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Old January 30th, 2010, 03:26 PM   #1
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HMC40 - two questions

I've been reading a review on (ahem) 'another' site and was left with two questions:

1) "no shutter-priority mode" If I want to fix the camera at a 1/60 shutter, does that mean I'm stuck in fully-manual exposure mode - I will have to set the aperture manually too?

2) "poor low light" I presently use a Canon HF10, so have that as a comparison point. Can any of you who have used both the Canon and the HMC40 comment on the relative performance of the two in low light?

Thanks.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 04:49 PM   #2
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You can set the shutter speed and leave aperture (and gain) on automatic. Aperture and gain are controlled by a single wheel. To engage gain, aperture has to be wide open first. For the most part, I find I like it better than separate controls for aperture and gain - quick and easy to use this way. Pressing the wheel toggles between manual control and automatic.

I don't have an HF10, but I do have an HV20, which should be roughly similar as far as low light shooting, and the HMC40 seems to perform a little better in less than ideal lighting. One thing that really helps, is that gain on the HMC40 is very clean - much more so than any other cam I've ever handled. You can crank it to 12dB and still get very usable images.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #3
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Graham,

In manual mode, if you set 1/60 shutter, you'll still have the option of auto or manual iris.

I have no experience with the HF10, but the HMC40 is much better with low-light than my Sony SR11 and my Nikon D5000 with a fast 1.8 lens. In my opinion the HMC40 produces very acceptable low-light performance even at 20db. In many cases, a low-light shutter speed of 1/30 also works well.

Good luck with your research.
Dan
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Old January 30th, 2010, 07:21 PM   #4
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Maybe I should say most often still get exceptional images at +12dB, rather than just very usable. Sometimes at +12dB you might not even realize you used any gain at all, when you view the resulting footage. Do that with an XH-A1 and it looks radio-active by comparison.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 11:27 PM   #5
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Thanks - that's encouraging on both counts.

That 'other' site is exasperating - it comes up with the strangest errors in its reviews.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 03:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright View Post
Maybe I should say most often still get exceptional images at +12dB, rather than just very usable. Sometimes at +12dB you might not even realize you used any gain at all, when you view the resulting footage. Do that with an XH-A1 and it looks radio-active by comparison.
So if you boost an XHA1 by 12db, it is not the same as boosting a HMC40 by 12db, because the '40 is a couple of stops slower to start with. 12db on the HMC40 is probably equal to something like + 6db on the XHA1.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 09:37 AM   #7
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Um ... thanks Steve. Actually this is where I started getting confused reading the review.

I certainly get that the HMC40 is less sensitive than, say, the XHA1 at 0db. And that the HMC40 has cleaner 12dB gain than the XHA1. So that at a given low light availability, the HMC40 will apply more, but cleaner, gain.

Steve, you are suggesting 12bB HMC40 "roughly equals" 6dB XHA1 ... this would be in image brightness but what about in noise? What would be the XHA1's equivalent of, say, the HMC40's 24dB, firstly in terms of brightness and secondarily in terms of noise?

Appreciate the advice, guys!
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Old January 31st, 2010, 01:33 PM   #8
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I think Barry Green measures the HMC40 as being about 3 stops slower than the XH-A1 (maybe that was the HMC150 though). The A1 does perform better in low light, no doubt, but the cleaner gain with the HMC40 does help narrow the low light performance gap between the two cams a bit (as a practical matter).
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Old January 31st, 2010, 05:10 PM   #9
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Glad to hear that the gain is quite usable at +12, I'm finally picking my 40 up next month and am still slightly worried about the 1/4" chips and low light performance.
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Old January 31st, 2010, 06:48 PM   #10
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The HMC40 will work at night, but it has to be a well lit area. This was a test I did at different shutter speeds and gain settings:


If you sign up for VIMEO (free), you can download the source file and see how much noise the +12dB, +18dB, and +24dB gain settings generate. Most will say that +12dB is not an issue and some will be willing to go to +18dB.

Long after this test was performed, I'm finding that lowering the color saturation and using CINE-LIKE-V seems to help with the low light footage.


Bob Diaz
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Old January 31st, 2010, 10:10 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone - on balance I think this camera should be suitable for my needs, which doesn't normally involve much low-light work. So I ordered one from BH a short time ago - today's the last day for their Blu-ray player rebate ;)
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Old February 1st, 2010, 12:03 AM   #12
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Congratulations, you just ordered a really nice cam--
SW
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