Sony TRV900, TRV950, Canon GL2 image comparisons

by Phil Horvitz
July 21-27, 2002

I shot some low-light video from the GL2, TRV950, TRV900, and VX2000. The lighting was indirect from a window on a dark,overcast day. No other lighting was used. All images were hand-held. I attempted to grab the best frame from each using Imovie - which de-interlaced each frame. In each case, you'll note the relative lighting with the lens at two different positions. The 2nd image in each sequence represents the lens zoomed in to almost maximum range (on the Sony's, but not the Canon which has a little additional range). On the TRV900 and 950, I captured a 3rd set of images with the camera set to a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second. The image brightness of the GL2 seemed adequate without resorting to this step.

VX2000-1 TRV950-1 TRV900-1    GL 2-1
VX2000-2 TRV950-2 TRV900-2    GL 2-2a
TRV950-3a TRV900-3

You'll note a sharp drop off in brightness and color saturation on the TRV950 compared to either the GL2 or the TRV900 - Although the sharpness and resolution seem reasonably good. Also the TRV950 doesn't appear to have the same amount of video noise as the TRV900. The GL2 has good brightness and color saturation - although the images don't seem quite as sharp. (This may be due to not using a tripod - or capturing a bad frame - might need to repeat this test). The TRV950 looks similar to the TRV900 in sharpness, but has more video noise than either of the other cameras. It is also a lot brighter than the TRV950.

Here's a comparison of the TRV900 vs. TRV950 under a very strong sun. You'll notice that the TRV950 does a very good job when there is plenty of light available. The TRV900 was over-exposed a bit probably due to the dark background.

Sarah-TRV900 Sarah-TRV950

The final shots of the TRV900 and TRV950 were both done by setting the camera to manual and forcing the shutter speed to 1/30th of a second. The TRV950 needs this a lot more than the TRV900 - maybe that's why the TRV900 looks a bit over exposed?

By the way, in the GL2 photos, did you notice the bleeding of the red into the white text on the bottom of the can of compressed air - I know this is an extreme test - but the Sony's don't seem to do this quite as much as the GL2. Maybe this test isn't indicative of anything since no one should be taking video in light this poor. But it does illustrate the relative low-light capabilities of the cameras to some degree. I'd love to try a VX2000 - I assume it would kick the GL2 in every way.

I took the GL2 outdoors late afternoon around 6PM and noticed that when in the shade behind my house, the camera had a very hard time getting the color orange correct - I took a variety of towels from the house and put them on our deck. The camera did OK but it made the Orange/White much redder and deeper than the light orange it was. I tried going into Custom Settings (a very nice feature - it memorizes your settings and you can engage them by hitting a single button). and shifting the color balance by moving it almost all the way towards Green and away from Red - Also reduced the Color saturation. That helped and made the orange color much more true. But after doing this, all of the Yellows were messed up. I don't know if problems with auto-white balance are something to expect when in shade or not. I brought out the TRV900 and TRV950 and both of them rendered the colors true without any fiddling. Maybe this is going to be a problem with the GL2 (or at least the early production units) - or maybe I am not doing something right. But, after seeing this, I've definitely cooled on the GL2 and think the best solution may be the same as what [J.Beale] did - buy a VX2000 and use it for a while until they come out with something a lot better. Maybe it is wise to go with something that has proven itself over time.

Back to TRV950 notes.