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Movie mode

It would be a brave manufacturer these days that produced even a budget model without a basic movie mode, and movie capability is becoming an ever more important part of the buying decision with this type of camera. As is now the norm on cameras of this type the P850 offers a maximum movie size of 640 x 480 pixels - enough to fill most television screens - at 30 frames per second.

The movies are recorded in QuickTime (.mov) format, using M-JPEG, and average out at around 880 Kb/s. Quality is actually very good, with little evidence of compression artefacts and very smooth, tear-free motion. The biggest problem is that at the long end of the zoom the focus struggles to keep up and can be seen to hunt fairly painfully if the light is low.

Unusually you can use the optical zoom whilst recording, though you should be aware that you can hear the motor in the resulting movie (especially if you're shooting a quiet scene).

On-screen information when recording movies is fairly basic - elapsed time and battery status.
In movie mode you get a basic menu offering options for movie size (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels), focus mode (single or continuous) and video clip length (continuous, 5 seconds or 15 seconds). You cannot change white balance in movie mode.
In playback mode a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie appears when scrolling through saved images. Press the joystick to play (or pause) movies.
When playing movies you get a basic display showing elapsed time (and total movie length), and the ability to change the playback volume (the Z740 has a built-in speaker).
There are some basic movie editing options - trimming, cutting, splitting and merging. You can also save a single frame of a movie as a JPEG image file.

Sample movies

640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 5.5MB

Shot at wide angle (36mm equiv.)

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

 

640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 5.8MB

Shot at telephoto (432mm equiv.)

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

640 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 8.2MB

Shot at telephoto (432mm equiv.) with some zooming

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

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