Sony has long been at the vanguard of high resolution movie modes in digital stills cameras, and the W7 continues the tradition with a 640x480 pixel, 30 fps MPEG movie mode limited in duration only by the capacity of the card in use. You need to use a Memory Stick PRO or Memory Stick PRO Duo (with adaptor) if you want to shoot movies at the maximum size.
The movies are recorded in MPEG-1 format, which means they are small (certainly smaller than standard M-JPEG movies), but not as small as they would be if Sony adopted the newer MPEG-4 standard. MPEG-1 movies use a much less efficient compression system, which results in visible compression artifacts.
Overall quality is pretty good (though the compression artifacts can sometimes be quite obvious), and you can keep shooting until the card runs out (at an average of around 1.25 MB per second at the 640x480 pixel / 30fps setting) but there are a couple of important limitations. Firstly the focus system can hunt a little when shooting videos at the long end of the zoom in 'Monitor' AF mode, something you can prevent by switching to manual single focus.
|As with stills recording you can choose the amount of information overlaid on the live preview image (though there's no histogram!).|
|When actually recording both elapsed time and remaining time are displayed clearly.|
|In movie mode you get a slightly more basic set of menus offering options for metering pattern, white balance and picture effects (sepia, black and white). You can also choose from one of three movie settings; 640 x 480 pixels / 17 or 30 fps and 180 x 120 pixels at 8 fps.|
|In playback mode you get some basic controls for playing movies, allowing you to play, pause, rewind and 'Divide' (cut clips into smaller chunks). Nothing fancy.|
|Dividing is a simple case of choosing the dividing point (annoyingly you can only move forwards and backwards in one second leaps) and clicking on OK. You are left with two movie clips.|