Movie mode

The FZ30 was a big improvement on the FZ20, and the FZ50 takes things one step further, offering a 16:9 (848 x 480) widescreen movie option (at 30 frames per second) in addition to the VGA and QVGA settings available on its predecessor.

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 11 minutes of VGA or 9.5 minutes of 16:9 footage onto a 1GB card at 30 frames per second.

Overall quality is ok, though detailed scenes tend to look a bit over-compressed and there isn't a huge amount of detail, 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 (though there's still plenty here to play with!). You can now choose to shoot 16:9 movies at 848 x 480 pixels (wide VGA).
You can also use the FUNCTION button to bring up a mini menu with focus, metering, white balance and size options.
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

848x480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 10.3MB
Duration: 7 seconds

Shot at mid zoom (80mm equiv.)

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

640x480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 9.19MB
Duration: 7 seconds

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

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