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Old October 16th, 2004, 02:38 PM   #1
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Low light: 1/4" 1-CCD vs 1/4 3-CCD

I have a Canon Optura PI and I am thinking of buying a GL2 or AG-DVC30. I'm told that if all other things are equal, 3-CCD cams have less low-light performance due to their need to split the light in front of the chips. And since the Optura has a 1/4" chip as do the other two, am I to infer that neither of these two 3-CCD camersa would work as well as the lowly (in comparison) Optura PI indoors with normal living room lighting at night? I really need to have the best low-light performance I can for less than $2000, so would I be disappointed if I upgrade to one of these?

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Old October 16th, 2004, 02:45 PM   #2
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The deal is, all other things are not equal. And all of these cameras have very reasonable performance in low light. Generally, the newer the camera, the better the low-light performance. The GL2 and the DVC30 will out-perform an Optura Pi in low light simply because they're built with newer technology. You should understand that any difference between these cameras in terms of low light performance is going to be very marginal -- very slight. And so many other factors should govern your decision instead of this one thing. Chiefly among them, how does it feel in your hands. Ergonomics and form factor (and budget) should be your primary consideration, because let's face it there's not really all that much difference in low-light performance between these models. The Sony VX2100 is the best low-light performer of them all, so if that's all that's important to you then I'd recommend that camera (which is great even without its awesome low-light performance).
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Old October 16th, 2004, 02:48 PM   #3
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Chris, you mentioned the VX2100 has the best low light. Wouldnt the PD170/150 also be classified with that since the optics and everything is the same, or is the 170/150 different than the VX when it comes to low light ?
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Old October 16th, 2004, 03:12 PM   #4
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Wow, you just deflated me bigtime. I know that the PI is commonly regarded highly for its low-light performace amongst 1-CCD models, but it still does not provide what I am looking for.

One of the whole reasons for my upgrade is for low-light indoor use. The problem for me with the VX or any other 1/3" model is the size. It will do me no good at places like Disney World, etc, expecially considering the four pound Canon 10D fully loaded already hanging around my neck at the same time. Last year at Disney World (sadly, we live near it) a family member used a 1/4" single chip mini-dv camcorder (forgot which brand, but it was a nice one) and the night scenes inside the restaurants (where Mickey Mouse sits at your table with you personally for a while) are terrible. The day shots are georgous, but night with a 1/4 chipper sucked in my opinion. I did the best I could with brightness, gamma, and levels in Vegas 4, but it still looks about as good as a 10 year old VHS tape recorded in SLP.

Am I to believe that I have no choice other than yet another four pound 15" hunk of magnesium hanging around my neck? If so then I am very displeased with the industry. I mean why don't they offer 1/3 chips in a truly compact piece - I would gladly pay the price. They can keep all of the fade and mosiac effects crap I give me something I can use.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 03:21 PM   #5
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Hank,

Check out the GS120 and GS200 and GS400 models by Panasonic. They are small and 3-CCD.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 03:37 PM   #6
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Corey, I didn't factor in the PD170 since it is way over Hank's budget.

Hank, if the VX2100 is too big, then so is the GL2. The DVC30 is only a bit smaller than these two. The advice to check out the compact Panasonic 3CCD models such as the GS400 is excellent. Also consider the Canon Optura line (Optura Xi, 40/30, 500/400/300) as they all share the same two-megapixel 1/3.4" CCD and include special color night-shot modes (and some have built-in white LED lights and the ability to add a light via the hot shoe) for shooting in low light.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 05:13 PM   #7
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The lower end panasonic models may actually have better low light than the higher models.

2- For consumer cameras with small size, the TRV19/22 has excellent low light. I don't know about newer cameras. I don't think the TRV22 compares very well to prosumer 3CCD cameras with 1/3" CCDs.

The higher models in the same line as the TRV22 have worse low light but better resolution.

The following Japanese models has frame grabs of various camcorders:
http://babelfish.altavista.com/babel....html&lp=ja_en

3- Many consumer cams have nightshot or infrared shooting modes. It doesn't look too great but it'll let you get a picture where you otherwise could not.

That might be your best solution.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 07:36 PM   #8
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I thought a lot about the GS400 - I like it in every way. However, with its 1/4.7" chips, would it not be even worse than a 1/4" chip like the PI?

As for night shot, IR, super night mode, crazy night vision, and insane dark shot turbo, none of these gimics are for me. My whole goal is accurate low-light shooting - not enhanced sci-fi video game engineering mode. Sort of like moving from a point-n-shoot digital camera to a DLSR with a f/1.4 lense; extremely low-light photography becomes an instant reality without any special processing - just pure light physics. This is what I want in video as well. I am now going to start looking at the PD170 / VX2100 despite its hugeness because it seems to be the only thing that may work.

Thanks for the replies so far - keep 'em coming!
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Old October 16th, 2004, 09:40 PM   #9
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Still hoping to find the answer

I asked earlier for someone basically to convince me why a new high-end professional (or near) 1/4" 3-CCD camera (GL2 / DVC30) would have better low-light capabilities than a consumer based 1-CCD camera with a 1/4" chip. I got some good responses, but I still do not know the anwser to the question.

For strictly shooting indoors in the house at night, with normal family lighting, should I spend a few thousand dollars to upgrade from my Optura PI to either a GL2 or AG-DVC30?

(I do understand that a VX2100 / PD170 would give me a huge performance leap in the area, albiet with 1/3" chips.)

Thanks again
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Old October 16th, 2004, 11:04 PM   #10
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Technical reasons why:

CCD technology. The VX2000 uses HAD (hole accumulation diode) design CCDs, which has less vertical smearing and lower noise than the consumer stuff.

That camera also has better microlenses on the CCD. On each CCD element, there is an microlens on it that focuses light onto the light-sensing area. The bottom line is that better microlenses means more light hitting the CCD element.

Bigger CCDs means more light hitting each element.

http://www.sony.net/Products/SC-HP/sys/ccd/sensor/

The CCDs also have amps built into them that can add electronic gain. Better designed amplifiers can mean cleaner electronic gain.

There may be other technical reasons.
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Old October 17th, 2004, 12:57 AM   #11
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Hank -- your new discussion thread is pretty much the same as your previous one so I've merged them both together here.

Are you in a position to add a small hot-shoe powered light to your camcorder? You could put a $50 light, the VL3, on your Optura Pi and that would be a quick fix.

The newer cams all have color night modes these days.
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Old October 17th, 2004, 12:39 PM   #12
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I have the VL-3 on there already. I don't care for the artificially bright light shining in peoples faces - and they hate it too. Plus it adds artificial shadows behind any nearby object. And I also have the DM50 shotgun mic in the hotshoe anyway which means I have to select either decent sound or light.

I hate to do it but I guess I will order a VX2100 or a PD170 tomorrow since it seems to be the only answer and for that I am posing a new unrelated question to the board. And it does not have many of the features I would like either, like 30P, Frame mode (for video), or native 16:9 (I know that feature is mutually exclusive with low light ability due to the dense chips required).

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Old October 17th, 2004, 01:02 PM   #13
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Well Hank, the Panasonic DVX100A also has great low light performance, just a HAIR behind the PD170. Plus it has 24P,30P,60i.
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Old October 17th, 2004, 01:04 PM   #14
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I love that one, but the problem is that I am stepping WAY outside of my original budget just to stretch to the VX as it is.
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Old October 17th, 2004, 02:22 PM   #15
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Hmm. If you can stretch your budget to get a PD170 it would be much better. Plus the 170 is classified as a Prosumer model and handled better under Sony's Customer Service than a consumer model VX.
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