Camcorder Lux Ratings:
How Well Does Your Camera
"See" in the Dark…?

Your camcorder Lux ratings are important to know if you're shooting a video...! Especially in low light conditions.

Knowing that your camera has enough light to shoot all of the clear and colorful video footage that you want is a key factor in making great looking videos...!

Let's take a look at how you use this…!

What is "Lux"...?

A good working definition...


(The Latin word for Light)...

Is a measurement of the amount of available light in a given area.

In photography and videography it is called the "ambient light". It is the available natural and/or artificial light that is already in the area...

Excluding any light the camera operator brings with him such as, a flash or other light source connected to the digital camera or camcorder.

In a typical scene or area there will be several sources of light energy, and those light sources will pour  light into that area.

The camera's image sensor will average the total amount of available light in the area and set the camcorder's video gain and/or aperture setting to record the best possible image based on that average.

Of course, if your digital video camera has manual controls for the setting of exposure then the cameraman can use his own judgment as to what the setting should be based on his knowledge of camcorder Lux ratings.

What Is Your Camcorder's Minimum Light Sensitivity Level…?

Camcorder specifications will almost always include the minimum light level at which your camcorder or digital video camera can produce an acceptable quality image.

This is called the Lux Rating. You will normally see it listed in the camera's spec sheet.

There are several factors that you have to account for to produce a good quality image in low light.

A good place to start is knowing how sensitive your camcorder is to low light levels and...

That it has the capability to adjust to changing light conditions. Knowing this information will help you to shoot great footage even in low light situations.

Still Cameras and Lux Ratings…

Still cameras don't use a Lux  rating...

As their ability to have longer exposure times lets them gather as much of the area's light energy as they need for a good exposure.

This allows a still camera to create great pictures in very low light.

A camcorder's maximum exposure time is set mainly by the frame rate  you are shooting at and is not variable...

Making it a little harder for the videographer to shoot in low light as he has much less control over exposure times than the still photographer.

So… For the videographer the main thing to remember about Lux ratings is…

* The lower the camcorder Lux rating = the better the camcorder or digital video camera will be at recording images in low light.

Some Other Things to Remember about Camcorder Lux Ratings…

A camcorder that can shoot at a low Lux level doesn't always mean that you will get outstanding video footage in all low light situations.

Factors such as:

*   Lens quality and light gathering ability (maximum aperture size)

*   Video gain capability (The ability of the camera to electronically boost the picture signal)

*   Frame-rate and camcorder resolution

*   Camera image sensor size and capability…

Just to name a few... All play a part in creating and capturing a quality image in low light.

To get an idea of how well your camcorder may shoot in low light…

Take a look at the table below and then check the specs on your camcorder to see where it stacks up.

Typical Visible Light Levels and Approximate Lux Values…

100000 - 130000 Lux
Direct sunlight
10000-20000 Lux
Indirect sunlight
10000 Lux
Overcast sky
500 Lux
Clear sunrise or sunset (early)
200-500 Lux
Home/Office lighting
80 Lux
30 Lux
Main road lighting
10 Lux
Twilight (early)
3 Lux
Residential street lighting
1 Lux
Candle (at one meter)
1 Lux
Deep twilight
0.27 Lux
Full moon
0.01 Lux
Quarter moon
0.001 Lux
Clear night with starlight
0.0001 Lux
Overcast night
0 Lux
No visible light (Images in Infra-red spectrum only)

Shooting in low light can be challenging but...

Knowing your camcorder Lux ratings is a good place to start when picking a camcorder or digital video camera that will shoot well in low light..!

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Have fun...!  Dan

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