Movie mode

One of the criticisms of the FZ5 (and other 2nd generation 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 FZ7 not only adds full VGA (640 x 480 pixel) movie capture, but throws in widescreen 16:9 (848 x 480) mode too.

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 640x480 / 30fps footage onto a 1GB card.

Overall quality is pretty good, the only problem being the usual slight hunting at the long end of the zoom and the exposure system sometimes being caught out by rapid changes in scene brightness, but neither is any worse than competing models. Of course the image stabilization helps a great deal, avoiding excessive jerkiness even when shooting at the very long end of the zoom hand-held. You cannot zoom in movie mode.

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. In 16:9 (widescreen) mode you can choose between 30 and 10 fps, but the size is fixed (at 848 x 480 pixels).
The new joystick also gets some use in movie mode, though only for changing white balance.
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
Duration: 6.0 secs
File size: 7.4MB

Shot at telephoto (432mm equiv.)

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

848x480 pixels @ 30 fps
Duration: 6.0 secs
File size: 9.81MB

Shot at wide (36mm equiv.) showing 16:9 widescreen mode

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