The amount of camcorder light
sensitivity needed when you shoot in low light will depend on camera design, camera adjustments and on how
light or dark the subject and surroundings are.
Here is some information that can help you determine your camcorders sensitivity to light…!
Two Ways to Control Camcorder Light Sensitivity…
All video camera systems must have a certain amount of light to
produce good, clear pictures. But, what if the subject or surroundings are not bright
enough for you to record good images…?
There are two basic ways to control the light sensitivity of your camcorder or video camera…
#1. ADJUST THE CAMERA…
Basically… On the higher-end video cameras… you can do one of two things:
- Open the lens aperture (f-stop) to let in more light or…
- Increase the electronic video gain.
#2. IMPROVE THE LIGHTING…
- Move to or bring in better natural light…
- Use artificial lighting… Such as lamps, flash units etc.
In this article I’ll go a bit more in depth on controlling your camcorder’s light sensitivity through the use of the video gain control.
Let’s Take a Look at Adjusting the Video Gain Control…
Using the Digital Camera’s Video Gain Control…
On higher-end cameras increasing the video gain may be a solution where there is insufficient light
and no way to bring in more natural or artificial lighting… Although the camcorder or video camera’s image sensor itself still lacks
light… This electronic boost will strengthen the picture signal output (brightness) and increase the camcorder light sensitivity without affecting a change in F-stop or shutter speed.
Most high-end cameras include two or more manual positions to
increase the camcorder light sensitivity (video gain) and many have automatic video gain
The basic rules for using the camcorder’s video gain controls are:
* A +6 dB increase (the mid-point on
most cameras) will double (2x) the video gain (brightness).
* A +12 dB increase (the high-point on most cameras)
will quadruple (4x) video gain (brightness).
Another Way to Think of the Video Gain Option is in F-Stops…
You may be more familiar with working in f-stops. You can do a rough conversion between dB and f-stops … It roughly goes like this…
- +6 dB = (Adds) 1 F-Stop of light…
- +12 dB = (Adds) 2 F-Stops of light…
- And if +6 dB is like adding one F-Stop then…
- +3 dB is like adding 1/2 of an F-Stop
- +2 dB is like adding 1/3 of an F-Stop.
So… That’s a rough scale.
How about Image Quality?
One of the problems with using the video gain control is that your picture quality may suffer… Here’s just a quick breakdown…
6 dB boost would give you acceptable quality images at low light levels.
- A high gain of 12 dB would allow you to obtain a
recognizable image, but the quality of the image may be poor.
You have to work with these values a bit but… When you’re shooting in low light it can be valuable data to know!
Here is a bit more on what I’m talking about when you’re using your gain control!
Considerations on Using Your Video Gain Option…
If you have this option in your camera features… It is best to keep your video camera’s video gain
to a minimum wherever possible because even though the camera’s light
sensitivity is better… You will notice that turning up the video gain increases picture
“noise” or “grain” (those little black specks you see
dancing around the screen sometimes) and the picture sharpness also
So Just Remember This Little Rule…
* The more you increase the video gain… The noisier (grainier) the video image gets.
However… There will be times when high image quality is less important than getting the “right” shot. At those times… the video gain control for light
sensitivity will come in handy! A lot of times it’s a trade-off but… After you work with it a bit… you’ll become expert at knowing how much gain you can use and still get the shot right.
this helps you understand controlling light sensitivity using the video gain control a bit
more so that you’ll be able to get the “right shot” …
Even in low-light…!
Have fun…! Dan (Editor)
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