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low light camcorder

What are some digital video cameras that excel in low-light conditions? Such as in a restaurant, or a club? I think I would like a MiniDV camcorder, but I'm open to suggestions. Maybe even a Microdrive based digital camcorder.

Wed Apr 20 22:45:48 PDT 2005

I recently did some research on low-light camcorders. And I recently replied to someone who asked a similar questions here:
Panasonic PV GS250 camcorder for $712 (free shipping) from

Here is my reply for your convenience. I hope it's helpful:

Low-light performance is my biggest concern.
Which model performs best in this regard?
Canon Xi, Pana 250 or Sony 350?

I just spent a lot of time researching low-light camcorders. The Sony DCR-PC350 has a 1/3" CCD that is capable of 2,048K effective pixels for video and 3,048K effective pixels for still. It has a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8 lens. It is the same CCD and lens that is used in the brand new DCR-HC90 camcorder that I spent a lot of time researching and recently bought . . . see The Road to Sony DCR-HC90 MiniDV Handycam

The Canon Optura Xi has a 1/3.4 inch CCD for an effective pixel count of 1.23 megapixels for video and 2 megapixels for still. Due to its smaller chip size, it is a lesser low-light performer. However, the Xi has a f/1.6 lens, which is a better low-light performer. So the low-light comparison between the DCR-PC350 and Xi is a toss-up at the specs level. You'll have to do some field tests for conclusion.

The Panasonic PV-GS250, on the other hand, has three 1/6" CCDs. Producing 640K effective pixels for video and 710 effective pixelsfor still. The 1/6" chips are no match for 1/3" and 1/3.4" chips. In addition 3CCD cameras uses a prism to split the color lightwaves onto the three individual chips. There is usually some light lose in the transition through glass/mirror. Most agree 3CCD camcorders are worse low-light performers than 1CCD camcorders. To make up for lack of low-light performance, good 3CCD camcorders must use large chips with good lens. And you can see that PV-GS250 utilizes a f/1.6 lens, which is decent. Though I'm not convinced that the 1/6" chips will match the performance of the 1/3" and 1/3.4" chips in the other two camcorder in low-light. A final field test will tell.

Chieh Cheng
Mon May 2 10:37:37 PDT 2005

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