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Old October 4th, 2003, 11:33 PM   #31
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Thanks! Really enjoying the posts. Lots to look into on this board.
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Old October 7th, 2003, 04:34 PM   #32
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That little movie was the bomb! Well done and quite funny. Now
that's what I should've done with my LEGO back in the days.
Hmmm.. my little brothers still have my Lego <g>

Did you guys see the other stopmotion movie that was made
by Josh Bass here @ DVi? That one really rocks the cradle as
well!

I'd say you two are our stopmotion experts here! <g>
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Old October 9th, 2003, 07:00 AM   #33
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Hi guys. I've been following this thread. I do find intriguing Shawn's idea of collecting some better consumer cams, each with its own sweet spot, and using it where it would be most appropriate. Oh, the flexibility.
Anyways, I'm writing in to let y'all know that I'm just finishing up a low-light comparison of a handfull of the consumer mini-dv cams out now which are in the $300 - $700 range. Now, I'm sure this is something any of you could've done, but seeing as no one has (with current models anyway, that I know of) and I'm looking for a cam in this range -- with low light capabilities a concern -- I went ahead and did it myself. I was originally only doing this for myself to help with a purchase, but the results were so interesting that I just had to share.
The factors I looked at are the average luminance (or brightness) of a still using a histogram, image sharpness, color desaturation, and grain size. Without giving too much away, I was surprised to find how consistent the manufacturers are between models so far as the low light image. There was more variation between brands than there was between models, with one exception: I was surprised to see that the overall best image was produced by one of the cheapest cams compared, and the overall worst was produced by a more expensive model of the same brand. And I found a gem for the movie maker on a budget.
Of course all this is subjective. I'm just going to pass on what I saw. If I can help just one person here to avoid a purchase mistake, or help them to find that cam with the sweet spot for their application, that's fine. And that's all. For now.
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Old October 9th, 2003, 07:21 AM   #34
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low light performance

It might be interesting, Dave, to compare your results where the models exist, with those of B&H/Camcorderinfo.com's current analysis of camcorders by price band:

http://www.camcorderinfo.com/d/Revie...=Camcorder.htm

There are three price categories studied so far and more to come, in both good and low light, with images.

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Old October 9th, 2003, 07:46 AM   #35
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David,
Those *are* my subjects. I just took the time to organize it,
run the luminance tests, magnify stills, and catalog the results.
In the process, I ignored cost, number of pixels, CCD size, manufacturer, "nightshot", et cetera, and focused only on image quality.
Like I said, anyone could've done it. My summary will be for the person who can't/won't take the time or the hobbiest who may not have histogram/magnification tools.
Regards.
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Old October 9th, 2003, 11:42 AM   #36
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So can you tell us some more on this, Dave? Especially the gem
for the movie maker sounds interesting...
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Old October 9th, 2003, 03:05 PM   #37
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Dave,
I hope you take the time to use each camcorder at its best, and not shoot "Full Automatic" like Robin did at B&H.
For instance, in the low light test of Sony low-end cams, if you leave the SteadyShot on (default setting), you'll have heavy grain because the shutter speed is kept at 1/100... Turn it OFF and you get good low light picture.
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Old October 13th, 2003, 03:34 AM   #38
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Norm,
Unfortunately, what I looked at are those very same B&H images
you mentioned.
You make a good point about the tests Robin did not being exactly fair. In looking at the posts Robin got regarding the testing procedures, the reaction was a mixed bag, with some people finding value in the results for those who just want to point and shoot. Part of the problem, I know, was lack of manual exposure control on many of the models. For example, I believe the most expensive model tested -- a Sony -- has no manual shutter control. Someone made the comment to me that most people buying these cameras would only use the auto mode so, for them, this is how they would prefer the tests be done.
I know there were many posts there where people complained of not being able to see anything at all in the test images other than black. I must say, the tests *were* done in quite dim light. They say it was 15 lux, which is what, maybe like a dark moonlit night? I've heard that the average lux in an American home is 120 lux. Luckily, I was able to see the test results quite clearly.
And I saw that there were major differences between brands as far as sharpness and grain. I do wish I knew what the shutter speeds were. I'm going to make a seperate post regarding the speed issue to make sure that the results aren't grossly unfair.
Now, Norm, is it all the Sony 1-chippers that are limited to 1/100th? Or which models do you know of?
or
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Old October 13th, 2003, 03:38 AM   #39
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Rob, before I get into any more about the gem, I want to try to find out more about this shutter speed/fairness issue that Norm brought up.
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Old October 14th, 2003, 07:51 AM   #40
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Dave,

I was refering to all the Sony cams (and other brands too) that use an Electronic Image Stabiliser, as opposed to the more expensive Optical Image Stabiliser which does not influence the shutter speed. I discovered that limitation on my TRV320 (D8), but soon learned that all EIS equipped camcorders had the same behaviour (1/100 shutter) to avoid blurred image in movement.

Then, on a french Web site, I found a procedure to trick the shutter speed down to a normal 1/60 with SteadyShot On, and I now manage to get VERY good indoor shots without disabling the EIS. I also always use the "Soft Portrait" AE program to get less edge enhancement artifacts and richer colors.

What Robin did at B&H was turn the cam On and shoot as is.
Anyone can expect poor colours and heavy grain in these conditions if they use anything but a VX2000!
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Old October 14th, 2003, 09:21 AM   #41
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Norm,
So you're saying that all the Sony, Sharp, JVC, and Panasonic cams with EIS have their bottom limit at 1/100th? Now, off hand, I'm not sure which of those cameras in Robin's tests have EIS, but from what I gather from you're saying is that, all the ones that do have the EIS could be compared -- maybe not so much
as absolute low light reach -- but seeing as they all had the same "handicap", they should still be comparable fairly *between themselves* as to brightness (i.e. measured luminance) of image and tendency to form grain?
Regarding the complaints from Robin's viewers that they were unable to bring up any low-light test images on their monitors -- you know they said "everything was just black boxes" -- were you able to see them okay?
I am glad that you brought up the shutter issue before I passed along my "findings" only later to wind up with egg on my face due to the original test setup being grossly unfair.
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Old October 14th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #42
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In comparison, if Robin tested cars for fuel economy, would she omit to use the overdrive gear in the transmission of those equipped with it and only compare their performance in 4th gear?... Well it does make a difference! I want to know what it can do at its best.

Every camcorder has its limitations, and if you take the time to learn how to overcome them, then you can achieve better pictures than the default settings will allow.

As for the low-light test images on CamcorderInfo's site, my computer shows me some very dark pictures from which I can faintly distinguish the test pattern. Even the darkest ones reveal something: none is totally black.
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Old October 14th, 2003, 12:40 PM   #43
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Norm, I appreciate your input on this whole matter, as I've said.
You may or may not know that I've done what I could to ascertain the particulars of the individual cameras' programmed reactions to the situations they were placed in. Despite my throwing it out there for input from actual owners, I haven't had much success as far as concrete helpful feedback. My next step is to go audition the ostensible "winner" myself, and if I find out that this "Cam X" was actually running at 1/100th second, I'm gonna call a spade a spade and go forth with what I've found. I figure if no cam was shooting at faster than 1/100th -- and I doubt any were -- and this cam more-or-less ran the table: no sense in not declaring it. Like I said, this is all predicated on what I find to be the "winners' " actual response to 15 lux. (I hope that the cams in this range are able to report their shutter speeds; I would think so, but I won't know for sure till I try.)
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Old October 14th, 2003, 09:08 PM   #44
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French trick

"Then, on a french Web site, I found a procedure to trick the shutter speed down to a normal 1/60 with SteadyShot On, and I now manage to get VERY good indoor shots without disabling the EIS. "

Norm,

I'd be interested in knowing what this trick is.

Thanks in advance.

Joe Kras
St. Louis, MO USA
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Old October 15th, 2003, 02:51 AM   #45
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Hi again.
I just heard from a helpful guy on another thread that his
not-expensive 1CCD cam has video gain that goes up to +18dB.
Just wondering. Do all or most of these "low end" cams have gain available to use when the lighting gets low? I had thought this was something found mostly on the higher end.
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