose good moments because your not steady enough or the subjects movement. I was turned on to a neat cheap trick of using a LED key chain to spill a little light and have been experimenting with yellow and red ones which cost almost nothing, but then like I mentioned above I had 2 minutes playing with a 5D Mk3 and f1.2 50mm prime. For a start the real 50mm width on the full frame sensor opens up the room, and the ambient glow that comes from all the surrounding light sources just made some great shots. Overall I guess about 80% of the shots came out sharp enough to use which is a massive difference in hit rate for me. After having such success instantly with that, I have spent the next week trying to look at my options and think how best to improve my equipment to get closer to those shots. I hadnt been in an upgrade mindset for a long time and while I knew the M4/3 scene was getting good, I was just out of the loop and didnt know about some of the faster lenses now out (25mm f1.4 summilux or even the manual focus 25mm f0.95 voitlander). Theres been a few days of reading so far.

I want to emphasize though that I am much less interested in spending money unless a M43rd or other compact system will outperform a f1.4 50mm prime on an APS-C body. Thats what I can achieve for a few 100 USD, if I can do better than that maybe I will look at 4/3rds for the ease of carry and debate between that and a 5d Mk2 setup.

Just for reference what I am trying to achieve are shots like this.. I should also note that despite these looking bright and well lit, this is in a very very dim bar, mostly lit by LED rope lights, with just a little white light at the bar for staff to see well enough to work.

Not only that ambient glow which is my primary goal, but lovely shallow DOF to isolate the subject and blend background with bokeh. While those look brightly lit taken with any other camera tend to show that its a dimly lit room with a couple of 5w red bulbs and rope lights !!

Basically, can any 4/3rd system and lenses get that ?? If so at what cost in money, complexity, etc.

Canon EOS 5D Canon PowerShot S95 Nikon D4
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