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Old February 8th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #1
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best low light HDV camera under 15k

With all to choose from, which HDV camera is the best in low light. Which one handles gain the best and do any of them have lens accessories which can boost low light performance. If you had a budget of 15k what would be the setup with accessories you would run for low light and also at least a 20X lens. And you couldnt use any lighting. My thoughts is the XLH1 with the EF adapter with a Canon 300mm. Sure would like to hear some feedback. Thanks
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Old February 8th, 2007, 05:13 PM   #2
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which HDV camera is the best in low light.
Generally speaking, High Definition and low light are mutually exclusive terms. The larger the image sensors are in the camera, the better the low light performance will be. If low light performance is hyper-critical for you, then my advice is to stay away from all of the 1/3rd-inch HDV camcorders and start with XDCAM HD and work your way up from there.

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do any of them have lens accessories which can boost low light performance.
There is no such thing as a lens accessory that can boost low light performance.

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at least a 20X lens... My thoughts is the XLH1 with the EF adapter with a Canon 300mm.
20x is a zoom ratio. None of the Canon 35mm EOS lenses have a zoom ratio of 20x. There are several 300mm lenses with zoom ratios of 1x, 3x, 4x and 11x (for more info, see this link). But in your case this really doesn't matter very much, since the EF adapter that lets you mount a 300mm lens to an XL H1 is going to block a substantial amount of light anyway. It will hurt you rather than help you in a low-light shooting situation, so it's best just to disregard it.
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Old February 8th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #3
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XDCams start around $ 15,999 at BH, not sure if that includes lens though:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...goryNavigation

Edit: Lens are quite high, it appears. You are talking 10K more, at least.
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Old February 8th, 2007, 05:24 PM   #4
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Then maybe that $15k would be better spent on rentals.
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Old February 8th, 2007, 07:10 PM   #5
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John

We likely shoot under much the same conditions.(I mostly shoot eastern woodlands and meadows wildlife), and of course shoot early in the morning and late in the evening. I have only had the XL-H1 for a short time and have limited experience with it. I had quite a bit with the old XL-1s.

The XL-H1 appears to be at least one stop slower. I used a 100-400mm 5.6
with the XL-1s and the EF adapter. One could shoot well after sundown and still get a good image with that camera set at -3 or 0 gain. +6 gain was usable, but things went rapidly down hill after that.

With the XL-H1 I find that in this same light situation I need to use the 70-200mm f2.8 to get proper exposure. If you are talking about the 300mm f2.8, it should work quite well under these conditions. I am shooting at -3 gain and had not yet tried anything else. The camera will of course work well under even poorer light conditions with the normal lens and it is quite a powerful lens to begin with. Also you get extreme magnification when you use the ef adapter, but this is what I need in many cases. It does not however work well for close in shooting, or if you wanted to shift quickly from recording a distant animal to recording a nearby hunter. The only other HDV camcorder I have used is an HVR-A1u and of course it is not a contender for best low-light camcorder.

In short, I have little experience with the XL-H1 yet, but expect it to perform well under the conditions we face in the outdoors. I hope to know much more about this shortly once the spring waterfowl migration begins and the turkeys begin gobbling.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 02:00 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by John M. McCloskey
With all to choose from, which HDV camera is the best in low light. Which one handles gain the best...
Based on my own experience and various published comparisons I'd say the Sony FX1/Z1U yield the cleanest images in poor lighting, but owners of the Canon HDV cameras also seem to be happy with their results. My take is that the Canons need careful adjustment of camera settings to minimize image noise, while footage from the Sonys needs some tweaking in post to improve brightness and contrast. We'll be testing some of this at a camera comparison in Sacramento next month and will report our findings afterwards.

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If you had a budget of 15k what would be the setup with accessories you would run for low light and also at least a 20X lens.
Sounds to me like the Canon XL-H1 with stock lens would be a good starting point for your situation. Check out the forum for that camera and see if people are using it the way you have in mind.
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Old February 9th, 2007, 04:05 AM   #7
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I have 4 cameras in that price bracket.

a1,z1, hvx and jvc 200. It's between the JVC and the z1. pretty close to be honest. I have never even touched a canon HD camera so I couldnt compare. My XDCAM is obviously the best of the bunch but way out of the price bracket with lens and batteries (even the basic 330k package with canon autofocus lens)
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Old February 9th, 2007, 08:12 AM   #8
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great info and thanks, looks like I will stay with my Z1 and push for some XD HD cams. Only thing that I worry about is the expense of having to change all our edit stations over to tapeless, we have 10 field producers and 9 edit suites, going tapeless would be a huge expense. Again thanks for all the info.
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Old February 10th, 2007, 07:20 AM   #9
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John,

My suggestion is that if your ultimate goal is to get the best low-light performance from a video camera - and you're not yet ready to go completely tapeless (it does require a completely different workflow and archiving methodology) that for now you should stick with the Z1. I've personally tested all the HDV hand-held cameras and the Z1 really does have the best low-light performance of them all.

However in the future I would not go towards XDCAM; it's only a 1/2" inch system which while it does have a greater light sensitiivity than the 1/3" inch cameras it's not "night and day" better. Instead I'd put monies aside and go all the way up to the F900. Sales on the F900 series have been very slow of late and as such Sony has finally allowed them for sale at places like B&H and pricing is starting to come down - a bit. You could also purchase a used camera body/lens setup and save even more money.

If you're happy with the Sony line - and not yet ready for tapeless - this would give you one of the best 2/3" inch digi-cams available, keep a tape-based workflow and provide a really nice low-light performing camera.

Keep in mind however that while the larger 2/3" inch cameras do have better low-lux performance than their hand-held little brothers they still do not have the low-light abilities of film, which is one of the reasons many productions still use film for projects that are based around low-light scenes.
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