Shooting in low-light conditions - HELP

Anonymous (not verified)

I need to shoot in a reception room with no windows and low-light conditions. My Canon XF300 has a very good Gain feature that allows me to shoot pretty good video in dark conditions but I'm afraid of the image quality being affected by the noise it creates. So my question is: Am I better off using a light mounted on my video camera or should I use the Gain feature? The down side of the camera-mounted light is that it flattens the subjects and takes away the perspective. Thanks for you input!

EarlC's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

Lights for sure. The UPSIDE being no grainy, colorless, sepia-tone footage, and some decent color in the final outcome. Light IS video! Period!

D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

what Earl said, that is why I named my company "Light Expressions"!

but don't assume you need to have that light on camera.... light your subject with off camera lighting... if you can.... for best results!

Jaimie's picture
Last seen: 5 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: 10/14/2009 - 1:25pm

If you can, use two lights and have an assistant carry the second one to light the background a little put back the perspective. Also, be sure you are using the lowest f-stop and slowest shutter speed (but not below 1/30 of a second) you camera cam provide. You may have to use manual settings to reach them. Finally, be sure you don't shoot into any backlights as this will make the camera's auto exposure control (assuming you are on auto) reduce the exposure making everything dark

MediaFish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 05/25/2011 - 2:06pm

I have the baby brother XF100 and recently at a reception in New York we used it in low light and it preformed like a champ - very pleased with the results which were similar to the sample you provided. We did some work in post and the client loved the results unfortunately it was a high profile client who has rejected my request to post a sample of the work we did for them at the reception.

Jeff Media Fish Productions

D0n's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Joined: 11/09/2007 - 5:28pm

for those types of scenes, I resort to using a chinese lantern with video light on boom pole held by an assistant for a main light and an on camera light heavily diffused for a fill light and I start with an exposure that is set to not blow out the highlights from the candles etc.... but that is for my hdr hc1, not a low light performance camera... this allows me to keep my hdr sr12 rolling for the wide shots. now I also add in some available light footage off my d-slrs as well....

Charles Schultz's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: 10/25/2010 - 10:38pm

You can use Majic Bullet De-noiser in After Effects and other programs to remove the grainy shots if you have to.

Luis Maymi's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
Joined: 09/26/2008 - 4:58am
Plus Member

For low light situations, in uncontrolled environments, I rely on my on camera light (Sony HVL-20DW2). Boosting the gain makes the video look noisy, but it still works in many situations. Of course there will be times when gain will not be able to see the image, so for this situations on camera lights are life saviors. Its not a waste of resources to have one just in case.


"The meaning of a movie are the characters, the life of the movie is the music, but the magic is in the editing" –

WesBrodsky's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: 01/23/2011 - 5:10pm


Has anyone thought of a system with two mirrors to move the beam of the camera-mounted light slightly off the axis of the camera lens? It might be bulky, and require counterbalancing; but might not be too bad if it is all mounted on a tripod.

If you have to walk around with this kludge; perhaps combining it with a body-mounted image stabilization system would help.






H. Wolfgang Porter's picture
Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: 12/11/2008 - 7:54pm
Plus Member Moderator


As a last ditch, you can try using small battery powered 'tap lights' or LED Tea Lights. For less than $20, you can get some extra light on the table to help light your subjects. You'll have to scout out how many tables will be present and do some tests to see how many lights you'll need per table to get a decent exposure level, yet not interfere with the guests. You'll have to white balance for your tea lights as well. Using this method will help you save battery life on your on-camera light as you use it primarily for stand-up interviews and to light presenters. Just a thought.

Tea Lights

H.Wolfgang Porter, Composite Media Producer Dreaded Enterprises Unlimited, Inc.

hayden i watson's picture
Last seen: 3 years 3 months ago
Joined: 12/02/2014 - 10:55pm

Set gain limiter to 12 gain then put gain switch to auto Put Iris Wide Open On Manuel don't go past half zoom it will show more gain. IT WORKED GREAT ay my last reception and the dance floor with only color flashing lights was epic soft very film like .. I used no added lighting