A little disappointed with low-light at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic AVCCAM Camcorders

Panasonic AVCCAM Camcorders
AVCHD for pro applications: AG-AC160, AC130 and other AVCCAM gear.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old March 10th, 2009, 09:40 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 253
A little disappointed with low-light

Now, to preface my disappointment, I've been using a PD170 for the last 3 years, so that's what I'm used to. In playing with an HMC150 tonight, I thought from all the amazing low-light talk that it would be closer to the PD170.

In fact, in the tests I ran, my PD170 was about 1.5 stops brighter in the same scenario with the same settings, and slightly more saturated. Granted, very unscientific, but in as fair a test possible, side by side the PD170 was much brighter. Now, compared to a Z1 or XH-A1, maybe the 150 is much better. But, since I have never used either of those cameras, I can't compare. That's likely what everyone here is talking about when referring to great low-light.

Sometimes I shoot in low-light without a light that challenges the PD170 a little, and that would concern me if using the 150. The footage also seemed a bit "flat", but that's with scene file 1 and no adjustments shooting indoors at mostly 6-9db gain. Is the footage like that out of the box... flat until you adjust the settings?

What scene file settings does everyone recommend after unboxing? I'll have to search for some here. I'll get to play with that camera a little more tomorrow, and would like to adjust some of those settings to see if I can get sharper and more saturated indoor footage.

Now, on the plus side, which far outweighs my concerns, I LOVE using the sd cards, the light weight of the camera, the info on the lcd screen (although the viewing angles really suck), the stock wide angle coverage, the manual controls, and many many other things. I have an 8-core mac pro, and transcode times are about 50% the clip length, which is better than tape, but slower than working directly with avchd. I could easily live with that though. I gotta get me one of these!!

Dan
Dan Shallenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 10th, 2009, 11:19 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Maryland, USA
Posts: 696
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Shallenberger View Post
Now, to preface my disappointment, I've been using a PD170 for the last 3 years, so that's what I'm used to. In playing with an HMC150 tonight, I thought from all the amazing low-light talk that it would be closer to the PD170.

In fact, in the tests I ran, my PD170 was about 1.5 stops brighter in the same scenario with the same settings, and slightly more saturated. Granted, very unscientific, but in as fair a test possible, side by side the PD170 was much brighter. Now, compared to a Z1 or XH-A1, maybe the 150 is much better. But, since I have never used either of those cameras, I can't compare. That's likely what everyone here is talking about when referring to great low-light.


Dan
Welcome to the world of HD. HD cameras require more light than SD cameras. The Sony 170 was the king of low light in the SD world. The ruling camera in low light right now is the Sony EX1 or EX3. The 150 is more in line with the Z1/Z5 cameras.

I have not used the 150 yet, but from what I have read it does pretty good considering the small chips.

Daniel Weber
Daniel Weber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Madison
Posts: 330
I once had a 170 as well. That sucker is like having night vision. Everything else you use will only disappoint because they can't come close.
__________________
I like my oatmeal lumpy.
Blake Cavett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 05:37 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Weber View Post
Welcome to the world of HD. HD cameras require more light than SD cameras. The Sony 170 was the king of low light in the SD world. The ruling camera in low light right now is the Sony EX1 or EX3. The 150 is more in line with the Z1/Z5 cameras.

I have not used the 150 yet, but from what I have read it does pretty good considering the small chips.

Daniel Weber

The 150 is more like the Z1. The Z5/EX1/EX3 are Really Really close to the PD170.

Everyone keeps comparing the HMC150 to the Z1(4 year old camera)... I want to see some real comparisons vs the Z5.
Steve Montoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 253
Daniel, yes, I knew HD chips required more light, but I was thinking the hmc150 was closer to the pd170 than it is. But, although a little disappointed, it's still perfectly useable I think, with the low amount of noise at even 9-12gb gain.

Blake, night vision is a near perfect description! I am going to miss that "night vision" tremendously, but really look forward to diving into HD.

Steve, I agree. I see a lot of comparisons to the Z1, which is quite old now (in camcorder years). I'd like to see more comparisons to the z5 and z7.
Dan Shallenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 08:45 PM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Syracuse, NY
Posts: 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Shallenberger View Post
Steve, I agree. I see a lot of comparisons to the Z1, which is quite old now (in camcorder years). I'd like to see more comparisons to the z5 and z7.
I'll third that.
Mike Petrucco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 09:11 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Ontario, Ca.
Posts: 121
I'm sorry you were disappointed, but try some different settings as well for a comparison. With most cameras, if you turn up the gain to 9db, you start to see the footage deteriorate with grain very rapidly. You can run the gain at 9db in a low light environment on the HMC and still get a very good looking image. You can increase the gain farther with less visible grain than most cameras, and the footage is more usable in post. I've not used the PD170, maybe it can as well, but try a few other tests first.

In low light, the HMC is still the best of the 1/3" sensor HD Cameras, and overall its image is significantly better than that of the PD170. Its a big step up in video quality.

Regarding comparisons to the Z5 and Z7, in Mark Von Lanken's article on the HMC in EventDV he mentions a third party source that said that the HMC is similar to the Z7 in low light, but that he was able to get more out of the HMC footage in post.

I love the HMC in low light, but then again I wasn't coming from a PD170.
Tom Alexander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 09:24 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Alexander View Post
I'm sorry you were disappointed, but try some different settings as well for a comparison. With most cameras, if you turn up the gain to 9db, you start to see the footage deteriorate with grain very rapidly. You can run the gain at 9db in a low light environment on the HMC and still get a very good looking image. You can increase the gain farther with less visible grain than most cameras, and the footage is more usable in post. I've not used the PD170, maybe it can as well, but try a few other tests first.

In low light, the HMC is still the best of the 1/3" sensor HD Cameras, and overall its image is significantly better than that of the PD170. Its a big step up in video quality.

Regarding comparisons to the Z5 and Z7, in Mark Von Lanken's article on the HMC in EventDV he mentions a third party source that said that the HMC is similar to the Z7 in low light, but that he was able to get more out of the HMC footage in post.

I love the HMC in low light, but then again I wasn't coming from a PD170.

I know Mark mentioned it in his article. I would still like to see side by side comparison in an actual review. It seems no one has really done extensive tests which is odd because the Z7 and HMC have been out for a little while now. Usually reviews pop up almost as soon as the cameras do. But not in this case I guess. Weird.
Steve Montoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 11th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 253
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Montoto View Post
I know Mark mentioned it in his article. I would still like to see side by side comparison in an actual review. It seems no one has really done extensive tests which is odd because the Z7 and HMC have been out for a little while now. Usually reviews pop up almost as soon as the cameras do. But not in this case I guess. Weird.
I agree, and especially because the Z7 and hmc150 are both solid state. Well, I know the Z7 can do tape too, but really, unless for backup, who's gonna use tapes with that camera.

Tom, yes, I will definitely try some different settings, playing with the scene files and such. I can see not coming from a pd170 not realizing how incredible it was in low light compared to the 150. I've also seen footage from a Z1, and I think this 150 is hands down the winner there. But I haven't used any other HD camera at all, so this is my first experience with HD and low-light. I'll get used to it, and learn to love and appreciate it. I already love the medium/good light images more than you can imagine!
Dan Shallenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 13th, 2009, 07:35 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 910
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Montoto View Post
I know Mark mentioned it in his article. I would still like to see side by side comparison in an actual review. It seems no one has really done extensive tests which is odd because the Z7 and HMC have been out for a little while now. Usually reviews pop up almost as soon as the cameras do. But not in this case I guess. Weird.
Hi Steve,

We tried to get a Z5 for the HMC150 review, but Sony did not come through. I live in Tulsa, OK and I don't know anyone in my market that uses a Z7, so I had to do the testing against my Z1. I do agree with you, a Z5 or Z7 would have been better.

I recently had a chance to spend a few hours with the Z5 and HMC150. I'll post some footage later this weekend.
__________________
Mark Von Lanken
www.VonWeddingFilms.com
Mark Von Lanken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 13th, 2009, 07:51 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Von Lanken View Post
Hi Steve,

We tried to get a Z5 for the HMC150 review, but Sony did not come through. I live in Tulsa, OK and I don't know anyone in my market that uses a Z7, so I had to do the testing against my Z1. I do agree with you, a Z5 or Z7 would have been better.

I recently had a chance to spend a few hours with the Z5 and HMC150. I'll post some footage later this weekend.

Wonderful! I would love to hear your thoughts on both. Well I already know what you think about the HMC150 =)

Take care,

Steve
Steve Montoto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 14th, 2009, 03:27 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Billericay, England UK
Posts: 4,711
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Alexander View Post
In low light, the HMC is still the best of the 1/3" sensor HD Cameras,
That's quite a statement to make with Z7 owners listening in Tom. The lens on the Panasonic ramps from f/1.6 to f/3, whereas the Z7's goes from f/1.6 to f/2 - well over a stop faster.

So out there in the real world (where you might just want to use the zoom a bit) the Z7 is a real low-light camera.

tom.
Tom Hardwick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 14th, 2009, 07:36 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 253
You know, I noticed that same thing. Stopping down to f3 at full zoom really darkens the image a lot. That extra stop could be really useful. And I tend to shoot a lot of "fly on the wall" style and zoom in. Can't do that too much in the reception halls anymore.
Dan Shallenberger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 14th, 2009, 08:42 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Ontario, Ca.
Posts: 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
That's quite a statement to make with Z7 owners listening in Tom.
Lol...yes it is, and maybe a bit premature. I don't own a Z7, I read that in two reviews of the HMC150 in publications. But the reasoning is sound. Pixel size is the main determiner of low light sensitivity (the reason why 1/3" HD cameras generally have less low light sensitivity than 1/3" SD cameras). Both use 1/3" sensors, but the 960x540 sensors on the HMC give it a much larger pixel surface area than the 960x1080 sensors on the Z7.

But as always, I could be wrong.....

Last edited by Tom Alexander; March 14th, 2009 at 09:16 PM.
Tom Alexander is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 20th, 2009, 05:11 AM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Posts: 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Shallenberger View Post
In fact, in the tests I ran, my PD170 was about 1.5 stops brighter in the same scenario with the same settings, and slightly more saturated. Granted, very unscientific, but in as fair a test possible, side by side the PD170 was much brighter. Now, compared to a Z1 or XH-A1, maybe the 150 is much better. But, since I have never used either of those cameras, I can't compare. That's likely what everyone here is talking about when referring to great low-light.
Dan, except for the EX1, HD cameras have been notoriously bad in low-light. So when an HD cameras gets kudos for doing well, it's a comparison to other HD cams that people are referring to.

I shoot with the VX series of Sony cams, so I know what you're talking about. But I realize the Panny won't mimic those, so I'm prepared for it.
D.R. Gates is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic AVCCAM Camcorders

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:47 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network