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 Stylus 800 offers a maximum movie size of 640x480 pixels - enough to fill most television screens - but unlike most of its competitors the frame rate is limited to 15 fps (virtually all competitor models now offer a 30 fps maximum). For small clips viewed on a computer screen this isn't a problem - and helps keep file sizes down - but viewed critically the motion does look a lot less smooth.

Overall quality isn't too bad, but the lack of a 30 fps option does show in slightly jerky motion and some mild tearing when you pan quickly. Exposure is excellent and responds quickly to changes in scene brightness. The QuickTime .MOV files are fairly small (averaging around 900 KB- 1MB per second) - mainly because of the low-ish frame rate.

You cannot use the optical zoom during filming, but you can enable and use the 4x digital zoom, which is better than nothing, though the quality drops significantly if you do zoom in digitally.

As with stills you can adjust the amount of on-screen information displayed when shooting movies from very basic (remaining time) to fairly comprehensive - and you can use the same grid overlays.
During recording the movie icon turns red. The only options available from the mode menu are metering pattern, movie size and digital zoom on / off, though you can use the AE compensation option (before shooting).
In playback mode a thumbnail of the first frame of the movie appears when scrolling through saved images. Again you can alter the amount of information overlaid (though there's no histogram option).
You have to press the menu button and choose the 'play movie' option to watch your movies on the camera's screen. The only controls offered are fast-forward and rewind, plus volume up and down. You cannot edit movies in-camera.

Sample movies

640x480 pixels @ 15fps
6.04 seconds
File size: 5.3 MB

Shot at wide angle (38mm equiv.), showing use of digital zoom

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

640x480 pixels @ 15fps
5.02 seconds
File size: 5.3 MB

Shot at wide angle (38mm equiv.)

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