Camcorder Images in Low Light

Elura2, GL1, PC110, TR7000, TRV720, TRV900, VX2000

by John Beale, Oct. 12 2001

I shot normal video (not still frames, and not progressive-scan) using several different digital video cameras in "typical" indoor home light levels at night. The setup is illustrated above: I have a single 42W compact fluorescent light with lampshade (supposedly equivalent to a 150 W incandescent). The light is about six feet away from my position on the couch. At my face I measured EV 3.4 incident exposure (26 LUX) with my Sekonic L-508 lightmeter. As you see below, some cameras are better at white balance with this fluorescent light source than others. (AWB=auto white balance). Many of the models do not have manual white balance. The GL1 does but it looked even worse in this light, a sort of virulent yellow-green (but note, the GL1 colors can look great with incandescent or natural light.) All cameras were placed on the same tripod, and all were in auto exposure and auto-focus mode.

Each camera was put in the same position at maximum wide angle, which gives a slightly different field of view from each camera due to differing focal lengths (GL1 is widest, PC110 least wide). I captured full-motion video in tape playback via firewire to the computer, and exported a full-frame 720x480 bitmap from each camera. I then took a 160x160 section of each image and expanded 2x to show the details and problems more clearly. Click on the image to see the original frame. You can see how much less noise the VX2000 shows than the others, in the same light.


Canon Elura2mc  f/1.6 +12dB 1/60 sec (AWB)

Canon Elura2mc  f/1.6 +12dB 1/30 sec (AWB)

Canon GL1  f/1.6 +12dB 1/60 sec (AWB)

Sony PC110  f/1.8 +18dB 1/60 sec (AWB)

Sony TR7000  f/1.4 +15dB 1/60 sec (AWB)

Sony TRV720  f/1.7 +12dB 1/60 (AWB)

Sony TRV900 f/1.6 +15dB 1/60 (manual w.b.)

Sony VX2000  f/1.6 +12dB 1/60 (manual w.b.)

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