Loc: The Wizard's Balcony
Again, there is no similarity to film grain and digital noise. It's apples and monkeys.
I love film grain (much to the chagrin of one of my anally retentive photography professors), but there is nothing aesthetically pleasing or redeeming about Bayer Filter noise. This is, of course, my opinion and is only worth so much.
Loc: The Wizard's Balcony
since most people use flash/
Flash is nice, but nothing beats using natural light. I try to use flash only as a last resort in low light situations. Lights are best used to open up shadows in bright sunlight or balance interior light against strong window light.
I think worrying about noise is over rated as long as it's kept under control. My D200 works quite well up to around 1200 ISO depending on the subject. But this speed works much better than normal film of yesteryear.
There are 10 kinds of people. Those that understand binary and those that don't.
You can't go wrong with either Canon or Nikon. There are a few other dSLRs that are becoming competitive, but these two brands are clear leaders. I'm using a Canon, but I've know others with Nikons and have tried their equipment as well. Both are excellent. When you chose your camera, you might want to consider the lenses you'll purchase later. Eventually, your lens collection may outweigh your investment in your camera.
For low light performance, the lens you choose has a significant impact as well. Fortunately, you can get a good f1.4 prime lens pretty cheap.
Finally, if you're not already shooting in RAW, you'll appreciate the amount of image recovery possible with that format, especially when using nice software like Aperture. Good luck... let us know what you choose.
I don't know what f/stops mean ...don't really know much about focal ranges like 18mm to 55mm (I know lower numbers = wider angle and larger numbers = more zoom) ...and all I know about aperture setting is that the lower the number the more light it lets in and gives greater depth of field.
I'd hate to burden you guys with most of that junk ...once I get the basics understood I'd plan on coming back and asking more fruitful questions
I guess I'd really just like to know more about what makes a lens good for low-light situations right now ...and I'm guessing that has to do with f/stop? ...according to SteveS' post above.
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