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Sony HVR-V1 / HDR-FX7
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Old October 15th, 2006, 09:52 AM   #1
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Sony V1 vs Sony HVR-A1 in low light

I've been quite happy with my relatively inexpensive HVR-A1 except in low light conditions. The video quality between the A1 and Z1 seems extremely close in good light, but worlds apart in low light. I have been lusting after a Z1 because of this.

Now I read about the new V1 camera which may be slightly better than the Z1 in good lighting but is not as good in low light.

My question is this: How does the V1 compare to the HVR-A1 in good light and how does it compare in low light? Would I be basically in the same boat as I am now with the V1: excellent footage in good light, and mediocre footage in low light.

Last edited by Laurence Kingston; October 15th, 2006 at 09:58 AM. Reason: to avoid confusion between Canon and Sony A1 models
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Old October 15th, 2006, 10:01 AM   #2
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The V1 is classed by Sony as being poorer than the Z1 in low light, but then it has smaller 1"/4 CMOS chips alongside the Z1's 1"/3 CCDs. As it's a couple of years younger than the Z1 and as technology marches apace I'd expect it to be 'better' in a few respects.

You've got to ask yourself how important ultimate low light performance is to you Laurence, after all - you can often add light to a scene. I'd rate the V1 and the Z1 a lot closer than the A1 and the V1 even though the latter two both use CMOS technology.

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Old October 15th, 2006, 11:06 AM   #3
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The Canon XH-A1/G1 have the same low-light rating as the Sony HVR-V1 (4 Lux). If I see the low-light footage shot with the XH-G1, it really looks superb. I have never seen HVR-Z1 low-light footage, but I cannot imagine that it will look that much better... I guess the differences will be minimal.
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Old October 15th, 2006, 11:22 AM   #4
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Here are Sony's lux ratings

Z1U 3 lux @ 18db, F1.6
V1U 4 lux @ 18db, F1.6
A1U 7 lux @ 18db, F1.6

The black stretch, black compress, and contrast enhance features should be useful for low light situations.
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Old October 15th, 2006, 11:46 AM   #5
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I'm not sure you can compare Sony's and Canon's low light lux ratings directly.
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Old October 15th, 2006, 02:16 PM   #6
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I'm not sure you can compare Sony's and Canon's low light lux ratings directly.
Agreed.

That said, having owned (and just sold, sorry Laurence) a Sony Z1U I would say that Kaku's night footage looks slightly better than anything I shot at night with the Z1U. But I think there may still have been more light at play in his night time downtown city lights than in my shots of Christmas lights in the neighborhood, but no way to know. I would shoot at 12db gain with no noticieable noise, at 18 there is a little bit. So I don't know, except that the XH-G1 that Kaku used has very excellent low light abilities. So does the Z1U really, so I can't say if the extra noise I got came from using 12-18db of gain, but probably. But then so did the sensitivity come from using gain.
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Old October 16th, 2006, 06:41 PM   #7
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Lux ratings are of little value. One needs to set up a scene like was done during the Texas shootout.

Sony' own figures show the V1 to be less sensitive than the Z1 but can we take that as read? If the CMOS chips in the V1 are less noisy than the Z1 then one could use more gain on the V1 and it may prove to perform better in low light.

The Canons look more noisy than the new Sony so how much gain have they got dialled in even before the user selectable gain controls??

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Old October 17th, 2006, 01:41 AM   #8
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A very, very good point Tony. I've always been suspicious that Panasonic (seeing Sony's PD170 romp home early) bumped up the gain on the DVX100A just so that it wouldn't be left too far behind.

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Old October 17th, 2006, 02:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Tremble
Sony' own figures show the V1 to be less sensitive than the Z1 but can we take that as read? If the CMOS chips in the V1 are less noisy than the Z1 then one could use more gain on the V1 and it may prove to perform better in low light.
Sensitivity really is a Qualatitive not a Quantative issue.

My experience was that often I need +12dB or +15dB INSIDE. Now the good thing was that the noise was very, very minimal. You could see it in very dark and dark grays. You could not see it in real black. Really not an issue in an room lit as it would be for humans and not cats.

Put another way -- it is far less noisey than HDCAM video routinely shown on Discovery HD.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 01:44 PM   #10
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Saw V1 with Z1 in comparitive situation

I was at a trade show where both cameras were in the same situation and displaying on identical monitors. At a lit-up scene, the V1 has a very slight sedge over the Z1. When the cameras were aimed at attendees at booths on the aisles, where the lighting was similar to cocktail party conditions, the Z1 was better. The V1 gets in closer but at the wide end, the Z1 is wider. On the subdued lighting scene, the V1 also had more noise.
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Old October 23rd, 2006, 06:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Goldberg
I was at a trade show where both cameras were in the same situation and displaying on identical monitors. At a lit-up scene, the V1 has a very slight sedge over the Z1. When the cameras were aimed at attendees at booths on the aisles, where the lighting was similar to cocktail party conditions, the Z1 was better. The V1 gets in closer but at the wide end, the Z1 is wider. On the subdued lighting scene, the V1 also had more noise.
Good feedback Mark. On the noise in lowlight conditions, was it a LOT more noise, or just a bit more noise. i.e. how closely did you have to look to see the difference in noise levels.

Also any apparent difference to you in how they handled contrast? highlights etc ? shadow details? and how about the color balance of the two compared and color accuracy ? interested in any further detail you could give.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 03:42 AM   #12
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How about if it isn't a fair fight? What if the V1 is used in progressive mode at 30P with 1/30th shutter. At that point, should it not be a 2 lux camera? I realize this is not the same as 60i, but I can live with motion blur if there is a low-light advantage.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 03:58 AM   #13
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Beware shutter speeds slower than the default. With all Sony SD DV cams they drop to half vertical resolution, so check to see if the HDVs are afflicted in the same way first.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 04:35 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick
Beware shutter speeds slower than the default. With all Sony SD DV cams they drop to half vertical resolution, so check to see if the HDVs are afflicted in the same way first.
This not true of the V1.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #15
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Since the V1 is progressive-scan, resolution loss should not be a factor. Has anyone compared the Z1/FX1 at 60i 1/60th shutter to the V1 at 30p 1/30th shutter to see if there is at least a low-light improvement? According to the numbers, that would make the Z1 remain at 3-lux while the V1 would get 2-lux sensitivity. I can definitely work around 1/30th shutter as long as there are no other problems (like resolution loss) that degrade the image.

I think that slightly increased light sensitivity (under special settings) would cement my decision to get the V1 as opposed to the new Canon or the Z1.
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