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I started low light photography inside rather dark museums with the camera on a tripod using a remote shutter release, low ISO and long shutter speeds. A new avenue of low light photography was opened up to me when in January 2009 I attended my first night photo shoot at RAF Northolt and became hooked. As the popularity of the night photo shoots increased so did the number of photographers and their tripods and it became a bit restrictive in moving around or getting blocked in.
That all changed when I upgraded my Sony A350 to a Sony A58 and discovered the 'Hand Held Twlight Mode' and 'High ISO Noise Reduction' feature which gave me the freedom to do away with the static tripod and be able to move around to obtain a better angle on the subject being photogrpahed. Both work the same way by basically taking a series of 6 images at slightly different settings and these images are combined inside the camera with software processing out digital noise to give you one clean image. The 'Hand Held Twlight Mode' is a camera function and the settings, which are usually wide open aperture and ISO around 6400, can not be changed unlike 'High ISO Noise Reduction' where settings can be adjusted.
In 2013, Sony introduced the Sony A7/24mp & A7R/36mp Compact Systems Camera. A year later and without any fanfare, Sony released the A7s (s = Special)/12mp CSC with the tag line of 'The Camera That Shoots In The Dark'. Aimed primarily at video users, the reviews of the A7s were astonishing in the clarity of images with a high ISO and despite it being rather expensive I knew the A7s was the way to go if I was to pursue further my interests in low light photography.
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In late November 2014 Sony announced the release of the A7II ILCE with a 24.3 megapixel 'Exmor' HD CMOS sensor, the latest Bionz X processor along with the addition of in-camera 5-axis (up to 4.5 stop) image stabilisation system. In June 2015 Sony announced the A7rII with a 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, basically increasing the amount of light the sensor can capture therefore improving low-light performance, and In-camera 5-axis image stabilisation. The Sony A7sII was announced in September 2015 but apart from the inclusion of 5-axis image stabilisation, other improvements were more video orientated. In October 2015, Sony released a firmware update for the A7rII which included uncompressed 14-Bit RAW image capture. This changed the file size from 41Mb for compressed RAW to 81.6Mb for uncompressed RAW. In theory, with the larger file size along with back-illuminated sensor, more detail can be extracted from dark shadows making the A7rII more suitable for low light photography and a big plus point is that the A7rII, like the A7s, has a silent shutter.
In March 2016, I took delivery of a Sony a6300 E-mount Compact System Camera as a replacement for my a6000 which I used as a day to day carry-around camera. As good as the a6000 is, what piqued my interest in the a6300 was the newly developed 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor™ CMOS image sensor which is thinner than the previous 24.2 MP sensor of the a6000 and is made with copper wiring in the structure which is claimed to improve light collection efficiency and with enhanced circuitry in the BIONZ X™ image processing engine vastly improves the ability of the sensor to capture low-noise high ISO images. As well as having a rigid metal lens mount, which makes changing lens in the dark easier as you are not liable to break it, the magnesium body is dust and moisture proof and although it is a crop-sensor camera I can still use my E-mount Full-Frame lens with the camera. Only down side to the camera is the lack of in-body stabilisation although 'SteadyShot' image stabilisation is included in some E-mount lens. A big plus point again is the Silent Shooting mode the a6300 now has which makes use of an electronic shutter instead of a mechanical one for completely silent performance which is ideal for not drawing attention to yourself when you are out and about on the streets in the dark.
'No One Can Hear You Taking Photographs In The Dark'