G9 vs. Z6 @ 2.8 in low light

Started 2 months ago | Questions
MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
The simple answer
4

Despite the well repeated facts, which are undoubtedly correct, the G9 plus Panasonic 35-100/2.8 is quite capable of making quite adequate acceptable images in a concert hall or theatre where they stage is reasonably well lit.

These are two jpg ooc sample images taken live with a (lowly) GM5 attached to a Panasonic 35-100/2.8 lens at a huge ampitheatre venue in an Australian Capital City.

End of story.

These type of threads are hugely destructive for M4/3.

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Tom Caldwell

rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 2,370
Re: G9 vs. Z6 @ 2.8 in low light

Sundre wrote:

I spent some time googling this + reading forum threads. It all got a bit too technical for me. Would anyone be able to give a simple, non-technical answer to this question:

If I shoot the same low-light event (concert etc.) with these two combos, how many stops do I gain with the Z6? Image stabilisation does not matter much since the subjects are moving.

Combo #1: Panasonic G9 + PL 35-100/2.8

Combo #2: Nikon Z6 + Nikon 70-200/2.8

I would love a really simple answer, something like "1/50s with #1 will look more or less like 1/125s with #2". I don't need a technically perfect answer, just a rough ballpark figure.

Unless I have misunderstood something, the two components involved in making the Z6 the better combo for low light is the sensor and the lens. I don't really understand the technical aspects of that, and I would prefer not to have to understand them either.

The reason I'm asking is, I've been offered a used Z6 for 1,000 €, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much. I realise it's a good price for a Z6 mark I in good condition, but I'm not rich. Getting some decent glass for it would be so expensive...

If I can get "good enough" results with something like the PL 35-100/2.8 or the Olympus 75/1.8 with my G9, I'm not sure I want to spend that much at this time.

Thank you

I have already posted here but going back to your original post I have a few more thoughts:

A Z6 for 1000 euro may not be look such a good deal in some months. Although it is temping, best to decide what you actually need first - step back first - there will always be offers.

If you need to shoot stage close ups in a large auditorium or theatre or stadium from away the front then you need a FF body + lenses - if they will allow them in. There is no sensible alternative.

If you are shooting inside, in lower light in a more confined space, then m43 can give you as a good a result,

The key is DoF control. I explained this in an earlier post but to get the same depth of field with the same angle of view requires an equivalent aperture depending on the sensor and so you need to go, for example, from f5.6 on a FF to f2,8 on m43 to get the same DoF. Surprisingly, this is ( ballpark) the same perceived noise level ( although a FF sensor at 14 bit has an advantage over m43 ).

Again, unless you are a professional photographer in which case just get what works best for your colleagues, or else have a play around with the suggestions we have given you for m43

Henry Richardson Forum Pro • Posts: 20,200
Use NR software to get close to Z6 FF
5

The Z6 will give you about 2 stops so it can use, for example, ISO 6400 which would be pretty similar to ISO 1600 with the G9. That means that if both are taken at the same aperture that the Z6 will allow 2 stops higher shutter speed.

But, since, naturally, money enters the equation and you already have the G9 and lens then I suggest that using some software can greatly improve your G9 high ISO, low light shots. Topaz Denoise AI and DXO DeepPrime can do wonders. Of course, the software can be used on the Z6 also, but we are talking about improving the G9 raw files enough that you can use what you have and get close to what the Z6 can produce.  With the software you could shoot, for example, at ISO 6400 and get close to what the Z6 can do at ISO 6400 without the NR software.

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Henry Richardson
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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
More simple examples
2

(ancient) Panasonic GX7 + Olympus 40-150/2.8

GX7 + 40-150/2.8

Panasonic G9 + Panasonic 200/2.8

Panasonic G9 + Panasonic 200/2.8 (crop)

Images jpg ooc unless noted

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Tom Caldwell

Anders W
Anders W Forum Pro • Posts: 22,144
Re: Events at 500-600mm EFL
2

Sundre wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Sundre wrote:

Sure. I don't think you can get very good concert shots with any system if you are so far away that you need 600 mm EFL.

So I am entirely new to this, and have only started shooting events in the last month or two after the pandemic restrictions were lifted here in Prague, Czech Republic, which is where I live. There's one venue in particular I've been to twice, it's outdoors and you're generally at least 50+ ft away from the scene; some of the best angles (slight elevation) are as far as 100-200 ft away.

This particular venue saw my photos online and asked to use them in their social media marketing in exchange for free entry. I was surprised that they liked them that much, but happy to oblige.

I will be exploring other venues as well, and most of them will be indoors with much shorter distances. I realise my current gear isn't up to the task, so I am figuring out what I need instead.

This thread has convinced me that renting and trying out various kinds of gear is the only way I will figure it out. I'll start by renting MFT lenses (75/1.8, PL 35-100/2.8, Oly 40-150/2.8 etc.) and later FF gear as well.

That said, all of these were taken with the G9 + 100-300 II/4-5.6 at this particular outdoor venue, at very high ISO settings and cleaned up in DxO Photolab 4. I realise that motion blur and DxO noise cleaning greatly reduce the amount of detail in these, but 99% of the time, people will be viewing these on 5-6" phone screens and nothing else.

For phone screens, these will of course be perfectly OK. Nice shots many of them. When I said you can't hope to get very good concert shots at 600 mm EFL, I was thinking of the technical quality you can hope for and the size of the gear an ordinary person in the audience would be allowed to bring and use.

When considering MFT gear that might give you the reach you need for this particular setting while still being reasonably up to the job in f-stop terms, you might want to take a look at the Panasonic 200/2.8. Not inexpensive and not so small and light but would get you about two stops more light than your 100-300.

Thank you, I will rent the 200/2.8 as well and try it out. At this point, I have no ambitions beyond phone screen audiences. Though I'm sure better gear will make me want to achieve better technical quality anyway

Forgot to mention that the 200/2.8 comes with a 1.4 tele-converter whereby it can be transformed to a 280/4. So you can get either f/2.8 speed with good reach or f/4 speed with even better reach. The reviews I have seen suggests the lens is very good optically, with impressive resolution even when the TC is used.

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Human Elements
Human Elements Contributing Member • Posts: 846
Re: G9 vs. Z6 @ 2.8 in low light
1

Sundre wrote:

Marko_Finland wrote:

If you have not already, I'd recommend to try out dxo photolab 4 with the deeprime noise reduction or pureraw from the same company. Day and night type of difference vs. the likes of lightroom on dealing with high ISO noise.

Marko

Thank you. Yes, I use PL 4. With my current selection of lenses, I wouldn't be able to shoot this kind of stuff at all otherwise.

This is an ISO 12,800 shot cleaned up in PL 4. The noise is gone, as is some detail... But the end result works just fine on small screens.

I'm just here to say how awesome this photo is. It's exactly the kind of photo that reminds you that emotion matters much more than sensor size.

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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
Re: Use NR software to get close to Z6 FF

Henry Richardson wrote:

The Z6 will give you about 2 stops so it can use, for example, ISO 6400 which would be pretty similar to ISO 1600 with the G9. That means that if both are taken at the same aperture that the Z6 will allow 2 stops higher shutter speed.

But, since, naturally, money enters the equation and you already have the G9 and lens then I suggest that using some software can greatly improve your G9 high ISO, low light shots. Topaz Denoise AI and DXO DeepPrime can do wonders. Of course, the software can be used on the Z6 also, but we are talking about improving the G9 raw files enough that you can use what you have and get close to what the Z6 can produce. With the software you could shoot, for example, at ISO 6400 and get close to what the Z6 can do at ISO 6400 without the NR software.

Good helpful points Henry - but no seriously high ISO needed here or in its follow up thread.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65499886

I sometimes wonder if those that comment on stage photography have ever practised it

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
A blast from the past (not M4/3)
2

Canon 50D + Canon 400/2.8 processed from raw

This is an older image - only cropped square for compositional effect - from a production of King Lear. The date is not correct as it was a later re-process from the original RAW file capture.

But this is a sample of what an extraordinary lens can do.

If I can match this with M4/3 I am happy. I don't usually worry about the ISO used as long as the image looks ok.

But for some strange reason it seems that my (earlier) dslr images were using higher ISO than my later M4/3 images.

If it means anything at least is shows that I have some experience with this sort of imaging.

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Tom Caldwell

unhappymeal Senior Member • Posts: 1,545
Re: A blast from the past (not M4/3)

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Canon 50D + Canon 400/2.8 processed from raw

This is an older image - only cropped square for compositional effect - from a production of King Lear. The date is not correct as it was a later re-process from the original RAW file capture.

But this is a sample of what an extraordinary lens can do.

If I can match this with M4/3 I am happy. I don't usually worry about the ISO used as long as the image looks ok.

But for some strange reason it seems that my (earlier) dslr images were using higher ISO than my later M4/3 images.

If it means anything at least is shows that I have some experience with this sort of imaging.

The output from most cameras has been more than fine for at least a decade. I just wish we would get more modern AF. Going out to shoot wildlife with the newer Canon and Sony bodies is a revelation.

Sundre
OP Sundre Contributing Member • Posts: 708
Re: G9 vs. Z6 @ 2.8 in low light
1

Human Elements wrote:

Sundre wrote:

Marko_Finland wrote:

If you have not already, I'd recommend to try out dxo photolab 4 with the deeprime noise reduction or pureraw from the same company. Day and night type of difference vs. the likes of lightroom on dealing with high ISO noise.

Marko

Thank you. Yes, I use PL 4. With my current selection of lenses, I wouldn't be able to shoot this kind of stuff at all otherwise.

This is an ISO 12,800 shot cleaned up in PL 4. The noise is gone, as is some detail... But the end result works just fine on small screens.

I'm just here to say how awesome this photo is. It's exactly the kind of photo that reminds you that emotion matters much more than sensor size.

Thank you! The band just liked it as well

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jwilliams Veteran Member • Posts: 6,182
While I'm not an expert ...
3

I sometimes wonder if those that comment on stage photography have ever practised it

While I'm not an expert in stage photography by any stretch of the imagination, I have done some stuff that would at least loosely fit in that cataergory. It all came in the rather mundane form of a father shooting his kids in various concerts and stage productions. Even though the subjects will never play Carnegie Hall (famous concert hall in the US) or be in a play on Broadway (I'm guessing you've heard of that one?), I don't think the camera cares much as the lighting etc. should be somewhat similar.

My first attepts were with my GH1. Not sure what lenses I owned then but probably not the best for that stuff. Anyway, I was pretty disappointed in the GH1 in that type of environment. My Canon 20D, while not perfect, performed a bit better (and I probaly had faster lenses which certainly helps). Now these are both pretty ancient so maybe it means nothing. By the time I had acquired cameras with better high ISO capabilities my subjects had retired from their theatrical and musical careers so I've not used my current equipment in that sort of environment.

I have however pretty much given up using flash for anything in recent years so I've shot quite a few photos with available light. Maybe not stage lighting but that certainly covers a variety of challenging lighting conditions. My experience shooting many m43 cameras (including what is state of the art for m43 at least sensor wise) and a few FF cameras (all of which are not the current state of the art) is that the FF cameras perfrom better in low or challenging light.

I told the OP the FF setup he was referencing would be better than his G9. I didn't state that the G9 couldn't make photos of people on a stage. One person here felt the need to assault me (at least as much as can be done by a person with very limited manners and only a keyboard as a weapon) for stating a simple fact that any reasonable person would conclude and that is that a FF camera was the better tool for that type of work.

The best tool for a job means just that. There are of course other stuff that can work and as always the person pressing the shutter button matters but even that does not change the facts regarding the tools.

Nice work you posted. I can only imagine what you could have done with a better camera

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Jonathan

Sundre
OP Sundre Contributing Member • Posts: 708
Re: The simple answer
3

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Despite the well repeated facts, which are undoubtedly correct, the G9 plus Panasonic 35-100/2.8 is quite capable of making quite adequate acceptable images in a concert hall or theatre where they stage is reasonably well lit.

These type of threads are hugely destructive for M4/3.

Thanks Tom. Apologies, I have nothing against MFT. Just a beginner trying to figure out what kind of gear I need to invest in next. Found a great little place renting out all sorts of camera gear not far from me, will try all sorts of MFT lenses and then some FF gear and see what feels best.

I'm bad at theory and tried googling this first but couldn't make heads or tails of most threads/articles. To be honest, I can't make heads or tails of the more technical posts in this thread either

But I can take pictures and see how they come out, and renting is the perfect way to figure out what I need without having to ruin the bank account.

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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
Re: The simple answer
2

Sundre wrote:

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Despite the well repeated facts, which are undoubtedly correct, the G9 plus Panasonic 35-100/2.8 is quite capable of making quite adequate acceptable images in a concert hall or theatre where they stage is reasonably well lit.

These type of threads are hugely destructive for M4/3.

Thanks Tom. Apologies, I have nothing against MFT. Just a beginner trying to figure out what kind of gear I need to invest in next. Found a great little place renting out all sorts of camera gear not far from me, will try all sorts of MFT lenses and then some FF gear and see what feels best.

I'm bad at theory and tried googling this first but couldn't make heads or tails of most threads/articles. To be honest, I can't make heads or tails of the more technical posts in this thread either

But I can take pictures and see how they come out, and renting is the perfect way to figure out what I need without having to ruin the bank account.

I think that you are taking the best course of action on what is basically a guess and a limited budget.

The theory you have been given is not wrong but I think that you needed to know that M4/3 is a very capable format and the images can be quite good enough in practice.  You will notice that the M4/3 captures have not blown out the ISO levels and f2.8 widest aperture is quite good enough for purpose.  The available light is important and f2.8 is good enough for reasonably well lit but might struggle more in dimly lit.

I have also used the Olympus 12-100/4.0 tested in theatre and it actually handled well lit stages quite well.  It is a very versatile and capable lens.

Note that even the 16mm of the now aging GX7 worked quite well.

Furthermore note my comment that the 50D (aps-c) with killer Canon 400/2.8 lens was using 1250 ISO which was a lot higher than the M4/3 bodies and was taken during an arguably better lit show.

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
Re: While I'm not an expert ...
2

My defence is that I have been doing this "stuff" for years.

Professionally lit theatre with considerable lights set up by professional engineers do a whole lot better than school stage productions (with all due respect).

As well as serious amateur productions I have had my share of school nights and I have had the same issues with light. Most of my big kit would have turned a school production were I was the star turn.  At least capturing via dress rehearsal does not turn the photographer into the person of interest.

I did get some reasonable shots with a NEX6 coupled by an EF-E focal reduction adapter and the EF 200/2.0 which is (just) capable of being hand-held.

I quickly realised that if I were to get the best angle of view I needed to be up higher.  That to stop motion and keep the ISO reasonable I needed a higher viewpoint to that needed further back in a tiered seating arrangement.  To get further back I needed longer lenses.  The EF 135/2.0 up a ladder to get close and high was tiring even for my then younger self.

So to do justice an EF 200/2.0 and 400/2.8 were the bees knees (even with the FF 5D), but they were hugely expensive.  Hey but I liked what great lenses could do!

I cannot get those lenses in equivalent for M4/3.  But I am of the opinion that there is quite a lot to be said for the very best lenses.

I have found that M4/3 kit can do the job with the best lenses for purpose, I don't think that I am losing that much by using it.

As can be seen I am more interested in getting the results that I need rather than pursuing the theory that I might (needlessly) get even better than I wanted.

Maybe I have developed some personal skills that help but I am not quite sure what they are.

But such things as turning down the ISO and taking exposure off the face of your subject tens to keep the metering working correctly.  Nothing worse than the metering picking up a dark costume or the dark background and blowing the image away by over-exposure.

What surprised even myself was the performance of the WofOz where the GM5 and 35-100/2.8 did a credible job at such a huge distance - this was a huge stadium designed for a massive audience.  I would surely have done better with the 400/2.8 whichever camera body it was attached to - but that lens is huge 5.35Kg and needs a heavy gimbal head tripod - just like a birder.  I think that I might have had trouble finding a place to set it up let alone get it into the place.

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Tom Caldwell

MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 43,376
G9 Panasonic 200/2.8 School Concert
2

Stage lights .... What stage lights?

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Tom Caldwell

rashid7
rashid7 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,349
Re: No ...

"Also the FF camera can always get the DOF of the m43 camera. You just stop down 2 more stops. Photography 101"

Yes ... and thereby loose whatever light-gathering advantage FF has!

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Keep it fun!

olrett Regular Member • Posts: 368
Re: The simple answer
3

Sundre wrote:

I'm bad at theory and tried googling this first but couldn't make heads or tails of most threads/articles. To be honest, I can't make heads or tails of the more technical posts in this thread either

Yes, indeed, too many technicalities make these posts kinda blurry... and you start to skip big chunks of them. Just as you would stop listening to conversations at a party that take off on a tangent.

I experienced something similar when I was still diving. Divers would seldom talk about the sea and the life in it, but go on forever about brands and specs, ending up arguing as if their life depended on it. In the case of diving gear, however, one's life may indeed depend on it, so they at least had a valid excuse.

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Anders W
Anders W Forum Pro • Posts: 22,144
The theory isn't all that difficult
1

olrett wrote:

Sundre wrote:

I'm bad at theory and tried googling this first but couldn't make heads or tails of most threads/articles. To be honest, I can't make heads or tails of the more technical posts in this thread either

Yes, indeed, too many technicalities make these posts kinda blurry... and you start to skip big chunks of them. Just as you would stop listening to conversations at a party that take off on a tangent.

I experienced something similar when I was still diving. Divers would seldom talk about the sea and the life in it, but go on forever about brands and specs, ending up arguing as if their life depended on it. In the case of diving gear, however, one's life may indeed depend on it, so they at least had a valid excuse.

Actually, the theory you need in order to compare formats isn't terribly complicated and it would be very helpful in discussions like these if more people were aware of it. For example, when you compare FF with MFT you need to know the following:

To get the same angle of view, you need twice the focal length on FF (e.g., 25 mm on MFT is equivalent to 50 mm on FF).

To get the same total amount of light collected, the same depth of field, and the same diffraction, you need to stop down two stops more on FF (e.g., f/2.8 on MFT is equivalent to f/5.6 on FF).

That's all as far as the theory is concerned.

But when the theory meets reality, a few more complications arise. For example, the same amount of light collected implies that the noise level will be the same if the sensors in question perform equally well for any given amount of light. But that's not always the case in practice. As I pointed out in a prior post, for example, the data at our disposal suggest that the OP's camera (the G9) has about one stop more dynamic range (and thus correspondingly less shadow noise) than the one he is considering (the Z6) when the two are used to shoot equivalent photos at higher ISOs.

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inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 2,024
Re: If ...

jwilliams wrote:

Sundre wrote:

I spent some time googling this + reading forum threads. It all got a bit too technical for me. Would anyone be able to give a simple, non-technical answer to this question:

If I shoot the same low-light event (concert etc.) with these two combos, how many stops do I gain with the Z6? Image stabilisation does not matter much since the subjects are moving.

Combo #1: Panasonic G9 + PL 35-100/2.8

Combo #2: Nikon Z6 + Nikon 70-200/2.8

I would love a really simple answer, something like "1/50s with #1 will look more or less like 1/125s with #2". I don't need a technically perfect answer, just a rough ballpark figure.

Unless I have misunderstood something, the two components involved in making the Z6 the better combo for low light is the sensor and the lens. I don't really understand the technical aspects of that, and I would prefer not to have to understand them either.

The reason I'm asking is, I've been offered a used Z6 for 1,000 €, but I'm not sure I want to spend that much. I realise it's a good price for a Z6 mark I in good condition, but I'm not rich. Getting some decent glass for it would be so expensive...

If I can get "good enough" results with something like the PL 35-100/2.8 or the Olympus 75/1.8 with my G9, I'm not sure I want to spend that much at this time.

Thank you

If you regularly shoot in low/challenging light then just go for the FF camera system. It is simply the best tool for that task.

Can't really disagree with this, I have done a lot of indoor shooting with M43, APS-C, and full frame. Especially sports and stage, for stage work you can usually get by with any camera since, depending on the subject, they don't tend to move around very much. That could be music or plays. You don't tend to see a cello player jumping around on stage.

However, eventually you will find a time when the action is fast moving and/or the light is poor, and you need 1/1000+ speed and have to pump the ISO up. A larger sensor is a good safety net when this happens. Fast moving plays or indoor sports can be a real challenge for the smaller sensors.

Sports is almost always 1/1000+ so I usually reach for APS-C as a compromise. Especially field sports, more reach and slightly better ISO than Micro 4/3, and smaller size is a nice package.

In good light it doesn't matter what system you use, nobody can tell the difference in the final image.

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Wu Jiaqiu
Wu Jiaqiu Forum Pro • Posts: 27,532
Re: No ...
4

rashid7 wrote:

"Also the FF camera can always get the DOF of the m43 camera. You just stop down 2 more stops. Photography 101"

Yes ... and thereby loose whatever light-gathering advantage FF has!

if you need that extra dof of course, depends on the lens being used and the distance to the subject, none of these is ever discussed in these pointless arguments

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the computer says no

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