Low light camera tests

In order to test which cameras performed best in low light, I set up five cameras simultaneously recording, for several days. I started the recording at night, so as to pick up dawn the following day.


Yi Action  |   Elephone REXSO   |  Firefly Q6   |   iShare   |   Firefly 8S

However, two cameras did not record as planned (likely due to operator error). The new Elephone REXSO camera did not record at all, and the iShare camera recorded in realtime, not timelaspse, and so its card was full of black, nighttime footage before dawn arrived.

FireFly 8S
This camera’s Sony IMX117 sensor is reputed to be good in low light conditions. I recorded this footage with the following settings:

  • Resolution: 2.5K, S. Fine (camera capable of true 4K)
  • Auto low light: off
  • Auto White Balance: Daylight
  • Exposure Value: 0.0
  • ISO: auto
  • Metering: multi

Out of the three cameras which recorded useful footage in this test the Firefly 8S performed the best in low light – there is minimal noise in the dark images. I should test this camera further with different ISO (such as locking the camera to a low noise ISO 100), Exposure Value (a lower value will give a longer exposure) and Metering options.

Yi Action Camera
As my original action camera I have already used this numerous time in low light conditions, with good results. The original Yi Action camera, which only records with a maximum resolution of 2K (and only 1080p in timelapse), is still on the market at the same price that I originally purchased it. With an Ambarella A7LS processor and Sony IMX206 sensor, the camera is recognised to be of high quality, particularly compared to newer cheap action cameras.

  • Resolution:1080p, high quality.
  • Auto low light: off
  • Auto White Balance: Daylight
  • Metering: centre

The camera does not have settings for adjusting WB, ISO, or EV

Firefly Q6
With the Novatek 96660 processor and Sony IMX078 sensor this camera has the same specs as the firefly 7S (which is currently on loan to a student).

  • Resolution:2.5K
  • WDR: on
  • ISO: 100
  • Frame first: on (forces high frame rate even in low light)
  • Sharpness: medium
  • Exposure value: medium
  • Contrast: medium
  • Auto low light: off
  • Metering: average
  • Data rate: high
  • Remove fisheye: on

There is a lot of noise in low light, and as such, the low light performance was considerably lower than either the Firefly 8S or the Yi Action. However, there are a number of settings that can be tested to achieve a better performance, such as exposure value, metering, auto low light, WDR.

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