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Old Oct 22, 2007, 10:17 PM   #1
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Low light taxes every camcorder, especially consumer cams. In my opinion, low light is a strength of the HD1000. It gets grainy at super low light, but at least you get an image. On many consumer cams you wouldn't get anything. Also, that f1.8 lens is not something you find on most camcorders. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of downsides to these tiny cams, and in many respects they don't even compare to prosumer cams, not even close.

That said, for low light try things like this:

1. For starters, put the unit in aperture priority mode and force the f-stop all the way open to f1.8. That'll let the most light through the lens as possible, and at f1.8 it's letting in 2-3 stops more light than the lens on the HD700 can. Although be aware, at that f-stop, your depth of field is smaller so focusing is more important (which of course is a challenge in low light, but you've already figured out the focus-lock trick). An alternative might be to use portrait mode which tries to open the aperture in general, but why bother when you can force it to f1.8.

2. Next, you should start pushing the ISO up in manual mode. Obviously you want to keep the ISO as low as possible to reduce noise, but if it's still too dark, this is the next place to start fiddling.

3. I'm a little unsure about the high sensitivity mode with respect to what it is actually doing, but I'm guessing it's just gaining the picture up even higher (like ISO) and adding grain at the same time. But it might be slowing down the shutter at the same time too, not sure.

4. And then of course, there is LAMP mode, which is slowing down the shutter. So, that's letting in more light at the expense of effectively slowing down your frame rate. So although the unit is still recording at 30p or 60p to the MP4 file, many of those frames are doubled-tripled up b/c of the reduced framerate. But that said, I've used this mode to record movies where it would have been impossible to get any image at all on a lot of cams.

Note: I'd probably also just go ahead and manually set a white balance (since it's low light, most of the time you'll be indoors, and then most of those times, it'll be incandescent, but sometimes flourescent.

OK, those are most of my low light tricks, how about everyone else? Got any tricks up your sleeve on the low light front?


Good luck!
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Old Oct 22, 2007, 10:31 PM   #2
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I think you may want to experiement a little more

in response to your hints:

1) AV/TV/M modes only affect camera mode, it has no effect on the video mode.

3) High sensitivity mode is basically Lamp mode, it slows down the video to 15 fps

4) there is no Lamp mode on the HD1000, it has High sensitivity mode (see above)

I do think manually setting ISO helps image quality in low light situations, personally i find the camcorder bumps the ISO too high too fast on auto iso. 400is is a good place to start for indoors.


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Old Oct 22, 2007, 11:09 PM   #3
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ray301 wrote:
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[...]
3) High sensitivity mode is basically Lamp mode, it slows down the video to 15 fps

4) there is no Lamp mode on the HD1000, it has High sensitivity mode (see above)
[...]
On the HD700 I have a High Sensitivity mode and there is a Lamp program mode. I don't have the HD1000, but the manual indicates it's the same. Definition given for HS: "When you shoot in the high sensitivity mode, the captured image appears even brighter than that specified by the ISO sensitivity and exposure correction settings.", which leads me tounderstand this is some sort of gain. For Lamp mode: "When recording a video clip in dark surroundings, the shutter speed decreases to 1/15 sec in order to produce a sufficiently bright image."

They may end up doing the same thing (you claim there is no gain?), but wouldn't that be strange to have two settings do the same thing?
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Old Oct 22, 2007, 11:52 PM   #4
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ray301 wrote:
Quote:
I think you may want to experiement a little more

in response to your hints:

1) AV/TV/M modes only affect camera mode, it has no effect on the video mode.

3) High sensitivity mode is basically Lamp mode, it slows down the video to 15 fps

4) there is no Lamp mode on the HD1000, it has High sensitivity mode (see above)

I do think manually setting ISO helps image quality in low light situations, personally i find the camcorder bumps the ISO too high too fast on auto iso. 400is is a good place to start for indoors.

Um, I think YOU might want to read your manual or "experiment a little more..."

For starters, with respect to your #4 quote, not sure about your HD1000, but mine DEFINATELY has a LAMP mode and a High Sensitivity mode -- BOTH. If you don't see it, then scroll down further in scene select. Now, it may be that the two modes are the same, but the manual is a tad vague on details. It offers some info on both, but I'm not sure it's entirely clear what one does as opposed to the other. The manual seems to hint that both can drop to 15 fps, but for lamp mode, it implies that ISO might go higher. It's worth noting that certain modes don't work with other modes.

Regarding your #3 quote, they probably aren't the same thing considering the fact that they both exist (see above), but more importantly, from my informal tests, the two actually combine to make for even more low light capability. I found the order of increased light sensitivity to look like this, but maybe others can test and report back their results:

None > LAMP(no HS) > HS(no Lamp) > LAMP+HS


Finally, with respect to you #1 quote above, again I disagree. What makes you say they don't work for movie mode. The manual doesn't say that. Also, the manual explains that there are two icons, one for movie mode and one for photo mode, shown in the top-right part of the screen when using the menus. If an option is relevent for one, the other, or both, the icons are shown as white or dimmed accordingly. For the exposure modes, both icons are lit. But more importantly, in my informal testing over the weekend, I was confused about this too, but I convinced myself they were in fact operational in movie mode.

This was super easy to test. I framed a shot of flowers, in close in macro mode. I had one flower close and in focus, with other flowers farther in the backgrounf but visible in the frame. Then I shot a movie locked to f1.8. And then one locked at f8.0. Sure enough, the one movie had the close flower in focus and the background flowers out of focus. But the f8 version had all of the flowers in focus.

Now, what's confusing about this is that the camera doesn't always show what's going on when not recording. Also, it can be confusing because if you let ISO float, then ISO will make up for aperture changes if it can. And furthermore, the camera sometimes overrides things when they are impossible. Now I might not have some of those observations nailed yet, but I've only had the thing for a few days.

If you don't believe me, then try the macro flower example I explained above. Or, here's another test. Go outside in sunny conditions. Lock iso to 100, go into aperture priority mode and set to f8. Now, point the cam up with a lot of sky in the image. Probably looks ok. Now, point it down into the shade, still looks ok probably. BUT... Start recording, then point into the sky, and then point into the shade. Now you see a different story! The shade is dark! I also realized I could get a preview of the manual settings by pressing the photo button halfway down.

Now maybe I'm wrong, but I think I just shot down every single one of your points... :-)
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Old Oct 23, 2007, 1:09 AM   #5
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Your right, my mistake...

i missed the lamp mode in the presets (i don't really bother with the presets). Lamp mode appears to basically turns on the high sensitivity mode and bump up the iso (its just a preset, not a function)... turning them both on doesn't seem to do anything more than doing the HS and high iso yourself.

manual mode does affect the video... except it seems the shutter speed won't drop below the file format's fps speed. My test was to turn the shutter speed down to something really slow and it had zero affect, that's why i thought the manual mode didn't really affect the movie and only the camera :?
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Old Oct 23, 2007, 2:30 PM   #6
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ray301 wrote:
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turning them both on doesn't seem to do anything more than doing the HS and high iso yourself.
Actually, like I said above, in my (very) unscientific experiments, using both in combination actually did seem to increase light sensitivity even more. I could be wrong, but after trying all combinations in a very dark room, that was my conclusion (albeit with a lot of added noise).


ray301 wrote:
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it seems the shutter speed won't drop below the file format's fps speed.
Yeah, it states as much in the manual. It seems that 30 fps is minimum for all modes except HS and LAMP, which can go down to 15 fps. What I'm a little more unclear about is what the slowest shutter speed is. The manual seems to contradict itself on that front (I think b/c it's coming at it from a 1080i perspective in some spots and a 30p perspective in other spots. If I had to guess after reading the manuals for both cams and with some experimentation, it seems that the shutter speeds for video can go no slower than twice the framerate in the case of 30p or the field rate in the case of 1080i. So as far as I can tell, and I could EASILY be wrong on this, it seems like 1/60 sec is the slowest for normal video in 1080i60 and 720p30 modes, except in the case of HS or LAMP, it seems like it can go down to 1/30 sec when the framerate drops to 15 fps.

I wish they provided more info regarding exactly what some of these modes are doing...




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Old Oct 23, 2007, 3:23 PM   #7
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not sure if i'd really be using lamp mode in combination with HS though...

Slowing down the FPS is ok, but I find the noise to be too much if ISO is increased beyond 400... And it seems like auto iso and lamp mode pushes the iso past 400 really easily.

What I like to figure out is how the EIS works... its greatly improved from the previous models but it seems to have a certain threshold with amount of light collected and frames per second... either of which drops below a certain point the EIS is as good as turned off.
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Old Oct 23, 2007, 9:01 PM   #8
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I have done some low light testing with lux readings and have footage of a few cameras.

Canon GL-1 --3x 1/3" CCD
Canon Optura S-1 --1 1/3" CCD
Panasonic TZ-1 1/2.5" CCD
Canon Powershot S2 1/2.5"CCD
Sanyo CG65 1/2.5 CCD

The Sanyo beats all the rest except the 3CCD GL-1 in low light by a fairly large margen. The GL-1 is about 30% better than the Sanyo.

If the HD700 is like the 65 it should be one of the best low light performers of all the single CCD cameras.

I lock the ISO to 200 most of the time and get good to vary good inside video where most other cameras fall on there faces. Yes you do need to have some light but what do you expect?



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Old Oct 24, 2007, 1:28 AM   #9
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I played around some moreand in standard definitionthe CG65 still does a little better than the HD700, especially in lamp mode. But I'll probably just keep the HD700 in high definition full auto mode and accept darkness where there is not enough light (add light when possible);and call the HD700 an average low light performer. The possibility is there with lamp mode to capture in little light (with potential chunky sensor noise and low fps), butI don'tthink anyoneshould have too high expectations about it's low light performance especially given that many are often surprised that cameras can't shoot clearvideo at night. :G

Oh, and by the way, EIS does reduce the FOV on the HD700.
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