Originally Posted by Ken Ross
Mindcm, virtually all HD cams are terrible in poor light. Everyone's definition of 'low light' is a bit different, but I've yet to find an HD cam that looks good in low light. The nature of HD is that it needs plenty of light. This is even true of professional, megabuck HD cams. You can watch some shows recorded with these cams and see many of them producing tons of grain in low light.
Yes, some are worse than others, but in general once you've seen how good they look in good light, it's natural to be disappointed with how they look in low light. Some companies take different approaches to this issue. Some will dramatically soften the picture to hide some of the noise (Sony has done this in the past with some of their HD cams). Others will retain the sharpness and let you live with the grain. Still others will allow you to switch to a 24p mode or automatically engage a 'slow shutter speed' which takes in more light.
The bottom line? They all suck in low light to varying degree. The answer you don't want to hear is that you MUST light your subject in low light to get really good video...there's no way around it.
Hi Kenross, I completely understand what you're saying and I agree. Like I said I am probably just being too picky and also, I don't have other HD cams to compare this one too. I'm not trying to steer anyone away from considering this camera as it does offer a great many things (amazing steadyshot and still-shot, clear vivid video with amazing color in good light, USB on cam, good sound, etc.) Everything I've read seems too corroborate what you say about no HD cam being great in low light but just going by my own opinion on what would be reasonable, this camera is grainy in even what I'd consider moderate light, I mean, in a small room with 4 compact fluorescent lights on, it is still too grainy for my taste. I know that's not that much light but the ratio of grain to light I think is pretty high. (Is there a proper term for that haha).
I personally think the AVCHD compression is contributing, something else I've begun to notice is in a room which is unevenly lit, meaning the five halogen lights on track on one side of our living room, and the other side with less light, when panning the camera across this room the motion is very smooth, with no artifacts or trailing, and very clear. But as you move towards an area of less light the video not only becomes grainy very rapidly but also becomes extremely choppy and then often loses focus and will not even try to adjust itself, like it thinks it is in focus already, it won't catch on until you move the camera back and forth. When it does try to focus it happens extremely slowly. Like you said everyone's definition of low light is different, I know that by actual definition, anything less than full sunlight is considered low light, but the amount of grain in a given light situation for me seems unreasonable. I really believe the extra pixels on a smaller chip must be the main culprit, I just wish I had an SR7 to compare this camera too, I just want to know if this camera really does have worse low light performance than the SR7 as has been suggested in the "first impressions" of one of the major reviewers (not sure If I'm allowed to post the name).
These are just my own opinions so far, and my knowledge and experience with HD is very limited so I appreciate your experience. I just think this cam may not be right for me and am considering perhaps an HDV cam such as the HV30 because as I understand, the video quality is much better, even in low light. But of course I will lose the convenience of HDD and also the amazing 10.2 MP still-shot. Which were the two main things I wanted in a camera, so I'm kind of at a loss of what to do. I've seen low light video from the Canon XH A1 and it's amazing, but that's sllightly out of my range hahaha. Thank you, and any help or recommendations would be great! Perhaps the HC9? Just not sure if I'm ready to abandon the idea of HDD
Sorry I've gone on so long haha, I don't usually post in forums, I guess that's why, I tend to go on and on.