Movie mode

One of the criticisms of the FZ20 (and other FZ series cameras) was the rather underpowered movie mode, which could only capture at 320x240 pixels - half the resolution of most competing models and nowhere near large enough to fill a television screen. The FZ30 finally drags the FZ series up to standard with a 640x480-pixel, 30fps movie mode, capable of shooting until the card in use is full.

The movies are recorded in QuickTime MJPEG (.mov) format, with fairly heavy compression (they work out at around 1.3 MB/sec, meaning you can fit around 12 minutes of the highest quality (640x480 / 30fps) footage onto a 1GB card).

Overall quality is pretty good, and naturally you can zoom whilst shooting (though being a manual zoom it's nigh on impossible to do this smoothly). We had a few problems with the focus when zooming in from wide to tele, but this can be solved by fixing the focus whilst zoomed in before you start shooting, and of course the image stabilization helps produce movies without the jerkiness you'd get without it.

As with stills recording you can choose the amount of information overlaid on the live preview image (though there's no histogram). You can, however, use the AE compensation controls.
In movie mode you get a slightly more basic set of menus covering white balance, metering and focus modes.
You can also choose from one of four movie settings; 640x480 pixels or 320x240 pixels at 10 or 30 fps.
Playback mode shows a thumbnail of the first frame in the movie. As with stills you can choose the amount of information overlaid, including (as shown here) a histogram.
Movie playback is fairly basic stuff - you get controls for playing, pausing and fast forward/rewind. Nothing fancy here.

Sample movies

640x480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 8.9MB

Shot at telephoto (432mm equiv.)

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

640x480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 10.2MB

Shot at wide (35mm equiv.) showing zooming whilst shooting.

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