Cheap vs expensive cameras in low light

See if you can spot which image was taken with the cheap camera.
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01.Which image is from the low-priced camera?

There’s been some discussion in the comments for digital cameras about how reasonable it is to compare cameras with very different price points, even if they fit our criteria for being high-end cameras.

To help illustrate that a relatively low-priced camera can compete, we’ve taken these three images from our testing as examples. One of these cameras is worth about $500, while the other two cost considerably more.

These images have been deliberately changed to make it difficult to know which camera produced them. The EXIF data has been removed and they’ve been cropped a little and resized to make them easier to display. In every other way they are as they came from the camera as JPEGs. Click on the image in the slideshow to be taken to Flickr where you can view them at larger sizes.

Which of these images do you think is the from the $500 camera? Indicate your choice by selecting the image number in the quick poll on the right-hand side of this page (poll now closed).

We will reveal which image is from the cheaper camera in a week or so.

Test conditions

The test is carried out under the same conditions for each camera. The light level in the test target area is set to approximate a poorly lit room (11 lux), using halogen lamps. The cameras are positioned at the same distance from the test area and the zoom lens is adjusted so the entire test area fits in the frame. 

The cameras are set to fully AUTO function and checked to make sure they can focus on the scene. Focus and exposure areas are left at the camera's default setting. Image quality is set to the highest possible and image size to the largest possible.

In low-light tests we don’t make judgements based on the depth of field, as different cameras will focus on different parts of the target. However, we do make judgements on colour management, noise levels and exposure of the image. We also note how much blur there is in the slow moving card at the back of the target area.



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