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-   -   PD 170 and Low Light (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-vx2100-pd170-pdx10-companion/47582-pd-170-low-light.html)

Hugh DiMauro July 12th, 2005 12:53 PM

PD 170 and Low Light
I just shot my first wedding with the PD 170 and to sum up my feelings in one word:


The low light capabilities of this camera exceeded my own eyesight if you can believe that. I shot a scene where a waitress prepared a saute dish in a dark corner of the room for the bride and groom. As I looked through my LCD screen, the picture looked bright but I did not trust it since that can be misleading because my Sony DCR TRV20 shows a bright flip out LCD screen during taping but playback on a TV screen looked like dark mud.

Anyway, I played back the PD 170 footage on my TV and it looked brighter than what my own eyesight could see. The colors held and the picture was not at all that grainy! Bravo to the PD 170. That is truly the wedding videographer's camera.

Dan Shallenberger July 25th, 2005 09:26 AM

I have to agree with everything you said. It's funny... I was coming here to start a thread exactly like this because I was so impressed with how my PD170 did at a reception last weekend.

I did screw up a bit, but it was a great learning experience, and I now have more trust in my camera! When I first arrived at the reception, it was unbelievably dark... nearly all of the light was candle light (hundreds of candles), with a few very low level lights to help a bit. Then, to make matters worse, the bride and coordinator told me "no lights... period" between the entrance and the dancing. So, I had to rely on my gain. I always shoot at 1/60th, opened the iris all the way, and reluctantly pumped the gain to +18db. I was terrified of how terrible the footage would look. But, after reviewing it as soon as I got home, I was amazed!! It was definitely grainy and slightly washed out, but very, very useable considering the circumstances. I wouldn't make a habit of going over +12, but in a pinch like this, I was very impressed with how well the footage looked. I've seen footage at +12 up to +18 from an XL-1s, and it's terrible, but my PD170 really pulled through.


Hugh DiMauro July 25th, 2005 03:17 PM

Just imagine what a 2/3 inch CCD cam can do! The JVC guy told me their 7000U beats the PD 170 in low light.

Tom Hardwick July 26th, 2005 04:38 AM

For many years Sony's trump card has been its low light performance. Canon and Panasonic might both claim 'better pictures', but when the lights go down you'd better believe the 'better pictures' only come to those that hold a Sony 2100 /170.

In good light the low flare levels of the DVX100's Leica lens easily beats the Sony 170 lens, but weddings are low-light, romantically lit affairs. Under these circumstances low light performance is king, full stop.


Pat Sherman August 17th, 2005 08:25 AM

I have used several cameras in just the last 3 months one of them being the new JVC 5100U nice camera and love the Fuji lens that was on it when we rented it.. Anyways.. We did a scene that was really low low low light basically a lightbulb on the other side of the room which the room was 60x120 feet.. Anyways..

I had to pull out my trusty PD-150 for it as the JVC had a terrible time trying to do the job. My my old PD-150 on Auto alone did the job.. :) I don't think people give the PD-150/170 enough credit, sure it's not shoulder mountable but with some century lenses you can't beat it for costs and user friendly design.

Tom Hardwick August 17th, 2005 08:47 AM

Well said Pat. Even Sony couldn't match the PD's low-light performance, and the FX/Z1 is a good stop less sensitive.


Bob Harotunian August 19th, 2005 10:34 AM

With regard to the candle lit reception, I would have respectfully passed on that wedding if I knew the circumstances. Sorry, but I won't go over 9dB and I preset the cameras that way.

Tom Hardwick August 19th, 2005 11:48 AM

In good light the FX1/Z1 is two whole stops less sensitive than the VX/PD. Quite why this changes to a single stop as the light levels drop I'm not sure, but John Beale's excellent comparison test is here:


Eric Chan August 19th, 2005 07:06 PM

When shooting in a low light environment (indoor) with a lot of windows (sunlight coming from the side) and small spot lights in certain area. Does it make sense to fix the iris to f1.6 and have the gain on automatic? Since the subjects will be moving in and out of the spot lights, having both the iris and gain set in manual might cause overexposed images in certain situation if the setting is not adjusted fast enough.

Also, how do you adjust white balance when the subject go from the sun lighted area to spot lighted area?


Bob Harotunian August 20th, 2005 09:13 AM

Also, how do you adjust white balance when the subject go from the sun lighted area to spot lighted area?

That's always a tough one for me especially when events are happening quickly. I try to white balance in a neutral area or where I will be spending most of my time. With the post prduction tools I have now, color matching is less of a worry. If conditions are drastically different from room to room, maybe auto white balance might be best. But, I still prefer manual white balance and when possible, I'll sometimes do a quick balance on the room's wall or other white object.

J. Stephen McDonald August 30th, 2005 02:03 AM


Originally Posted by Pat Sherman
I don't think people give the PD-150/170 enough credit, sure it's not shoulder mountable but with some century lenses you can't beat it for costs and user friendly design.

Well actually, these smaller camcorders are all shoulder-mountable. You just have to get an after-market device to do it. I've made my own from fiberglass and have used it with good results on a VX2100 and several other models previously. Check Search on this forum or the Internet and references to many commercial shoulder-mounts can be found.

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