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AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens

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Justin Parker
AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:42:47 pm

I know that the AF100 and DSLRs have fantastic light sensitivity. But when using a slower lens like f3.5 or higher, how does it compare with a HMC150 or similar camera in terms of low light shooting?


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:11:06 pm

Here's an interesting comparison between the HMC-40 and the AF-100:

Low Light Performance of the HMC-40 vs AF-100

Unfortunately no details are given, but I have heard that the AF-100 does quite well in low light conditions.


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Noah Kadner
Re: AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:32:55 pm

I found shooting with the AF100 at ISO 800 was surprisingly noise-free and helped to compensate for the super slow MFT zoom lens I was recently saddled with on a project. That said, there's all the reason in the world to spend the money to get faster lenses. Kinda the whole point of shooting with an interchangeable lens camera.

Noah

Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D.


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Justin Parker
Re: AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens
on Mar 29, 2011 at 3:35:08 pm

the comparison didn't say what lens it had but it's such a big difference I imagine the AF100 is better in low light even with a slow lens.


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Dave Haynie
Re: AF100 light sensitivity with slow lens
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:20:24 am

Yeah... no details. I have shot dramatically better HMC40 video in a pretty dark nightclub, so I kind of wonder what was going on there. I would definitely be shooting at 24p and 1/24th sec. in a room as dark as that seems to be.

On the other hand, I have zero doubt the AF100 would outperform the HMC40 in low light -- it's basically a DSLR with camcorder controls. The HMC40 has a combined sensor area of about 23mm^2, the AF100's 4/3" sensor has an area of about 225mm^2. That's just about 10x the area, more than 3 full f-stops worth. The difference between the f1.8 HMC40 and an f3.5 on the AF100 is only about two stops... so, big advantage. A Canon 7D or 60D has a sensor at 329m^2, close to four stops improvement, and something like the 5D, with a full-frame 35mm sensor, tops out at 860mm^2, better than a 5 stop advantage (assuming the same fill percentage and other things being similar from sensor to sensor).

And unlike exposure, noise isn't necessarily a linear function. The basic idea is that noise is always in your sensor, even though they've been lowering that base level every year, particularly in CMOS sensors. In the bight light, the ever-present noise is too low-level to show up in actual video, but as you increase gain, it makes an appearance. And even an f-stop or two worth of gain can be day or night with your sensor.

And I could mention that you can buy three HMC40s for the price of the AF100... and you still to buy a lens for the AF100 after that. A 60D or Panasonic GH2 (which seems to have the same sensor as the AF100) with a pretty decent zoom will run you less than an HMC40. And the 60D, at least, records at substantially higher bitrates. No question I'd rather use the AF100 for video from a functional point of view, but that extra $4000 would buy some sweet lenses and accessories.

-Dave


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