Camcorders forum

Question

how do I improve video shot at low light levels on camcorder

by laurencewithau / August 21, 2012 6:41 PM PDT

Hi, I have a Panasonic HCV700 camcorder which I am learning to use.In bright light the video looks great, but I wish to make videos of people dancing at a club, where the light levels are very low. I did a practice run and the video was much too dark. Is there a technique I can learn or an attachment I can buy? I'd be grateful for any advice.

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All Answers

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Answer
The Panasonic HCV-700
by boya84 / August 22, 2012 6:10 AM PDT

is on the mid-range of consumer camcorders.

The single 1/2.33" CMOS imaging chip is an OK size - but the 46mm lens filter diameter is on the small side. This means not much light will get into the camcorder for the imaging chip to deal with, resulting in the poor low-light behavior you experienced.

You might be able to open the aperture a bit more, but this could result in the shutter speed slowing and result in "ghosting". How to do this using the options in the camcorder's menu will be in the camcorder manual. If you do not have the manual, download it from Panasonic
http://service.us.panasonic.com/OPERMANPDF/HCV700-MUL.PDF

If good low-light performance is your main requirement, then you need a camcorder with a larger lens diameter to let more light in. My Sony HDR-FX1 and HDR-FX1000 have a 72mm lens diameter and large 3CCD and 3CMOS imaging chips, respectively, and they do great in low-light at clubs. As you have discovered, ANY camcorder can do well in daylight... You will notice that as the lenses and imaging chips get bigger, the cost of the camcorder goes up.

The only "camcorder modification" I can think of would be to add a video light. Since the HCV-700 has no accessory shoe, you need to add one with a camera bracket like
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/734090-REG/Vello_CB_500_CB_500_Dual_Shoe_Bracket.html
along with a video light like
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/743442-REG/Bescor_LED_70_LED_70_Dimmable_70W_Video.html
The "throw" of this particular light is probably useful to about 15 feet, so if that is not enough, you'll need a different (brighter) light.

I have found that the club environment can result in recording fast action. It is too bad that you decided to get an AVCHD compression camcorder for this. Fast action and video compression don't get along very well. I suggest you always record in 1920x1080/60p or HA mode as this should help limit the compression artifact issues.

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low light levels
by laurencewithau / August 22, 2012 7:51 AM PDT
In reply to: The Panasonic HCV-700

thank you boya84. having read your reply, I've been looking at camcorder lights. On ebay there's a used Paglight C6 kit advertised as being in very good condition and with a current bid of £31. Do you think it would be suitable for filming in a club? Or should I go for the one you recommend? Anyway, thanks again for the information.

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The Paglight 6 kit
by boya84 / August 22, 2012 3:05 PM PDT
In reply to: low light levels

I am familiar with is a halogen bulb unit with a hefty (three pound) rechargeable NiCad battery pack.

Halogen lights are a full spectrum light and can be very bright - and can get hot. The heat is not a good idea in close quarters with inebriated people. Carrying around a 3 pound (1.36 kg) weight for a few hours even on a belt could be interesting along with the power cable to the camcorder-mounted light. You might want to look into how long the battery lasts and recharge time. Depending on the unit, the NiCads can get a "memory" and not last as long compared to when they are new. They should be totally run-down before recharging. Very different than Lithium Ion batteries which don't have quite the memory issue. Halogen bulbs need replacement after "X" hours of use and we don't know how much use your eBay unit has seen. I don't do eBay - and for around $50 for what originally was $200 seems like a good deal. Almost "too good to be true" - be very careful. Please understand - I am not bashing this light, but you should know what you are getting into with it. I have not used PAG products specifically, though I have used similar halogens (and tungsten) from Anton-Bauer, Frezzolini and NRG Research.

I was not necessarily recommending the low end LED light I suggested, but it is LED so very little heat. If I were to recommend a camera-mount LED unit, it would probably be one from Litepanel. More expensive, but correspondingly reliable, brighter and a fuller "fill-in". LED units use less power so typically can use batteries in the unit rather than bulky belt-worn battery packs. Some of the lower-end non-Litepanel units can throw a blue hue, but use of the camcorder's white balance resolves that. There are add-on lens/gels that can take care of the bluish tint, too.

In either case, having a dimmer to control the brightness is very useful but not a show stopper if the light does not have that ability. Barn doors are handy, too. And using any video light will be better than none at all.

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camcorder lights
by laurencewithau / August 22, 2012 10:35 PM PDT
In reply to: The Paglight 6 kit

Hi boya84. Thanks very much for the info.I can see it would be awkward to use the Paglight in a dance hall, because of the heat and the weight. The idea is to promote the dance, here in Wales, by uploading the videos to Facebook for friends of dance regulars and other people to view. I'll let you know if it happens and I'll give you the Facebook access details. You can see, then, whether the on-camcorder light, whatever it turns out to be, works. I've been looking at Litepanels LED lights. There's one called the Litepanels micro, but I can't work out whether it's suitable for low light levels in the sense of having sufficient 'throw'. I take that to be the distance illuminated. There's a Pro 2 LED light on ebay and elsewhere with a throw of 35 feet, and I suppose I'd want it to be at least 10 feet.
The Paglight battery lasts about 2 hours, by the way.I just wish i knew more about it all, but I'm learning.Perhaps I'll just ask them at the dance to switch the lights full on during filming, and hope that the dancers won't get coy about displaying themselves.
Thanks again for all your help. If you've any more advice it would be much appreciated.Wales is in the U.K, by the way, and it is not a place that the sun often visits, so even in the open air it's useful to have extra lighting.

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Paglight C6
by mamalekimsn / September 24, 2012 12:39 AM PDT
In reply to: camcorder lights

Hi to Hi boya84 and laurencewithau

I'm also new in this matter... I was very interested in this review from both... Because I buy at first in my life an light for video on an second hands market in Antwerp... Belgium. I seem to be one of the lucky one... The battery Ni-Cd hold the light for 2 hour 100% working. I have understand the disadvantages of halogen and Ni-CD. It is truth... Ni-CD hase an memory effect... The battery work as I mentioned well but when the halogen lamp come useless than is it over with filming with the light. The heavy battery issue is also negatieve... But as I understand: Paglight change the Ni-CD to NIMH and are lighter now. Also they going to make an new model of the C6 were the ledlight and the Litthium battery going to be standard.

I have learn something from this discution... But I have 1 question for Mister Boya84... Is the Ebay paglight still there to buy? Because... I have no lucky: My paglight C6 has no accessory (ring) with diffuser, dichroic or bardoors.

My search on Internet is useless because it are new packs and on the other hand is it not easy to find only the accessory. The accessory new to buy by Packlight is to expensive so therefore my interest.

For now ..; I make on my own wit carton and some color plastic... red and white and find so my way...

Kind regards to all likes filming.... Sorry... I'm Dutch!

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for mamalekimsn...
by boya84 / September 24, 2012 7:17 AM PDT
In reply to: Paglight C6

I do not do eBay, so I have no advice for you there. Sorry.

I would contact PAG directly regarding accessories
https://www.paguk.com/catalog/45 (barndoors, diffusers, etc.)
and
https://www.paguk.com/catalog/48 (NiMH belt battery)
for the C6...

And no apologies needed (for being Dutch or anything else). We are all in it for the fun of video. While I certainly do not know nearly as much as many, I feel fortunate to know enough to help others...

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LED photo lights
by Terfyn / February 4, 2013 2:26 AM PST
In reply to: for mamalekimsn...

Try the LED lights form Amazon. I have a 126 LED light which I find very good, it has colour gels which give warmth to a rather white/blue light.
The HC-V700 is actually quite good in low light but it may need a boost from an edit program. I filmed a Halloween train trip at night with only the carriage lights to help, it boosted very well using VideoStudio Pro X5. The result was a bit grainy but usable.
The V700 does have an accessory shoe, it is fitted into a slot above the battery.

I would not light from the camera out of choice but put the light about 3ft to one side. This will give contrast and defining shadow. Direct lighting can kill definition.

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