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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.
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?
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.