If you follow this blog, you might recognise Tom (in the foreground above). He’s one of the unfortunate people I know who frequently has me pointing a camera in his face. It was his birthday the other week, so we all went for a night out down the pub.
As per usual I took a camera; unusually it was a digital camera in the form of a Leica M8. I wanted to see just how far I could push it in terms of shooting in low and fairly rubbish light. The pub we had a drink in is really quite dark, so I knew the M8 would struggle. Even at 1/45, 2500iso and f1.4 the camera was mostly reporting a stop or two of underexposure. I don’t really mind this level of underexposure in such low lit circumstances as these, I just mention it to give you an idea of the level of light I was working with.
This first couple of photos were shot at 1250iso. They were even more underexposed and then pushed a bit in Lightroom. It’s fair to say, there is a lot less room for manoeuvre with the files off this old sensor than the files I’d get from my modern digital cameras – noise does increase quite drastically if you push the files even slightly. You can already see some banding in the noise on the side of Tom’s face in the first photo.
These next photos were shot shot at 2500iso. There was less need to push the files to get the exposure/contrast I wanted, but the banding is even more prominent in some of them.
I imagine it sounds like I feel quite negative about the Leica M8 in low light? Well actually, thats not quite the case – I wouldn’t say I’m impressed by the low light capability of this camera, but I’m not all that disappointed either. I had my expectations set quite readily by plenty of M8 reviews, so wasn’t expecting perfection, far from it in fact.
Whilst these photos are indeed far from perfect, for what I was trying to achieve with my evenings photography, I don’t think they are that bad. They capture the atmosphere of the pub and our evening out quite adequately. I now at least know the limitations I’m working with too…
The funny thing was, I had more people ask me about the camera in one evening than I think I’ve had on any outing ever… They soon regretted it mind, it got me talking about photography…