TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?) at DVinfo.net

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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #1
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TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Currently I'm considering the TM900 for projects shooting speakers where we'll only have in house lighting at venues and can't use lighting equipment. (Don't ask me why :P)

Some of these venues should have decent to good lighting, others may be questionable, and I won't know how the camera will perform till the event.

I've done some research and it looks like the TM900 is currently the best HD video camera for low light situations under $1000. Is this true?

Someone also recommended the TM700, but I've read the TM900 has better low light performance.

I'm also wondering if someone's used the Beachtek DXA-2T with the TM900, and how did it perform?

Thanks!

David

Edit: Or the JuicedLink? I've been reading that performs better than the BeachTek.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 01:28 AM   #2
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

From the tests I've seen on camcorder info and other sites (slashcam etc.) it's very unclear if the TM900 is indeed better in low light than the TM700, despite Panasonic's claim that it is. I'm skeptical.

Having said that, the TM900 is pretty good and shows remarkably little noise even when adding gain in dim light as my own test videos have shown - but no way is it in the same class as some of my more expensive, bigger chip cameras (no surprises there then!)

I used my TM900 at an event this week in a hotel basement in Cambridge (as a C cam). I was using +6dB gain on my Sony EX3 and ramping up the ISO on my Canon 7D with F2.8 lenses covering the same event. The TM900s clips are certainly still usable, if unspectacular....but that's what I'd have expected in dim light for it's price point. In good light the images are truly stunning.

For the "best" low light camera for under $1000 ...and best means many different things to many people....I think there would be other contenders, some of the cheaper video capable DSLRs with their bigger sensors coupled with a cheap, second-hand but fast glass for example - but then you take on other challenges!
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Old May 19th, 2011, 01:41 AM   #3
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Thanks Andy, The speakers that we'll be shooting are pretty unspectacular, so believe you me, I'm pretty cool with it as long as there's no noise! Hehe, well anyway, of the top of my head without having used one personally, I think noise would be my main concern due to my experience with the SR12 in similar situations.

What I thought was interesting was that out of these 2 videos:

YouTube - ‪Panasonic TM900 Extreme Low Light Test (1080p50)‬‏

and


the youtube one seems to show blocks but no noise, and the vimeo one noise but no blocks (on the train scene at 1:23)

Would this mean the transcoders are doing this and not necessarily the camera?

From looking at these videos it seems like a big improvement over the SR12, but I also don't want to regret a purchase.

It looks like the GH2 is out for a few reasons, including the ridiculous "no one is selling an AC adapter for it currently." That and I'd have to buy SD cards and another lens for decent zooming and even then you need to put it into a special mode right? Then there are the limitations, like with the menus and inability to adjust iso while shooting, since it's not designed specifically for video.

I'm leaning more towards the TM900 right now, unless there's something around the same price point that performs better in low light.

Edit: BTW, I should also mention I need to be able to shoot for 3-4 hours at a time. That's why the GH2 was the only "still camera with a video mode" that I was looking at.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 02:06 AM   #4
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

David, I upload the same videos to Vimeo and YouTube often and see stark differences in how their encoders handle the footage (and no, Vimeo is not always better in all aspects!) You really can't make purchase decisions just on web video viewing - sure it narrows it down - but you know this I'm sure....

There is a channel on Vimeo where you can download native TM900 1080p/60 clips (and other cams) from people who are Plus members (I am not) and from ordinary members (like me!) for 1 week after they have been uploaded - link below. That would be the best place to obtain clips to assess if the TM900 is for you! Have a look through these videos and download any clips that are relevant for your needs/interests and go from there.

Hope this helps!

Native 1920x1080 50p & 60p clips videos on Vimeo
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Old May 19th, 2011, 12:49 PM   #5
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Good luck trying to find someone who has actually shot and compared low light footage from all the contenders and can also give you an impartial and informed opinion!

I have both the TM900 and the TM700 and often they run in lock down positions in similar very low light shooting conditions. I'm not into dpreview style obsessive-compulsive pixel peeping tests. I'd simply say that based on reviewing real footage shot for real clients I'd tend to reach for the TM900 first.

The older TM700 may be had cheaper than the recently available TM900 but for the sake of a few $ I'd go for the latter as it has other advantages such as a slightly bigger screen, easier to use controls, and more reliable automatic white balance (yes you will need auto if you are roaming around in constantly changing conditions!)

You don't say how dark is dark. Both cams are remarkably good in low light but they will loose it eventually. Don't hesitate to get the venues to turn up the ambient light if necessary - it shouldn't be a problem in the scenario you've described.

I also use a couple of 5DII dSLRs but they could be a complete nightmare in your circumstances because of the 12 minute per take limit and your 3 to 4 hour sessions! They would perform a little better in very low light but since you have the option to turn up the ambient light thats not really relevant.

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Old May 19th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #6
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Low light, to very low light here
It was my sons wedding, that church is dark, one of the darkest I have worked in in nearly 30 years
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Old May 19th, 2011, 06:22 PM   #7
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

You can download the original video you referenced (if you are a member of Vimeo (free)):


Absolutely no transcoding was done, so the original is straight from the camera.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 07:06 PM   #8
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Thanks for all the replies. Currently I'm downloading the NYC video. I'm curious about that train scene. It's going to take awhile.

Peter thanks for the review. I agree that we'd go with the TM900 if that's the one for us. I also don't know how dark is dark because there will be multiple venues, and due to, I'll just have to say it, "spiritual people being spiritual people" we won't be able to use lighting equipment. What I do know is that some of the venues have pretty decent lighting, and others are supposed to be at least somewhat sketchy in that department. I'm also not sure how much I can crank the house lighting due to the aforementioned reason :P

Colin, thanks for the video. Cool wedding btw. It's interesting that there was some noise in the dance scene (camera, transcoding or both I'm not sure), but the scene at 3:35 is dark with no noise. There does seem to be some light coming in behind you from a window or something though.

At this point what I'm thinking is that we're going to have to rent and do a shootout the first few gigs. I think my selection at this point is narrowed down to: TM900, GH2, and the Canon XA-10.

If there's anything you think I'm missing in that $1000-2000 range let me know, thanks!
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Old May 20th, 2011, 02:23 AM   #9
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Well now you've doubled your budget I think you've listed the main contenders!
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Old May 20th, 2011, 02:32 AM   #10
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

The organizer of the non-profit is probably going to have a cow if I end up suggesting the XA10, but even before this I told him the price might be over $2000. As of now I'm leaning towards that one because I'm not willing to repeat compromising due to money and having that screw everything up, especially with our ridiculous lighting constraints, and struggling to squeeze the last bit of quality out in post. The GH2 will require many accessories, the AC adapter isn't even available someone said, and even with the TM900 we'd have to spend around $200 for the line to mic level pad.

Since I'm going to be doing all the work I'm not going to let them put me in a difficult situation and I'm betting it could even end up with them complaining to me about the quality. Like I told them "we're going to do this right the first time!!!"
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Old May 20th, 2011, 03:35 AM   #11
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Re: TM900 for low light situations (and how's it with the Beachtek DXA-2T?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Horwitz View Post

Colin, thanks for the video. Cool wedding btw. It's interesting that there was some noise in the dance scene (camera, transcoding or both I'm not sure), but the scene at 3:35 is dark with no noise. There does seem to be some light coming in behind you from a window or something though.
David. The dance scene was extremely low light, The main shot was taken with the EX1, and that was wide open with 12db of gain.
You are spot on re the scene at 3.35. It was in the Manors reception area, I was positioned just inside the large glass entrance doors, it was early evening, with a reasonable ammount of natural light spilling in.
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