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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.


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Old March 26th, 2008, 04:15 PM   #1
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A1 Low light MOD?

Wow - My A1U completely sucks in low light. Anybody aware of a MOD for it? I'm not afraid to tear it open and start tweaking, scratching or soldering....
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Old March 26th, 2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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WELLLL... that's crazy talk about trying to open it up <wink>. BUT, you should be able to go to the shutter speed and drop it to 30 and see some improvement...

later Sony cams use "auto slow shutter" to make that change, and when I had the HC1 (A1U's consumer twin), doing it manually pulled a little more low light performance out of it...
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Old March 26th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #3
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The way to physically MOD it, is to trade it in for a 3 chip camera.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 12:07 AM   #4
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Well...... true

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Wright View Post
The way to physically MOD it, is to trade it in for a 3 chip camera.
True. Problem is that I got the A1U after a little research, and bought JUST before everyone realized how bad it is. I'm going to try to sell it on eBay and get a better one. What's consensus on best in low light with good audio inputs?
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Old March 27th, 2008, 04:22 AM   #5
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Double post - see one below.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 04:23 AM   #6
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Buy some lights? (or move to a sunny climate!) After all, that's what the real pros do, light their subjects.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:10 PM   #7
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Like the man said, use a light. Also use manual exposure so you can control you gain. Don't try to make the scene look brighter than reality.

I also found controlling black strech can help. Depends on the scene.
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Old March 27th, 2008, 01:31 PM   #8
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A light IS worth considering depending on your situation, I've found it doesn't take much - the HVL-20DM or DMA, the bigger FM series battery, and a StoFen diffuser make for a decent little on cam setup.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David McClave View Post
True. Problem is that I got the A1U after a little research, and bought JUST before everyone realized how bad it is. I'm going to try to sell it on eBay and get a better one. What's consensus on best in low light with good audio inputs?
I assume you mean XLR for "good" audio inputs. Under $10k, the EX1 is the best Sony HD cam in low light, followed by the Z7 and then Z1. All of them will perform much better than the A1U in low light. Canon's XH-A1 is pretty close to the Z1 for low light performance.
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Old March 30th, 2008, 04:49 PM   #10
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Low Light Suggestions

These are just suggestions, each with its own trade-off. Probably worth a try before getting the screwdriver and solder gun out.

I've used these individually or in combination with decent results in low, natural lighting:

*Of course, one can lower the shutter speed to ~ 1/15
*manually lower the 'exposure' to keep it below the 6th stop (keeps the gain to zero - less digital artifact)
*turn off all effects (I've noticed even black stretch causes more noise)
*turn sharpness down as far as tolerable
*turn color down as far as tolerable
*shoot w/o any added lenses, adapters.

Alternatively, if B&W or sepia are an option, shoot in night-mode then add your desired coloration, B&W or sepia, back in during post processing. You actually can get clear, noiseless night shots this way.

You can see some of the results in this little practice piece:
http://www.macastat.com/Video/Unplowed.mov
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