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 well as the now-standard 640 x 480 pixel / 30 frames per second option, the S80 also offers an unusual high resolution movie mode (1024 x 768 pixels), although it 'only' manages 15 fps.

Overall quality is good, with movies very smooth and showing few compression artifacts, though the high resolution (1024) files do look a little 'jerky', thanks to the lower frame rate. The AVI files are large - at the highest 640x480 / 30fps or 1024 x 768 / 15fps settings you're burning around 1.7MB every second, so if you intend to shoot a lot of movies you're going to need to invest in some big, fast SD cards. The S80's movie duration is limited only by the size of the card, with the usual Canon restriction - no individual movie clip can be larger than 1.0GB, which puts a practical limit of around eight and a half minutes on high resolution shooting.

You cannot use the optical zoom during filming, but you can enable and use the 3x digital zoom, in all but the 1024 pixel mode, which is better than nothing. Note, however, that image quality drops fairly drastically if you do use the digital zoom whilst recording movies.

On-screen information when recording movies is fairly basic - elapsed time and low battery warning. You can zoom digitally during movie shooting, but you cannot control exposure level.
The FUNC menu gives you options for white balance, image effects (vivid, neutral, low sharpening, sepia and black and white) and - in 'standard' mode - movie size and frame rate (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels, 15 or 30 fps). There are four movie modes (accessed by a spin of the multi-function wheel); high resolution (1024), standard, 'My Colors' and compact (160 x 120 pixels, 15 fps).
Pressing the menu button in movie recording allows you to change self-timer, AF-assist beam and digital zoom settings. Note you cannot engage the digital zoom in high resolution (1024) movie mode.
In playback mode a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie appears when scrolling through saved images. Press the FUNC/SET to play movies. Interestingly you can view a histogram for the movie by pressing the DISP. button.
When viewing movies a set of controls appears along the bottom of the frame allowing you to play, jump to either end, pause (and move one frame at a time) and edit.
The edit functions are simple, but do at least allow you to free up a little more card space by trimming from the start or end of clips.

Sample movies

1024 x 768 pixels @ 15fps
6.02 seconds
File size: 10.8 MB

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

640 x 480 pixels @ 30fps
7.00 seconds
File size: 12.5 MB

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