Movie Mode

The DMC-FZ200's movie mode is essentially unchanged since the FZ150. The camera can record Full HD Progressive video, which is 1920 x 1080 at 60 frames per second for the uninitiated. The bit rate is an impressive 28 MBps at this setting, so you'll want a large (not to mention fast) memory card if you're recording at that quality. Don't need a resolution quite that nice? You can also select from 1080/60i or 720/60p resolutions. For all three of these resolutions, you can record up to 30 minutes of continuous video (thank you, AVCHD codec). Naturally, you get Dolby Digital Stereo sound along with the high res video. The FZ200 has a zoom microphone, too.

If you want to avoid the AVCHD codec entirely - which you might, since it's difficult to edit and share - then you can also use MPEG-4. You can record video at 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, and 640 x 480, all at 30 frames/second. The downside of the easy to edit and share MPEG-4 format is that recording ends when the file size hits 4GB, which takes about 24 minutes at the 1080p setting.

Being a "hybrid" camera, it should come as no surprise that you can operate the FZ200's optical zoom lens while you're recording a movie. The side zoom controller makes zooming in and out especially easy. The optical image stabilization system works, as well, with an "active" mode that helps suppress severe camera shake. The camera can focus continuously while recording a movie, to help keep your subjects in focus, wherever they are.

The Motion Picture menu is where you'll find options for movie recording such as file quality, file type, and wint cut options, to reduce the effect of wind noise on footage.

Movie recording can be a totally point-and-shoot experience, or you can adjust the exposure manually. To do the latter, just put the camera into Creative Motion Picture mode, where you can adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. A wind cut filter is available for shooting outdoors. Still photos can be taken while recording a movie, though the resolution will be 3.5 Megapixel.

The only new addition to the FZ200 movie movie is the ability to record at high frame rates. You can choose from frame rates of 120 or 240 fps, at resolutions of 1280 x 720 and 640 x 480, respectively. While these movies are recorded at fast frame rates, they are played back at normal speed, giving you a slow motion effect. As you might have guessed, sound is not recorded in high speed movie mode.

I have a pair of sample movies to share with you in this review. Both of these were taken at the 1080/60p resolution and converted into QuickTime format using Final Cut Pro X. I've provided links to the original MTS files in case you'd like to view those, as well. Be warned that all of these files are quite large!

Sample Video 1

1920 x 1080, 60 fps, 72.5 MB, QuickTime/H.264 format

Sample Video 2

1920 x 1080, 60 fps, 42.1 MB, QuickTime/H.264 format

Overall, the quality looks pretty good. If you want an additional sample, check out this video I took of a 777 landing gear demo at a recent United Airlines event.