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Help with recording at night

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Editing Forum' started by barbiej444, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. barbiej444

    barbiej444
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    Hello,
    My husband and I have a Sony Handycam and we just cannot figure out how to video record at night? Specifically items at a distance, not close up.
    Any help, assistance, suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!!!
     
  2. barbiej444

    barbiej444
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    Anyone? :lease:
     
  3. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Night fiming is always going to be a problem with consumer digital camcorders as they just don't work well in low light conditions. This even includes situations such as under normal house lighting. As the cams get smaller, so does the lens which therefore lets less light in to be picked up by the CCD.
    Many of the Sony cams have 'night modes' of different types. Some will give the 'black & green' picture you see with night vision scopes etc that is still very grainy and IMO not worth useing. I think there are other, better versions of night modes that can give an acceptable (according to those that have used them. I have not) picture.
    I don't think you are ever going to get good night filming unless you can get very close and light the subject. To video at a distance in low light you are going to need to borrow the flood lights from your local football stadium :D .

    Some pointers that may help a little:
    keep the zoom wide open as more light gets in this way.
    If you have manual controls on the cam set the appature as wide as possible, slow down the shutter speed. Increasing the gain will help but will make the picture grainy.
    Turn off any 'steady shot' feature
    Use manual focus
    Put the camcorder on a tripod.

    I hope the above suggestions are of some help. If you give us some more details on what you are trying to video, and under the type of conditions then we may be able to give some more advise.

    Mark.
     
  4. barbiej444

    barbiej444
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    Thank you so much, Mark! I really do appreciate your time! :)
     
  5. barbiej444

    barbiej444
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    Ok, well...we have had many experiences with 'strange' lights in the sky. More than one, more than a dozen...so we thought we would take our handycam with us now.
    It's odd, because (if you're into UFO's and such) there are hundreds if not thousands of video at night of UFO's, strange lights, etc. I wonder how they film it?
     
  6. Roy Mallard

    Roy Mallard
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    For night sky stuff try and keep your gain at 0db (this will assist contrast, short of you dropping an atomic domb the sky is always going to come out as black, if you start adding gain then the bright subject will burn out and lose all detail), especially if the footage is to be scrutinised. I would set the shutter at no slower than 1/25th of a second as movement will become distorted and the subject will blur as it moves. Set your white ballance to daylight. The sony nightshot system can be used, but if your subject is farther away then the puny IR emiiter on your cam is not going to make any difference.

    Definately use a tripod and keep your zooms under control, try to get a mix of wide shots to help establish context and scale and focus manually as you zoom in, focus becomes softer as you zoom, especially if the aperture/iris is wide open.
     
  7. JayX

    JayX
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    Most UFO footage will be shot on analog cameras which behave better under low lighting than newer consumer digital ones. Not a point the manufacturers like to boast about :)

    If you want proper low light shooting, you'll have to pay good money for it and even then its very specific models. Roy above has a DSR 570, which is... one of the best cameras under £20,000 by a long way. Yes, you read that figure correct ;) The minimum camera you'll want for proper night shooting is a VX2100 (or a second hand 2000) and thats only just under 2 grand. Its a lot of money if its simply a "oh it'd be nice if.." kinda scenario.

    If you're shooting with a standard consumer cam, its more than likely you'll have 1/6" single CCD with very little in the way of manual control, so no gain etc so the camera will go into overdrive and probably pump about +18dB onto the image, which'll give you lots of noise.

    Personally I've always hated nightmodes on cameras, altho I've seen a few non-awful uses of them. Personally, I don't think I'd ever find a use for it.
     
  8. PjPip

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    Have to admit I couldn't help but take a quick Blair Witch-esque clip of myself last night with the new cam :nono:
     
  9. meles

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    Sony nightshot won't be any use for filming the sky. Even with the optional IR illuminator you can't realistically film over a distance greater than 20 yards. It is possible to film through an image intensifier, but you are talking serious money for one that is any good. The ones you usually see advertised for less than a grand are just kids' toys. If you have a bright light in the sky, like a UFO, this should be filmable without using any kind of night mode. It is, for example, perfectly possible to film a full moon so long as you zoom in. Of course, you won't get any background at all.
     

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