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I have a Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95 (ZS80) camera on firmware v1.1. For indoor low light shooting (without a flash) the pics are bad, poor focus, poor colour (jpg 5184x2920 pixels). The outdoor pics are fine. I use the iA+ mode.

My mobile phone takes good images of the same indoor scenes without flash though with fewer pixels. I'm a noob at photography. Any easy suggestions?

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  • Intelligent auto mode(ia+) takes good images in OK light but tends towards increasing the ISO in low light conditions. This will lead to grainier images. I'd suggest switching to manual and using a wide aperture/slow shutter (a tripod might br necessary)
    – MiguelH
    Aug 20 '21 at 11:40
  • Hard to tell without knowing the settings used by your camera (Aperture/Speed/ISO). You phone camera has a faster/more open lens (typically around f/1.8-f/2) than your camera (f/3.3 at best) and that compensates a bit for the lower signal/noise ratio of the smaller sensor in your phone. It is also assisted by a lot of processing power from your phone. This said when you pixel-peep the nice-looking picture from the phone may have serious flaws...
    – xenoid
    Aug 20 '21 at 11:46
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A superzoom bridge camera is typically handicapped against low-light photography by two factors: sensor size and the maximum aperture on the lens.

sub-$800 superzoom bridge cameras typically use a 1/2.3" format sensor (5.6x crop) which isn't that much bigger than a smartphone's (1/2.5" or 1/3", basically 6x crop). A 1"-format (2.7x crop) or APS-C sized sensor (1.5x crop) can usually have much less noise at higher ISO levels to help with low light than the smaller sensors do. But, this, obviously, doesn't hold your phone camera back, it's just that more aggressive noise reduction may be applied computationally to images as well.

But the big difference is in the physical zoom factor of the lens and its effect on maximum aperture. A phone camera has a very small wide lens (~4mm is common) but because it doesn't zoom it can be small and still have a maximum aperture of f/2 or wider. Your TZ95 has a maximum aperture of f/3.3-6.4 over its 4.3-129mm zoom range. If you're zoomed all the way out to the widest view, f/3.3 is -2.3EV slower than f/2 and requires 5x more light to make a good exposure and has that much less light to focus by (22.3) than f/2 does. Zoomed all the way in, at f/6.4 (-3.3EV from f/2), the lens requires 10x more light (23.3). And at 130mm, the magnification will probably require a faster shutter speed to mitigate camera shake from handholding.

Between superzoom and enthusiast compacts, the tradeoff is generally reach for low-light capability do to how optics work. The longer a lens is, the smaller its max. aperture has to be to keep it smaller. You'll generally only find f/1.8-f/2 lenses on smaller cameras that don't sport superzooms.

So, things you could do to try and improve performance in low light:

  • Use the M or A modes to take better control over the exposure settings than iA gives you. Master the exposure triangle.
  • Use a tripod or other form of stabilization to eliminate camera shake and allow you to use longer shutter speeds.
  • Shoot RAW, not JPEG, and post-process for noise.
  • Zoom out rather than in to use larger aperture settings.
  • Use manual focus with assists instead of autofocus.
  • Use a flashlight or autofocus assist on your subject to help your camera focus.
  • Use a flash. While the camera doesn't have a hotshoe, you could use the built-in flash to trigger an off-camera one if it has an optical slave mode (typically called S1/S2).

Or if low-light shooting is the main reason you got the camera, get a different camera with a faster lens (typically shorter); a bigger sensor, and a flash hotshoe.

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