Recommended camcorder for low light recording

dredu09

Member
I am looking forward to buy a new camcorder able to record in good quality at low light (parties, events, city at night) without pixelization. What I'm considering at the moment is Panasonic hc-x1500 (or x2000) or Canon Legria HF G60. Does anyone have any experience with either of those? Im open for any other options if those are garbage. I am really noob in this matter. I'm budgetting under 2000 euro not necesarily have to spend that much if there are cheaper options. Would be really greatful for any help.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
The specification for the camera should give you the info on low light performance.
I have had great success with my HC-V800 by using the controls in my video editor to brighten the image. Even when the raw video was dark, use of the brightness and contrast bought out all the detail.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
The trouble is all cameras/camcorders claim "low-light" - FWIW ( and DYOR), The BBC bought some hundred of JVC GR700 ( check this model number), for news-gathering where available-light could be bad, I understand. Probably about 2014.... The spec suggests it's OK down to 0.1 lux - which is very dark, even allowing a little stretch in specs. Other JVC models are much higher.... so I guess this was for a specific type of use.
Sadly, this Forum never mentions JVC camcorders... it's always Pana, Sony and a few Canon. as well as specialist "Action" like GoPro.
The fix maybe, is to carry a small LED-array, with battery-pack.... that way you can see what you've got using the LCD screen, before leaving.
Good Luck
 

Gordon Streeter

Active Member
I am looking forward to buy a new camcorder able to record in good quality at low light (parties, events, city at night) without pixelization. What I'm considering at the moment is Panasonic hc-x1500 (or x2000) or Canon Legria HF G60. Does anyone have any experience with either of those? Im open for any other options if those are garbage. I am really noob in this matter. I'm budgetting under 2000 euro not necesarily have to spend that much if there are cheaper options. Would be really greatful for any help.
Obviously you are looking at more expensive larger sensor camcorders that "should" fit the bill, however if used sensibly The Sony AX53 is capable of producing quite acceptable low light videos as is the Panasonic VXF 990/991 that has a small built in LED video light that certainly helps at close range. I suppose it depends on what you call "low light"
Several people buy a camera/camcorder and take shots in low light and assume that the mediocre result is because the camera is not good enough. A lot of the time it's because they are using it in auto mode with possibly a light in the background that over compensates what you are trying to film as well as the auto focus that "hunts" for something to latch on to.
At the end of the day a scene taken at 25fps with the lens wide open isn't going to be spectacular without a bit of forethought, or as 12harry mentions use a small LED light, I have a couple that I sometimes use when filming groups on stage at night as there is normally a lot of back lighting.
 
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Terfyn

Well-known Member
The fix maybe, is to carry a small LED-array, with battery-pack.... that way you can see what you've got using the LCD screen, before leaving.
This is always a good idea. My choice was a Neewer CN-LUX360. Roughly 3" square, it fits easily in a pocket and slips on to the cold shoe mount when needed. I have filmed in totally dark slate mines and it supplies plenty of light.
(Note it has been updated and replaced by the Neewer CRI95)
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Don't confuse low light with high contrast.

EG: Shooting a cityscape at night, you will have a lot of very dark areas, but also high pin spots of light, which could blow out and overexpose, as the average scene brightness is still quite low.

Events give specific problems, because lighting is often extremely spotty, so areas that are extremely bright, but with strange colour balance compared to the unlit areas. Cameras struggle much more than the human eye in this respect.

I would therefore suggest you need to be looking at how many stops of latitude of exposure a camera has. Some more info here: Difference between dynamic range and latitude: Open Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review.

You will be looking at mainly professional cameras to provide this information. The BlackMagic cameras are noted to have excellent dynamic range, as do most of the DSLR based recorders. I gather this is due to the larger sensor area and lower noise figures.
 

Gordon Streeter

Active Member
Steadycam. (2).jpg

I will sometimes use this set up when filming groups on stage.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member

Gordon Streeter

Active Member
  • Personally I have found that If you use wide angle shots in low light then the grain is dramatically reduced, also do not use automatic gain control so set the camera to manual because if you leave the AGC on and the lighting changes or subjects move closer to or farther from the camcorder, you’ll get fluctuating gain levels.
  • If you can manually adjust the gain on your camcorder, increase the gain. +3dB is equivalent to opening your lens about one f-stop. Depending on your camcorder, a setting greater than +6dB (more than 2 f-stops) generally leads to too much video noise.
  • Reduce the shutter speed. The auto shutter speed on many camcorders has a 1/50 second bottom limit. If you have manual shutter speed control, reduce your speed to 1/25 of a second. If you drop the shutter speed to less than 1/25 of a second, any motion, zooms or pans will have smearing or create streaks of light.
  • Don’t use autofocus as many camcorders use a passive system that needs light and contrast to set the focus. Low-light conditions typically fool the camcorder to use improper focal points or make slow focus changes. If there are flickering lights or candles, autofocus might continuously shift to try to follow the moving light.
  • Set your focus and leave it. Find a stationary subject in the scene, zoom in tight, manually adjust the focus, zoom out and then leave the focus alone.
  • If there is action and it’s too difficult to find or change focus, focus at about the distance of the action (check the distance on the focus ring if it has one or on the screen), zoom out and stay wide. If the action is steadily coming toward you or away from you, then gradually rotate the focus ring clockwise (closer focus) or counterclockwise (more distant), without fretting over getting the focus absolutely correct.

 
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