Inexpensive low noise digicam for lightning shots?

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Tucson, Aridzona
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No, those aren't stars...... That's the sort of thermal noise and hot pixels I get with an 8 second exposure. And it gets worse... In hot weather I can see several hot pixels in daylight exposures.

Does anyone have first hand experience with a midrange P/S digicam that is highly noise resistant? Since purchasing my OLY C-3000 3+ years ago, the damn thing has grown more hot pixels than seems posible. It was fine when new....

Yea, I can run the resultant mess through a dark-frame subtraction program. It helps, but never quite eliminates the noise.

I'm looking for a 3~4 MP camera with:


A VERY quiet sensor or, at the least, a firmware dark frame function.

Sharp glass. My Oly is shit at wide angles and wide open. Stopping down to f5.6 does wonders, but will loose too much light for night time and lightning photography.

Manual focus

Manual shutter speed to at least 10~15 sec.

Aperture Priority AE

Full manual exposure (I can set shutter and aperture independently)

Macro, etc.


I'm not about to pop a grand for a DSLR when it may succumb to the same problem in a few years. I'm looking for a slightly older model that can be found for ~$300 or less.

Thanks

-Greg
 
For around $300 I don't know what you will find. I have yet to see a P/S that has a great low-noise sensor. The problem is they keep making the sensor AND the bodies smaller. This leads to less heat dissipation, and heat greatly impacts your noise.

Aaron
 
$300 or less????

For the price range, you're looking at, I really don't think your going to find anything that's going to give good long exposure results.

One of the best cameras I have for this type of shooting is the Olympus E-10. With the wide angle attachment, I can get 1 minute exposures with a minimum of "hot pixels".

Any digital camera is going to give you something in the way of hot pixels though. It's simply the nature of the beast. How the camera handles these is different by each company. Another option is to send the camera in for service and ask theat they "remap" the sensor around the bad pixels. I don't remember where I say it, but there is a utility out there that will analyze and give positions to the truly stuck pixels. I would also take a black picture two or three times and find out if it's the same pixels every time.

Film will also give you some troubles on long exposures. More grain and color shifts. Not as bad as the digital hot pixels, but there is a trade off.

Sorry, the only way you're truly going to get away from this issue to break out the bucks for a better camera. DSLR's are not impervious to the issue, they simply handle it better. I did a five minute exposure last night (attempting to get a few meteors, no luck) and on close examination, there are hot pixels. They aren't as bright and are glossed over by the internal software of the camera, but they are there.

John
 
For around $300 I don't know what you will find. I have yet to see a P/S that has a great low-noise sensor. The problem is they keep making the sensor AND the bodies smaller. This leads to less heat dissipation, and heat greatly impacts your noise.

Aaron

Exactly.

I'd be willing to buy another camera and build a peltier powered 'cold box' around the thing if I knew the sensor wouldn't crap out like this one did. In it's decayed state, my Oly retains a large number of hot/stuck pixels even when tossed into the freezer.

Any digital camera is going to give you something in the way of hot pixels though. It's simply the nature of the beast. How the camera handles these is different by each company. Another option is to send the camera in for service and ask theat they "remap" the sensor around the bad pixels. I don't remember where I say it, but there is a utility out there that will analyze and give positions to the truly stuck pixels. I would also take a black picture two or three times and find out if it's the same pixels every time.

The camera is way beyond it's puny warantee. Oly can do a remap (for nearly $200 freaking bux), but I'm certain new pixel failures will continue to occur. Yea, it's the same damn pixels that are dead. Farking plasticrap toy!

I would stick with film, but I've blazed seven rolls over the last few last nights and am suffering mild sticker shock. Even $1.50/roll expired sensia costs over 4 bux to develop. I can get an E-6 kit and save some $$, or try digital (again).

Thanks, all.

-Greg
 
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