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Panasonic HC-V800

A quick review of the Panasonic HC-v800 camcorder compared with a Nikon D7200 DSLR when used in low light conditions.

Both cameras are fitted with a 29mm lens, both are using the same lighting. The Nikon is at ISO25600 and the Panasonic on HD mode, I've also got a Hoya Digital UV filter fitted to both cameras to act as a lens protector and both have a shallow shroud (to keep some water off the optics)

The Nikon should be a lot better because of the much larger and better quality sensor, also the optics are better quality and has a larger front element. The downside: the Nikon was about three times the cost of the Panasonic.

The Panasonic is advertised and marketed as having a sensor that is larger than the average camcorder and is set up for low light filming - should we take a look at just how the two compare in the lead mine?

Having lost the valve from my carbide lamp (whilst tipping out the water at the end of making the 'Carbide vs Xenon' movie) I got hold of another one of a more modern design, this one has the valve adjustment lever soldered onto the spindle that can't be wound all the way out. This is the first time this lamp has been lit after having serviced it at home (cleaned the nozzle and new filter etc). I pre-filled it with a spoon full of calcium carbide before setting out the the mine for testing and making this movie. (making sure the chambers were completely dry first!).

The lamp I'm using here is a 'Premier - made in England' lamp of which seems to be a really common or popular design. The lamp is quite small and light weight and would easily fit onto a helmet via the hanging bracket on the back. One of the things I noticed on this one though was just how hot the lamp got during use, especially the bottom where the carbide was reacting with the water - in the end it was too hot to touch. My older lamp ('Carbide vs Xenon') was much heavier gauge brass which acted as a heat sink making the lamp easier to handle. Shame the valve is now missing in action!


Having dug out the old carbide lamp I decided to make a quick movie comparing the light output of the carbide to the modern xenon lamp.

Obviously the xenon blows the socks off the carbide for being tremendously bright, but it does have its drawbacks (battery consumption of 2.5 hours over the carbide of around 4 hours per spoon full (given a good supply of water to keep the reaction going). The light quality from the carbide is just so soft and warm - much nicer and easier on the eye, it really casts lovely shadows and is actually very stable once the thing 'warms up'.

So I've made this video showing the two lamps; the camera was set to ISO 25,600 with an aperture of F4.0 to try and capture as much light as I could (given the restrictions of the wide [aka slow] lens that I had attached to the camera). See what you think of it.


I wasn't sure what was going to happen here when I decided to try making a 'proper' 360 degree movie so this is my first test of walking around a small dig site to test the equipment.

I've already hit a few problems of which I suspected would happen;

1. YouTube supports 360 degree movies but integrating it and making it work properly is nowhere near as smooth as I thought it would be - in the end I've cobbled together some code to make the movie stream from my server rather than YouTube (it ended up being quicker for me).

2. Lighting an underground 360 movie without creating a massive hot spot of light or 75% darkness is near on impossible at the moment - I've got a solution to this but I need time to make a fixture to hold the gear first. (time is a problem at the moment!)

Latest update: More 360 degree places added!. Loads of movies recently added in the Weardale area including Groverake, Skears and Frazers Hush mines.

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Safety Notice: To enter a disused mine is extremely dangerous and my result in serious or fatal injury, recovery from an accident would place rescue persons involved in serious danger and in the event of a ground collapse, recovery may be impossible. You should not enter a disused mine or working without training under any circumstances. Respect private property and seek permission from the respective land owner where required, always act responsibly and always inform someone else of your whereabouts.

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