Given my budget, which is better for low light?

Iphone4sinwhite

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 24, 2011
303
1
Given a $2000 budget, which is better for low light photography and why?

1. Top rated. APS-C camera with good lens:

Pentax K-3: $1000
Sigma 18-35mm f1.8: $800

2. Low end full-frame with basic lens

Nikon D600 with 24-85mm f3.5-4.5: $2000
 

acearchie

macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2006
3,276
103
In my books the Canon 6D is the best bang for your buck low light camera out there at the moment.

Paired with a fast lens it can make a scene brighter than the human eye and create some simply amazing shadow and colour that previously you wouldn’t have seen.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,594
377
Redondo Beach, California
Given a $2000 budget, which is better for low light photography and why?

1. Top rated. APS-C camera with good lens:

Pentax K-3: $1000
Sigma 18-35mm f1.8: $800

2. Low end full-frame with basic lens

Nikon D600 with 24-85mm f3.5-4.5: $2000
If you can use a tripos you can save about $2,000. Well Ok your subject moves you can save a bundle by using a fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 prime. For example the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is $200 and the sigma above is $800.

I think NOT buying an f/1.8 or faster lens is a waste. Why buy an FX size sensors then put on an f3.5-4.5 lens? May as well go with the DX sensor and f/1.8 You have the same sensitivity at less cost.

It would help if we know what you subject was.
 

acearchie

macrumors 68040
Jan 15, 2006
3,276
103
Can you get the 6D with a fast lens for $2000 or less?

Also is snapsort valid? They say the K3 is better: http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon-EOS-6D-vs-Pentax-K-3 And the D600 is better: http://snapsort.com/compare/Canon-EOS-6D-vs-Nikon-D600
It's mostly swings and roundabouts at this stage.

There is no one is better than the other with these three cameras as they all have different purposes.

For me, canon was the obvious option as I do video and already had a setup of canon lenses.

You have asked about low light. The 6d trounces the k3 in that regard. Against the d600 it's more subjective but I believe it to be better.

Snap sort is skewed because it's takes everything at face value. The d600 has more cross type focus points therefore it's the winner. But it doesn't look into how much illumination the cross type point needs in order to focus. For low light the 6d is still king I feel.

I have 5 lenses and apart from a telephoto I am set with my selection.

What sort of low light photography do you want to take? Figuring that out will let you decide whether you go the zoom or prime route.
 

Kebabselector

macrumors 68030
May 25, 2007
2,804
1,092
Birmingham, UK
Bear in mind that the Nikon D600 was replaced very fast with the D610 due to oil/dirt issues on the sensor - I know Nikon has fixed it (or will fix it there is a problem) but do you want a camera everyone thinks is faulty?

Canon had issues with the 1D MkIII a few years back and it was generally avoided for a while.

It's a much closer call between the 6D and D610 though - if I was starting from nothing I wouldn't know which one to pick!

Odd Snapsort comparison here:

Has a built-in focus motor (D610)Yes vs No (6d) Autofocuses with all autofocus lenses

6D will autofocus with all EF lenses - so not sure how they rate this as a better function of the Nikon
 
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swordio777

macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2013
287
16
Scotland, UK
What will you use the camera for? And what kit do you currently have?

The D600 is supposed to be very good in low light, but the f/3.5 - f/4.5 lens you suggest is quite slow for low light work.

Of the two cameras you suggested, the D600 will probably fare better when pushed to higher ISO. But the sigma lens will let in about 4 times more light at an equivalent focal length of 50mm*, so you won't need to push the Pentax's ISO nearly as far.

Depending on what you want to do, simply getting a 50mm f/1.4 prime to put on the D600 would give you far better results in low light situations. If you'll always work in low light you can build up a collection of excellent fast primes that won't break the bank.

Hope that helps. Provide a few more details about what you're trying to do and I'm sure people will be able to give you useful advice.


(* I over-simplified this to make it easier to read. I was basing my comparison on the sigma crop lens being f/1.8 at 33mm. I'm guessing the nikon zoom will be f/4 at 50mm. It might even be down to f4.5 by that focal length. A difference of at least 2.3 stops.)
 

OreoCookie

macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2001
2,680
68
Sendai, Japan
Lenses >> bodies.

Lenses last for several bodies and hold their value. The Sigma zoom is highly regarded and very fast -- especially for a zoom lens, and I think this will be a much better combination than a full frame body with a cheap and slow lens.

I'll try to make a back-of-the-envelope calculation here: To quantify the difference: a full frame sensor has roughly twice the area than a APS-C-sized sensor. That means catch twice the number of photons, and you can double the ISO with a full frame sensor at the same noise. Now enter the lenses: the f/1.8 zoom has an aperture that is roughly 4 times larger meaning it allows 4 times the number of photons to pass. Hence, even if you take into account the smaller sensor, the combination of APS-C body and f/1.8 lens collects twice the number of photons than the full frame combo.

Of course, life is never so simple, there are other aspects to consider: First of all, for full frame bodies, there exist no f/1.8 zoom lenses, the fastest money can buy is f/2.8. And good full frame lenses are typically much more expensive, e. g. CaNikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 zooms will set you back ~$1900. Fast primes are usually also in the low 4-digit range. Also, the fast f/1.8 lens will have an advantage when it comes to flash photography. The disadvantage of the fast lens is that you have to work with a shallower depth of field if are in a dark environment. I don't think this matters that much at these focal lengths (wide to normal), but it's a point to consider.

My advice: go for the APS-C body with the Sigma. Ignore the full frame offerings by Canon and Nikon -- unless you are willing to increase your budget significantly to allow for a great lens.
 

truettray

macrumors 6502
Sep 7, 2012
381
259
USA
True - but I thought the OP might want some details on the gear he actually asked about.:rolleyes:

I've read that autofocus on the 6D sucks. Not Ideal if you're working in low light.
Low light focusing is where the 6D actually does well at. While it does not have nearly as many focus points as any professional DSLR should these days... (and only one cross type), the center cross type focus point has a sensitivity at -3EV. Reviews over and over again say that this is the single positive thing that you can say about the autofocus of the 6D.
 

JDDavis

macrumors 65816
Jan 16, 2009
1,242
109
A decent amount of value for 2 grand here and you'd do pretty well in low light. No zoom though unless you want to pay $2k for a f/2.8.
 

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ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,594
377
Redondo Beach, California
One of the BEST VALUE low light setups for the money would be the Nikon D3300 and 35mm f/1.8 lens. Of course you don't get bragging rights with such a setup and you will have to figure out what to do with the money you save. Yes you can do better with a D800 and the f/1.4 lens.

What happens is that the sensors keep improving and the camera with the most recent release data has a better sensor. Look at DXO Optic's ratings of the D3300 it is near the upper right of the graph. It is also one of the lowest priced SLRs on the market. In terms of low light performance per dollar spent the D3300 and 35mm f/1.8 is hard to beat.

Remember that a lens that is two stops faster is more important than choosing a crop body vs. full frame. The lens really matters when it does to low light. If for nothing else then your view through the view finding is brighter. It is easier to focus a faster lens too.

Here is how to spend your $2K budget. It's a two step process:
(1) Buy an f/1.8 lens. Whatever lens you like but NO SLOWER then f/1.8 Get f/1.4 if you can but 1.8 is the limit.
(2) Buy the best body you can with whatever money is left over

Again it would help to know the subject.
 

Cheese&Apple

macrumors 68010
Jun 5, 2012
2,004
6,604
Toronto
Lots of great feedback here Iphone4sinwhite. Keep the thought process simple.

If you want to get off to a good start with great image quality (even in low light) with room to grow, learn and expand later if/when budget allows:

An entry level full frame (Canon 6D or Nikon D610) with a fast f/1.8 prime will work well.

For example: D610 ($1780 at Vistek) + 50mm f/1.8g ($220 anywhere) = $2000. Add some tax and your all set.

Of course there are all the incidental extras that can really add up but that's what birthdays and Christmas are for.

~ Peter
 

nburwell

macrumors 601
May 6, 2008
4,582
1,616
DE
Even though I'm a Nikon shooter, I would highly recommend the Canon 6D for low light photography. It's a stellar performer in low light (outclassing the D600/610). If you don't mind buying usedor refurbished, you can find a 6D for a really good price either via directly from Canon, B&H, Adorama, or on photography forums.
 

Meister

Suspended
Oct 10, 2013
5,455
4,265
Another idea: If you dont mind manual focus:
D610 + the old nikkor 55mm 1.2
 

Kebabselector

macrumors 68030
May 25, 2007
2,804
1,092
Birmingham, UK

fa8362

macrumors 65816
Jul 7, 2008
1,340
54
That depends entirely on if you trust the DxO ratings. For some reason Canon always seem to do badly on DxO. Most users probably couldn't tell the difference between images on either camera. These lab results are just as bad/misleading as smartphone comparisons.
I disagree. Canon APS-C photos are obvious...poor dynamic range, frequently blown highlights, frequently blown red channel, dead looking, and noisy. The full frame is obviously better, but outclassed by the Nikon.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
32,747
22,598
Behind the Lens, UK
A decent amount of value for 2 grand here and you'd do pretty well in low light. No zoom though unless you want to pay $2k for a f/2.8.
If I was going to have just three lenses, I wouldn't go for a 35, 50 and 85 mm prime. I'd look for a bit more versatility. Maybe thats just me though.