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Pete, Technician
Category: TV
Satisfied Customers: 19724
Experience:  Over 16 years of experience in the Electronics and IT industries.
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Hi I am looking at buying a new video camera that takes the

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Hi I am looking at buying a new video camera that takes the small CD'S as its recording media. The problem I am having at choosing one is that I have had cameras in the past that were only good in bright sun eg summers day but when you got them in low light or inside a house the picture seems very grainy and noisy also they have a hard time to focus on things. what do I need to look for when choosing a video camera to know I am getting a camera good in low light and good a focusing
Hi there,

Thanks for requesting me.

TO choose a video camera that operates well in low-light conditions, you will need to consider the following criteria:

Lux Rating
The most important specification when attempting to assess the low-light capabilities of a camcorder is the device's lux rating. This defines the lowest light level at which the camcorder is capable of giving an acceptable image. Lux is a measure of available light, which means that for the purposes of comparing camcorders, a lower lux rating means the camcorder will perform better in low-light conditions.
Minimum lux is an important consideration for camcorders. Unlike still cameras, which can vary their exposure time in response to lower light levels, exposure is fixed by the camcorder's frame rate. If a higher lux rated camcorder is purchased for use in low light, no other features of the device will be able to adequately compensate for the higher lux rating.

Lens Size
After lux rating, the next most important indication of a camcorder's potential as a low-light device is its lens size. Larger lenses make it possible to initially gather more light for the machine to process. Camcorders with average sized lenses are more likely to struggle when used in low-light conditions no matter how good the technology housed inside.

Aperture Size
The camcorder aperture controls the amount of light that is able to enter the machine. Models which have a greater aperture size are able to process more of the available light. Generally, camcorders with larger lenses also tend to have larger aperture sizes. When comparing two devices, where all else is equal, preference should be given to the machine with the larger aperture dimension.

Imager Size
An imager is basically a camera on a microchip and is located directly behind the lens. There are two basic types of camcorder imager available. These are known as CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) and CCD (charge coupled device). Both imagers convert light into an electronic signal, but they do so in slightly different ways.
CMOS imaging chips were originally developed for use in mobile phones, primarily due to their low power consumption. Until recently, CCD imagers were the preferred choice of camcorders manufacturers due to their superior image quality. However, with the might of mobile phone manufacturers behind it, CMOS imaging technology has now started to emerge as the imager of choice for the majority of camcorder manufacturers.
In the spec sheet, imagers are usually described by both their size and the number of pixels that are on board. Of the two specifications, imager size is the most important consideration to anyone looking for a camcorder with good low-light ability. The larger the imager size, the more light the camcorder is able to collect and process. Therefore, preference should be given to camcorders which have larger imagers, all else being equal.

Optical Zoom
Camcorders which have an optical zoom facility will work better than those which rely solely on a digital zoom. When an optical zoom is used, the whole of the imager continues to be employed in creating the image. When a camcorder is digitally zoomed it concentrates on a smaller area of the imager to produce this effect. In low-light conditions this means some of the light getting to the imager is wasted. By comparison, all the useable light that falls onto the imager of a device which has an optical zoom is available to be processed.

Video Lamp
If the camera is intended primarily for close range low-light filming, the solution may be to select a camcorder which has a good-quality video lamp facility.
On board camcorder video lamps tend to be relatively low power affairs, useful only in marginal light conditions or at very close range. More powerful external devices can be mounted to most camcorders and offer a far superior field of light, up to a distance of about two metres.
The best external camcorder video lights are multiple LED models, which are capable of producing many hours of flicker free light from their own internal power source. As LED light can be rather stark, it is worth looking for models which include filters. Video lamp filters can be used to both soften and warm the output light.

Frame Rate
Some camcorders allow the operator to lower the frame rate in low-light conditions. This increases the amount of light that can enter the camera for each frame, allowing the imager more opportunity to produce a reasonable quality image.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

one thing i forgot to ask was what are video cameras called that take the mini size DVD'S and could you explain what the difference between CCD and CMOS is and what one is the best. and is there anything else i need to know so i know i am getting a good Camera


Thank you

Hi David,

most manufacturers call these cameras "miniDVD camcorders".

CCD (charge coupled device) and CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensors are two different technologies for capturing images digitally. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses giving advantages in different applications. Therefore it is impossible to say which one is best.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

sorry for not rating your question sooner but i was still keeping this question open until i was 100% sure i had finished hope thats was ok

Hi David,
Yes, that's fine, and you can still ask followup questions if you need to :)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you just 1 thing i wondered is at the moment i have a Panasonic SDR-H81 from what you told me above about buying a new camera why is the one i already have rubbish at night and in low light

Overall, the camera you have at the moment is designed towards shooting in normal light conditions.
Most people will use a separate camera for low light conditions - cameras will be designed towards low or high light environments, and any compromise in design to suit both environments means that you don't get the best of either.

For low light shooting, a DSLR like the Canon EOS 550D is very good:
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

hi on the Panasonic SDR-H81 camcorder i have developed a HDD fault where it tries to read the HDD but it wont is there something i can do to fix it Thank you

If the SDR-H81 is unable to read the HDD, you can try reformatting it to rebuild the file structure.
To do this, Select [HDD] in [MEDIA SELECT]. Press the MENU button, then select [SETUP] - [FORMAT HDD] - [YES] and
press the joystick to confirm. During formatting, do not turn this unit off, and ensure the battery is sufficiently charged.
Also be aware that if the HDD is formatted,then all the data recorded on the HDD will be erased.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi once i managed getting the camera to come on i tried a format but ir just sat with an egg timer going round and around and nothing happened, but since trying that all that happens when i power up the camera now is nothing just a power light comes on and at times the access HDD lights up and sometimes you hear a click from the HDD itself but the lcd screen stays black

Ok, that sounds like the camera has a fault, either with the HDD itself, or possibly with the power supply circuitry if it won't even turn on.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i done a format and it says HDD ERROR OCCURRED PLEASE TURN UNIT OFF AND TRY AGAIN so i did and it Happend again

Ok, that definitely points towards a fault with the HDD then.
The next step would be to have it replaced.