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 is now the norm on cameras of this type the Z650 offers a maximum movie size of 640 x 480 pixels - enough to fill most television screens - but only at a 11 frames per second.

Unusually the movies are recorded using MPEG-4 compression (saved as QuickTime .MOV files), which makes them very small indeed - you can fit over an hour of VGA (640 x 480 pixel) footage on a 1.0 GB card, which certainly puts many of the Z650's competitors to shame (though of course many of them offer frame rates of up to 30fps).

Overall quality is good, though nowhere near what you can get from the best cameras in this class. The compression artefacts can sometimes be quite obvious and the low-ish frame rate means the movies don't look that smooth (in fact they look positively jerky), but you can keep shooting until the card runs out (this will give you about 31 minutes on a 512MB card at the 640 x 480-pixel setting).

Not only can you not use the optical zoom during filming, but you can't even digitally zoom.

On-screen information when recording movies is fairly basic - elapsed time and battery status. You cannot zoom whilst shooting a movie (optically or digitally), nor can you use any form of exposure compensation.
In movie mode you get a slightly more basic set of menus offering options for movie size (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixels), albums, and focus mode (single or continuous). You cannot change white balance in movie mode.
In playback mode a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie appears when scrolling through saved images. Press the joystick to play (or pause) movies.
When playing movies you get a basic display showing elapsed time (and total movie length), and the ability to change the playback volume (the Z650 has a built-in speaker). There's no options for editing movies in-camera.

Sample movies

640 x 480 pixels @ 11 fps
File size: 890 KB

Shot at telephoto

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie.

640 x 480 pixels @ 11 fps
File size: 2.4MB

Shot at wide angle (38mm equiv.)

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