As part of getting to know my new camera I thought I’d test it out at night as one feature of the camera I had read about was its ability to handle low light better than my current camera.
What is ISO?
ISO is related to light sensitivity – a camera on a high ISO setting will create images that appear ‘grainy’, ‘noisy’ but create a faster image. You may notice images you take in a dark room/at night without flash using your camera phone often appear almost pixelated, this is due to high ISO. The reason photographers use this more grainy imagery is not only for style but also so that they can keep the pictures from appearing blurred when shooting in low light conditions. (Low light means the shutter needs to be open for longer, and if the photographer is not using flash then this may mean the shutter speed is open too long creating blurred images)
The Canon 7D camera has a good ability to deal with low light (and certainly is superior to cameras I had used previously) but at times I was having to choose settings that I knew would create grainy images. The 7D Mark II has higher ISO settings and was recommended as being able to be used at higher ISOs with less grainy imagery, a really appealing option for my event/newborn/wedding photography.
To make a fair comparison I used the same lens, shot at approximately the same time in the same location so the only difference was to change the ISO. These images are untouched deliberately to give a fair comparison. The full set is shown at the bottom of this post.
Overall I was surprised at how different the two sets of images were particularly around ISO 400-800. My ISO 100 images were disappointing as I hadn’t brought a bit of kit (remote control) that would have enabled me to extend the shutter speed time to over 30s.
In spite of this across the range it was clear that the 7D Mark II gave me an image more quickly than the 7D and a brighter image. This is useful at events/weddings etc. where the light levels are low as it should mean I am going to be more able to take fast moving subjects in lower light than before.
Using the 7D mark II also enabled me have the confidence to capture an image of a watching Heron who I could barely see in the dark with my eyes but was able to capture at a relatively fast speed and get a recognisable albeit grainy image!
All images (side by side comparisons are below)