Lightning Photos and Canon 20D

The Canon 20D is looking good.. But as a chaser who has always used slide film for lightning and low light shots I wonder how the new digital cameras will hold out on lightning and other low light shooting. I have seen some very nice lightning taken with digital cameras but I am not sold on if they can take the heat so to speak. I would like to see what everyone else thinks and if anyone has anything lightning related taken with a new or fairly new digital camera I would like to see what the photos look like.....
 
Disclaimer: I haven't shot much lightning yet, so take the words from more experience lightning photographers with more weight than my own...

Just speaking in terms of noise, which is often a big deterrent for low-light and nighttime digital shots. The new 20D is significantly better in dealing with high ISO settings, as seen on various sample shot comparisons on various review websites. It seems that the 20D has atleast a 1-stop advantage to the 10D, meaning that noise at ISO 3200 on the 20D is comparable to the noise at 1600 on the 10D. Some tests have shown that the actual signal-to-noise ration is pretty similar for the 20D relative to the 10D, the noise appears quite a bit finer-grained, which makes is subjectively quite a bit less visible. While this isn't necessarily related to low-light performance, it does go to show that you'll be able to squeeze in useable shots at ISO 1600, which means you'll be able to shoot in some low-light situations in which you can't use a tripod. Obviously, long-exposure shots at ISO 100 on a tripod is going to look a lot better than a short-exposure, handheld shot at ISO 800 or 1600 (when a longer-exposure isn't possible, thus you need the faster ISO to get any sort of photo with a fast shutter speed in low light). However, with the 20D, at least the latter is possible, or at least seems to make the shot 'useable'. Now, the latter is even more unlikely when talking about lightning, since long-exposure and low ISO shots are most desireable... So take the low-noise, high-ISO advantage of the 20D for what it's worth...

The 20d does seem to have semi-effective noise-reduction when dealing with low light situations... See http://www.dpreview.com/articles/canoneos2...s20d/page12.asp for more on that...

All the shots and reviews I've seen for the 20D look very impressive, especially for a $1500 camera! I'm savin' up!
 
Actually, the high ISO qualities should have little relavence to lightning shots. What you really want is low ISO shots at say 100 for an extended period of time. I haven't seen any shots yet that had extended shutter times of greater than a few seconds. I would expect anything up to 30 seconds to be fine, but the real question is stuff out to a few minutes in length.

EDIT: Here is a shot at f/8 30sec ISO 100
http://img.dpreview.com/gallery/canoneos20...ew/img_8824.jpg

Looks good to me!

Aaron
 
There is noise then there is the other "noise". In relation to high ISO settings the first noise is similar to film grain. The other noise refers to long exposures and pixels burning out. That is why most DSLRs require a bulb exposure over 30 seconds. After 30 seconds the chips really start to over heat and one by one you get hot pixels. A good raw converter like Capture One will fix most hot pixels and Araron's link shows that good exposures are still possible.
 
Wow. (Mildly impressed)
That's the first camera I've seen that does full scale dark frame subtraction on-camera. Of course the downside is that gathering dark frame data takes the same time as the main exposure. :( If you're shooting lightning, you'd better buy two cameras!

Perhaps it has a mode that allows a single dark frame to be stored and reused. If the exposure times and camera temperature don't change, this should give acceptable results.

-Greg
 
The newer digital cameras are getting much better with respect to lightning. Some of the shots I've seen are great, but when I look close here are the areas I'd like to see digitals handle lightning better before I buy one:

1.) Distortions/ghosting from closer or more intense bolts. While I have seen some exceptions to this, most very bright or close lightning strikes have big problems exposing correctly on a digital camera. This type of shot is hard to get and usually ends up being a prized catch on slide film, one you'd hate to lose due to distortion problems. Halos, 'smearing', ghosting, saturation (white-out) and overexposure of the main channel (unusually fat, wide bolts rather than crisp, narrow detailed ones) seem to be the main problems here.

2.) Cloud base ambient light reflection color. The orange/brown hue to the clouds from city lights, especially lower clouds, is a detractor on digital shots. I don't run into this quite as much with slide film.

3.) Noise from long exposures, though as mentioned before this is getting better.

Digitals, in my opinion, have a long way to go before they can compete with the old manual SLR and slide film for lightning shots. For just about everything else though, the digitals have got it made.
 
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