Getting grainy footage off my Sony HDR-HC1

Viewing 7 reply threads
  • Author
    • #47811

      I’m shooting some martial art videos for my instructor but the footage is coming back quite grainy, even though I’m certain I got the focus right. This is even the case in HD although it is still not HD standard in my opinion. I think it might be due to lack of light as it is all shot in his garage which is converted into a gym. There are 2 windows and a door made of glass as well as some strip lights, although I like to have most of them off as it doesn’t look too great….do you think lighting is the problem? Are there any things I can change in my camera settings to help? Also do you have any decent lighting techniques you could recommend with a minimal budget?

      Thanks for reading 🙂

    • #196683

      Low light… what you are describingg sounds like gain noise. The camera is maxing it’s gain and is bringing out the natural background electronic noise (some cameras have more than others). Turn onthe lights, bring a white card to white balance the camera and try a few shots to see if the noise is greatly reduced, or goes away. If it does, then look into a light system to help.

    • #196684

      I always white balance the camera at the start of every shoot anyway…also it does not appear to be grainy in the LCD monitor it is only when I upload it to my computer

    • #196685

      that it to be expected.

      get some lights on your subject and set your exposure to manual…

      focus has nothing to do with grain.

      White balance has nothing to do with grain.

      Grain is from your camera pumping up the “Gain” on the sensor to compensate for low light. (think of it like pumping up the volume on a set of speakers to the point that the sound distorts.)..

    • #196686

      get some cheap powerful halogen worklights and bounce them off the walls or ceiling.. and one or to halogen spotlights for the ring… cost you maybe sixty bucks to look professional…

    • #196687

      I also own the HC1, and it is not a good low-light performer, hence the grainy picture indoors. If you are committed to shooting indoors, but don’t like the light you have, consider picking up some clamp lights (~$10) and 100-watt bulbs from Home Depot and space them out at least ten feet back from your subjects. Don’t forget the other posters’ suggestion about white balance. If adding lights is out of the question, but you want great video, the real way to go is to shoot outdoors. The HC1 really shines with plenty of light.

    • #196688

      Decent HD cams for low light situations come at a price. Almost any are fantastic in daylight situations. My first mistake was buying what I thought to be a great prosumer camera, the HVR-HD1000u. Then I shot a wedding ceremony in a dim lit reception hall with no windows. After that I was about to shoot myself. Even “pro” cameras have their issues.

      So options are, as stated above, pump out the light any way you can. This can get bulky, but you will want lights anyhow if you do a lot of shooting.

      Only other option is to get a lower lux rated camera, but that will cost WAY more than lights. Plan on spending $3k+ on something that will handle low natural light “better”. I know the HDR-fx1000 is a great option with manual gain control on it, almost another MUST if you film in low lights so you can limit the amount of maximum gain. This camera also has a minimum lux rating of 1.5, which is very good in the HD world.

      For me with the wedding shooting, carrying lights around to all areas I need them on a moments notice is out of the question, so I HAD to upgrade my camera. My HDR-Z5U showed up yesterday. This is the same camera as the FX1000 I stated earlier, with mainly 2 more bells and whistles on it (XLR, and built in mount for a sony MRC1 CF recording unit) – but if you need to keep costs down, the FX1000 is the same camera with considerably lower price.

      I am still learning this Z5U and will be for a long time to come, and will probably be posting questions of my own here shortly – but I must say the trip around my house last night with minimal sporadic lamp lighting turned out fantastic, so long as I kept manual reigns on my gain.

      Of course if you really need to keep costs down, just stick with the lighting tips.

    • #196689

      Grain is almost always caused by low light causing the camera’s auto exposure to crank up the gain which adds noise which is “grain.” An economical solution is to buy several construction lights at Lowe’s or Home Depot. These are halogen lamps and put out quite a bit of light. Depending on the area you want to light, you will probably need at least 500-1000 watts of lamps. You might need more if you are trying to evenly illuminate a fairly large area. I have used these in a pinch and they work surprisingly well. You should white balance the camera, but it will look pretty good using the tungston or indoor setting.

      A cheaper trick that buys you one f-stop is to set the camera shutter speed to 1/30 of a second. Most cameras’ auto exposure algorithms only go down to 1/60, but they can be manually set lower. This is the equivalent of doubling the light or halving the gain. Below 1/30 you get noticeable motion artifacts.

      Finally, there is noise reduction software. If you edit your footage, this will definitely help. I have used a product by Neat and it works well. There are others, and they may be even better.

Viewing 7 reply threads
  • The forum ‘Consumer Camcorders’ is closed to new topics and replies.


Panasonic LUMIX GH5s w/ Leica lens

Given away to one lucky winner

Competition is open worldwide