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Infra Red Video
Infra Red Video Lighting Kit
If you have a Sony NightShot camcorder, you probably discovered that the built-in infrared (IR) light doesn’t give much of an image except at very short range.
So maybe you ordered the Sony "high brightness infrared light" advertised for viewing at up to 100 feet. Again you were disappointed. You certainly couldn’t see your subject at 100 feet, unless it was very large.
You still don't have sufficient illumination to utilize the full capabilities of the NightShot feature, even with the supplementary light from Sony.
The camera is just fine, you simply need more light.
So how do you know when your IR light is bright enough?

This is easy to answer if you know exactly what your subject is and exactly where it is. You have sufficient light if the entire subject is visible and details are clearly seen. It is harder to answer if you're not sure what or how many things you're looking at. One of the problems with inadequate lighting is you don't realize how much you are missing until you compare the scene using better lighting (as illustrated below).

When your job is to count bats exiting from a roost, you need to be able to see the entire area, and you need enough light to clearly see and distinguish each and every individual bat. For larger entrances or other applications, the Sony light is insufficient. You will fail to see all the bats that are there, and your count will be inaccurate. The only way to ensure sufficient lighting is to keep adding brighter light until you no longer see an improvement in image quality.

IR Lamp Kit - Light for consumer DV cameras

Our infra-red lamp kit is an incredibly bright IR source for field use. It offers 40 high performance IR LEDs in a specially designed heat sink case. At less than three inches in diameter, the lamp takes up very little room in a backpack.
With a totally machined case to improve both the ruggedness of the lights as well as better heat sinking capability, making it brighter than the original design. 

Martin's Comments:

Tried and tested kit, especially for illuminating bats as they emerge from their roosts and exclusively imported and sold in the UK and Europe by me.
The following three still images illustrate the differences between light sources. The scene is an abandoned mine entrance, approximately 5 by 10 ft. The distance from the camera to the entrance is about 20 feet.
Illuminated only with the built-in LED illuminator of the Sony Camcorder. This light is generally not usable beyond a few feet.
Illuminated with the accessory Sony infrared lamp (model HVL-IRC). You can just make out a few bats flying in the entrance.
Illuminated with the IR Lamp Kit. You can see that there were quite a few more bats than were revealed in the images on the left.
Why two lamps?

Adding a second lamp does not increase the size and weight of your pack, but it doubles the amount of light available to the camera. It is like gaining an extra f-stop on a still camera. However, to realize another increase in light, you would need to double again: four IR lamps. That is getting a bit unwieldily in the field. Also be aware that newer "widescreen" aspect HD cameras are shooting such a wide 16:9 aspect ratio landscape image, you will need two IR lamps to feather across the field of view and fully fill the frame. If you are shooting standard 4:3 aspect video, one IR lamp will fill the frame. Forcing a modern camera into 4:3 aspect ratio means you will be giving up the advantage of the wide angle lens on the camera and may have to be further away from your subject, possibly making it more difficult to light.

Camera recommendations?

Camera models are refreshed as quickly as every 6 months and we don't have a list of current models with the NightShot feature, so you'll have to do your own research using the recommendations below. 

NIGHTSHOT FUNCTION: first and foremost this feature must be included or you simply cannot film in IR light. Check the Sony specs for NightShot mode, and even the manufacturer's photos of the camera to verify there is NightShot button on the exterior (usually under the fold out LCD display. Only the high-end consumer grade Sony cameras have this feature. 

SENSOR SIZE: Bigger captures more light and therefore is better. For reference, in 2016 the Sony FDR-AX53 contained a 1 and 2/5'' sensor, the largest available at the time with the NightShot function. This camera can be bought using the Amazon link at the bottom of this page. Sensor size is always found in the tech specs of the camera. 

HARD DRIVE/SD CARD: Old NightShot-capable cameras may record to DVD or Mini-DV formats, these are cumbersome to use with modern digital video workflows for archiving and editing purposes and probably should be avoided if you are editing video on a regular basis. 

CAMERA SETTINGS: Generally speaking, use at least 1080 movie size, or larger. The data rate should always be set to the highest possible "recording quality". "Low Lux" feature, if available, should be on (newer cameras are so sensitive you may experiment with this off if the subject is close). Anytime a tripod is used, "Steadyshot" should be off. "Focus peaking" is a visual representation of what parts of the image are in focus, so we recommend that be on if available. Once your image is in focus, press the "manual focus" button to lock it in place and keep the camera from inadvertantly attempting to focus on passing insects, etc. 

LIGHTING TIP: If you use "off camera lighting" techniques by placing lamps 3 feet or more away from the camera, the textures/shadows this generates will give your video a more 3-dimensional look rather than a flatly lit scene. This also reduces or eliminates "floating ghost orbs" caused by the light hitting out-of-focus dust particles near the lens or bright flashes of movement cause by a moth buzzing by. (Insects are not attracted to IR lamps!)
Infra-red Lamp Kit
Complete Dual IR Lamp System

2x IR Lamp (each lamp includes power cable)
1x Light Bar (allows camera and 2 lamps to be attached together)
1x 12 volt Battery, 5 Ah
1x Battery Charger & US-UK adaptor
1x 12 volt plug expander, allows 2 lamps to be plugged into 1 battery

Camera and tripod quick release shown for illustration only. Camera and quick release not included. Your camera MUST have the Sony NightShot or Super NightShot feature to take advantage of this lighting system.
Camera available via Amazon links below (disable ad blocker).
Complete System only £895
(not including camera)
including UK delivery & VAT
(lead time usually 1-2 weeks)
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Call Martin for impartial advice, or just for a chat, on 0333 9000 927
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