Unlike the Canon SX1 IS and SX10 IS (which both have a button dedicated to movie recording in any mode), the HX1's movie capture sits in its own mode (accessed via the mode dial). Once there, all you have to do is press the shutter button to start movie recording and press it again to stop. During movie recording, the only exposure setting is AE compensation with aperture and ISO selected by the camera. White balance is user selectable in movie mode.
During movie recording the camera can either autofocus (and chooses what to focus on), or be set to focus at a pre-set distance. Zooming (at a slower than normal speed to keep noise down) is also adjustable during movie recording. As you adjust exposure compensation, the brightness of the rear LCD or EVF (depending on which one you are using) is adjusted to reflect the change. A counter is displayed on screen to show the duration of the current clip. Movies are recorded in MPEG4 (H.264) format at 30 fps and saved as .MP4 files. At the highest quality setting the bit rate is around 12Mbps (in our tests captured movies at the top setting used up around 1.5 MB per second).
The HX1's highest quality video setting outputs 1920x1080 pixel files (1080p, 30fps) - like many digital camcorders they're actually recorded at 1440 x 1080 resolution (with a rectangular pixel aspect ratio that the decoder 'stretches back out' to the 16:9 format), so they don't quite have the resolution of a full HD movie (they're effectively interpolated 1.33x horizontally in playback). Other resolutions available include 720p and VGA.
Video quality is generally quite good, especially at the highest resolution, though it does exhibit the same problems as still images in terms of image noise, and they are quite soft if you look too closely (though since they're designed to be watched on a TV you probably won't be looking that close). Being a CMOS sensor, the HX1 is also prone to image tearing during quick panning.
|There is a dedicated movie mode on the main mode dial, which is where the screen captures here were taken. The main difference is that you can preset a couple of options. As with stills recording you can choose the amount of information overlaid on the live preview image.|
|Movie recording with all information overlaid, including the battery indicator, the current movie format selected, the folder name, and how many minutes of movie recording space is left on the Memory Stick. The Optional grid is shown here. EV is adjustable before and during movie recording.|
|Three display options are available during movie recording. There is the most basic option that displays only the exposure compensation setting. The other two options show all the information shown in the screen capture above. The second is a 'bright' option that increases the brightness on the LCD.|
|There is a cut-down menu in movie mode, with only the options applicable to movie recording. It contains the two exposure modes (automatic or manual), a choice of movie compression sizes, white balance settings, metering modes, color modes, and image stabilization settings.|
|The white balance settings in movie recording is the same as in other capture modes. In testing we found that the best white balance setting for the HX1 is to leave it in the auto mode.|