|Switching to 'Nightshot
mode' physically displaces the camcorder's internal glass filter
called "IR Cut Filter (ICF)", which means that much more
NIR light reaches the CCD. In-between the optical lens and the CCD,
most camcorders have this special "ICF". It is there to
compensate the colorings and the tones of the information reaching
the CCD by blocking the NIR and ultraviolet rays. Since the CCD is
originally more sensitive to NIR rather than the visible rays, as
shown at the graph below, it would be impossible to create a natural
image on the viewfinder or LCD screen for the human eye without this
ICF. However, this ICF, which blocks off the NIR, is the biggest
obstacle in seeing-through and night viewing.
As shown below, a Nightshot camcorder
has a external switch - the "Nightshot" switch - to easily
remove this ICF.
Therefore it is possible to obtain a
clear see-through image under any NIR environment. In the Nightshot
mode, the ICF is displaced from the path of the light rays, while
the CCD can receive an ample amount of the NIR. If you take a look
at the graph shown below, you can see the clear differences between
the amount of the NIR reaching a Sony Nightshot's CCD and a normal
camcorder's CCD with ICF installed.
3 Types of Sony Nightshot
"Old", "Semi-Modified New" &
There are three
different types of Nightshot models available. If you have a Sony
Nightshot camcorder or are going to purchase a Nightshot camcorder
it will help your degree of success to know the differences among
these 3 models.
Old Models are the original Nightshot
models that Sony produced before August 12, 1998. Therefore if you
have purchased your Nightshot before August 12, 1998, then yours is
definitely the Old model.
If you aren't sure of when you
purchased the Nightshot, then check on the manufacturer's label
with the date the camcorder was made located on the bottom.
You can also test your camcorder by
attempting an actual picture taking. Old Models can get clear shots
(with a green tint) of the subjects even in bright daylight when
using Nightshot mode. This means that you can use the Nightshot mode
even in the bright daylight without any problem. Also when you press
the manual exposure button and roll the exposure dial down to the
minimum the LCD screen and viewfinder should go completely BLACK as
Thus, old models have full control
of exposure even in Nightshot mode.
Semi-Modified New Models
Semi-Modified New Models are the
Nightshot models that Sony produced from August 1998 until December
1998. There are no differences between Semi-Modified New Models and
Old Models in appearance. Yet Semi-Modified New Models have only
partial control of exposure in Nightshot mode as described below.
Firstly, Semi-Modified New models
can't get acceptable shots in bright daylight when using Nightshot
mode. The screen is often too bright to discern any detail at all.
Of course, these models also offer a manual exposure feature and
when you press the manual exposure button the exposure meter is
displayed on the LCD screen and viewfinder. However, no matter how
much you roll the exposure dial down there is no decrease in
brightness. Even when you roll the exposure dial down to the
minimum, far from going completely BLACK, the screen and viewfinder
would be still too bright.
The easiest method to overcome this
over exposure problem is to set the program AE (Auto Exposure) to
"Sports Lesson Mode" when using Nightshot mode. Sports
Lesson Mode automatically selects the highest shutter speed based on
available light, from 1/250 up to 1/4000. So this mode enables you
to get acceptable shots even in bright daylight.
However, this method doesn't mean
full control of exposure in Nightshot mode. The screen and
viewfinder may still be too bright in very bright daylight. This is
because that manual exposure control doesn't work in Sports Lesson
Mode. Unlike in normal mode, when you can roll the exposure dial
down until the image is BLACK, in Sports Lesson mode you cannot
affect the image this way. However Semi-Modified New Models can also
have full control of exposure in Nightshot mode with other methods
as described further on.
Fully Modified New Models
All Nightshot models produced since
January 1999 are Fully Modified New Models. These models have NO
control of exposure at all in Nightshot mode. This makes it
completely impossible to take pictures in bright daylight using
Nightshot mode. The LCD screen and viewfinder should go completely
WHITE when using Nightshot mode in bright daylight as shown below.
This is because that when Nightshot is used the aperture is fully
open and the exposure is automatically set to maximum.
In these Fully Modified New Models,
when you press the manual exposure button or roll the exposure dial
down no effect will occur at all. What is worse, the exposure meter
doesn't even appear on the LCD screen or viewfinder. The program AE
(Sports Lesson Mode) doesn't work either. However these models can
also have full control of exposure in Nightshot mode by applying one
of the following 2 methods:
How to get Full Control of
Exposure in the New Models
The Internal Microswitch Method
This method involves opening your
camcorder. If you open the camcorder you will see a small lever
mounted on the lens that moves the ICF away from the CCD (when
Nightshot is switched on). This lever also presses a Microswitch
(attached to a flexible board) when Nightshot is engaged.
When this Microswitch is pressed 3
things happen. Firstly, the iris in the lens is forced open (this
results in the "white-out" if there is too much light
present) and second it sets the green tint added to the picture to
give that "Night Scope" appearance. The 3rd thing the
Microswitch does is to turn on the IR emitter on the front of the
This small Microswitch is held in
place with a small screw. By loosening the screw the Microswitch can
be adjusted away from the Nightshot lever so that it is never pushed
when Nightshot is engaged. Thus, the camcorder can have full control
of exposure even in Nightshot mode like the Old Models. The
images tend to take on a red tint (rather than a green tint).
Although very effective, this method renders all other Nightshot
functions inoperative - such as the Nightshot LEDs on the front of
the camcorder and the HotShoe functionality.
Halfway NightShot switch Method