Digital point and shoot in low light
I am new to digital. I took a couple group photos in a living room with usual light at home. They turned out not only noisy, but very dark. It was shot with normal setting, on a tripod with flash. What makes me confused now is I tried some test shots in similar lighting in my bedroom after, and to sbjects at similar distance, the pictures turned out much clearer and brighter with well contrast. What caused the difference? Is noise unavoidable at all in the digital world when shooting in low light situation?
Panasonic Lumix FX-8
TO answer your last question first, Joe, today, noise is unavoidable in digital imagery at low light - at least with the current crop of consumer-oriented cameras. Obviously, since telescopes are fitted with digital sensors (have been for years) and take shots of distant galaxies and such (talk about low light!), it has to do with the execution of the system as well.
Anyway, as for your subjective test; you say you had "similar" lighting in your bedroom but the shots came out much better. Well, perhaps, even though to your naked eyes the room seemed the same, there was a lot more light in that bedroom than the living room had.
You see, the human eye is rather amazing in it's dynamic range - we are able to deal with far darker, and far brighter, scenes than our cameras can (particularly digital cameras). The flip side of this biological reality is that we don't perceive "double the photons" as "twice as bright", more like 10% brighter.
COnversely, when you think one room is only a little brighter than another, if you took a light meter into both rooms you may be surprised to see that the "slightly brighter" room is actually 4 or 8 times as bright.
So maybe your test was inadvertantly flawed. If you can get hold of a handneld light meter and test with that, you'll have a better sense of what the camera is capable of.
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