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Choosing the right budget camcorder for low light


Standard Member

up till now I have used video cameras we have at work that require to be connected to a pc to record anything, which is problematic at points. For that reason I am trying to find the right camcorder that can work on its own and then alllow for video file tranfer to pc for analysis.

The primary requirement I have for the camcorder is to record videos in colour in a room that is illuminated with fluorescent light bulbs to approx. 180lux and then give good quality image and to ideally cost less than £250 (the cheaper the better really as I will be buying it from work budget).

I do not need sound (and if there is sound ability to turn it off would be good) or HD image quality. But ideally I do need it to be able to work for about 8h constantly (so enough memory either internal or memory card and batter life to support that). I also usually film at a distance of probably up to 1.5m so the camcorder needs to be able to handle that.

The films will primarily be analysed on a pc but in a perfect world it would be good to be able to use them in presentation displayed with a projector (the image by no means needs to look good movie quality at this point but it would need to be more than just blurry dots for that purpose).

Obviously with our budget there needs to be space for compromise and so if the recording life is shorter than 8h, but longer than 30mins it could be worked around. Or, as I mentioned previously, if the image won't be able to be displayed in a presentation. The 2 things that I cannot really change are the distance of filming and the light intensity in the room.

I do appreciate it might be hard to find a camcorder to suit our needs, but as you can probably tell, I am a complete newbie to trying and source a video recording equipment and for that reason will be very grateful for any and all help.

Thanks in advance:),


Prominent Member
Just a few pointers:-
1) Usually the larger diameter of lens the better the low light performance.
2) Most cameras will have white balance correction to allow for flourescent lighting.
3) Look for a camera that will take a 64 Gb SDXC card. You may need to sacrifice a little picture quality to get 8 hours.
4) No battery will record for 8 hours. Look for mains input.

Go in turn to Canon, Panasonic and Sony web sites and use the compare function to look at lux levels, recording times etc. Only you know exactly what you expect out of the camera you buy.
180 lux is within most camera specs but if the video amplifier comes into play the pictures may be grainy. This along with the need for 8 hours recording may push some domestic cameras to the limit.

£250 is also pushing it BUT if you look at (for example) Panasonic, they have recently replaced some of their range with new models so there are some good bargains around.
An example may be the Panasonic HC-V100 at £240 RRP this has a "standard" illumination of 1400 lux but a minimum of 4 lux.

You did not mention your filming distance. If it is less than 1mtr check the close-up capability of the camera you buy.

IMO the biggest limitation is your budget. If you can try before you buy even if this means testing in a dealers before looking on Amazon!!!

Hope this helps.


Distinguished Member
All the points Terfin makes are good.
+ Agree, that budget is closer to "treking Holiday" level.
For work you should double it at least.
Fluorscent light is not the best for quality-colour - it depends on the type of tube. Compacts are usually much better than older- industrial tubes. also they don't flicker as much.
You may find an old-model camcorder with HDD storage, this will give long recording times. However 8hrs is rather long - and you need a Camcorder" to achieve this as tax-rules limit Still-cameras to abt. 30min.
Those SDXC cards apply to recent-design camcorders only and PC's with modern Operating Systems.

Low light is a tricky subject, and I suspect all Mfr figures, - there being little of a "Standard" for "Acceptable". In general, the larger the sensor, the better . . . although large aperture lenses will gather more light, esp. at the widest setting. ( but are you filming small objects - you failed to say "what", or how large the "subject" is. However, low-light/large lenses tends to go hand-in-hand with price . . .

I'm confused by yr filming-distance of 1m5 - this isn't particularly close (about 5-feet?), and I'd expect most camcorders to focus this close (but check, as there could be a dead-band before "Macro").
Audio can be ignored at the Edit stage, although some menus will allow "No Audio" - have you a separate Budget for Editing software?

The "projection" comments are also confusing me .... Also, how do you propose transfering these video-files?
Also, curious - what is the purpose of this filming - knowing the whole-picture may help....
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