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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was curious as to everyone's thoughts on these two cameras in low-light situations. I took some video with the TM700 at night in room lighting. I connected via HDMI to my HDTV and wasn't thrilled with the results. Sunny day, outdoors yielded great results. Looking at my usage patterns, that's not going to be my primary use. How does the Sony match up?
 

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I can't comment on the two in question, but I can say that I am impressed with my Sony 500v camera (predicessor to the 550v.)


That said, before you think about laying down close to a grand on a new camera that you may or may not be happy with, I would suggest you take stock of your livingroom first. How much light do you have going in there?


It always amazes me how people can spend endless hours and money trying to find the one camera that can work magic in a livingroom lit by one 60 watt incandescent, when $40 or so in lamps at Target and a couple of 100 watters can solve their indoor filming issues.


-Suntan
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmeinck /forum/post/19607513


I was curious as to everyone's thoughts on these two cameras in low-light situations. I took some video with the TM700 at night in room lighting. I connected via HDMI to my HDTV and wasn't thrilled with the results. Sunny day, outdoors yielded great results. Looking at my usage patterns, that's not going to be my primary use. How does the Sony match up?

Can't answer your question about the comparison. One thing I know is camcorder usually perform badly in low light situations, either SD or HD. Video is grainy, colours are poor, and camcorder struggles to focus in low light.
 

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If you really wanted to notice a big difference in picture quality, you'd have to get something like the HMC150 or the NX5 as far as camcorders go,


The other option is by purchasing something like a Panasonic GH2 or a Canon 60D with a fast lens so you'll have the best of both worlds. Having both is something I might finally do. Unfortunately there is no perfect camera.
 

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Having owned and used both in low light conditions I can say on a scale from 1 to 10, (nothing scientific, just my personal feelings) here is how I would rate these 2 plus the Canon HFS21 in low light;


Noise:

Sony 10

Panasonic 7

Canon 5


Color:

Sony 7

Panasonic 9

Canon 7


Sharpness:

Sony 7

Panasonic 7

Canon 8


Again, just a personal appraisal based on several weeks of using all 3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
With the recent drop in price of the Sony, I may order that and compare it directly to the TM700. I'm not sure I want the hassle of converting each time I film and want to drop into iMovie. From the countless videos I've seen, I think in good lighting the TM 700 produces stunning results. I'd say the Sony is the safer "all-around" camera if that makes sense.
 

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I ordered Sony CX550 yesterday, went to pick it up today, but decided to check the picture quality first. I shoot indoors, the light was OK. The quality noise-wise was decent wide, though noise was clear (small blinking dots); however when I zoomed in the quality deteriorated a lot. The colors looked very artificial, like digitaly enhanced, creamy, unpleasant to my eyes.


In the same light TM700 looked ok in 50i (highest mode), better than Sony - hardly any noise was seen, color was also much better. However focus was a problem - much slower than Sony's. In 50p the quality deteriorated visibly, basically to the same level as Sony's.

The problem was with movement - the picture was full of mud. I was shooting a person - when she stood still, one could clearly see the hair, when she moved - all her hair became a paddle of mud, no detail at all, in both 50i and p.


In very low light Sony's quality was bad, Panasonic's was even worse (both 50i and p) - lots of color dots (interesting I found it more acceptable because my old DV Sony showed very similar noise and I guess I'm more used to it). Changing manual settings did not help. It seems this is when additional light source is necessary, otherwise none of the cameras provides acceptable picture quality.


At the end I checked SD60 and found out that indoors the quality was very similar to TM700 (50i). I did not check SD60 in very low light, but heard it was poor. Well, TM700 was almost unusable, so SD60 was for sure even worse.


My main reason to buy a higher end camcorder was to have a decent quality in low light. However it seems that none of them performs good enough and SD/TM/HS60 seems to be the best option - while in very low light one either should use an additional lamp or maybe a DSLR.


Just personal and very subjective opinion. FWIW.
 

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What I can tell u comparing the hs350 to the sony xr550, is that in extremelly low light. Door closer and tiny light coming in the room under the door (so no light in the room), if u turn on the low light option on both camcorders, the sony xr550 wins, in both noise and amount of things seen.

So as far I can tell, the sony, in extremely low light situations and low light option on, beats the panasonic hs350....
 

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I've never compared the CX550v to the TM700 in low light environments but when comparing the HS350 to the TM700, I'd expect the low light capabilities to be a bit better on the TM700 because of the f/1.5 lens verses f/1.8 lens on the HS350.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira /forum/post/19692232


I've never compared the CX550v to the TM700 in low light environments but when comparing the HS350 to the TM700, I'd expect the low light capabilities to be a bit better on the TM700 because of the f/1.5 lens verses f/1.8 lens on the HS350.

There is a german review site that has some pictures of footages taken by the 2 camcorders in low light....maybe it is worthed to look at.

Anywa, I think the best way to compare the camcorders would be to put them side by side and see, becauase specs sometime are not at par as the video results...

I am courious too if the 700 is better of both the 350 and the cx/xr550...
 

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My general impression and first commandment - do not zoom in low light. Aperture changes and the picture quality deteriorates immediately.


Sony had these disturbing blinking dots which I found unnacceptable. Zooming made it worse. The color was just like on low quality jpeg, with very limited number of colors. Now I'm not sure whether low lux was on or off. The light was definitively better than what marcolisi describes in his post. Stabilization and focus were very good though.


TM700 indoors (not very low light) definitively performed better in 50i than 50p. With the same zoom TM700 50i was better than Sony. Zooming in deteriorated the picture quality. There was mud - more pronounced than in Sony because the unzoomed picture quality of TM700 was better than that of Sony. However I noticed there was some strange kind of trailing - when you moved the camera indoors darker objects left shadows - for a very short, but noticable time. Yellowish colors in low light is known to TM700, it changes into color noise - also mostly yellowish.


Stabilization on TM700 was OK, but focusing was not - definitively worse than on Sony.


Still none of these camcorders performed to my satisfaction - and please note that I compare them to my 10 years old Sony DV. So far it looks camcorders not recording to DV are still have a long way to match the older generation. to I've been seriously thinking about getting HV40, but not before I conduct more testing.


So far my conclusion is that a middle-class camcorder like SD60 would performed fairly similar in decent light to the best consumer cameras, while for very low light a DSLR would probably be the best option anyway.


While talking about low light - would anybody please tell me what are the settings on TM700 and CX550 to get the best picture quality in low light? TIA!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YLK /forum/post/19694843


My general impression and first commandment - do not zoom in low light. Aperture changes and the picture quality deteriorates immediately.


Sony had these disturbing blinking dots which I found unnacceptable. Zooming made it worse. The color was just like on low quality jpeg, with very limited number of colors. Now I'm not sure whether low lux was on or off. The light was definitively better than what marcolisi describes in his post. Stabilization and focus were very good though.


TM700 indoors (not very low light) definitively performed better in 50i than 50p. With the same zoom TM700 50i was better than Sony. Zooming in deteriorated the picture quality. There was mud - more pronounced than in Sony because the unzoomed picture quality of TM700 was better than that of Sony. However I noticed there was some strange kind of trailing - when you moved the camera indoors darker objects left shadows - for a very short, but noticable time. Yellowish colors in low light is known to TM700, it changes into color noise - also mostly yellowish.


Stabilization on TM700 was OK, but focusing was not - definitively worse than on Sony.


Still none of these camcorders performed to my satisfaction - and please note that I compare them to my 10 years old Sony DV. So far it looks camcorders not recording to DV are still have a long way to match the older generation. to I've been seriously thinking about getting HV40, but not before I conduct more testing.


So far my conclusion is that a middle-class camcorder like SD60 would performed fairly similar in decent light to the best consumer cameras, while for very low light a DSLR would probably be the best option anyway.


While talking about low light - would anybody please tell me what are the settings on TM700 and CX550 to get the best picture quality in low light? TIA!

I use:


low light on

ae shift = +4

wb shift= 0


again, try the low light on the sony camcorder, u will see that in complettely dark, it looks so bright....there is such a difference between the low light sensitivity when the low light is OFF or ON. When it is OFF, it is pitch dark. When it is ON, it is so bright....of course u increase the little tini tiny blue points...it looks like interference on the sensor. U can even see these tiny points if u cover the lens completelly with the hand and look on the LCD.

I guess is a sensor noise. Anyway, if u want to see something where my hs350 can NOT, I turn on the low light and the sony destroy the panasonic...try it...
 

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Hey Marco,


Thanks for the suggestions. I will test CX550 and return with my opinion.

My personal preferences are that I do not want a low light scene from the camcorder appear brighter than the real one, but I hope to see it relatively free from noise and with decent colors. The "blinking noise" on Sony even in decent light is something my 10 years old camcorder did not show, and now after 10 years why would I have to accept it?

Anyway, more when I'm back from the store.
 

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I checked CX550 - blinking dots ("snow") even in decent indoor lighting. I find it unacceptable. What was really funny - the shop assistant brought CX150 to show how good CX550 was in comparison - and CX150 performed better (no dots; of course its stabilization was much worse). Even with equal zoom the picture from CX150 was better* than CX550.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by YLK /forum/post/19696604


I checked CX550 - blinking dots ("snow") even in decent indoor lighting. I find it unacceptable. What was really funny - the shop assistant brought CX150 to show how good CX550 was in comparison - and CX150 performed better (no dots; of course its stabilization was much worse). Even with equal zoom the picture from CX150 was better* than CX550.

Can you post a short video on YouTube or Vimeo showing this effect. It really doesn't sound like anything I've seen or heard about for a 550.
 

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Tom, once I'm back from the coming holidays I will take my own SD card and test CX550 again. Youtube is not accessible in China, so I will upload the clip somewhere else, I'll be very interested in hearing your opinions.

I'm under impression Marco is well aware of this though.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Gull /forum/post/19700145


Can you post a short video on YouTube or Vimeo showing this effect. It really doesn't sound like anything I've seen or heard about for a 550.

I know exactly what he is referring to. Although mine shows up in extremely poor lightening (basically pitch black). Although the noise and grain is present even with decent lighting in doors and it gets progressively worse when you zoom in. Best thing to do is NOT to zoom when you have the "low lux" setting on.
 

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mkjetta08, this is exactly the problem. Blinking can be seen even in decent indoor light, which is something I cannot see on my 10-years old Sony PC5E. The picture from PC5E seems subjectively better, because although the noise is visible, it is not in the form of bright blinking dots, but rather larger darker spots, grain - something I'm used to since the times of traditional film photography (actually similar noise can be seen on digital photos as well).


For now my opinion is that modern camcorders using compression have still a way to go before they catch up with older DV camcoders. The sharpness and resolution, probably even low light parameters (measured in absolute terms) have gotten better, but to my eye the picture they produce is just not as comfortable.


On another note:


FYI I've been using camcorders since 1992, started with Sony Hi8, then switched to PC5E, but in the meantime used Canon, Sharps and JVCs, all consumer grade. I'm in a desperate need of a new camcorder, but find the ones I checked so far disappointing. I've always liked Sony, PC5E was a very reliable toy that accompanied me everywhere, on cold snowy winter treks and in tropical forests in China, in rain and fog, and I've been very satisfied with its performance. But after a decade its time is close to over, and the rest of its lifespan has to be used for transfering the huge pile of DVs to digital form.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulo Teixeira /forum/post/19692232


I've never compared the CX550v to the TM700 in low light environments but when comparing the HS350 to the TM700, I'd expect the low light capabilities to be a bit better on the TM700 because of the f/1.5 lens verses f/1.8 lens on the HS350.

In very low light, you can also get another f-stop and change out of the Panasonic. Put it in "Cinema" mode and shoot 1080/24p at 1/24th second, rather than 1080/60i at 1/60th, which is your only real option on the Sony.


Not low light related, but the Panny will also give you a better Chroma Key. Sony's using a large single sensor, but they're not really pixel bucketing, but rather, using a 45 degree rotation and interpolating over virtual pixels (the same technique pioneered in still cameras by Fujifilm some years ago). This is a much better interpolation than straight Bayer on a 2Mpixel sensor (eg, my old Sony HVR-A1), but there can still be color errors. The TM700's 3 sensors means no interpolation, period.


Sony rates the CX550V at 11lux in normal 60i mode, 3 lux in their 1/30th second mode, which is some kind of 30p-ish mode, without them really calling it 30p. If you're really set on the Sony for low light, get some samples of that and ensure it doesn't look wonky. I was never happy with any of the weird modes on my Sonys. Panasonic rates the TM700 at 1.6lux for 1/24th shutter and all the low-light stuff switched on, and this real 24p progressive (stored on tape as 1080/60i, unfortunately).


And why Canon is the only one to do 20p right, I can't say... older Panasonic models did too, but you need a pro-class model from Panasonic to get "native" 24p... and Sony ignores alternate shooting rates all-together.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkjetta08 /forum/post/19700473


I know exactly what he is referring to. Although mine shows up in extremely poor lightening (basically pitch black). Although the noise and grain is present even with decent lighting in doors and it gets progressively worse when you zoom in. Best thing to do is NOT to zoom when you have the "low lux" setting on.

If you're filming in that lighting, I'm not surprised the results aren't good. You might want to switch to the infrared mode if you really want to see what's happening on a video - I've used that to film the activities of our nocturnal sugar gliders. But the only other video I've really taken in full dark was fireworks, letting the cam control the settings, of course.


I actually use the "low lux" mode very sparingly, as it specifically increases the video brightness at the known expense of introducing more noise and decreasing the sharpness over regular settings. That's its job - give you "more light" at the expense of accuracy. I'm generally very happy with the standard settings and don't film much in light so dim that those won't work well. I know the classic solution described here by many is "use more light". I tend to do that around the point where otherwise I'd have to switch into "low lux" mode.


So if you're really pushing the envelope ("basically pitch black"), yes, I'd expect to see some noise and other issues with the video.
 
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