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Best Low Light Photography Cameras

Here are the cameras, we think, are the best you can currently buy for low-light photography and video. Including full-frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds and Compact cameras, there should be something for everyone.

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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon D780

Best Low Light Photography Cameras

The following lists have been put together from all types of cameras that we have fully reviewed and offer a guide as to the best you can buy for low light use. This can be judged from the ISO shots provided. However, do bear in mind that ISO is not the full story, so the reviews as a whole take into account many other parameters to help in finding the perfect camera for any particular purpose.

The first ISO figure shown below indicates the point at which some noise starts to become visible. Images then show gradually increasing noise until a point is reached where edges become indistinct or feathery and noise becomes unacceptable for anything but emergency use. This point is indicated by the second ISO figure quoted. The figures quoted are of course a judgement and the original ISO test shots are available to view in every full review. Individual photographers can then judge for themselves and take into account their own personal requirements.

In this guide, we've separated the best low-light cameras, all reviewed by ePHOTOzine and currently available to purchase, into 7 sections so you can easily find the camera that's best for you and these are: Full-Frame DSLR, Full-Frame Mirrorless, APS-C DSLR, Mirrorless APS-C, MFT/M4T, Serious Compacts & Waterproof Cameras

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A Little More On Harnessing The Power Of Natural Light...

There is an undisputed place for artificial lighting such as flash, but there is also, a magnificent beauty in the quality of available, natural light. From the blue, misty light of dawn, through the bold sunny day to the warm reds of a romantic sunset, natural light is there to add mood and depth to our images. Very often, natural light may mean low light as well, and this means slow shutter speeds and potentially camera shake with blurred images. Likewise, indoors the colourful light of parties, the ever-changing and staggering display of multi-coloured light from stage shows and concerts all have their own attraction.

Day or night, our cameras are capable of taking superb images and we can tackle the various issues with the appropriate techniques. Low light means slow shutter speeds resulting in camera shake, so to enable us to use faster speeds we have two main solutions, faster, brighter lenses with wide apertures (f/2.8, f/2, f/1.8, f/1.4 or even f/1) and higher ISO values, meaning higher sensitivity to light. Unfortunately higher ISO values bring higher noise levels and reduced sharpness, so there are different limits with different cameras.

Faster, brighter lenses are also generally more expensive, but they are a powerful solution to low light photography. Be aware though that using lenses at apertures such as f/2 and wider also means very little depth of field, so there will only be a narrow plane of the sharpest focus. Subjects in front of and behind this zone witll be progressively more blurred. This may be fine for many subjects, but there is little use in buying an expensive f/1 lens if we are going to use it routinely at f/8.

ISO is a similar concept to the speed of a film. There were fast films and slow films and fast ones showed high levels of grain. ISO 400 was as far as most were willing to go. Now we have ISO values that can exceed this many times over, sometimes producing images with very low noise levels even up to values like ISO 3200 or even ISO 6400. How far an individual photographer is willing to go can be judged from the ISO shots we publish as part of the camera reviews. We also add a brief analysis of the results to give a better idea of how far the ISO can be reasonably pushed. Some cameras are better than others in this respect.

Finally, there is one more facility at our disposal, either in-lens or in-camera shake reduction. With the latest cameras, up to 4 to 8 stops advantage can be achieved, which takes the concept of how slow a shutter speed we can hand hold a camera into a whole new realm. For example, if we can hand hold a 50mm lens at the recommended minimum of 1/50 second then shake reduction could in theory make images shot at one-quarter of a second or even slower a realistic proposition. The only limitation is that this does not help with moving subjects, but it does open up a whole new world of possibilities with more static ones. This can be especially useful in places where flash is not allowed, such as museums..

 

Best Low Light DSLR Full Frame Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Overall Rating

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a highly competitive full-frame Digital SLR that is extremely desirable, with excellent image quality.

At the lowest ISO setting of ISO50, dynamic range is reduced. Noise performance is very good between ISO100 until ISO6400 when some noise starts to appear. ISO25600 is most likely the highest ISO setting you'll want to use without applying further processing to images, as noise becomes much stronger at ISO51200, and at this setting you're best resizing the image or converting to black and white (or both). The ISO speed goes up to ISO102400, and this setting is best avoided. 

Noise performance is similar to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, although, at higher ISO settings, including ISO25600, there is less chroma noise (coloured patches of colour) in the 5D Mark IV images. Processing 5D Mark III raw images with the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw is likely to get equally good results. 

Noise performance at ISO25600 is better than the 36-megapixel Nikon D810, and Pentax K-1, and very similar to the 42-megapixel Sony A7R Mark II (which goes to show the benefits of BSI CMOS sensors). 

Noise reduction options are: Off, Low, Standard, High, and if you're shooting JPEG only, then there is a Multi-shot Noise Reduction option. We took these shots with "High ISO speed NR" set to Standard, which is the default option.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS 1D X III
Overall Rating

Canon EOS 1D X III

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is designed for professional sports and wildlife photographers and for those who have the budget, it delivers perfect results.

The standard ISO range goes from ISO100 to ISO102400, and this can be extended down to ISO50 (Low), and up to ISO819200. Noise reduction settings are Disable (off), low, standard (default), and high. We took these shots on the default setting.

For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO50 to ISO1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO25600 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced, with fine detail going at ISO6400. At ISO51200 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. Above ISO102400 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low. Colour saturation remains good, even as the ISO speed increases.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: NIkon D780
Overall Rating

NIkon D780

The Nikon D780 offers exceptional image quality, excellent battery life, and a tough weather-sealed DSLR body.

The camera offers an extended ISO range, with speeds down to ISO50 available, albeit with reduced dynamic range recorded. Noise performance is excellent from ISO100 all the way up to ISO3200. It's not until ISO6400 that we start to see a slight drop in fine detail, with a further drop in detail at ISO12800. Noise performance and control at these ISO speeds remain excellent, with generally low levels of noise, and a "fine grain" look to noise that is visible. Noise becomes more visible at ISO25600 but the camera still produces usable images. At ISO51200 there is a drop in colour saturation, and you may not want to use these images without further processing (or resizing). ISO102400 (Hi1) and above show the highest levels of noise, as well as a visibly processed image so these settings may be best avoided. There are High ISO NR (Noise Reduction) options of High, Normal, Low, and Off. We took these on the default setting of Normal.

The D780 gives noticeably improved noise performance compared to the D750, with much better detail at higher ISO speeds (ISO3200-6400), and higher ISO speeds (ISO12800-ISO25600 and beyond) are vastly improved.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon D850
Overall Rating

Nikon D850

The Nikon D850 does everything you could ask of a Digital SLR, whether you want high-resolution images or high-speed shooting, it will do both, without complaining.

For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO64 to ISO3200, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. Noise is extremely low, and doesn't really begin to show up until you reach ISO6400. ISO32 shows a lower dynamic range. For lower light situations ISO6400 to ISO12800 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. ISO25600 still shows usable results, with good noise control, depending on your intended use. At ISO51200 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, as colour saturation drops off, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO102400 is best avoided as noise is at its highest high.

Noise reduction options available are Off, Low, Normal, and High. We took these photos using the default setting of Normal, and users of previous Nikon DSLRs may want to reduce this to Low, as the default setting has quite strong noise reduction. The D850 gives improved noise performance, when compared to the Nikon D810, whilst also giving increased resolution. The D850 offers similar performance, when compared to the Sony Alpha A7R Mark II, which also features a full-frame high-resolution BSI CMOS sensor.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon D6
Overall Rating

Nikon D6

The Nikon D6 is a flagship DSLR for Nikon professionals, and its size, speed, battery life and toughness will be ideal for Nikon users.

Noise performance is impressive, with clean images up to ISO3200/6400, with even ISO12800 showing excellent results, although fine detail is lost. Some noise starts to creep in at ISO25600, but it's very well controlled. ISO51200 should give you usable images, depending on your needs. ISO102400 could potentially be useful but is likely to need further processing. At the higher (Hi1 - Hi5) speeds noise is strong (and weird), and these speeds are best avoided. Noise reduction options are Off, Low, Normal, High, and these were taken with the camera on the default setting of Normal.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO25600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Pentax K-1 II
Overall Rating

Pentax K-1 II

The Pentax K-1 Mark II performs well and offers good value for money with a number of unique features.

The camera's ISO range goes from ISO100 to ISO819200. Noise is low from ISO100 to ISO3200, with some more noise creeping in at ISO6400. At these lower ISO settings, you may want to use the custom noise options to set the camera to lower noise reduction to retain as much detail as possible. However, we'd still be happy using the camera at ISO12800, as noise is quite grainy (and some would say film-like), with very few red, green and blue dots spoiling the image. Noise performance at ISO12800 is reasonably good, with a slightly better result from the Pentax K-1 Mark II, when compared to the K-1, and raw files also look better.

At ISO25600 noise becomes stronger and we'd recommend avoiding this setting and higher unless you were going to process the raw files yourself or resize the images for use on the web. ISO51200 may still provide a usable result (just about) if you processed the image further, but noise gets quite unpleasant at ISO102400, and above. At ISO409600 and above images look awful, and unless you're shooting in the dark as a PI, then I doubt you'll ever want to use this setting.

Noise options include show shutter speed NR (for slower than 1 second): Auto, On, Off, and High-ISO NR: Auto, Low, Mid, High, Custom, Off. Custom lets you choose how much noise reduction is applied at each individual ISO setting, and the options are Off, Low, Mid, High. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Mirrorless Full Frame Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS R
Overall Rating

Canon EOS R

The Canon EOS R is a great camera with a great lens, capable of delivering excellent image quality. There are minor operational, and design quirks that will make the camera feel awkward but for the most part, the EOS R does the job efficiently and is a pleasure to use.

The 30MP sensor of the Canon EOS 5D Mk IV is a superb performer and this one is very similar. I would be quite happy to use up to ISO3200 / ISO6400 and although the noise is gradually creeping in, it is well held and makes the standard range of ISO speeds usable. At ISO25600, you may want to avoid using this setting, or processing the image further, depending on your intended use. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS RP
Overall Rating

Canon EOS RP

The Canon EOS RP offers a LOT of bang for the buck, with great image quality from the 26mp full-frame sensor, packed into a compact camera body.

Noise is very well controlled, and low, up to ISO3200. Fine detail is lost at ISO6400. Noise becomes more noticeable at ISO12800, but the results are still good. Noise is stronger at ISO25600, and results may be usable, depending on your needs, for example, if you're using images on the web and/or resized. ISO51200 and above are best avoided as images lose colour saturation, and noise becomes excessive. There are options of Low, Standard and High noise reduction. We took these photos on the Standard setting. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS R3
Overall Rating

Canon EOS R3

Big, beautiful and ready for any kind of photographic assignment, the Canon EOS R3 will tackle any job in any environment, efficiently and reliably.

The ISO range is much greater than many older Canon cameras, offering a basic range of ISO 100-102400, expandable to ISO 50 and204800. Where the noise levels become a problem is an individual judgement, but up to ISO 3200 the images are clean and sharp. ISO 6400 and 12800 are still quite usable, albeit with a bit of noise starting to creep in. ISO 25600 sees the contrast suddenly dropping and the noise taking over gradually, and beyond that things are pretty much a lost cause. Emergency use only for situations where any image is better than no image. Overall though, a very satisfactory ISO performance.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS R5
Overall Rating

Canon EOS R5

The Canon EOS R5 is a great full-frame mirrorless camera, with a high-resolution sensor, excellent electronic viewfinder, rapid focus and fast continuous shooting. 

Noise is very low and detail is highest at the lowest ISO speeds. Noise starts to appear at ISO3200, and fine detail starts to drop, with this continuing as you go up the ISO range. Images are still usable at ISO speeds up to ISO12800 and ISO25600 depending on your needs. ISO51200 shows the highest levels of noise, and the lowest levels of detail, and this speed is best avoided unless you have no other choice but to use this speed. ISO102400 is also best avoided, although it's worth noting that colour saturation remains quite good. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS R6
Overall Rating

Canon EOS R6

The Canon EOS R6 is a great choice for those looking for a highly reliable camera with great AF, and great image quality.

Noise is very low and details are highest at the lowest ISO speeds. Noise starts to appear at ISO6400, and fine detail starts to drop, with this continuing as you go up the ISO range. Images may still be usable at ISO speeds up to ISO25600 and perhaps even ISO51200 depending on your needs. We wouldn't recommend going beyond ISO51200, although it's worth noting that colour saturation remains quite good. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO25600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO204800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Leica M11
Overall Rating

Leica M11

Rangefinder-style meets digital technology with the Leica M11 body. There are photographers to whom the rangefinder is where they are most comfortable, camera and photographer melding into an utterly smooth working method. This is the stuff of street photography, landscapes, architecture and subject matter that does not rely on lenses longer than about 135mm.

Up to ISO 400 images are totally clean, by ISO 800 and 1600 a hint of noise is creeping in but the results are still fully usable. ISO 3200 is borderline as grittiness starts to set into the darker areas and by ISO 6400 this is quite obvious. ISO 12500 is very gritty, but even here the actual delineation of edges is still reasonably good. ISO 25000 loses the plot and becomes very noisy, but ISO 50000 loses the contrast as well, making these last two settings only usable in an emergency, or perhaps for special effects.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO1600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12500
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Z5
Overall Rating

Nikon Z5

The Nikon Z5 is a very solid introduction to the Nikon Z series and the kit lens is a very solid performer as well. 

ISO performance is really pretty impressive. With all noise reduction turned off, images are clean up to ISO 6400. Things are breaking down thereafter, with noise creeping in at ISO 12,800 and becoming very obvious at ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200. Even at these high ISO values though the grain structure is nice and tight. If we switch on noise reduction, the noise reduces but at the expense of detail. As the camera could be used with confidence up to probably ISO 6400, there might be little need to switch the correction on.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Z6 II
Overall Rating

Nikon Z6 II

Like the Nikon Z6, the Z6 II offers great image quality, and great handling, but with added "oomph" as well as the convenience of an SD card slot.

Noise is very low from ISO50 all the way up to ISO1600/3200. Fine detail starts to drop at ISO3200, and continues to go at ISO6400. Noise becomes more noticeable at ISO12800, and again at ISO25600. Results may still be usable depending on your needs, as colour saturation remains good even up to ISO51200. Noise is very high at ISO102400 and above, and these settings are best avoided.

Noise reduction options include Off, Low, Normal, and High, with the default being Normal. These photos were taken on the default settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Z7 II
Overall Rating

Nikon Z7 II

The Z7 II offers a full-frame 45mp BSI CMOS sensor that is able to offer high-resolution images. When combined with the extremely high-quality Z series lenses, you'll find yourself extremely impressed by the image quality on offer from the camera.

Noise is very low from ISO32 all the way up to ISO1600. Fine detail starts to drop at ISO1600/ISO3200 and continues to go at ISO6400. Noise becomes more noticeable at ISO12800, and again at ISO25600. Results may still be usable depending on your needs, as colour saturation remains good even up to ISO25600, however, for best results, we'd try and stay below ISO12800/25600. Noise is very high at ISO51200 and above, and these settings are best avoided. Noise reduction options include Off, Low, Normal, and High, with the default being Normal. These photos were taken on the default settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Z9
Overall Rating

Nikon Z9

The Z9 is a top-of-the-line professional workhorse with a rapidly growing number of superb lenses to support it.

ISO performance is very impressive. We will all find our own point at which the noise becomes too much, but in general, perhaps the principle could be that a sharp noisy image is better than a woolly noise-free one. Images with the Z9 are very clean right up to ISO 3200. By ISO 6400 we start to see the noise taking hold, but even here and at ISO 12800 the images are very usable. ISO 25600 is the tipping point and the extended values ISO 51200 and 102400 are still for emergency use only. However, even ISO 102400 rather impressively keeps the form of the darkest squares, even though the noise is high and the sharpness and contrast low. Many cameras reduce the shape of the chart boxes to mush by this point.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Panasonic Lumix S1
Overall Rating

Panasonic Lumix S1

The Panasonic Lumix S1 offers everything you could possibly want from the full-frame mirrorless camera, including in-camera image stabilisation, a high-res multi-shot mode for 96mp images, high-quality 4K UHD video recording, and a solid weather-sealed camera body with great ergonomics.

Noise starts to creep in at ISO6400, and at ISO12800 there is a slight loss in fine detail. This continues at ISO25600, with an increase in noise, and the loss of more detail. We'd still be happy to use images shot at these speeds. At ISO51200 detail drops again, and colour saturation drops. At ISO102400 colour saturation drops further, as does detail, and we'd probably recommend this setting not be used unless you're going to resize or process the noise further. ISO204800 shows the highest levels of noise, low colour saturation, and low detail, and is best avoided. You can adjust the noise reduction setting from -5 to +5, with half steps in between. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Panasonic Lumix S5
Overall Rating

Panasonic Lumix S5

The Panasonic Lumix S5 offers a compelling option in the full-frame mirrorless camera market, with obvious strengths in what's on offer for videographers, offering better specifications and features than many of the other full-frame mirrorless cameras in this price range.

ISO50 (Low) shows a reduction in dynamic range, but very low noise. ISO100 to ISO1600 show low levels of noise and good levels of detail. At ISO3200 there's a slight drop in fine detail. At ISO6400 there's another slight drop in fine detail. At ISO12800 there's a more noticeable drop in fine detail, as noise increases. At ISO25600 noise is smoothed quite a lot and detail is lost. ISO51200 shows more noise, but colour saturation remains reasonable. You might want to avoid using this speed, unless absolutely necessary. ISO102400 (Hi1) shows a lot of noise. ISO204800 (Hi2) gives the worst result, as the camera is unable to effectively reduce chroma noise (colour splotches). As with some of our other shots, we found we could get better results by processing the raw files and adjusting the noise reduction settings to our own tastes.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sigma fpL
Overall Rating

Sigma fpL

Like the Sigma fp, the fp L, maybe a slightly odd choice, but for others, it will feel like a great option, particularly for videographers. 

Noise is well controlled, and remains low, with good levels of detail, up to ISO3200, where detail starts to drop off. At ISO6400 detail drops off further, and noise/grain starts to appear. At ISO12800 noise continues to increase, however, the effect is quite "film" like, in that the noise appears like a grain, rather than colour noise (RGB dots). This remains the case at ISO25600, which means that both ISO12800 and ISO25600 produce results that could be usable.

ISO speeds available are ISO100 to ISO6400 in Auto, and ISO100 to ISO25600 is the "Standard" ISO range. To go below this, the camera has a "composite low ISO expansion" option. This takes multiple images at one time and merges them, however, this can only be used for stills photography (and not video) and any movement will be picked up. The ISO range is then expanded all the way down to a simulated ISO6, with steps in between up to ISO80, and noise remains very low. High ISO expansion lets you use ISO32000 to ISO1024000.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A1
Overall Rating

Sony A1

The Sony Alpha 1 offers a hell of a lot. Video users will be extremely happy with 8K 30fps / 4K 120fps footage, and this will be overkill for the average videographer. High-speed stills photographers will be impressed by the 30fps on offer, and even those looking for high-resolution shots will be impressed by the 50mp on offer.

Noise is well controlled, but as expected increases as the ISO speed is increased. At ISO3200 noise becomes more visible, and there is a slight drop in (very) fine detail. This continues at ISO6400, and at ISO12800 noise becomes more noticeable (and less pleasant to look at), but we would think these photos should still produce usable results depending on your needs. At ISO25600 noise becomes less pleasant and we'd avoid using this setting (or above), with NR set to Low. We took these photos with noise reduction set to low, and have included examples with noise reduction switched off. The NR options are Off, Low, and Normal/Standard.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A7C
Overall Rating

Sony A7C

For those looking for a compact, full-frame, Sony mirrorless camera, the A7C could be a great choice, particularly if paired with a compact prime lens.

Noise is very low at the lower ISO speeds. Some of the very fine detail starts to fade away at ISO1600 / ISO3200. At ISO6400 there's a more noticeable loss of fine detail (dust specs disappear). Detail drops again at ISO12800, and at ISO25600, however, the noise appears to be well controlled, and colour saturation remains good. Noise becomes more dominant at ISO51200. Above this is best avoided, as noise becomes stronger still. Noise Reduction (NR) options are Off, Normal, and Low. We took these shots on the default setting of Normal.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony Alpha 7 IV
Overall Rating

Sony Alpha 7 IV

Billed as a "full-frame hybrid camera" the Sony A7 IV certainly lives up to its potential. Be it for high-quality stills, high-quality video shooting or streaming and connectivity it's all there.

ISO performance is extremely impressive. The results are really excellent up to around ISO 3200, which is a stop or so better than most recent cameras. Even at ISO 6400 and beyond, although there is slowly increasing noise it retains a crisp structure as far as ISO 51,200. ISO 102,400 and ISO 204,800 do lose the plot, but the actual structure at these two extreme values remains remarkably tight. Differentiation in the darker areas is entirely lost though and the extreme values have limited usefulness.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO102400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A7R IV
Overall Rating

Sony A7R IV

The Sony Alpha A7R IV offers a high-resolution 61mp full-frame sensor and a wealth of features that should leave you satisfied for years to come.

For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and very good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and fine detail is reduced. ISO6400, ISO12800 and ISO25600 show higher levels of noise, with lower levels of detail, and results could still be useful, as long as you're not looking for fine detail. At ISO51200 noise levels become stronger and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO102400 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A7S III
Overall Rating

Sony A7S III

For videographers who want high-quality 4K video, the A7S III has got to be extremely desirable. Especially as 4K video is far easier to deal with compared to 8K footage, and can be recorded to SD cards. For stills photographers, then you've got to be shooting in really dark conditions for the A7S III to be needed so hence why it's on this list!

Noise is very low from ISO40 all the way up to ISO1600. At ISO3200 noise is still low, but very fine detail is reduced slightly. At ISO6400 noise is still low, but there is another reduction in very fine detail. At ISO12800 noise becomes more noticeable, and fine detail drops. Detail drops again at ISO25600 as noise increases. However, the level of detail can still be considered relatively impressive, giving slightly better results than the 20mp FF sensor found in the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. As well as detail being reduced at ISO51200, colour saturation also drops. Noise is strong at ISO speeds above ISO51200. ISO409600 is best avoided entirely. These shots were taken on the default settings for noise reduction.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO25600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO204800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A9 II
Overall Rating

Sony A9 II

The noise performance of the A9 Mark II is very good, with good results, and they are very usable up to and including ISO6400. The camera retains a good level of detail, even as the ISO speed increases. Compared to the Sony Alpha A9, there is better retention of fine detail as the ISO speed increases, as well as better colour saturation. Whereas we said we weren't too impressed by ISO6400 and above on the A9, it looks like the A9 II delivers good results at ISO6400, and images taken at ISO12800 may still provide usable results.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO12800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Zeiss ZX-1
Overall Rating

Zeiss ZX-1

The ZEISS ZX-1 offers a very slick bit of design that produces quality images, albeit at a price some may consider a little high. It's also a camera that won't be for everyone. In fact, I'd describe it as a 'Marmite camera', that a photographer will either love or hate.

There are some remarkable cameras that produce images at previously unthought-of ISO values. How does the ZX-1 fare? At ISO 80 and 100, the images are totally clean by any standard. At ISO 200 and 400 they are also totally clean, but there is the merest hint of rising noise. To be fair, this will not yet impinge upon the images visually without a good deal of pixel-peeping. At ISO 800 and 1600, the images can still be used with confidence, but there is the start of some mild chromatic noise. At ISO 3200 there is obvious mild noise creeping in, but it is crisp so looks reasonably good. At ISO 6400 the noise level is rising, it is still sharp but there is an unpleasant purple hue taking over the darker areas. Maybe there is a clue as to why ISO 6400 is the highest value on the camera dial because when we enter the extended menu values the camera basically just loses it. ISO 12800 is not good, being purple and noisy. ISO 25600 bring the Jimi Hendrix feel into the images as the noise grows into a Purple Haze. Not usable except in extremis. Finally, ISO 51200 is beyond horrible and hardly usable at all.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light APS-C DSLR Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS 850D
Overall Rating

Canon EOS 850D

If you're looking for a DSLR, and want to use one of the many EF/EF-S lenses available, then the 850D is a very good DSLR, with good battery life, and great image quality (when paired with a decent lens).

The level of detail captured is very good, particularly at the lower ISO speeds from ISO100 to ISO1600. It's not until you get to ISO3200 till you start to notice noise in images, and at this setting, results are very good. ISO6400 produces images that should still be usable, depending on your needs. ISO12800 may provide usable images, however, we'd recommend resizing images, or further processing (such as processing the raw file, or converting to black and white). ISO25600 and above are best avoided entirely. Noise reduction options include Off, Low, Standard, and High, and these shots were taken on the default setting of Standard.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Canon EOS 90D
Overall Rating

Canon EOS 90D

The Canon EOS 90D delivers both high-resolution images, as well as 10fps continuous shooting, making it a compelling option for those looking for a DSLR. The impressive battery life is also another positive, however, you'll need to make sure the lenses you use with the camera are up to the job.

The Canon EOS 90D offers excellent noise performance up to and including ISO800, with a slight increase in noise at ISO1600. Detail remains good with fine detail still visible at ISO1600. Noise increases at ISO3200 and detail drops off further at ISO6400, as noise reduction is quite strong. ISO12800 may still provide usable results, and even ISO25600 may be usable depending on your needs - for example using the image resized on the web.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO1600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO6400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Pentax K-3 III
Overall Rating

Pentax K-3 III

Noise performance is good, and depending on the shooting situation, we'd be happy to shoot at some of the higher ISO speeds. However, as with all cameras, using the lower ISO speeds is going to get you more detail, and cleaner images. The lowest ISO speed, of ISO100, shows a reduction in dynamic range captured. Very fine detail starts to drop off at around ISO1600, but noise remains well controlled, up to about ISO12800 / ISO25600, where it becomes more damaging to the image. As the ISO speed is increased, noise also increases, but you could use ISO51200 and ISO102400 if you really needed to (and colour saturation remains good). Above this images look awful, and it's best to not use these higher ISO speeds. One thing that might be worth noting, is that even at the highest ISO speed of ISO1.6million, you can still read the white text of the test chart, so perhaps for night surveillance, this could be useful, depending of course, on your needs.

When we reviewed the K-3 Mark II, we said that ISO25600 and ISO51200 were best reserved for emergency use only. In comparison, the K3 III gives vastly improved noise performance at ISO25600 and above. However, we still wouldn't recommend using ISO51200 or above, unless it's the only way you'll be able to capture the shot.

There are a variety of noise reduction options including slow shutter speed noise reduction, High ISO noise reduction options of Auto, Low, Medium, High, and Off, as well as Custom settings for this, letting you adjust the noise reduction amount for each individual ISO speed. We took these shots on Auto settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Mirrorless APS-C Cameras

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-H2S
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-H2S

The Fujifilm X-H2S gives superb results and offers impressive quality as well as impressive handling.

The basic ISO range is from 160 to 12800 and within that range noise is impressively low and images are all usable. The lowest noise levels and best sharpness will be found up to ISO 1600, but ISO 3200 and 6400 are very acceptable. ISO 12800 does show a slight drop in sharpness but the noise structure is still very good and I would accept an image at this point without hesitation. By ISO 25600 noise is creeping in, especially at ISO 51200 where noise is increasing and boundaries have a feathery appearance. However, compared to many other cameras, there is no sudden loss of contrast, the boxes in the test chart remain well defined and the settings could be used if necessary. Overall, very impressive.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-E4
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-E4

The Fujifilm X-E4 is a compact and stylish camera, with excellent looks. It's also one of the smallest X-Series cameras available and features the same 26mp sensor as the flagship X-T4.

Noise is lowest at the lower settings, with fine detail maintained up to ISO800/ISO1600. As the ISO speed increases more fine detail is lost, and noise is more visible, however, some would say that the noise has a "film-like" quality, so isn't as disturbing as some noise. Depending on your needs, you may find the results produced by the camera are quite usable, up to ISO12800. However, at ISO25600, we'd likely want to avoid this setting. The camera does an excellent job maintaining colour saturation, even as the ISO speed is increased. Dynamic range is reduced at the lowest ISO speed of ISO80, with the standard ISO range being ISO160 to ISO12800.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-Pro3
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-Pro3

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 offers a unique shooting experience, one that isn’t designed to appeal to every photographer. In fact, it’s always been about giving a rangefinder experience, and the X-Pro 3 continues to do this.

Under ISO160, the camera is using an extended, Low ISO range, and the dynamic range captured in these is lower than normal. As with the X-T3 and X-T30, noise performance is excellent, with low levels of noise, even at higher ISO speeds, and the camera maintains detail and colour saturation even when using higher ISO settings. The ISO range can be extended down to ISO80, and up to ISO51200, although you'll need to use the 'C' / Custom setting on the ISO speed dial, as this goes from ISO160 to ISO12800.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-S10
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-S10

The Fujifilm X-S10 gives excellent handling and feels great in the hand. In fact, when you pick up the camera, it just feels right, everything is where you'd expect it to be, and the handgrip is large enough to be comfortable, yet the camera is still compact, so you get the benefit of a smaller camera than your standard DSLR.

Noise is lowest at the lower settings, as you would expect, with fine detail maintained up to ISO800/ISO1600. As the ISO speed increases more fine detail is lost, and noise is more visible, however, some would say that the noise has a "film-like" quality, so isn't as disturbing as some noise. Depending on your needs, you may find the results produced by the camera are quite usable, up to ISO12800. However, at ISO25600, we'd likely want to avoid this setting. The camera does an excellent job maintaining colour saturation, even as the ISO speed is increased. Dynamic range is reduced at the lowest ISO speed of ISO80.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-T200
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-T200

The Fujifilm X-T200 is a great little camera, with great image quality and very good video quality

You can set the ISO speed from ISO200 up to ISO12800 when shooting RAW (or RAW+JPEG), however, to access ISO100 (low), or ISO25600 and ISO51200, you need to switch to JPEG only. As the ISO Speed increases fine detail drops off, although this is most noticeable at ISO6400 and above, and results below this speed are good, with noise being well controlled. There is a reduced dynamic range at ISO100.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-T30 II
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-T30 II

The X-T30 II is a compact, unobtrusive camera with both stills and video photographers well catered for.

Up to ISO 400, we have virtually no difference in the noise level and all settings are totally usable. ISO 800 and 1600 start to show the slightest signs of noise creeping in, but again they are very usable. ISO 3200 and 6400 are really very good indeed and, although they do show noise, it is compact and crisp and the edges of the test chart boxes are still well defined. ISO 12800 is giving up the fight and by 25600 and 51200 it is lost. However, even at these high ISO values, with the right subject matter, it is not a total write-off and there is value in having the options available, at a level far better than we might have expected.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X-T4
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X-T4

The Fujifilm X-T4 is an impressive camera, and with built-in IBIS, a vari-angle screen, and improved battery life, the camera offers a compelling option for both stills and videographers.

We can see a very similar performance as the X-T3, and that’s to be expected, with the same 26mp BSI CMOS sensor, and the same image processor. There is less dynamic range when shooting at the lowest ISO speed at ISO80. Noise performance is very good. There's a slight drop in detail at ISO3200, but noise remains well controlled at this ISO speed, and at ISO6400. Noise becomes more noticeable at ISO12800, but images should still be usable, depending on your needs. Noise becomes quite strong at ISO25600, and above.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Z30
Overall Rating

Nikon Z30

The Nikon Z30 is compact, well made and economically priced, plus has all the features necessary to ensure that straightforward vlogging is easy and reliable. 

The standard range for ISO is 100-51,200, plus two other settings marked H1 and H2. These roughly equate to ISO 102,400 and ISO 204,800. The results here are remarkable, with excellent image integrity and very little apparent noise right up to ISO 3200. The noise creeps in between ISO 6400 and 25600, but even here may be tolerable. By ISO 51200 things are falling apart, at ISO 102,400 the image is quite mushy and by ISO 204,800 that mushiness is joined by masses of noise, edges that merge into the background and all hope of sharpness is long lost. Overall though, highly impressive.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO2400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Nikon Zfc
Overall Rating

Nikon Zfc

A terrific small APS-C format camera that delivers the goods and offers a multitude of dials and buttons to allow access to all the main functions. Add gorgeous retro styling and lenses to match, and we end up with something that many photographers will find very appealing indeed. 

ISO performance is sound and fully usable up to ISO1600, with ISO 3200 still putting in a very acceptable level of performance. It then slowly falls off until by ISO12800 we are really only looking at emergency use, where some image is deemed to be better than no image.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO51200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony A6600
Overall Rating

Sony A6600

The A6600 gives good noise performance, with low levels of noise, and good levels of detail up to ISO3200/6400. As the ISO speed is increased detail drops, with fine detail beginning to drop off at ISO6400. The camera handles noise well, and images taken at ISO speeds up to ISO3200 and ISO6400 are usable, depending on your needs. At ISO12800 and ISO25600 image noise increases, and detail drops further. ISO51200 and above is best avoided as noise levels are very high. There are options to set the minimum shutter speed (menu 1, page 8), as well as noise reduction options of Normal, Low and High (menu 1, page 1). Noise performance is improved over the Sony Alpha A6500, with better detail retention at ISO3200 and ISO6400.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony ZV-E10
Overall Rating

Sony ZV-E10

The ZV-E10 is a very small and light interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an excellent 24MP Exmor CMOS sensor. 

ISO performance is very strong, in fact quite remarkable compared to what was possible say 5 years ago. From ISO 50 to 200 there is hardly a scrap of noise. ISO 400 to 1600 maintains almost as good a performance, after which there is a slow decay and more and more noise appears. But even ISO 51200 is not a dead loss and sharpness is well maintained even though the overall image becomes somewhat degraded and noisy. For the best quality perhaps keeping to ISO 1600 or less would be a good benchmark, although a noisy sharp image is probably better than a noise-free blurred one.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light MFT Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: OM System OM-1
Overall Rating

OM System OM-1

Beautifully made, the Olympus OM-1, the last OM System camera to bear that name, is compact, efficient and performs admirably; a suitably impressive way to say farewell to the Olympus name and to greet OM System.

OM System claims that the ISO performance of the OM-1 is within a whisker of equalling a full-frame sensor, and it certainly does seem very impressive. Up to ISO 200 results are essentially noise-free, from ISO 400 to 3200 there is a slight progression as the setting is increased, but the noise level is very low and the integrity of the test target boxes is clear and sharply defined. All these settings are fully usable. At ISO 6400 to 25600 things do become progressively noisier, but the pattern is still tight and the outlines well defined. At ISO 51200 and 102400 contrast drops dramatically, sharpness dips and these settings are really for emergency only, or perhaps for special effects. A very satisfactory result.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Olympus OM-D E-M1 III
Overall Rating

Olympus OM-D E-M1 III

Fine detail starts to drop off at ISO1600 / ISO3200 on default settings. There are options to adjust the Noise Filter, and these photos were taken on the default setting of "Standard". If you want slightly sharper images and don't mind a little bit more noise, you can set this to "Low" and noise performance is still good, with improved detail. However, to retain the most detail, and have more precise control over noise, you can process the raw files for better results. Dynamic range is reduced when shooting at the "Low" ISO speeds of ISO64 and ISO100, and the standard ISO speeds start at ISO200, and the highest ISO speed available is ISO25600. There is a very slight improvement in noise performance compared to the E-M1 II.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Olympus OM-D E-M1X
Overall Rating

Olympus OM-D E-M1X

The Olympus OM-D E-M1X offers a fully featured, full-size, fully weather-sealed camera, with dual memory card slots, 400,000 shutter life rating, a long warranty, and more features than you could possibly want.

At the lowest ISO speeds, of ISO64 and ISO100, the dynamic range captured is lower, with the increased likelihood of over-exposing highlights. The camera gives usable images up to and including ISO3200/ISO6400. ISO12800 results may also provide usable images, depending on your intended use. The highest ISO speed available is ISO25600, and we'd avoid this if possible, although colour saturation remains good even at these higher ISO speeds. 

You can adjust the noise reduction settings with options of Off, Low, Standard, and High. You can safely set the noise reduction to low, and get better detail in images, with only a slight increase in noise. There are options to adjust the sharpness, contrast, saturation and gradation. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Overall Rating

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

The standard ISO range is ISO200 to ISO25600, but this can be extended down to ISO100 (Low). This results in a slight loss of dynamic range.

Noise is low between ISO100 and ISO800, with some noise creeping in at ISO1600. Noise reduction does a good job controlling noise at ISO3200, however, fine detail has been reduced at this speed. Noise at ISO6400 isn't too intrusive, and results could still be useful for use on the web (resized), depending on your needs. Noise becomes stronger again at ISO12800, and it's likely you won't want to use this speed unless you have no other option. Colour saturation remains good however even at ISO12800. ISO25600 is best avoided.

You can adjust the noise reduction options, and you may want to set this to Low rather than normal/standard if you want a little more detail, albeit with a slight increase in noise. These photos were taken on the default settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Panasonic Lumix G9
Overall Rating

Panasonic Lumix G9

The Panasonic Lumix G9 offers a wealth of features, including extremely rapid shooting, and a great design that makes the camera enjoyable and easy to use.

The standard ISO range available is ISO200 to ISO25600. ISO100 (Low) is also available, but records lower dynamic range. For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO25600 is best avoided as noise is high, and detail is low. Noise reduction can be set from -5 to +5, and we took these shots on default settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Panasonic Lumix GH5 II
Overall Rating

Panasonic Lumix GH5 II

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II offers exceptional video quality and recording features beyond what most would need, whilst also delivering great image quality.

Noise performance is very good from ISO100 up to and including ISO1600. Detail drops off at ISO3200, however, ISO3200 provides usable images, with ISO6400 potentially offering good results, depending on your intended use. You'll most likely want to avoid using ISO12800 or ISO25600. There is quite strong noise reduction, however, you can adjust the noise reduction from -5 to +5, and these shots were taken on default settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Panasonic Lumix GH6
Overall Rating

Panasonic Lumix GH6

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 is a powerhouse of an MFT format camera, delivering the highest quality possible for both stills and videography.

So small formats like MFT are inherently noisier? Not any more it seems. There is no visible noise up to around ISO 400. Thereafter a low level of noise can be seen, but it's unobtrusive and holds its sharpness well right up to ISO 12800. It takes ISO 25600 for noise to break through, so the limit for the highest quality is perhaps ISO 12800 or less. As individual photographers will have a different idea as to where noise becomes unacceptable it is always a good idea to run our own checks. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25600
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Best Low Light Serious Compact Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Fujifilm X100V
Overall Rating

Fujifilm X100V (APS-C)

The standard ISO range available is ISO160 to ISO12800, and to access the extended ISO range, which goes down to ISO80, and up to ISO51200 you need to set the ISO speed dial to C for Custom. Noise is extremely well controlled between ISO160 and ISO12800, and noise is low, with good levels of detail maintained. Colour saturation also remains good throughout the standard ISO range.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO6400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Leica Q2 Reporter (FF)
Overall Rating

Leica Q2 Reporter (FF)

The Leica Q2 Reporter is a versatile reportage camera with excellent performance and handling as well as a sense of style.

The ISO ranges from ISO 50 to ISO 50000. Every photographer will have a different idea as to when noise becomes unacceptable, but the Q2 Reporter is impressive. Up to ISO 1600 there is a very gradual increase in noise levels; it is very subtle and images are totally smooth to the eye. ISO 3200 sees a change as noise starts to take hold, likewise at ISO 6400. ISO 12500 and onwards sees lower contrast as well as increasing noise levels, and these settings may be best reserved for emergencies. ISO 50000 shows much lower contrast and is only just usable. However, the delineation of the test card boxes is maintained very well at all settings.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO25000
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Leica V-Lux 5 (1in)
Overall Rating

Leica V-Lux 5 (1in)

The Leica V-Lux 5 offers a great set of features, with great image quality and excellent video.

As always, we recommend sticking with the lowest ISO rating possible and anything between ISO100-400 you'll be fine with. Noise starts to become more obvious at ISO1600 / ISO3200, and ISO12500 is where it can really be seen. ISO25000 is best avoided altogether. There is reduced dynamic range when shooting at ISO80.  

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO3200
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12500
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Ricoh GR III (APS-C)
Overall Rating

Ricoh GR III (APS-C)

The Ricoh GR III isn't going to be for everyone, but for those that do want a compact camera, with high image quality, the Ricoh GR III delivers the goods. The camera is responsive, and delivers excellent detail in images, thanks to the 28mm equivalent lens.

For best results, the lower ISO speeds are best. Results look very good up to ISO1600, and good up to ISO3200, with more detail dropping off after this. Noise is quite grainy, and is reasonable up to ISO6400 / ISO12800, although it's likely that this is the highest speed you'll want to use. You're going to want to avoid using ISO25600 as noise is high, and detail is low. The highest ISO speeds of ISO51200 and ISO102400 are best avoided altogether, as noise is excessive. 

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO6400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony RX 100 VII (1in)
Overall Rating

Sony RX 100 VII (1in)

The RX100 VII offers an ISO range of ISO800 to ISO128000, with ISO25600 available when using multi-frame noise reduction. This is only available when shooting JPEG images, and not raw. Using ISO80 or ISO100 results in an image with slightly lower dynamic range, as ISO125 is the base ISO speed. Noise performance is very good, with the camera giving usable images at ISO3200 and ISO6400. The results are very similar to those found on the previous model, the RX100 VI

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO1600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO6400
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Sony ZV-1 (1in)
Overall Rating

Sony ZV-1 (1in)

The camera gives good noise performance, particularly in the lower ISO range from ISO80 to ISO400/ISO800. Noise levels increase as the ISO speed is increased, but images are still usable, even when using higher ISO speeds up to ISO1600 and ISO3200, however, fine detail drops off, so for images with the most detail, stick to the lower ISO speeds. The maximum ISO speed you'll find acceptable will depend on your own personal preferences, and whether you're resizing the images for use on the web, or processing the images yourself (from raw). ISO25600 is available as a multi-frame NR option (JPEG only).

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO1600
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO12800
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Best Low Light Waterproof Compact Cameras 

Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Olympus Tough TG-6
Overall Rating

Olympus Tough TG-6

The Olympus Tough TG-6 may seem like a subtle update to the TG-5, but there are a number of welcome improvements that make the camera easier, and more enjoyable to use, helping you get the best results possible.

Noise is at its lowest when shooting at ISO100, with good levels of detail. Detail remains good as the ISO speed is increased to ISO200 and ISO400. There's a slight drop in detail at ISO800, as noise increases. Noise increases again at ISO1600, but colour remains good. ISO3200 may still provide useful results if you resize the image. Colour saturation drops off noticeably at ISO6400 and above, and it's at this setting that you probably want to avoid. Some purple fringing is visible around the white text and squares in the images at the lower ISO speeds, and a "hot spot" can be seen in the centre of the image in these shots.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO800
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO3200
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Best Low Light Photography Cameras: Ricoh WG-6
Overall Rating

Ricoh WG-6

Between ISO125 and ISO400 results from the Ricoh WG-6 are reasonable, with good levels of detail, and colour saturation. At ISO800 the Ricoh WG-6 is beginning to struggle with noise becoming strong, and colour saturation dropping. Noise levels and image quality suffer much more noticeably at ISO1600, and we would recommend avoiding this speed.

  • ISO figure where noise starts to become visible: ISO400
  • ISO figure where noise overwhelms the image: ISO1600
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Looking For More Buying Inspiration? 

Take a look at our other Buyer's Guides which include top lists featuring full-frame mirrorless cameras, the best APS-C DSLRs, top MFT lenses, must-buy smartphones and more. 

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Sony Alpha A7S III SEARCH

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Comments


josa 10 25 Czech Republic
17 Aug 2022 6:51PM
You named all cameras on the market...
Cynog 10 3 United Kingdom
2 Oct 2022 12:11PM
josa: "You named all cameras on the market..." Not quite, the Leica SL-2S definitely deserves a place. It's better than most of these cameras at high ISO.
GEONYC 2
2 Oct 2022 12:36PM
Dear josa, This site always mentions every camera on the market. They did mention all of the cameras on the market, this year,
new models. I may be wrong but the Leica may have come out last year. The Leica is very expensive and not what I think is in the
minds of most all of the people who come to this site. Any Leica SL or M body with 2-3 lenses are equal to 2 bodies and 3-4 lenses on most FF DSLRs, for example. Far beyond the budgets of any amateur. AND, Leica cameras have never been shown to be better
than the top FF C/N/S and many APS-Cs by them.

More important to me is the fact that this site never mentions the actual reason for better low-light reproduction is the individual pixel
size. If they did the Nikon D750/D780 and others with 6µm or more would be on the top of the list. The Sony a7III has a pixel size of
8.3µm (Maybe 8.4. Not sure.). To add: The Sony is FF but, in order to accommodate the large pixel size has only 12Mps.

Therefore the D750/D780 with 24+MPs are in my camera bag next to my D850, with much smaller pixels on a 45.7MP which gives
me the best of both worlds in stills and videos.
2 Oct 2022 12:39PM
We did all those that we had reviewed and there are perhaps a few that have never been reviewed, which are not included.
GEONYC 2
2 Oct 2022 12:42PM
The reason this site names all of the cameras on the market is because they are supported by sales. Notice the link to A´zon...

I think Leicas doesn´t bring in the profits. Leica has its own shops and builds its own world.
2 Oct 2022 1:12PM
The real reason was an attempt to be as thorough as possible and to assess each camera from the data generated by the reviews. Leica was included where we had reviewed.
GEONYC 2
2 Oct 2022 3:10PM
Thanks for the defensive answer. It was from YOUR reviews, If you didn´t review a camera it is not included.
Just a self-serving defense again.

Why no comment as to why a Leica SL2 wasn´t reviewed by you?

And, what about a comment answering what I said about pixel size? Nothing about that either, huh?

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