If there is a curse to owning a compact camera, and there are several in fact, it’s noise. Turn the lights low and the images degrade, often beyond use. My dear new Fuji has a CMOS sensor, which is what you normally find in a DSLR. Except it’s a little iddy biddy sensor like what you normally find in a compact. But still, it’s supposed to offer better low light performance than the standard CCD sensors, especially as this is a new fangled back lit CMOS sensor.
Some of the reviews I read weren’t convinced, but the more I read of the reviews, the more I wondered against what they were comparing the Fuji to. Well, there was only one way to find out – buy the camera, shoot some low light photographs, and check out the results. Which I’ve done. And I’m very pleased with them too. It goes without saying, the camera doesn’t produce noise free photos, but the shots I’ve got so far strongly suggest it out performs my old Panasonic FZ35 pretty handily.
The photo below (see larger on Flickr) is of a glorious church on the corner of Tamaulipas and Alfonso Reyes in Condesa. A few weeks back, I was stood in the exact same spot with my FZ35 trying to get a shot of the interior from the doorway – it’s always busy with a service when I pass, so I’ve not ventured inside too far as yet. One day….
Try as I might I could not get a shot worth publishing on Flickr with the FZ34. I got loads of blur, so I tried steadying the camera on the door frame. Less blur, still a load of noise. The shots were so bad, and I took plenty of them, that they were all deleted. I got the image below, hand held, almost first time. It’s not perfect. It’s not a brilliant shot in any technical or artistic sense. But it does show the Fuji HS10 can take a pretty decent low light photo. It’s ten times better than I got with the FZ35, and that’s really no slur on the Panny – that is a fine camera, and one I was very happy with.
I’ve taken a fair few shots with the Fuji now, and have a few sets up on Flickr including one of some low light photos. How does the Fuji do it? Well the sensor is one part of the story I guess. I’ve been getting some great shots at ISO 400, and some perfectly acceptable ones at ISO 800. I’ve yet to test ISO 1600, but I’m guessing they will be less usable by that stage. The quality of the lens must also play a part.
But perhaps one of the big pluses of this camera is the Image Stabilisation system it employs. I can see it at work on the LCD and it looks impressive. I managed to get this photo in an indoor market at ISO 100, which I’d never have been able to do with the FZ35 without some noticeable blur. One thing is for sure, I’m happier and happier with my choice of camera with every passing day, and every passing shot.