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Old Feb 7, 2005, 7:20 PM   #1
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I have been using a 3.2 MP still and a 640x480 mini dv camcorder (with no firewire out!) for the past 5 years or so. I'd like to upgrade to a high quality still camera which also has640x480 30fps capability, so I can get rid of carrying around two devices.


Video-wise... I've seen sample video clips on the internet of what some of the current technology can do. I'm pretty pleased with what I see. We don't have real high-end videoneeds, I just want a fairly decent looking picture and have the ease of not having to capture it from a camcorder onto the PC.


The problem is... what I >>HAVE NOT<< been able to see/research are samples of low light video footage. I'm talking, just average rooms in the house with random lights on, after dark, at home when you're chasing around the rug rats with the camera. How grainy/artifacty is the picture? Any testinmoy from dual-function camera owners?

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Old Feb 7, 2005, 7:34 PM   #2
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I have the Canon S1 IS, which is considered to be one of the best digicams for video...and the low-light/indoor pics are HORRIBLE!!! The video is almost as if it were shot at ISO 400 with a digicam (in case you don't know what I mean, digicams at anything beyond ISO 100 produce ton of noise). The problem is that you can't control the video-equivalent of ISO or have any control over any other settings.

My opinion is that digicam video in low-light is unacceptable.
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 3:23 AM   #3
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Using a digital camera as a video camera is useless for regular applications, outside with lots of light is ok but inside will never work.

Most digicams have video capabilities but are not meant to replace the video camera.


Plus you would need to buy a ton of flash memory to take any significant amount of video.
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 12:25 PM   #4
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From what I've seen, the video quality outdoors is more than sufficient for our family's needs. Having a 1GIG stick for 15 or 20- minutes or whatever it is is WAY more than enough for us. I think it all depends on the types of things you're taping. I can't think of one time I've had the camera on constantly for more than 4 minutes at a time other than at ours (and a friends) wedding.
The one and only part that we also need a still camera to be able to perform well as video would be int he indoor low light environment when you inevitably have to catch something that the rug rats are doing. All I've been able to see was one clip from a newer entry level canon 3.2MP camera and the video was pretty artifact-y in low light.
I think it's around the corner for this to improve, ... we'll probably wait for another year before we buy a camera that undoubtedly will meet both needs.
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 4:18 PM   #5
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Jude wrote:
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I think it's around the corner for this to improve, ... we'll probably wait for another year before we buy a camera that undoubtedly will meet both needs.
I think you need to wait a bit longer than that. The thing is.... low-light STILL pics are pretty bad now too. And video is many years behind still pics.

Until cameras can take good low-light still pics (without flash), video isn't going to be anywhere near worthwhile...
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 7:04 PM   #6
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So what is it exactly inside a camcorder that is able to accomplish better low light video than a still cam? Why can't it be built into todays still cams to help produce better low light video capture?

We have a seven year old sharp handycam (mini dv) and it's low light video ability seems better than todays still cams (video ability). Whydoes itseem more feasible to find a camcorder that can produce halfway decent stills than the other way around? Is that true?

If you measure on a scale of 1 to 10 the four different types of capture-- "video inoutdoor light", "video in low light" , "still in outdoor light" and "still in indoor light", do camcorders with still-ability come out ahead over still cams with video ability in total score?
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Old Feb 12, 2005, 7:55 PM   #7
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Jude wrote:
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So what is it exactly inside a camcorder that is able to accomplish better low light video than a still cam? Why can't it be built into todays still cams to help produce better low light video capture?
I'm wondering the same thing. In fact, our old camcorder (10 years old probably) takes decent video in low light (indoors, night, etc). I'm wondering how it does that compared to modern digicams? hmm...

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If you measure on a scale of 1 to 10 the four different types of capture-- "video in outdoor light", "video in low light" , "still in outdoor light" and "still in indoor light", do camcorders with still-ability come out ahead over still cams with video ability in total score?
Tough to say but I think if you are mostly outputting stuff to a television or viewing on a computer monitor (i.e. high resolution not needed) then the DV will come out on top. For example, I think still pics from a camcorder burnt to a DVD/CD and shown on a tv will be good enough. Camcorders/DVs will also win on length of video (most digicams only take a few minutes of video at [email protected]).

However, if you print a lot of pics, then the digicam probably wins. Where DVs/camcorders suffer is with their low resolution. A 4"x6" pic printed from a camcorder is noticeably inferior to one printed from the worst still camera released last year (say, a 2 or 3 megapixel no-name brand or something). Now, if you print an occasional 8x10, then the camera would win out easily.

Further confusing the issue is the use of flash or tripod. If you use either of them then low-light pics won't be THAT bad. For example, I have zero problems with indoor family/room/etc pics because I use the flash all the time.... Let's also not forget that camcorders cost more. A decent DV/camcorder can easily cost $1000 whereas a decent digicam costs around $400.

So to sum up, the way I see it is... camcorders come out ahead if you do NOT print too many pics; digicams come out ahead if you print many pics or larger size pics.
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