JVC GRD770: What's it like in low-light situations?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by Paul Cooksley, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Hi there

    I am thinking of replacing my Mini DV Sony HC42E that I purchased only about a year and a half ago.... There are two really, really annoying things that I cannot put up with ...

    1) It's low light recording is terrible! Blue/yellow grainy blotches are everywhere! Reading up on this afterwards, it seems that this is quite common with this camcorder. It really does look appalling though...

    2) The motor noise is terrible. In some shots you can barely hear it, then after a quick stop/start on the record button to change the shot the motor noise that has been recorded on the played-back image is again, appalling. As I say, sometimes it is barey there, so you will get one shot with no noise and the next with loads!

    So,

    I don't have the largest of budgets - only around £250 at max. Obviously, I won't get HD for this (!!) and to be honest, I am not interested in this anyway! All I want is a camcorder that will shoot relatively good images in low light scenarios as well as a quiet motor. I prefer Mini DV as don't trust DVD camcorders - I just think Mini DV is a good medium to archive precious moments after transferring to DVD, as the tape will probably outlast any DVD transfer!!!

    I have been reading a few pointers on this very forum and have been considering the JVC GRD770, which I notice from Ebuyer is £139.51 at the mo. (I presume this site is reputable??!!)

    So, can anyone confirm, who has this exact model, what the low-light is like and indeed, confirm if the motor seems quiet? Can you add an external mic to this? Finally, does it have some kind of "night shot" - like the Sony's do...

    Any help really appreciated

    Cheers
     
  2. senu

    senu
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    Jetinder ( and more recently Barnes) will be able to give you a comment on its real life performance

    I have the GRD 700 ( which I now use to rewind, transfer MiniDV tape footage ect) and it struggles in low light . The latter model may be better but the 700 actually has a "super bright Aspherical lens" with max aperture F1.2

    I think the implementation of good low light ability is in some way proportional to price and as a result many entry level camcorders suffer this.. it is only a matter of degree as some are minimally better and a few are downright atrocious.and unusable indoors

    I have an older Sony Digital 8 which actually has better low light performance than the HDV model HC1( which is usable in low light TBH)
    I guess the fact is that all camcorders will shine with better light

    Similarly there is always some motor noise pickup on very quiet scenes by all internal microphones but to be noticeable signifies a problem..
    Sonys Camcorders are not noted for this and even with the canons it was a specific model no
    The 700 has AV/in out, s video/ in out mic in and headphone jack.. how much of this still remains in the 770 Im not sure :rolleyes:!

    Your wants are not at all unreasonable but with your budget I hope something very usable will come your way.
    The 770 might tick all the right boxes
    . As for DVD camcorders, Im with you on that one. Although Im made to believe recent models are better than the earlier generation ones,The format is still the same
     
  3. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Funny you should mention about your old Digital 8 - but I do have to say that my older Sony Digital 8 camcorder is FAR superior not only in build (ok, I know it's larger and heavier!) but the image is fantastic - especially low light - I presume digital 8 is dead and buried now, as regards newer models?

    I don't mind about the size of camcorder actually... all I want is good low-light, low motor noise oh - and 16:9 recording mode

    Cheers
     
  4. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    I've not used a GRD770, but camcorders with a single small 1/6" chip (which applies to both the HC42 and the GRD770) do not perform well in low light.

    The HC42 has particularly poor low light performance, so the GRD770 could be a bit better, but don't expect a big difference.

    Models with larger sensors have better low light performance (e.g. the Sony HC96), but these cost more (and the HC96 is discontinued, but I think you can still get them).
     
  5. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Actually, I could go up to the price of the HC96 - currently about £323 on Ebuyer - only thing is, someone said on the reviews (on ebuyer) that you have to buy some sort of adapter as it's a european model or something??

    The HC96 does seem to get very good reviews - so thanks for pointing me in this direction. Does it have AV In, like the HC42?

    Cheers
     
  6. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Yes, the HC96 has AV-in (and DV-in).
    If the HC96 from ebuyer doesn't have a UK plug then all you need is a euro to UK plug adapter.
     
  7. jetinder

    jetinder
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    Before i got the GRD 770 i tested Sony HC37, Samsung 375, Panasonic GS60 and JVC GRD770 camcorders.

    With GRD770 i've never heard of motor noise on play back and i played this thing back on a 42 inch Panasonic PX600 plasma and that would have shown this up.

    You cant use an external Mic on it.

    Apart from Sony HC37 which can see fully in the dark for 10ft using infa-red light (the video looks " black and green ") none of the other camcorders i tested can do this.

    The GRD770 has the best and smoothest picture out of all of the ones i tested.

    In low light
    i.e.
    In doors with the lights off and normal day light coming in to the house the GRD770 doesnt need to use its built in lamp, instead it uses its built in circuits make the scene brighter in full colour with no blotches etc, the video recorded looks the same as what they human eye sees.

    In doors with the lights on again the scene looks the same as what you see with your eyes and in all cases it also has less grain than all the other camcorders i tested

    For more info on low light capability see
    :-
    http://camcorder.jvc.com/product.jsp?modelId=MODL027859&pathId=26&page=10

    I use full auto mode and let the camcorder work things out so i can concentrate on taking video so far that has not let me down.

    Like all camcorders the GRD770 has a number of manual program AE modes including colour nightshot (JVC call it Night-scope) and twilight mode.

    Twilight mode works in low light after sunset but not in pitch black and allows natural

    Night-scope is similar but works in less light than twilight, it shows things in full colour but uses a slower shutter speed to do to it, so you may get a strobing effect.

    Before you get to worried apart from Sony all the others do it as well in their versions of Night-scope.

    Only reason why Sony doesnt do it is coz it can see fully in the dark for 10ft using infa-red light and the video looks " black and green ", not full colour none of the other camcorders inc GRD770 I tested can do

    But even so the sony's video is grainy in black and green light.

    So its up to you if you want a "black and green" video for low light stuff.

    Pick 3 camcorders go to their websites down load the instruction manuals and you'll see they all have same modes and all have good and bad points.

    For prices see
    :-
    http://www.abul.co.uk/go.html?id=5697

    Personaly for £139 even now i'd still buy the GRD770 as your getting a top of the range camcorder for the price of a bottom of the range camcorder from local shops.

    You also have a 7 day cooling off period so when get it if you dont like it you can always send it back for a full refund, so you have nothing to loose by buying the GRD770.

    I've shopped with ebuyer for 5 years and even got my PCs processor from them, they are ok and havent let me down.

    When to return or cancel an order and get a refund i got it with no worries.
     
  8. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    For very low light situations pretty much all camcorders either have a slow shutter speed mode (like the JVC) or an infrared mode (like Sony) - or both.

    Equally (or perhaps more) important is the camcorder's inherent performance in less than ideal light in normal mode. A model with a larger sensor will let in more light.
     
  9. senu

    senu
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    .and usually cost more. They also tend to have "faster" lenses which cost more to make

    The ability to increase gain but limit "grain" ( or dots) seems to improve with increase in cost of camcoder.. somehow:)

    These are why the poor low light issue seem to be less of a problem as you move up the scale in camcorder grades
     
  10. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Yes Senu I agree.... that's really my point... don't expect great low light performance from an entry level small CCD camcorder. The GRD770 may indeed be best in its class for low light (I've not seen it or any reviews, so only have jetinder's post to go by) but there is only so much which can be done with a small chip.
     
  11. jetinder

    jetinder
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    The GRD 770 uses the same chips and autofocus etc as the GRD760 here is a review for the760
    :-
    http://www.tech.co.uk/gadgets/digital-video/camcorders/review/jvc-gr-d760

    Only differences between the two is the 770 has DV-IN and DV-Out, the 760 only has the DV-out.

    The 770 is German spec model which works in the UK with full warranty and 760 is a pure UK spec model.

    I agree with Senu and Redsox as the bigger the sensor etc the better the camcorder but if you have a budget of £250 or less then i feel the 770 is the best you can buy.

    If you have limitless cash then the skys the limit and you can get minidv camcorders costing thousands which deliver broadcast quality or High Def qaulity video.
     
  12. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Thanks Jetinder for your detailed response. Judging by what you have said, this sounds a pretty good little camcorder.

    So, I seriously considering the JVC - but I am also tempted by the Sony HC96, simply because I have worked out I could just afford this model.

    What are the still images like? I understand they are 3MP? Can you zoom with the camera (for a still image recorded on to the memory stick)? Are the picture's reasonable- I understand it has a built in flash?

    Cheers
     
  13. jetinder

    jetinder
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    Hi Paul

    The Sony HC96 is a good camcorder but even at Amazon it costs nearly £400, Where as the GRD770 cost around £140 and if you look at boths spec the GRD770 beats the Sony in most cases.

    For around £400 you could buy a decent Hard Drive camcorder or i guess a High Def camcorder, rather than a minidv camcorder but the choice is yours, i dont work for JVC or Ebuyer so i dont get anything from talking aboutthe GRD770, i just like the GRD770 :)

    I dont know how many mega pixel photos it has as for taking photos i use a 35mm film camera.

    The GRD770 doesnt have a flash, it has a spot light at the front but i've never used that to take photos in dark places as i use the 35mm camera to do all this.

    The still images on the GRD 770 are in a nut shell not as good as ones taken on a proper 35mm camera. They are i guess very similar to in quality to webcam and ok if you want take ordinary photos of a night out with the lads down the pub or when your in the garden etc and your not that worried about mega pixel quality but if your going to take those once in a life time photos, no way..........

    Best bet is to carry a seperate 35mm camera with you as that will give excellent results, when i used the other camcorders they had the same results as the GRD770.

    Its all down to quality v price.

    The GRD770 is a great camcorder for making movies but where JVC and other camcorder makers have cut corners are the still images, but I'm not worried as i got the GRD770 for taking video.

    The GRD770 and 760 have the edge over others as with SD card in place you can take still images at the same time as your video-ing some thing, all other camcorders allow you to take still images but you have to wait for the camcorder to finish before you carry on video-ing. But on the JVC nope you press the shutter button and carry on video-ing, when its finished taking the photo it tells you as the photo is automatically saved on to SD card.

    You can also set it up so it takes photos on to tape but in that setting you have to wait for the camcorder to finish before you carry on video-ing.

    Like all camcorders there is shutter lag on the GRD770, meaning unlike a 35mm film SLR camera where you press the shutter button you take an instant photo, on all camcorders i used you press the shutter and have to wait a few seconds before the camcorder takes the photo (that is known as shutter lag) so again dont use camcorders to take photos if you need to capture one in the blink of an eye.
     
  14. rhubarbe

    rhubarbe
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    DCR-HC96e has AV-in...... Besides which, it is Sony's top of the line SD MiniDV camcorder, though they have rather lost interest in this format of late.
     
  15. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    I agree the HC96 is in a different price class (the HC96 is £337 at ebuyer). But I don't agree with several of jetinder's points.


    I'm not sure how you come to this conclusion. The HC96 has a 1/3" sensor vs. 1/6" for the GRD770. F1.8 lens vs. F2.0. The GRD770 has a greater zoom range, but this is the case with all models that have small sensors. You can argue if stills are important or not, but in that regard the HC96 takes decent (3 MP) stills, the GRD770 0.3 MP.

    The HC96 also does this, as do many other models. One thing to note, with the HC96 the resolution of the stills is reduced to the video resolution, which means stills taken this way are only 0.3 MP. (The GRD770 can only do 0.3 MP regardless). Some camcorders support taking high resolution stills at the same time as recoding video.

    The GRD770 still sounds like excellent value for money.
     
  16. jetinder

    jetinder
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    Hi Redsox

    No worries :)

    I agree that the HC96 does sound like a 1st class camcorder but now it boils down to money v latest Hard drive camcorder for similar amount.

    Personnaly if i had £400 to spend I'd buy Sony's new Hard Drive camcorder as i feel the technology on them is miles better than minidvs.
     
  17. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Well, that is another debate (and one which has been the subject of many threads). Personally I'd rather have a HC96, or a Panasonic GS320 in the £300-£400 range. Better quality video, less compressed format, tape is a good media for achiving, etc. HDD cams have some advantatges in ease of use, especially if you don't do much editing (easy to select specific clips you want, fast transfer to PC). But DV still gives better quality for the money, I don't agree that HDD cams have "miles better technology".
     
  18. rhubarbe

    rhubarbe
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    Surely, the SD Sony HDD cams that are equivalent to the HC96 in terms of price, don't come close in terms of spec, do they? Sensor size, AV-in, to name but two.
     
  19. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Correct - Sony SR72 (costs around £400) has a 1/6" sensor, quality is not near that of the HC96.
    SR190 (available from around £450) has a 1/3" sensor, and performance not far off that of the HC96.
    Neither has AV-in.
     
  20. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Thanks Redsox and Jetinder again....

    Some very useful info... and I think it has helped me make up my mind...

    I am gonna go for the HC96 simply because I can just afford to go to that price, and from what I can deduce, if you've got the money, then the HC96 would be a superior buy over the JVC 770 - for the reasons redsox-mark has pointed out - sounds like you have one, redsox and are very happy with it?

    As it was Sony's top end Mini DV camcorder, and I usually buy Sony stuff, I will get this - just trust from what you say that it will be miles better than the awful Sony HC42 that I bought recently....

    Just one quick question, and apologies if it's already been mentioned: Is the recording format "true" widescreen? (Is the HC42 'true' widescreen??)

    I shall get it off ebuyer, which I presume, is a reptuable site?

    Anyway, thanks again, especially redsox mark and jetinder - still sounds like the JVC is a good buy from what you say, but I will go for the Sony, simply because I can afford to now do so... I guess this is what others would do, if they had a choice of the two....


    Paul
     
  21. rhubarbe

    rhubarbe
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  22. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    The HC96 is "true widescreen".
    I don't have one but I have used one.
     
  23. Paul Cooksley

    Paul Cooksley
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    Thanks Rhubarbe, for that link - blimey, they like to go into detail on that site, don't they???!! Still, an interesting read..

    So, would the HC96 record video pictures at a higher resolution to that of my Sony HC42? I couldn't make this out .... I guess it would. Does this mean, in theory, that the picture should be more sharp on the HC96 with more resolution??
     
  24. redsox_mark

    redsox_mark
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    Yes... you just need to be careful with the word "resolution".

    In the digital world, all standard definition PAL camcorders are the same "resolution" - 720x576.

    But... when it comes to the actual picture displayed, as measured by physical (analogue) equipment, the HC96 scores very well. So yes, the picture will look clearer/sharper than with the HC42. Because there is more to the visible "resolution" you see than just the number of pixels.
     
  25. rhubarbe

    rhubarbe
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    Just to upset the applecart, if you can afford the HC96 you only have to find a bit more to get to the Canon HV10 which is a real HD camcorder. The video image from that cam is superb. Many don't like the form factor, and I had a noisy one so sent it back, but you can get "new and sealed" examples on eBay at about £420 and up, including "refurbs" from the Canon shop that typically go for £435.

    Have a read of the review:

    http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/Canon-HV10-Camcorder-Review.htm

    Again, don't take too much notice of their "no good in the dark" comments. Mine was fine in low light, thought possibly not quite as good as the DCR-HC96. Bags more resolution though.
     

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