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Canon Vixia G60 - What is the base ISO ?

Casey415
Enthusiast

Question please. What is the base ISO of the Canon Vixia G60 camcorder? I cannot find this info by doing Google search or spec search. Thank you.

12 REPLIES 12

Tim
Authority

Casey415, 

The default is Auto ISO which varies by the exposure level in the scene and is determined based on the needs of the proper exposure level. 

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Hello again,

 

I'm not sure if either I didn't ask the question properly, or maybe you gave an answer for a different question??

 

My question is this: What is the base (or lowest?) ISO setting for the G60 camcorder? For example, might the base ISO be 100? or 200? 

 

Thank you!

See the post from Vortex media in this thread where Doug does an excellent job of explaining why camcorders aren't rated in ISO: https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-xf-series-4k-hd-camcorders/531355-no-iso-known-xf300.html

 

I am assuming you want to know the base ISO because the numerous sites that go nuts stressing the need to know the base ISO of a DSLR or mirrorless camera when shooting video.

 

Base ISO for your G60 corresponds to its gain setting of 0db on the gain menu of your camera.  Every 6 db increase in gain is effectively doubling the iso value so if base equivalent ISO is 200 increasing gain to 6db with your gain set control provides an equivalent to ISO 400.  Note that db is NOT a fixed standard but references the change from one value to another so the equivalent ISO of one camcorder set to 0db gain won't necessarily be the same as another model with the same 0db setting.  If you want to shoot at base ISO, then you need to choose a combination of lighting, aperture, and shutter speed that provides proper exposure with the gain set at 0db.

 

You can use your DSLR to get a pretty close approximation of your camcorder effective base ISO by focusing your camcorder on a static scene (preferably without a lot of contrast and very even lighting) and note what aperture and shutter speed it is using for correct exposure with 0 db gain.  Then set you aperture and shutter speed of your DSLR to the same settings and see where you need to set ISO to achieve a standard exposure.  Your camcorder and camera need to "see" exactly the same scene for this to be even reasonably accurate so frame them both the same.  Your results may be off a little but it should be close enough for your purpose of knowing the equivalent ISO of your G60.

 

If you have a light meter and a gray scale card, you can more accurately do this calculation but the result should be substantially the same as using your DSLR  I have a Gossen light meter and proper gray scale card but I have never bothered to do so with my XF-400. 

 

If you are trying for minimum noise, then go with a 0 db gain setting and adjust the other variables for a proper exposure at 0 db.  Increasing the gain of a camcorder is exactly like increasing the ISO of a DSLR, the signal level generated by the sensor doesn't change and the increased gain (aka ISO in digital camera terms) is done by amplifying the signal from the sensor resulting in degraded noise performance. 

 

Note that with a DSLR, the major factor impacting dynamic range is the ISO (aka gain) and best dynamic range generally does occur at base ISO.  With a camcorder, different programmable "scenes" use a different gain profile mask and these are designed to optimize different aspects but NOT all simultaneously (i.e. dynamic range, noise, etc.) so it is more than just gain level that impacts the quality of the resulting video.

 

I suspect the base ISO of your G69 is in the 200-320 range but test using your still camera as a reference and see what you calculate.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Hi Roger,

 

Thank you for your detailed input. It appears there's no easy answer to the question. Ideally, what I'm hoping for is to use my Sekonic 308XU light meter to give me an accurate incident light reading of a particular scene. But a prerequisite for the light meter is to enter an ISO value, such as 100, 200, etc, in addition to say the shutter speed (I usually set for 1/50th sec). Then press the button and the meter gives me an f stop value. I can then hopefully use the light meter reading for the G60 camcorder exposure setting. I believe my Sekonic meter also gives EV and LUX values, but I don't know how to translate that for the G60 camcorder exposure.

 

At this point, I'm simply looking at the G60 LCD screen to see the horizontal exposure bar values and make adjustments to the Gain dB dial accordingly until the exposure bar arrow goes to the middle point for "proper exposure". I also use the Zebra Pattern set for 70% to help determine whether to dial down the Gain dB setting if anything is blown out. I rather like the Zebra Pattern feature, it's similar to the blinking highlight warning indicator on my Nikon and Canon DSLRs. When I used to shoot weddings in the past, the blinking highlight indicator on my DSLRs gave me an immediate alert if the bride's wedding dress is over exposed which would represent 255 exposure value in Photoshop. So far it's been working out decently by using the G60's exposure bar and Zebra Pattern, but I would still prefer an accurate reference point as determined by an incident light meter.

Hi Casey,

 

You are welcome and it should be pretty easy to use your Sekonic 308 to establish an ISO setting to use. 

 

Set you G60 up with your desired shutter speed and with the gain set to 0 and adjust the F stop so that the Zebra pattern (and also critically view the results) provides a proper exposure. Then set the Sekonic to the same F stop and shutter setting and change its ISO value until it indicates a correct/standard exposure and this should give you a good working ISO for future use of the meter.  As a guess start with ISO 200 for the Sekonic then modify as necessary depending upon which way it shows the exposure is off.

 

Once you have established what ISO your G60 provides a 0db then you can reset the ISO level setting for your light meter when you have to use different gain levels.  Every 6 db of additional gain is equivalent to doubling ISO so if effective ISO at 0 db gain is 200 then setting the G60 to +6db of gain would require setting your meter to ISO 400.

 

I would caution to still check the zerbra pattern when you are using your light meter because of the response "mask" applied to the video sensor output provides a non-linear modification of level differences so you won't to be careful not to blow out important details or have a critical shadow area drop into heavy noise but the light meter will give you an excellent starting point which should be the correct point the great majority of the time.

 

I can see why you would want to use the light meter for video given what you are doing.  I primarily use mine for setting up the placement and lighting balance of multiple studio strobes but the light meter still is a very useful tool for many purposes.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Thanks Rodger,

 

I will give it a whirl, thanks for the suggestion. This is my first real video recording device, so I have no experience with adjusting Gain dB. When I first read the manual, I thought Gain dB had to do with audio/sound volume. Took me some time to realize that Gain dB deals with exposure, not audio levels, LOL! 

 

I had been using light/flash meters for many decades dating back to my old manual Hasselblad 503cx film days. With film, it was better to err on the side of overexposure so the print would look more snappy versus muddy when underexposed. As I'm sure you already know, with digital, the opposite is true. It's better to err on the side of underexposure to avoid losing detail from blown highlights. I never cared to look at a histogram, especially when doing runnin' and gunnin' photography such as weddings. But having a DSLR camera show me immediate image playback with blinking highlight warnings was extremely useful for making quick exposure adjustments.

 

The time I was more prone to make a simple exposure mistake was when I would start off photographing portraits at the bride's house for an hour. Exposure in camera would be set for say f4 @ 1/60th sec @ ISO 400. (I only used 400 speed 220 roll film back then). Then the limo car would arrive to pick up the bride to dash to the church, so we would all rush outside in bright daylight. I would take my next shot of the bride entering the limo outside only to see crazy bright blinking highlights screaming at me on image playback. Need to stop down the aperture for outdoor daylight exposure...duh!!! Anyway, that's where I see the value of using the Zebra Pattern on the G60 camcorder to help avoid simple exposure error from shooting indoors to outdoors in a hectic situation.

 

You are welcome Casey and I agree that video is an entirely different animal with its own terminology and potential issues.  I am much more comfortable with "stills" and enjoy them more but having coached soccer and with a daughter who is excelling but wants to get better I made the jump to a camcorder after deciding that shooting action video with my 1DX 2 DSLR wasn't going to work for someone who prefers a viewfinder 🙂  Even on a tripod, the 1DX series just feels awkward to me for video although it does produce very nice video quality.

 

With a DSLR shooting RAW it is pretty impressive how much you can correct for and manipulate exposure impact in post and I guess some of the same ability is there shooting video as RAW but I really don't have any desire to delve that deeply into manipulating video.

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

I can imagine filming with your 1Dx handheld can get tiring very quickly! I recently bought a $300 Sirui video monopod, the type with 3 short legs at the bottom for stability, so that helps a lot and is more compact versus a tripod. 

 

I can't stand doing too much post processing, makes me frustrated and my eyes get tired. I sort of enjoy using Photoshop to touch up some images here and there. But spending massive hours in post using a video editing app seems daunting. It took many hours of trial and error to even learn how to do very basic video editing using an app called PowerDirector Ultimate 18. I finally got good at doing basic, I mean BASIC video editing for stitching a bunch of small clips together, cutting off several seconds from the start and ending of clips, adding some still pictures here and there, even adding some intro and outro music. But I have no idea how to do the more advance stuff.

 

Part of the reason I got a "real" camcorder is that I recently did a video shoot for filming several speakers for a live audience presentation for a couple hours. As you know, using a DSLR for video means there is a 30 minute time limit before the camera stops the clip. So I was constantly worried a speaker might go over the 30 minute time limit and trying to figure out whether I should stop the video during a pause and start a new video to continue. A "real" camcorder doesn't have this 30 minute time constraint, plus it has dual SD card slots for relay recording. Plus I was also worried about having to change batteries cuz video eats up juice rather quickly. A camcorder doesn't have this problem cuz I can just plug in AC power. Even though the actual filming of 8 different speakers only took just over 2 hours, the post editing literally took me days and days to finish and to upload to their Youtube channel.

 

There is a chance I might do a long 3 consecutive days of filming many speakers for a large-ish professional association later this year. That also means having to add many, I mean MAAAAAANY Powerpoint slides into the many various videos. That also probably means I would need not just one, but 2 camcorders filming simultaneously. One camcorder would be on wide angle to include the speaker and whatever overhead LCD screen projector showing Powerpoint slides. This first camcorder would be used as reference content to figure out where exactly to insert slides during a speaker presentation. A second camcorder would be used for B-roll footage and/or close-up view of the speaker, maybe a little off to the side as well. Can you imagine how much post editing is required for filming 8 hours of many various speakers for 3 consective days? Hmmm, on second thought, I don't know if I'm qualified, haha!!

 

By the way, I do have a question for you. For your particular Canon XF400 camcorder, do you always use the top handle? Do you ever use the XLR audio ports? My G60 doesn't have the top handle, and I found out I cannot buy or add an after-market top handle to the camcorder. I saved several hundred dollars by not getting the XA50 camcorder with a top handle, but I wonder if I should have gotten a top handle model?

 

Casey415, 

The ISO equivalent in this camcorder is gain.  The base is 0.0 dB and ranges up to 39.0 dB and can be adjusted in the M mode in 1-dB increments. 

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