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  • Low-Light Video Camera

    Hopefully someone here might be able to help me with this, especially any LP or PI professionals out there. I am trying to find a video camera that works well in low-light and has at least a 30x optical zoom. Lately, myself and some of my guys have been setting up in a vacant apartment that overlooks problem areas of the property where we have been having problems with open air drug dealing. My intention is to record the transactions involving residents buying and/or selling narcotics, which will ultimately result in an arrest and/or eviction. We are primarily doing this at night, which means I need a camera with a low-light setting. This past Thursday I purchased a JVC GR-D370. The 32x optical zoom was perfect to say the least, and the low-light (night) setting was amazing, but if either the camera moved or the subject moved it was terribly laggy. I have been doing PI surveillance for awhile now, but it has always been during the day so I have never encountered this problem before. So I guess my question would be... does anyone know of a good camera that has acceptable performance while using the low-light (night) setting? Budget is $500-600 max.
    "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu

  • #2
    Well, I do some amature film work on the side, so I've tinkered with a few different low-light situations... My current camera is a Sony, with their "Nightshot" technology.. Nothing too spectacular, as it's basically just IR filming using an IR emitter on the front of the camera... The downside is that the emitter only reaches out 10-15 feet... If your camera uses this same type of technology though, something you could consider is putting up a few IR floodlights... They're not terribly expensive, and the good ones stay pitch black to the naked eye... But with an IR-sensitive camera it looks like broad daylight..
    If you can't find a camera with the specific needs you have, it's at least something to consider.. Hope this helps.
    Corbier's Commandos - "Stickin it to the ninjas!"
    Originally posted by ValleyOne
    BANG, next thing you know Bob's your Uncle and this Sgt is seemingly out on his a$$.
    Shoulda called in sick.
    Be safe!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bridgegate
      Well, I do some amature film work on the side, so I've tinkered with a few different low-light situations... My current camera is a Sony, with their "Nightshot" technology.. Nothing too spectacular, as it's basically just IR filming using an IR emitter on the front of the camera... The downside is that the emitter only reaches out 10-15 feet... If your camera uses this same type of technology though, something you could consider is putting up a few IR floodlights... They're not terribly expensive, and the good ones stay pitch black to the naked eye... But with an IR-sensitive camera it looks like broad daylight..
      If you can't find a camera with the specific needs you have, it's at least something to consider.. Hope this helps.
      Not a bad idea actually. The range we are looking at is anywhere from 50-200 ft, depending on what part of the property I am watching. The low-light feature of the JVC didn't use IR, but basically left the exposure open longer to increase the lighting, hence the terrible lag. The severity of the lag is likely a software issue. I don't expect to find a low-light camera that eliminates all lag, but I need to be able to capture the transactions clearly. If I were to setup the IR floodlights, would they work with the Sony cameras with nightshot? This could potentially solve my lag issue altogether, so I might have to look into that if I can't find the camera i'm looking for.
      "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu

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      • #4
        Bridgegate, any idea if this portable IR floodlight would be easily visible to the individuals we are recording if we were to simply aim this along with the camera?

        portable IR Floodlights from bobtailnightvision.com
        Last edited by davis002; 08-19-2006, 09:35 PM.
        "To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill." Sun-Tzu

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        • #5
          IR floodlights have a tell-tale "soft red glow" from each LED unit. You can mitigate this by placing the emitter high up. You need to have near perfect line of sight to notice one of these things when their on, as well as the ability to know what they look like. I don't suggest turning the thing on and staring at it, but go back a couple dozen yards and see what the 'glow' looks like.
          Some Kind of Commando Leader

          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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          • #6
            Originally posted by davis002
            Bridgegate, any idea if this portable IR floodlight would be easily visible to the individuals we are recording if we were to simply aim this along with the camera?

            portable IR Floodlights from bobtailnightvision.com

            I'm not personally familiar with this brand, but as long as they're IR emitters they should work just fine with the Sony nightshot system... My camera just has a small (3 LED) IR emitter on the front that turns on, and the camera switches to nightvision mode... So I don't see why any other IR emitter wouldn't work.

            As for how visible they would be, like N.A. said, you almost have to be staring directly at them to see them, and even if you did, they give off a soft red glow... If it's inside an apartment, it could easily be mistaken for the readout on a VCR, or something like that...

            The dealers in our area are mostly users themselves, and they're pretty darn stupid... They probably wouldn't give an IR emitter a second thought, even IF they saw it... I don't know how the dealers are in your area, but it probably isn't much different..
            Corbier's Commandos - "Stickin it to the ninjas!"
            Originally posted by ValleyOne
            BANG, next thing you know Bob's your Uncle and this Sgt is seemingly out on his a$$.
            Shoulda called in sick.
            Be safe!

            Comment

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