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Nikon Z6 Low Light

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The Nikon Z6 is a great camera. But for me I find getting consistent results can be a challenge in low light. I tried out the 24-70mm f4 Z lens, but found to get correct exposure I was pushing the ISO higher than I wanted to. But when I slapped on the 35mm f1.8 Z lens, the same ISO values seem to be acceptably clean. I thought 4000 ISO would yield equivalent noise regardless of f-stop. At least I don't recall needing to use different max ISO for different lenses with any of my other cameras. The Z6 can give pleasing results, but the consistency is hard to nail down... there is more of a learning curve with the Nikon. I'm sure it's nothing that cannot be  mastered. But it's something to be aware of. The rear LCD does show the noise, which is helpful. I would love to see Nikon release a LUT for this camera. It would also be great if Adobe would add some support for the NEF files. As for the preamp noise... it's blown out of proportion. While not the cleanest, it is usable with a good mic. If you need super quality sound just record externally.

The lens used in the video below is the 35mm f1.8 Z lens at f1.8.

 

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43 minutes ago, DBounce said:

But the gain is the same. Granted with a lower f-stop you can get away with less light. But if the gain is equal should not noise be equal?

We don't know if Nikon is applying any vignette correction which might be adding more gain to the image in the internal pipeline. 

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58 minutes ago, DBounce said:

But the gain is the same. Granted with a lower f-stop you can get away with less light. But if the gain is equal should not noise be equal?

If the signal is lower, the same noise will be more apparent. Or perhaps Nikon is doing some automatic corrections as suggested above.

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1 minute ago, KnightsFan said:

If the signal is lower, the same noise will be more apparent. Or perhaps Nikon is doing some automatic corrections as suggested above.

I'm understanding what you're saying, it's just that the Z6 seems to behave differently than other cameras that I have used. I'm leaning toward the idea that there is something else going on correction wise that is affecting noise levels. It's nothing that cannot be worked around, but it is an additional consideration when planing a shoot. I might have to dig into the settings to see if there is anything enabled that could be the culprit. 

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One other thing that I think most do not know, while the Z6 has vibration Reduction.. aka VR... aka IBIS, unlike virtually every other camera with this feature, the Nikon Zs can lock the sensor in place when the feature is not in use. This gives the best of both worlds imo.

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Since you don't tell us your other exposure settings it's hard for us to tell what is going on.

What exposure mode are you in? Manual at 1/50?

Aperture priority?

Why would you need to go to ISO 4000 at F1.8 in a well lit bar?

And of course any sensor underexposed has more noise. That's how CMOS works. It's not just a Z6 thing.

You give it more light, move the lows into the mids, less noise.

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2 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

Since you don't tell us your other exposure settings it's hard for us to tell what is going on.

What exposure mode are you in? Manual at 1/50?

Aperture priority?

Why would you need to go to ISO 4000 at F1.8 in a well lit bar?

And of course any sensor underexposed has more noise. That's how CMOS works. It's not just a Z6 thing.

You give it more light, move the lows into the mids, less noise.

The bar was not well lite. I set everything with manual settings.... 1/50, f1.8 and ISO 4000. I don't like setting changing on me by themselves. The 24-70mm f4 was correctly exposed with ISO 4000 and same shutter speed. It was at the wide end of the range.  That's really the only difference. 

 

 

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I don’t understand. Are you saying you get more noise at 1/50, f4 iso4000 than at 1/50, f1.8 iso 4000? You’re giving the sensor over two stops less light. Why wouldn’t it be noisier? 

Have you tried taking photographs exposing at 1/50, f1.8 iso 4000 and 1/15, f4, iso 4000? Different lenses and apertures but somewhat equivalent light.

what does it look like if you set the 35 prime to f4? Does it look different from the zoom f4?

 

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3 hours ago, Castorp said:

I don’t understand. Are you saying you get more noise at 1/50, f4 iso4000 than at 1/50, f1.8 iso 4000? You’re giving the sensor over two stops less light. Why wouldn’t it be noisier? 

Have you tried taking photographs exposing at 1/50, f1.8 iso 4000 and 1/15, f4, iso 4000? Different lenses and apertures but somewhat equivalent light.

what does it look like if you set the 35 prime to f4? Does it look different from the zoom f4?

 

Why it shouldn’t be noisier is because the gain is equivalent. For example 800 ISO is clean weather more light is given or less light. Video shot in low light with a low gain setting are underexposed, but exhibit little noise. It’s the gain level that introduces noise, not the lack of light. 

Photo do quite well in low light. It’s a non issue.

I did not try the 35mm @ f4 so I cannot say atm how it would perform. Though I will give it a try.

That said, both were exposed correctly. It goes without saying, if the lighting conditions were the same one would be over/underexposed. So naturally different lighting conditions for each shot. 

I’ve noticed that the Z6 behaves like a dual base ISO camera... 2000 ISO is less clean than 3200 ISO for example... though there was no mention of this from Nikon. Keep in mind, this is with noise reduction off, no lens correction, no image stabilization. This is true for both in camera and external recordings. It reminds me of how the GH5S behaves. This is very different from my other cameras, where noise increases with gain.

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31 minutes ago, liork said:

It is a dual gain camera. 

 

z6.png

Funny they would not advertise this fact. It’s a pretty popular feature. The difference is quite noticeable once you start playing with ISO settings. Though that bump happens at 800 ISO not 3200. Maybe something else is going on in video mode?

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I think just about every camera has a bump in ISO on his test. Plug in a few different late version cameras and they all have some sort of boost or dip in them. I don't think there is any dual ISO going on in a  Nikon Z camera at all. The Sony A7 mk III has a Way bigger jump than the Nikon Z7.

http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm

 

Here is the Nikon Z6 test.

1633786603_2018-12-11(1).thumb.png.17cb8ea206f93a9b5012026e095554f1.png

2018-12-11.png

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9 hours ago, DBounce said:

Why it shouldn’t be noisier is because the gain is equivalent. For example 800 ISO is clean weather more light is given or less light. Video shot in low light with a low gain setting are underexposed, but exhibit little noise. It’s the gain level that introduces noise, not the lack of light. 

Photo do quite well in low light. It’s a non issue.

I did not try the 35mm @ f4 so I cannot say atm how it would perform. Though I will give it a try.

That said, both were exposed correctly. It goes without saying, if the lighting conditions were the same one would be over/underexposed. So naturally different lighting conditions for each shot. 

I’ve noticed that the Z6 behaves like a dual base ISO camera... 2000 ISO is less clean than 3200 ISO for example... though there was no mention of this from Nikon. Keep in mind, this is with noise reduction off, no lens correction, no image stabilization. This is true for both in camera and external recordings. It reminds me of how the GH5S behaves. This is very different from my other cameras, where noise increases with gain.

Yes the gain is equivalent but the exposure is not which means that digital noise could appear more clearly vs an exposure with sufficient light. Shot noise and digital noise usually play off each other differently with different exposure. In good light a picture with super high gain might still look descent. Put that same high gain camera in a place with no light and it looks terrible. I’m no expert, I find the different types of noise confusing but from experience, if exposure is insufficient things tend to start looking terrible quickly. Which is why I never give much credit to noise tests in a well lit studio scene. Why would I up the gain if there’s a lot of light?

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Remember that noise is a linear thing, which is why bright objects are cleaner than shadows when viewed with normal display gamma. Also there is only so many photons around to begin with and that sets a base value for how little noise there can be (don't ask me how close to it we are tho).

There might also be the camera compensating to match t stop and f stop between lenses. Meaning if one lens loose more light than another and that gets compensated for it will be noisier.

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