Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › Cameras and Camcorders › Other Camcorders › Low light performane of HD camcorders shooting in SD?
- November 23, 2009 at 8:11 PM #43151maxminvideoParticipant
I know that HD camcorders in general require more light than comparable SD camcorders, due to the light being divided up among many more pixels, but what about HD camcorders when shooting in SD mode?
When shooting SD with a HD camcorder are the pixels in someway combined so that the light received by each one is added together to produce more light reception by the lesser amount of combined pixels?
Or when shooting SD are the extra pixels in essence thrown away, so regarding light levels/exposure you get the same as you would shooting HD?
I hope that isn’t phrased to idiotically, but to help I’ll explain why I’m asking. I shoot live rock shows, so low-light performance is very important. Currently we shoot with SD camcorders, which is fine since 90% of what we produce is for online distribution only. But HD is becoming more and more the norm, and we’d like to produce more content with a high enough quality for DVD distribution or even just higher quality online distribution.
So I’m looking into getting HD camcorders, but at least for times when I know that HD is not required I’m wondering if I can shoot with them in SD mode and get the improved low-light performance that you do from SD cameras?
The biggest factor as far as light performance goes is the camcorder’s amount and size of sensors. An HD camcorder with a 1/4″ CMOS sensor will almost definitely retain more light than a 1/6″ CCD on a standard definition camcorder. SD camcorders will generally retain more light, as each pixel is more highly exposed.
Good questions. I’ve actually thought of this myself, but from my own knowledge base, it seems that every camcorder records the amount of pixels which its sensor is destined. SD video shot on an HD camcorder will most likely be recorded with the number of lines given and then “down-convert” to an SD resolution. From what I’ve heard about the Canon HV30, it’s a High-definition camcorder that performs virtually the same with light in both HD and SD modes.
You ‘get what you get’ whether shooting with HD or SD as far as the light gathering chip goes. The only ways to get ‘more light in’ is to have a ‘faster lens’ and or have a chip that allows for higher gain. If you’re using one of these dinky consumer ‘bricks’ fuggeddaboutit! If you’re using a low-level to mid-level pro camera a wide-angle lens with its larger apeture (i.e. ‘faster’) will let a bit more light in.
However, what you’re ultimately dealing with is the video camera’s ISO rating which for all practical purposes is the camera’s ‘film speed’. The higher the ISO number the lower light levels you can shoot in. Most of the prosumer to mid-level pro cam’s run in the 300 – 340 ISO range and 2-3 levels of gain will ‘push’ the ISO up 2 – 2 1/2 stops. Of course more gain means more grain.
Right now, the kings of ‘low-light’ shooting are hands down the DSLR cams. Canon, Nikon and Sony have rigs that can boast a no-low grain image in the 3200 – 6400 ISO range. Upper limits for the 5D Mk II run around 24k ISO whereas Sony’s latest rig can hit (wait for it…) 100k ISO!
No consumer rig at low-light can get into the State where those cameras operate with a marriage visa and diplomatic creditials!
I am trying out a canon 5D mark ii with the lens kit…I was recently told that low light performance is based more on the lens being used (f-stop) then the camera itself. Basically that the mark ii was overkill and I would be better off with a the new panasonic lumix with a 50mm lens with low apature rating; thoughts about this?
go try out a Pentax kx dslr with a 50mm 1.4 lens. This camera beat every aps sized dslr for low light performance.
the Pentax k7 if you need the mic input….
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