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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:49 PM   #16
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Someone just recommended the TM900. I think I might recommend that because it seems to perform well without noise in low light. Some artifacts in this video, but it may come from the youtube transcoding, and anyway I don't think we'd be talking about lighting levels THAT low. YouTube - Panasonic TM900 Extreme Low Light Test (1080p50)

I'd prefer HD for the YouTube clips and digital downloads although we'll probably be making DVDs too.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:01 PM   #17
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Didn't I recommend that in post #5 only the less expensive TM-700?
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:06 PM   #18
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

But the TM900 has better low light performance, is that correct?
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Old May 18th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #19
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

David -

The Exmor R sensor introduced in the "500" series is DEFINITELY better than the SR11/12, which I sold immediately when I tested an XR500... The CX550V is about the best of the lot, having the most tweaking of the sensor block as it was released "last" in the series, but none of the 500 series are "bad". There is a new CX560, but it uses a new sensor, and samples I've seen seem to indicate it lost a little in low light performance, although I can't say for sure without "hands on'.

The 700 and 900 series Panasonics look quite good as well, but footage I've seen seems to show less than graceful degrading in low light - seem to macroblock a bit in the samples I've seen (I think what you called "artifacts"?), although the 900 is pretty darn good, and the price is nice! IMO, the Sony is more "graceful" with less noise and image degradation, but you'll spend more, and it may not be worth it.

The XA10 looks like a real winner, having reduced the pixel count to gain sensitivity, but you're talking quite a bit more $$. I think there's a "consumer" version of that camera though, can't remember the model # though, and it'd probably be more in the right price range?

For about $40 you could pick up a 120 LED on camera light with dimmer... on low, it'd be enough to "kick" most cameras into a usable range, and is not hard on the eyes of the talent. Sometimes there's no substitute for being able to add a little light in the right spot...
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Old May 18th, 2011, 06:18 PM   #20
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Hey Dave,

I found this video of the CX550V in low light: YouTube - HDR-CX550V Low- Light

Here's another one: YouTube - HDR-CX550 : low light test HD on i-auto

It seems pretty noisy to me although maybe the TM900 would have similar results in this situation.

I'm leaning towards the TM900 because of the price, and also this video seems to have very little noise although there are some blocks. YouTube - Panasonic TM900 Extreme Low Light Test (1080p50)

Those blocks could come from the camera, but they also might come from the youtube transcoding.

If I had to choose between noise and blocking, I think I'd go with blocking, but it would depend on "how much" of course. It seems like the TM900 produces less noise and the blocking isn't as annoying.

Any thoughts?
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Old May 18th, 2011, 06:52 PM   #21
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Well, there were some really odd encoding aritifacts in that first vid, not to mention some "interesting" camera work that makes me a little suspicious of operator vs. camera... the second states it was not in low lux, which significantly boosts the low light capabilities, with little or no additional noise.

There's one other "issue", and that is that as you zoom, there is "lens ramping", and you lose a stop or two of light sensitivity - so you have to watch for that in any samples. I noticed that BOTH samples you listed "crossed that line" where the camera would have to gain up to compensate for reduced iris on zoom. I should think with interviews you wouldn't be zooming in that much, so shouldn't be a factor? BUT, it's something to be aware of when viewing amateur evaluations (and even professional ones!) of a camera.

That said, I prefer the "noise" signature of the Sony over having macroblocks (prefer a "smoother" image would be how I'd describe it), but in all honesty, the 900 series (IIRC there are THREE very similar models, with different prefixes, TM, HS and SR?, depending on recording media options) Panasonics are nothing to complain about - if I were not invested in any accessories, ANY of the three "big names" offer cameras with good performance for your needs, IMO, so it comes down to features, price, and whatever personal preferences you might have.

You're on the right general track, price out accessories and all that you'd need for the long shoots, then go from there. While I may lean towards Sony (got lots of "accessories" I don't have to re-buy if I go with a Sony camera), I can't say I've seen any "deal killer" issues with the other brands, and I've owned Panasonics before and loved them... and a couple Canon HV series too, but they didn't mix well with my other cameras, not an issue with one camera shoots!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 09:45 PM   #22
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Horwitz View Post
But the TM900 has better low light performance, is that correct?
Is that based on a review or comparison of any kind or just marketing material? This is a review of the Panasonic TM-700, Sony CX500 and some others:
Panasonic HDC-TM700 Camcorder Review - Flash Memory - CamcorderInfo.com

Unless there's an apples to apples side by side test of the TM-700 and TM-900 showing low light performance, I tend to think it's marketing hype based on maybe a mode change. What good is a low light mode if say the frame rate causes weird motion artifacts for the type of video you shoot? I'm unaware of an engineering change to the sensor system improve the lowlight. Not sayin there isn't any, just that I'm unaware.

I would expect the VX2000, PD170, VX2100, PD150, XL1s will outperform these cameras in lowlight.If I have some time, I'll try out the TM-700 vs XL1s.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 10:05 PM   #23
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Thanks for the replies guys,

Yeah, the SR12 gets much darker on the tail end of the zoom in, so I always avoid that. Is there a good video you know of demonstrating the low light performance of the newer Sonys?

And Les, I appreciate those suggestions. It looks like those are all more expensive than the TM900 though. Also, we'll have to use DV to begin with, but I want to avoid it later because the longest tape is 83 minutes correct? That means that we'll miss some of the material to reload the tape once.

Personally I think that dark video taken with the TM900 looks very good, and I don't think our shots will be anywhere near that dark. This is another TM900 video. I think the transcoder Vimeo uses is better than YouTube's in some ways.

There is some noise in that video during the scene with the train starting around 1:23, but I don't think it's too bad. Interesting that the YouTube video seemed darker with no noise.

Value wise the TM900 seems very good so far.

Edit: After watching those 2 videos of the TM900 on YouTube and Vimeo again I'm wondering how much of these artifacts are due to the transcoding. The YouTube video shows some blocks but not much noise, the Vimeo video is the other way around. So would this mean that's due to the transcoding and not necessarily the camera?
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Old May 19th, 2011, 05:18 AM   #24
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
The XA10 looks like a real winner, ... there's a "consumer" version of that camera though ...
The consumer version of the XA10 is the Canon HF G10; it has the same HD CMOS imaging chip and same lens. Further down the line is the Canon HF M41, M40 and M400, same imaging chip as the XA10, but with a different lens.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 06:20 AM   #25
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Re: Video camera suggestions for low lighting situations

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Horwitz View Post

One problem I see with the VX2000 is having to change the tapes mid-way, but that's just something they'll have to deal with unless they want to shell out the cash for their own camera.



Edit: Btw, I think SD is ok although we will be uploading clips to youtube and making digital downloads of the events.
To get away from tape change, you could always capture to a laptop. Even Windows Movie Maker and I-Movie (I believe) can capture Mini-DV through firewire.
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