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Video

Many of the new compact cameras launched in the last year or so offer HD video recording (mostly at 720p), only the Panasonic and Pentaxes offer it in this group (and even then only at 15fps on the W60). The rest of the cameras in this test can only record VGA video at 30fps.

Canon PowerShot D10

The Canon D10 can record video at a maximum resolution of VGA (640x480) at 30fps, with a lower setting of 320x240. Videos are recorded in QuickTime in H.264 (AVC1) format with a maximum bit rate of 10 Mbit/sec. The length is limited to a 4GB file size on fast cards. Optical zoom is disabled during recording (though digital zoom is possible) and image stabilization is available.

The video quality of the D10 is marginally the best in this group of cameras - though it is still not fantastic. There is moire visible, but we did not see many compression artifacts. White balance and 'my colors' are the only controls available in movie mode, while ISO is locked into auto. Audio quality is acceptable for the most part, but is prone to wind noise. The image stabilization helps to keep the image sharp and smooth.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 8.5MB, 6 secs .mov

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

FujiFilm Z33 WP

The FujiFilm Z33 records video at VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels) at 30 frames per second. The optical zoom does not work in movie mode. The recording format is AVI Motion JPEG, with a maximum bit rate of approximately 7 Mbit/sec, and a maximum file size of 4GB. The Z33 is the only camera in this group to have a dedicated movie recording button situated on the back of the camera. Optical zoom is not available during movie recording.

The image quality of the movies out of the Z33 is similar to its stills quality, in that noise is quite prominent in even relatively brightly lit conditions. You can see compression artifacts on the road surface, and moire is noticeable on the closed shutters of the shops. While image quality is not as good as the D10, it is not the worst in this group. The sound quality was generally good, though like other cameras in this test, the Z33 is prone to picking up wind noise.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 9.1MB, 5 secs .avi

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Despite having a dedicated movie recording button, the Z33 was actually the most annoying camera to use for video, due to a delay of 2-3 seconds between pressing the button and the start of recording (during which time the screen blacked out).

Olympus Tough 6000

The Tough 6000 offers movie recording at VGA resolution (640x480) at 30 fps. Movies are recorded in avi format, with a maximum bit rate of 13 Mbit/sec. If you have a fast xD card (H type) you can record movies until the card is full, but on slower xD cards videos are limited to a paltry 10 seconds. Usefully the Tough 6000 counts down instead of up, to show you how much recording time is left on the current card. Optical zoom is not available during movie recording.

The movie quality of the Tough 6000 is not quite as good as that from the D10, but is still quite acceptable for a resolution of 640x480. There are some compression artifacts visible (though not many), and while moire is also visible, noise levels are relatively low. The sound quality is on a par with other cameras in this group test.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 6.0MB, 6 secs .avi

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Olympus Tough 8000

The specifications of the Tough 8000's movie mode are identical to those of the Tough 6000. The maximum resolution is VGA (640x480) at 30 fps, with a maximum bit rate of 13 Mbit/sec. With a fast (H type) xD card, movies can be recorded until the card is full. The movie timer counts down instead of up to show the amount of space left on the card, and the optical zoom is not available during movie recording.

The specifications is were the similarities end, as the Tough 8000 has the worst movie quality in this group. There are many compression and noise reduction artifacts, and the image immediately looks much softer than all the other cameras in the test. There is also moire visible, though in this area the Tough 8000 is not much worse than other cameras in this test. Sound quality is on par with the other cameras here.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 11.2MB, 3 secs .avi

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Pentax Optio W60

The W60 has, on paper at least, one of the most impressive movie recording specification in this group. It offers 720p (1280x720) at 15 fps, with a maximum bit rate of 8.5 Mbit/sec, and VGA (640x480) at 30 fps with the same maximum bit rate. Movies are recorded in avi format with M-JPEG compression. The maximum movie size is 2GB, and optical zooming and AF can be enabled during movie recording (though they are not by default).

Unfortunately, in practice there is no real benefit to using 720p over VGA in the W60. The higher resolution video just looks like a magnified version of the VGA output. The same problems with noise, and compression artifacts are present, and moire is still visible. Of course at half the frame rate, the video is much less smooth and consequently less useful than the 30fps of the VGA version. The quality is not quite as good as that from the D10, but is not terrible and is on a par with the Z33 and Tough 6000. Sound quality is generally good, though like other cameras in the test suffers from wind noise.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 6.4MB, 5 secs .avi

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Pentax Optio W80

With the W80 Pentax has updated the video mode to to enable recording at 720p (1280x720) at 30 fps, which makes the HD video feature much more usable than on the W60. Movies are still recorded in avi format with M-JPEG compression, meaning you end up with large files (better get a large card if you want to do a lot of video recording). The maximum file size is 2GB, and unlike the W60 optical zoom and AF cannot be enabled during recording.

With the W80 you do see some benefit to using the HD video over the VGA mode. Images have higher definition and there is much less problem with moire (which the VGA video does). The problems with the higher resolution over the W60 we have seen in other video tests are seen here as well with the video being quite noisy (almost to the levels of the Z33), and overall video quality is not as good at the TS1. Sound quality is generally good, though like other cameras in the test suffers from wind noise.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 6.5MB, 6 secs .avi

Link to HD M-JPEG Sample: 15.1MB, 5 secs .avi

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1

The TS1 features the best movie mode of all cameras in this group. Movies are either recorded in M-JPEG .MOV format, or using AVCHD lite. The highest resolution available is 720p (1280x720) at 30 fps in either format. The TS1 features a dedicated movie recording button, but unlike the the Z33 the wait for video recording to start is only around 1 second. The TS1 is also the only camera in this group test that can zoom while recording video and the slow zoom action is not audible on the sound track. Continuous auto focus is also available in Video mode.

The quality of the video recorded with the TS1 was generally quite good. At 720p resolution the M-JPEG video looked sharp and detailed (if sometimes a little noisy) with the AVCHD lite video being a little less sharp to the M-JPEG video (though it is also less the half the file size). You will sometimes see strange artefacts in the video as after zooming and as camera tries to focus and auto focus in movie mode is generally quite slow. At lower resolutions such as VGA the video looks less sharp and detailed than at the highest resolution and moire is much more visible (as you can see in our VGA sample). Audio recorded was generally quite good and there is a built-in wind filter which keeps wind noise low.

Sample movie: 640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 8.2MB, 6 secs .mov

Link to HD M-JPEG Sample: 26MB, 7 secs .mov

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie
(caution: large file!)

 

 

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