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post #61 of 75 Old 09-06-2012, 03:45 PM
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I'm thinking about a GH2 for our church sermons. We are currently using a Canon m40 consumer model and it gets us by. The problem is that the lighting is less than stellar and we shoot from a distance of 75 feet (wall mounted tripod). My wife has a Nikon D200 and she has trouble even with her fancy lenses getting good images in that room from that distance (I had her test this as a simulation/comparison). My question is if anyone can tell me if we will get better video in terms of low light performance out of a GH2 compared with our Canon M40 (which is really not bad in terms of low light capability for the price), or even the stills we get from the same position in testing with my wife's Nikon D200? I'm told that it's largely (no pun intended) about the sensor size, and that DSLR's and 4/3's have much bigger sensors than similarly priced camcorders.
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post #62 of 75 Old 09-06-2012, 07:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gracepreacher View Post

I'm thinking about a GH2 for our church sermons. We are currently using a Canon m40 consumer model and it gets us by. The problem is that the lighting is less than stellar and we shoot from a distance of 75 feet (wall mounted tripod). My wife has a Nikon D200 and she has trouble even with her fancy lenses getting good images in that room from that distance (I had her test this as a simulation/comparison). My question is if anyone can tell me if we will get better video in terms of low light performance out of a GH2 compared with our Canon M40 (which is really not bad in terms of low light capability for the price), or even the stills we get from the same position in testing with my wife's Nikon D200? I'm told that it's largely (no pun intended) about the sensor size, and that DSLR's and 4/3's have much bigger sensors than similarly priced camcorders.

Dear Gracepreacher - low light performance is a complex topic - but suffice it to say it's about more than sensor size. Sensor sensitivity, camera video signal processing and lens speed all play a part. That said, the GH2 will do a fine job in low light settings with a fast enough lens. Here are a couple of churches using GH2s:

https://vimeo.com/34818683

https://vimeo.com/46589948

From 75 feet in poor lighting, you will need a relatively long, fast lens. For your fixed mount application, you wouldn't necessarily need a zoom. Perhaps something like a $600 GH2 body with:

Option 1: a $400 Olympus 45mm f1.8, or
Option 2: a $750 Panasonic 45mm f2.8 with Optical Image Stabilization, or
Option 3: a combination of the $500 Olympus 50mm f2.0 for 4/3 with a $102 4/3 to micro 4/3 adapter.

Using the camera's extended tele converter (ETC) mode, the 45mm lenses would be the equivalent of a 234mm lens on a 35mm camera and the 50mm lens would be the equivalent of a 260mm telephoto, which should be long enough.

Hope this is helpful,

Bill
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post #63 of 75 Old 09-07-2012, 06:42 AM
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Bill,

This is extremely helpful. Thanks for pointing me to those videos. I had seen one of those churches and actually had on my list to call and try to get in touch with them to pick their brains because I knew they were using a GH2. Maybe posting one of our videos would help as well to see what we are getting now, and how we frame the shot. You see, our pastor doesn't move around, so we go ahead and get it tight, like a talking head (he would just love it if he knew I was describing him that way!). Here is a link to one of ours:

http://www.gccministries.org/files/media%20files/video%20sermons/mark/06-24-12ScripturalAuthority_GCCModifiedBitrateANDFrameRate.mp4

What you suggested seems reasonable in terms of budget, if it would indeed be an upgrade. You see, we started with a Panasonic TM300 which got high marks for low lighting, and we've already moved to the Canon M40 (a lower featured model, but better low light performance for us). So far, the recommendations to "really" do this are past the $2,000 mark, so that is why I'm excited that a GH2 with a proper lens might do more for less. However, I'm finding out that the lenses that are slow and take you far are pricy! Which brings me to my question about your suggestion:

With ETC mode, I realize I can get away with a lower focal length lens, but the golden question is how much focal length I need. You thought 234mm or 260mm (35mm camera equivalent) would get me this distance. However, I know that my wife's Nikon D200 with a 200mm DSLR lens does not frame in the shot tight enough at all. So it makes me a bit nervous, because my understanding is that DSLR focal lengths are actually different than 35mm because they are not full frame cameras. I guess what I'm getting at is that unless I'm confused about this part (very likely...I know just enough to be dangerous), we'll need a lens with a much greater focal length to get this distance and frame in this shot so tight (see above clip).

Please help me understand...I'm eager to learn.

Also, I use Sorenson Squeeze (version 5) to compress the videos for the web. We did this in the past because our ISP upload offerings were so meager...it made more sense to invest and compress ourselves than spend days uploading large files. However, some things have changed there, and I'm wondering if using a service like Vimeo would give us better encoding quality. This is a secondary issue, because I'm convinced that a lot of the compression artifacts seen in our videos are because of low-lighting on the shot and not so much the compression quality. We get great encodes on the stuff shot in great light. But if someone could speak to comparing Squeeze (using MainConcept h.264/800Kbps) to Vimeo encodes, I'd be grateful.

Thanks,
Chris
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post #64 of 75 Old 09-07-2012, 07:05 AM
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Also, just for kicks, B & H suggested this lens for the GH2 for my application:

Panasonic 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 Lumix G Vario

Would this be better? The price is right.

I'm on pins and needles really wondering if this could really improve our video or not...everyone around me says "It's fine as it is" but I know it should look so much better. Maybe I just need some perspective from a community with a decent eye for things. Thanks to all.
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post #65 of 75 Old 09-07-2012, 12:42 PM
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Hi Chris - sadly, the 45-200 will probably not be fast enough for your lighting conditions. You're right about the focal length on the lenses I recommended. If your wife's 200mm lens is too wide, the lenses I recommended will be wide also.

Your wife's D200 DX has a 1.5x sensor crop, so her 200mm is the equivalent of a 300mm. There are long Olympus 4/3 system lenses that are fast enough for your needs, but they range from very expensive to ridiculously expensive.

If you want to use the GH2 in low light from a significant distance, you will have to use a non-Panasonic/Olympus manual lens - I have been looking at the $299 Rokinon 85mm f1.4 for 4/3 with adapter or the same lens for Nikon with adapter for a similar purpose (graduations). The 85mm lens will give you a 442mm equivalent telephoto in ETC and should be long enough for your needs. Both lenses are manual focus and manual iris, but if you get the Nikon version, your wife can also use it with her D200.

By the way, the video shot with your M40 looks great - well-lit, and in focus. I was watching for picture quality and ended up enjoying the message. Are you looking for more resolution? Shallow depth of field? The GH2 will probably give you both, but you don't absolutely need it, in my view.

Also, on compression - perhaps you should open a Vimeo account and try uploading one of your sermons - then compare it to one of your pre-compressed versions?

All the best,

Bill
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post #66 of 75 Old 09-07-2012, 02:30 PM
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Bill,

Great info. First, your comments about our current video just confirm the consensus around here that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. smile.gif The perspective is helpful, though, because I've worked pretty hard to get it to where it is. When I've been told in the past that it was going to be several thousand to do better, I had no interest. But now that better is possibly $1000 away (or much less if we sell our current camera), then I think it is worthy of looking at. In the end, if I learn something in the process, it's all worth it. To answer your question, yes, more resolution would be nice, but more in terms of the fact that I feel like the lack of light pushes the camera to it's total limits, instead of leaving some headroom to work with. The picture is noisy to me. The noise is then amplified when it goes through some color corrections, bumps in brightness, and a couple of transcodes in post-production to get it to the web. But even the RAW footage has a sense of "if I could just have a little more light to work with...". I don't know if that makes sense, or if I'm truly just being my own worst critic. May I ask if you took the video full screen??? It makes quite a difference on most web videos, and I always assume that if the player gives that ability, I need to make it look good in full screen. Maybe some others will watch and give feedback on video quality for perspective sake. I'm glad you enjoyed the message!

Though it seems like those calculations work out about right on the above suggested lenses (I like the Nikon route best, mostly because it's less money, but also, like you said, my wife could borrow it if helpful), my new concern is that because the camera is already mounted, with a prime lens like this, I will not be able to zoom at all...right? So in terms of framing the shot, it is what it is, eh? I guess I would just hope I was pretty "lucky" (though, at our church, we don't believe in luck per se).

I guess you are right that a Vimeo account is free and I could just give it a try. DUH!

Thanks,
Chris
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post #67 of 75 Old 09-08-2012, 03:54 AM
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Chris - you're right - if your shooting location is fixed, the 85mm Rokinon won't give you a lot of flexibility in framing the picture. For that, you'd need a zoom. The only zoom that comes close to meeting your needs at a reasonable cost is a $499 Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 for Nikon ($424 after rebate from Tamron). I use a Tamron 70-300 with a Nikon to m4/3 adapter and it's a great lens on my GH2. I am concerned, though, that f2.8 won't be fast enough for your lighting conditions. And by the time you buy a $700 GH2 and a $400+ lens and adapter, you might as well upgrade to the top of the line Canon prosumer camcorder, the HF G10, for $1200. It will be a significant upgrade to your M40 and will not have the lens selection challenges of the GH2. Here is what it can do indoors in low light:

https://vimeo.com/36131853

Again, hope this is helpful,

Bill
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post #68 of 75 Old 09-08-2012, 06:55 AM
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I see. I can tell you that f/ 2.8 is about where we have been sitting on the m40 as well as the tm300 we used before it. We made a visible improvement going to the m40. I believed that to be largely to the larger sensor and maybe some processing. So I guess my question is how MUCH bigger are the GH2 sensors ? I was under the impression it was about four times the size of the m40.

The HF G10 is how I learned of the m 40. It seemed like it got similar reports for low light but the m40 was missing many pro features that we would not use, so we went for the much more affordable model. I was also fortunate enough to have a buddy with an XA-10 and we tried it out...very similar results as the m40.

So my logic has been if we refuse to change the lighting, refuse to move the camera to a closer more reasonable shooting distance, and we can stay at the same aperture but increase the sensor size significantly we should see an improvement...meaning the GH2, because of sensor size, should theoretically gather more light - especially if I got lucky with the framing/focal length on a prime lens and could use a f/1.8 aperture. But even with a f/2.8 and an increase in sensor size, we should get a bump, right?

Or, is my logic based on a false premise ?

Even if I looked toward a 1/2" sensor video camera, I'm facing $5,000. The golden question...how does the sensor size to the GH2 compare to the 1/3" CMOS spec on the m40/HAF G10/XA 10?

Thanks!

Chris
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post #69 of 75 Old 09-08-2012, 01:38 PM
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Just found this interesting thread about the same question I'm asking: http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?237342-GH2-effective-sensor-size-in-ETC-mode Can anyone confirm or deny the speculations made at the top of this thread?
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post #70 of 75 Old 09-08-2012, 01:41 PM
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Chris - here is the best sensor size comparison I have found. Both the M40 and the G10 have 1/3" sensors with a sensor area of 17.3 sq mm. The GH2's sensor is 4/3" diagonally, with a sensor area of 178 sq mm - or about 10 times larger.

But, again, sensor size is not the whole story. "Pixel size" is also key. The smaller camcorder sensors only have 2 million pixels (MP) to illuminate - while the GH2 has 16 million smaller pixels. In simple terms, filling the 16 million small pixels with photons is less efficient than filling the 2 million large buckets with photons - even with the larger sensor. An optical scientist or engineer could explain it more clearly, but here is the clearest lay explanation I have found:

http://www.clarkvision.com/articles/does.pixel.size.matter/

All of that said, a large sensor with a low pixel count (e.g., the very expensive Sony FS100 camcorder, which can almost see in the dark with its 3.4MP Super 35 sensor), is going to give you the best low light performance - everything else being equal.

Again, I hope this was somewhat helpful. This is a tough one. If I were in your shoes, I would try Vimeo first - and if that didn't give me the results I wanted, I think you'll have the most control over your image with the GH2, the Tamron and the Nikon adapter.

All the best,

Bill
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post #71 of 75 Old 09-08-2012, 03:44 PM
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Ah ha...I remember having this discussion with a buddy once...about pixel size...if I remember right, this is what made the Canon 2011 models have improved low light performance: less pixels, but larger. Makes enough sense to me. I'm not one to abuse a return policy, but it seems that this may be the kind of case where if I'm serious about spending one thousand bucks to seek improvement, the GH2, the Tamron and the Nikon adapter definitely sounds like the only way - with the thought that if the framing was way off, it just didn't work out and would all have to be returned. There seems to be no reasonable way to know EXACTLY how that shot would frame with a prime lens from a fixed mounting point. But it sure is exciting to think about how it MIGHT look in terms of video quality given the info we have.

That being said, I like the idea of trying on Vimeo's encoding first. I tried to get that going on Friday but ran out of time. I'll certainly give it a whirl next week and post back.

Bill, you've been very helpful. I've only recently starting interacting with this community and I've found it to be a very enjoyable experience.

Chris
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post #72 of 75 Old 09-09-2012, 04:46 PM
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Well, this is interesting. I uploaded a clip to Vimeo and here is what I got: https://vimeo.com/49110580

This is the same video (encoded by Sorenson Squeeze 5 with my best effort): http://www.gccministries.org/files/media%20files/video%20sermons/mark/08-26-12ACompassionateSovereign_GCCModifiedBitrateANDFrameRate.mp4

Which looks better?smile.gif
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post #73 of 75 Old 09-09-2012, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gracepreacher View Post

.........
Which looks better?smile.gif
Best: Vimeo with HD on
Almost as good: Vimeo with HD off
Last: Squeeze 5

What is Squeeze 5 and how do you use it?
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post #74 of 75 Old 09-09-2012, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsprague View Post

What is Squeeze 5 and how do you use it?

Sorenson Squeeze is an encoding application for PC and Mac. http://www.sorensonmedia.com/video-encoding/

It's basically like Handbrake only with a slicker interface, more hand-holding type support, and access to some slightly better encoders - one being the Main Concept H.264 encoder. However, keep in mind, this is an old version of the program, so I don't know what the current version can do.

The reason we've wanted to encode our own videos in the past was because we are in a rural area where upload speed availability was abysmal. It would have taken several days to upload an HD file to Vimeo a couple of years ago. We're in a better position now, so Vimeo is is a better probability...I can't complain about the price for what you get: better quality, mobile device accessibility, Roku/bluray player accessibility. Pretty sweet.
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post #75 of 75 Old 09-09-2012, 09:56 PM
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Chris - another vote for Vimeo. And you can't beat the price smile.gif

PTL,

Bill
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