Help !!! Need advice on extreme low-light shooting.

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    • #42168
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Hey folks,

      I work with a local State Nuisance alligator trapper and need some advice on a good (under 5 grand if possible) exteme low light broadcast quality camera. About 90% of our hunts occur during the middle of the night, and I can’t use any lighting until after the gator already has a harpoon in it for obvious reasons. This kind of stinks since most of the excitement occurs during the time the gator is stalked by the trappers.
      We were using a Sony 8mm handi-cam w/ low light which works alright, but it won’t let you switch to manual on most of the functions. I have heard that the Panasonic WV-D5000 and WV-D5100H were some of the best extreme low lux cameras during their era and have been looking at them online. I could really use some advice in this area regarding which style of VTR to go with. I know both cameras were originally used with SVHS VTRs, but I was wondering if there is any reason I could not just use a Sony Umatic VTR with these cameras since the recorders are more plentiful, and yield a much higher quality image.
      Now, on to digital video. I would really like to pick up a good digital camera for extreme low light shooting and would really appreciate any help anyone out there can give me. I would like to stay below 5k for the camera and accessories if possible. I have checked out the Panasonic AG-60DVC and will go that route if necessary since it does have the zero lux ir mode, but I am hoping to avoid that if possible due to the b&w images produced when shooting in ir mode.

      Any thoughts or observations would be greatly appreciated.

      Thanks,
      Steve

    • #177506
      AvatarTomScratch
      Participant

      Hi,
      It took years for digital to catch up to analog in the low light department. And I’m not sure that tape, in either format, can yet compare with film, outside of extravagantly priced equipment. So my first thought is, have you considered shooting in 16mm film, for which very fast film speeds are available? Rentals should not be that steep. Active 16mm cameras are typically workhorses and look it, so you would not have to worry about a little marsh splash here and there.
      I really don’t know how seriously to take lux specs on digital cameras. If you can rent your target videocam to test it out, even for $75 to $150 per day, it may be worth it.
      This is how I ended up buying the Sony VX2100. (Half of 5 grand.) The spec says 1 lux. I shoot bands and other poorly lit events and night time scenes in general. When I manually set the shutter at one-thirtieth or one-fifteenth (normal being one-sixtieth), I have gotten stunningly clear noise free shots. The lightling in the video is dramatically brighter than seen by the naked eye.
      Watch out for them gators!
      REGARDS … TOM

    • #177507
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      I appreciate the help. I’ve already checked everywhere here in Pensacola I could think of to try and rent some high-end video equipment so I could take it out at night and play, but pickings are pretty slim here.

      I’ll have to check into it and see if anyone in town rents 16mm gear.
      😀

    • #177508
      AvatarTomScratch
      Participant

      Pensacola! A long shot… You’ve got some military installations in that area. Contact the AV staff (try the Public Affairs Office), indicating you are a public sector employee and need some advice. Officially, (I believe) they will not be able to do a gator field trip. However, the AV staff usually has enthusiasts for which the AV field is more than a job. Find the right specialist and you might be able to get some good tips, including resource info about local rentals, etc. You might find a military guy/gal who free lances and has incredible gear. You might even find someone who would volunteer on their own time, just because of the adventure aspect of the deal. Good luck!
      REAGARDS … TOM

    • #177509
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Hey Tom,

      Good idea! We actually end up doing a lot of trapping work on the panhandle military bases. We get a few here and there at NAS Pensacola, but mostly on Eglin Air Force base. The Air Force doesn’t like the idea of gators in all the runway runoff retention ponds, which is too bad because the gators keep the bird population down, but then I guess if I were a pilot, I wouldn’t want to try to swerve around a 12 foot gator in the middle of the runway while I was trying to take off and land either. We have a really good relationship with all the military bases down here, I’ll have to put the word out with them. Thanks pal.

      Steve

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