The ever-increasing trend of Tiktok, IG TV, and Facebook live has raised the demand for the gadgets that serve as a helping hand for you in creating content to capture viewers’ attention.
Shooting video content in the dark is one of the trickiest jobs to perform. Content creators are used to making plans to create the optimal conditions for a shoot, usually with proper lighting. However, with improved advancements in the DSLR field, capturing great quality content in low light is now far easier than ever.
You will find several gadgets and equipment that can record, edit, and upload videos, but not all of them can facilitate you with proficient results without optimal lighting conditions.
Undoubtedly, DSLRs are worth investing in, but their diverse range makes it hard to choose the right one for yourself. Certainly, not every DSLR offers great results in low-light. Therefore, understanding the key features of a DSLR can help pick the perfect product that serves your needs. Reputable manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and Nikon have introduced some finest cameras that work great in daylight and low-light.
Buying a DSLR camera can be heavy on the pocket, so ensure to get the one that fits perfectly to your needs.
What is a DSLR camera?
DSLR term stands for the digital single-lens reflex, which means switching between multiple lenses through the same camera. It is a perfect choice for both professionals and entry-level photographers as it provides high-quality footage, great autofocus, and can hold thousands of photos and videos on its built-in memory card.
How does a DSLR camera work?
It is a combination of the optics and the mechanisms of a single reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor.
External light first hits the camera lens that reflects the optical viewfinder, which allows the photographer to capture the image. Once the image is captured (the shutter is released), the mirror moves out of the way, letting light pass through the digital image sensor. The memory card then saves the photo or video. DSLRs work differently than mirrorless cameras. However, some mirrorless cameras are known to shoot well in low-light.
Here key features to consider before buying a DSLR.
A sensor captures the light in the camera and transforms it into an image. So, the bigger the sensor, the more light it will capture, developing a high-quality image in low light. The sensor has three sizes where the full-frame is the biggest, followed by APS-C and then Micro Four Thirds.
The second important feature is the lens aperture of the camera. Again, the larger the aperture, the more light it will allow the sensor to enter. Each lens has a maximum aperture; look for what works best according to your need.
ISO refers to the camera’s sensitivity to light. Meanwhile, each camera possesses a different ISO. ISO in cameras tends to get higher when there is less or no light, resulting in poor image quality. Therefore, it is important to have a big sensor size that may let the light capture the image without increasing the ISO.
Best DSLR for Low Light Video
These are some of the best DSLR that provide you with high-quality images and video while shooting low light scenes.
The Sony A7S III is known for its incredible low light performance, but does come in at a premium price point.
It is a full-frame camera with a wide ISO that ranges from 40 to 409,600. It has a new BIONZ XR processing engine that delivers 8x more processing power. It is optimized for 4K recording with a 12.1 MP1 Exmor R sensor. The Sony A7S III can record in 16-bit RAW video as well, if you plan to color grade your footage. It’s slow motion performance is also incredible, being able to record at 120fps with 4K resolution or 240fps at 1080p.
The Sony A7S III 12MP camera might seem low in resolution compared to other cameras, but Sony has deliberately engineered this camera with a low pixel count to make the individual pixels as large as possible.
These large pixels on the sensor means that the A7S III is able to take crystal clear images and video even with little to no light, such as in pitch black environments. Experts relate Sony A7S III with Hollywood cameras that are used to shoot hi-res videos.
Moreover, it has a fully articulating LCD screen, which can be paired with Sony’s and third-party lenses such as Tamron and Sigma, delivering professional high-quality images and videos.
Unquestionably, Sony has launched one of the best cameras for low light bar none. This incredible performance comes at a price, but if you can afford it, you’re getting your money’s worth as this is without a doubt the best DSLR for low light.
- Slow-motion 4K recording capability
- 16-bit RAW video
- In-body image stabilization
- Fully articulating screen
- Incredible low light performance
Numerous vloggers are using the Panasonic Lumix GH5 series, and with good reason. It is considered one of the best mirrorless cameras that provide high-quality images and videos.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is equipped with a 20.3MP sensor that can capture up to 10 bits at lower fps to record 4K videos at 59.94p and 48p. At lower frame rates, this camera can capture up to 10 bits.
The GH5 has new and improvised processing power that enables the camera to perform complex sharpening, which counters overexposure.
It uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor that is smaller than the APS-C CMOS sensor, but performs just as well.
The GH5 has undoubtedly some of the best video capabilities given its price point, as it’s able to shoot 4K 60fps video even with all of the processing features turned on. In most other cameras, several features are not enabled when shooting at higher resolutions and frame rate, but that is not the case for the GH5.
The GH5 also has a nifty recording feature where it can switch between its dual SD cards whilst recording. This means you can effectively record forever as you can replace a full SD card in one of the slots while the camera switches to record footage on the other.
Overall, the GH5 is a great option if you want to shoot low light videos, especially for long form content where your videos will take a lot of storage space.
- 4K 60fps video recording without sacrificing quality
- Great flip screen
- Captures best slow-motion videos
- Dual SD card
- Relatively small sensor size
- No internal image stabilization
Panasonic HC-V770 is a 1080p handycam with a 20x optical zoom. It has a large backlight sensor, so despite only being capable of recording in 1080p, it offers superb low light performance.
The HC V770 has the lowest effective resolution of 6.03 MP for video, but when you consider its price point and stabilization performance, this is the best bang for your buck if you plan to record 1080p footage.
Panasonic HC V770 has great connectivity as well. It can wirelessly connect to the smartphone’s video camera, acting as a second camera, incorporating this shot as an in-picture picture box in the video. The Panasonic Image App lets you use your phone or tablet as a remote to control the camcorder.
Overall, the HC V770 isn’t the best low light camera out there, but its low price with decent performance makes this a great option for those on a tight budget.
- Easy to use
- Great Wi-Fi features
- Great stabilization as it is a handycam
- Low resolution
If you like the idea of using a camcorder but want an option with higher resolution and performance, the Panasonic HC-WXF991 is the perfect option.
It has built-in infrared night vision, which means irrespective of darkness, it can produce supreme quality videos. It can shoot 4K video while accomplishing splendid low-light execution from the 1/2.3 inch sensor (8.29 million possible pixels for 4K video) and 20x optical zoom, from f / 1.8 wide to f/3.6.
This results in excellent low light, high resolution 4K footage with the stabilization you’d expect from a camcorder.
It has an electronic viewfinder, which gives a touch of professional recording experience. It has an HDR button that enables quick modes and adjusts contrast according to the shooting environment. It comes with a built-in twin camera.
The HC-WXF991 has some other cool features in its sleeve in the form of Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and more interestingly, a secondary camera attached to the flip-out display. This allows capturing both sides simultaneously; the camera holder and its subject.
- 20x optical zoom
- Infrared night vision
- Great viewfinder design
- 4K resolution in a camcorder
The Sony A6400 is considered one of the best cameras for vlogging in 2020, and since it’s no longer the latest offering from Sony, it can be had for a bargain.
It is a full APS-C mode with a 24.2-megapixel camera. It is an improvised version of Canon M50. The a6400 can record in 4k at 30fps without any crop factor; and the video results are commendable.
The A6400 consists of a robust autofocus system at the rate of 0.02sec with real-time autofocus and tracking objects. It offers a 425-point phase-detection and 425-point contrast-detection autofocus system, with a variety of focus modes. The battery life has improved with stated 360 shots compared to the 310 shots of the A6500.
Combining the APS-C CMOS sensor with the new LSI front-end and Sony BIONZ X image processor gives this camera an impressive performance and speed. It can also capture full HD video at a speed of up to 120 frames per second, with an excellent texture, sharpness, and image clarity with low noise disruption.
Overall, the A6400 was an incredible camera when it was released, and it holds its own even up against newer DSLRs. If you’re looking for great low light performance and don’t mind the slightly dated software, the A6400 is a great buy since it has been discounted heavily from its launch price.
- Excellent Autofocus system
- 4K video recording
- Dated menu system
Every professional camera has different specifications that help in capturing high-quality videos and images. There is a great option no matter what your budget is, and whatever your brand preference is.
Having your footage unusable due to poor lighting conditions is one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a content creator, investing in a DSLR that can reliably make use out of low light footage is a wise investment. The peace of mind of having usable footage no matter the circumstances is priceless, and with such great options available on the market, it’s never been a better time to invest in a great camera.
The top pick cameras that work the best with low light are Sony A7S III and the Panasonic Lumix GH5. If you are on a budget, the A6400 is a fantastic choice as it still offers great performance despite being slightly dated.
Jeremy has been running several online businesses behind his laptop for the past 5 years and he has worked as a freelance web developer previously. A trained marketer by profession, he also has Ruby on Rails and web development knowledge. His forte lies in eCommerce, SEO and content marketing. He’s been featured on Vice, Thrive Global, YFS Magazine, Forbes and several other publications. He prefers to connect with people on LinkedIn.