Previous page Next page

Movie mode

All three of these cameras offer movie shooting modes with the same maximum resolution of 720p. However their file formats and compression systems vary; both the Canon Powershot S95 and Nikon Coolpix P7000 produce .MOV files using H.264 compression, while the Panasonic Lumix LX5 offers a choice of AVCHD Lite format (which also uses H.264 compression) or .MOV using Motion JPEG compression.

The advantage of the LX5's AVCHD format is that it can be burned directly to Blu-ray discs, whereas the other cameras' .MOV files require format conversion first. However .MOV is more easily shared, as it is supported by a wider range of media player programs and devices, whereas AVCHD uses a complex directory structure and can't be played back natively on many computers. The LX5's .MOV files have the best compatibility with older devices due to its use of Motion JPEG compression (which has lower processing demands for playback), but this does come at the cost of rather larger file sizes.

As you can see from the videos on this page, the LX5's AVCHD Lite files are about the same size on disc as the .MOV files produced by the S95 and P7000 (as they all use the same compression).

Canon Powershot S95

The Canon Powershot S95 improves on its predecessor the S90 by offering 720p HD video recording, rather than VGA, but this is the only significant change. The image quality is very high, but the 28-105mm lens cannot zoom or focus during recording. So while videos can be shot at any focal length, once recording has started your only option is to use digital zoom (the effect of which you can see in the first sample video, below). Naturally this means you can only zoom in, and not out beyond your originally set view.

Ultimately, the S95 is a better video camera than the S90, and it is perfectly capable of creating high-quality clips to share with friends or to put on YouTube, but in terms of versatility it falls some way short of the other two cameras in this group. The lack of zoom and AF during recording are particularly disappointing.

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 24 fps
File size: 18 MB, 7 secs

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

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 24 fps
File size: 27 MB, 10 secs

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

Nikon Coolpix P7000

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 offers a very versatile video mode, with the same basic specifications as the video of the Canon S95 but with the added versatility of continuous AF during video footage, and the ability to zoom the 28-200mm lens during filming, too. The P7000 is the only camera in this group to feature an external microphone socket, in addition to its inbuilt stereo mic. Although Nikon does not manufacture such products, there are plenty of third-party units available, including several which are designed (rather conveniently) to screw onto a camera's hot shoe.

As far as video footage is concerned, we have no complaints. Image quality is all but identical to footage shot with the Canon S95 (as we'd expect from two cameras with such closely related sensors) but with the key benefit of AF and zoom control during recording, plus much more versatile sound recording options.

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 24 fps
File size: 25.7 MB, 20 secs

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

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 24 fps
File size: 19.2 MB, 13 secs

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


Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

As mentioned in the introduction to this page, the Panasonic LX5 is unique amongst the cameras in this group by offering an AVCHD Lite movie recording format. A Motion JPEG recording option is on hand if you prefer, at which point the LX5 offers a slightly higher frame rate than the S95 and P7000, of 30fps compared to 24fps.

Of the three cameras in this test, the LX5 offers the most versatile video mode, and offers full manual control over exposure as well as continuous AF in video shooting. Unlike the S95 or P7000, the LX5 allows you to record movie clips in any of its PASM modes and although it is not possible to adjust shutter/aperture values during shooting, desired parameters can be preset for meaningful exposure and depth of field control. The LX5's 24-90mm (equivalent) lens can also be zoomed during movie shooting, but zooming is considerably slower than it is in still shooting mode, to minimize noise on the soundtrack of video files.

Overall, the LX5 offers an extremely impressive feature set in video mode, and is easily the most versatile camera here in terms of its movie shooting abilities. Footage is sharp and smooth in both AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG modes, and although we'd like to see a stereo microphone, audio reproduction is very good.

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 25 fps
File size: 21 MB, 10 secs

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (we recommend that you download VLC player to view this footage. Caution: large file)

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 25 fps
File size: 27 MB, 10 secs

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (we recommend that you download VLC player to view this footage. Caution: large file)


A word on sensor blooming...

Put very simply, sensor blooming is the effect caused by extreme overexposure of an individual photodiode, causing signal to spill out, and into neighbouring photodiodes. In CCD sensors, because of the way in which data is read out from the sensor, this takes the form of faint vertical lines through bright specular highlights. Sensor blooming used to be much more common than it is now, and these days, if we see it at all, it is typically in video footage shot using compact cameras with CCD sensors.

November in the UK is fireworks season, and this year, bonfire night (where we celebrate the failed attempt to assassinate King James I) and the Hindu festival of Diwali coincided. Something we noticed whilst shooting videos of the many fireworks displays around London is that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is particularly susceptible to sensor blooming in video footage. Notice the vertical lines which accompany the bright highlights in this clip:

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 25 fps
File size: 27 MB, 10 secs

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (we recommend that you download VLC player to view this footage. Caution: large file)

We failed to replicate the same effect with the Canon Powershot S95 and Nikon Coolpix P7000 (which share the same sensor). Given that sensor blooming is barely perceptible in a majority of shooting situations it probably shouldn't count as a serious criticism of the Panasonic LX5, but it is an interesting quirk of its CCD sensor, and one which makes it unsuitable for shooting video footage of some subjects. The example video below is from the Nikon P7000.

Sample movie: 1280x720 pixels @ 24 fps
File size: 25.7 MB, 20 secs

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (caution: large file)
Previous page Next page
59
I own it
0
I want it
20
I had it
Discuss in the forums
350
I own it
4
I want it
84
I had it
Discuss in the forums
261
I own it
19
I want it
81
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments