Recently I have been reviewing my JVC GY-HM600 footage and I have to say at 0dB the camera copes very well with noise considering it’s only got 1/3″ chips.
All noise is subjective but ever since the Sony PMW-EX1 camcorders, noise has in general improved. The EX1 was the first camcorder to sport the new 1/2″ chipset and created a relatively noiseless picture, certainly on playback.
If you pause video footage the picture will look noisier, although we don’t appreciate it video is as organic as film in a lot of ways.
The photograph at the top of the page is the same picture above, as you can see at 100% the picture is fluffy due to noise but the noise is subjective depending how the picture is viewed. As a web picture at 655 pixels you would not be any the wiser, on a 27″ iMac at 100% it looks awful.
This is the problem with HD video in general, most of us view raw footage out in the field on a 3-9″ OLED screen so you are not picking up on noise till it’s viewed back on a 42″ HD screen.
My first rule of thumb is that no matter what I film with I start with 0dB, if light is still a problem I move over to ND filter 0 or clear, then check my shutter speed is 1/50th.
After these basic checks you have no option but to increase…
1. The gain or
2. The light on the subject or both
That’s why the new JVC GY-HM600 is a good run and gun camera because it lets in a lot more light at 0dB than the Canon XF305 as is clearly demonstrated above.
The second rule of thumb for video cameras is sensor size, if you want relatively noiseless gain then choose a camera fit for purpose, theres no point buying a 1/3″ camcorder then hoping it will cope well in a dark environment by shoving up the gain.
The smaller the chip size = The more noise it will produce beyond 0dB
The smaller the chip the more noisy it will become beyond 0dB. My Canon C300 produces remarkable pictures at 12dB but is cumbersome used in a run and gun mode.
Equally the Sony NEX-FS100 is also very good in low light so the larger size Super 35mm chip gives you the added bonus of shallow depth of field plus a lot less noise beyond 0dB.
It’s a trade off, larger chips give you larger cameras and lenses while smaller 3 chip cameras give you far neater camcorders with 23x lenses but at the cost of noise and larger depth of field.