I've been spending time shooting people ballroom dancing under subdued lighting (without a flash or other lighting controlled by me). The kit I have been using for doing this is my Nikon D7500, paired with the Nikkor AF-S 18-140mm VR DX lens, and I have been shooting handheld (as these people move around all over the place, and I have to track them, and compose my images on the fly)
This is a section of a typical exposure that I would make:
The settings for this particular image were:
- ISO 6400
- Shutter 1/125
- Aperture f/5.6
- Focal length 130 mm (for 195 mm full frame equivalent)
The sample represents 1024x1024 out of an RAW size of 5568x3712 (and yes, I know it is slightly out if focus). Also bumped the exposure a bit when when converting from RAW to this sample, as the RAW was still fairly dark.
As can be seen the image is very noisy.
As I want to keep shooting with this style and subject, I'm looking at where best to direct my efforts to capture similar image with substantially less noise. I've already invested in ON1 NoNoise AI 2023 to help with post processing (and while it does a fantastic job of noise reduction, it can't perform miracles).
The first thing I can think of is that I should have reduced the aperture to 3.5, which should have allowed an ISO of either 2000 or 2500 (based on my D7500). I think that would be the best option with the kit I have. However, in hindsight I still want to bump the shutter speed to something like 1/250, which means that I'll be back to an ISO around 4000 or 5000 to get an equivalent exposure.
A different lens could get me down to f/2.8, which would let me get away with an ISO in the 3000's, but I suspect that my current body would still have significant amounts of noise in the images.
Thus I think my questions boil down to:
Would a different Nikon body exponentially reduce the noise in my images, and if so, would it be another crop sensor body, or a full frame body?
Would going mirrorless help at all?
Am I fundamentally damned by physics, and no technological solution exists to my problem?