Low Light With The TG3

Doing low light photography, really puts a cameras sensor to the test.  Essentially, you get so see how much noise appears at certain ISO levels.  From there, you are able to determine how far you can push your camera, before the photos fall apart and look like a dogs breakfast.

The TG3 does not have the biggest sensor around.  As a matter of fact, it’s no bigger then the sensors you find in today’s smartphones.  On top of that, it’s about 2 years old in terms of technology.

But, the real downside to the sensor itself, is the fact that Olympus decided to cram 16 million pixels on such a small surface area.  In my opinion, they would have been wiser to stick with 12mp, which they had with the TG2.  I suppose Olympus got caught up in the pixel race, like so many other camera manufacturers.

What do you get when you try to cram so many pixels onto such a small sensor? Noise at low ISO settings.

Is that a bad thing?  Yes and no.

Yes, if you are a pixel peeper, it is a very bad thing. Once you perform your habitual pixel peeper habit of zooming in at 100% , you’re going to have a brain aneurysm when you see the amount of noise and artifacts in the JPEGs.  This camera is not for pixel peepers.

Thank God i am not a pixel peeper.

Therefore, no, it’s not a bad thing if you are not going to zoom in at 100% and examine every pixel in the JPEG file.

Seeing as though i knew what to expect from the sensor before i bought the camera, i am actually pleasantly surprised at the performance of it in low light.  There were no real shockers and considering that the interior of St. Josephs was quite dark, i think it did very well.

For the above photos, i used a scene mode called, “Hand-Held Starlight”.  This scene mode is supposed to reduce blur when shooting in low light/illuminated scenes.  However, to do that, the camera pumps up the ISO considerably.

For an example of a photo taken at high ISO, take a look at the photo of the the stained glass window.  That was shot at ISO 3200, which the camera automatically chose based on the lighting conditions.

Am i happy with the results?  Yes, i am very happy.  I did not expect anything more.  The TG3 is a keeper in my mind.

A word of caution:  if you are thinking about buying a TG3 or it’s suceesor, the TG4, take some of the reviews with a grain of salt.  If you start reading reviews that start of by saying how horrible the noise is and end in a “don’t buy” statement, don’t take to much stock in it.

For what the TG3 really is, i don’t think it disappoints.  DPReview gave it a silver award and i think they are bang on with that conclusion.

Who dares wins.

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