Low Light Lenses

Every time a manufacturer releases a new camera not only do they increase the pixel count (which we all know is just a marketing con) but they also improve the low light abilities of the sensor which is of real benefit for photography in low light. My Nikon D80 produces unacceptably noisy images at any ISO higher than 800 but the new breed of DSLRs such as the D800 or D4 will produce perfectly decent photos at ridiculously high ISO settings.

Until recently to get a decent quality image in low light you would either have to use a tripod or if that was not possible use a fast lens e.g. f1.8 or f2.8 so that the shutter speed is not too slow. The advent of these new cameras though means that you can use relatively slow lenses, e.g. f4 or even f5.6, in low light – just increase the ISO and you know that the image will not be too noisy.

This is a major change, what is means is that you no longer have to spend a fortune on a fast lens to get good low light shots – cheaper slower lenses will do just as well, not only that but they are smaller and lighter. In one of my previous posts I talked about wanting to buy a fast wide angle zoom to replace my Nikon 18-55 VR DX, if however I had a modern DSLR my kit lens would produce perfectly acceptable images in low light, I wouldn’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on a fast wide angle zoom.

This may well be the case when it comes to low light but that isn’t the only reason for wanting a fast wide angle lens, in many cases you still want the wide aperture so that you have a shallow depth of field, you may also want the superior build quality of these fast professional lenses. Of course if you still use film as I do then you still need the same lenses that you always did. So despite the advances in sensor technology I still am going to have to dream of purchasing an expensive fast wide angle lens.


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