"Excellant Low Light Cam"5.0 starson by Jeffw915
Pros: Excellant Low Light
Great Image Stabilization
Great Still Pics
Cons: None as of Yet
Summary: --To begin, I am new into the HD video, but am a techie and have done a lot of research. My primary objective was to get a camera that took good low light video, so video in my living room with the kids with normal evening lighting looked good. Also important to me was ease of use so my wife can easily grab it and catch the kids and also a small size for ease of carrying to Disney and such.
--After doing a lot of research, I initially bought the Panasonic HDC-HS250. One of the popular camcoder web sites claim the new Panasonic cameras with 3 sensors to be the best low light cameras.
--Well, I had nothing to compare it against, but I was VERY disappointed in the video taken in my living room with normal incandesant lighting with this Panasonic. I spent about 1 week learning all the camera settings, and no mode or setting improved the low light video. It was fuzzy and grainy with washed out color. Based on the reviews of this CAM being so good at low light, I was beginning to wonder if I just had my expectations to high for this technology, and this was about as good as you get in this range of camera.
--I was about ready to settle for this camera, and then this past Sunday I had family in town. After dinner I took a lot of video in the living room of the family. Apon playing it back I was just disgusted in the quality. I then saw the Sunday add for Best Buy which had this new Sony camera which claimed 2X better low light. I searched the internet for reviews, only finding initial reviews with no actual tests since the camera was so new.
--I decided to buy the Sony and compare it to the Panasonic. It still wasn?t dark but I took some video and pictures and toyed around with the menu system (I am a man so of course I didn?t read the manual!). I found the menu system easy to navigate, with nothing terribly hidden or buried in layers to access. There are some features that I found I will need to read up on, and the MY CAMERA feature very confusing, but I suspect will be very useful after I read up on it and learn how to use it.
--I hooked the camera to the HDMI of my 720P TV and was just FLOORED with the quality of the images and video! This is the feeling I hoped to have when I first watched the video from the Panasonic that I never had.
--OK, so it is around 7pm, still light out but no direct sun in the house. I have big windows so this presents a tricky backlighting issue for most cameras. The video and picture from this Sony were just a true as life. The camera handled the tricky lighting automatically with no manual backlighting adjustments. I couldn?t wait for dark to test the low light but I was really confident that I had a winner here.
--While waiting for dark I test the still pics in both video mode and normal camera mode. The pics were FAR superior to the other camera. I just bought a Nikon D5000 SLR, so I have pretty high standards for my pics now, and this camera takes very good pics in either mode. I am not sure if it has a faster shutter mode (probably is) because the pics were a little subject to blurring from movement, but over all they were as good or better then my old Cannon S45 5 MP camera that took some darn good pics.
--I was beginning to wonder what the reviewers meant by low light in their reviews. They had all types of fancy tests and terms which I am sure are good BUT please just tell me how the video in my living room at night will look with normal lighting! ! ! ! !
--So let me tell you this, this camera capture video in low light as good or better them my normal sight. The video of my daughter playing looked exactly like it did for real in that kind of lighting setting, all without setting a thing. Then there is LOWLUX mode should you need it which takes two taps to set while recording (I think this takes the camera from 60 frames to 30 frames and probably something else too). This setting is for extreme low light and works wonderfully. I even went into the girls room after they were sleeping. The only light was from the hallway light coming threw the doorway. My one daughter was camping in her sisters princess bunk which had hardly any light and I almost didn?t even see her there. I videoed her in auto mode and then turned on LOWLUX. It was amazing, I could see better through the camera than with my own eyes. When I played the video back I was surprised to see the my girl fell a sleep with her IPOD headphones on, which I couldn?t even see with my own eyes.
--I can also add that Sony has a new 3 way image stabilization technology in this CAM. I did a few zoom tests before it got dark and I can tell you that it also works FAR better than the other CAM.
--So in closing, this Camera has FAR surpassed my expectations. It has fabulous low light, great still pics, small and light, great image stabilization, VERY quick startup time, and super easy to use for my wife, with plenty of more advanced gadget settings for me to learn to use.