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Old Feb 10, 2007, 10:16 PM   #1
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We actually have an older Hi8 camcorder that we NEVER used because we just never wanted to drag it out and carry it around. We bought a Canon A510 that we love because it's nice and small and easy to use. Just had something with our daughter where we really wanted to take and share a video clip and ended up running out and buying a 1gig SD card for the Canon which worked fairly well. The Canon has a 640x480 mode, but for some odd reason shuts off automatically at 20 secs - 120 secs in the next resolution no matter what size card.

Was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a camera that does video fairly well. Something small enough that we won't hesitate to take it with us as our main camera with video being a bonus. I'm not wanting the greatest video either because for most of what we want we'll be sending out to family and friends so smaller files are better. Would like something where I don't have to worry too much about lighting and an optical zoom would benice while taking video......
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Old Feb 10, 2007, 10:30 PM   #2
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Most folks regard the Canon S-2 or S-3 as the best digitasl cameras for taking videos.

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Old Feb 11, 2007, 12:33 PM   #3
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As Sarah says, most reviewers rate the Canon S3to have the best video facilities. I purchased a Sony H5 for the dual function of stills + video. The S3, H5, and Panasonic FZ7 were the three "possibles" and I'm sure that they would have been good (I had a used FZ1 and liked the zoom so wanted another super zoom). I have been very pleased with both still and video quality on the H5, but there is a negative!

If you shoot stills in Auto mode and then switch to Movie mode, the settings are fine. But if you shoot in any of the Program modes, and say use centre focus and centre weighted exposure, you have to remember to change these settings when you change to Movie mode in order to get consistent clips. Since the manual says that multipoint focus is recommended for Movie mode, the camera should automatically set this in the same way that it does for the switch to Auto mode for stills.

The S3 may be better in this respect?
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Old Feb 11, 2007, 1:42 PM   #4
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I have a Canon S2 IS and use it for video. I concur that the optics on the camera make for excellent video. The downsides for me right now are: 1. the S2 (and apparently S3 - can't speak for other Canon's) use motion-JPEG which takes a lot of memory/disk space; 2. the S2 video file size is capped at 1GB for each clip - which amounts to about 8 minutes as 640x480 at 30 fps; and 3. the S2 doesn't seem to recognize 4GB cards.

The S3 seems to fix the last point - my parents were visiting and had an S3 and a 4GB SD card I had worked OK in theirs.

For longer "events" (sports, kids plays, etc ...) on my S2 I don't mind re-starting a new clip and missing a few seconds, but I am still limited to about 16min's per 2GB card and I don't necessarily want to buy a whole set of 2GB cards and keep flipping them.

Having said that, I've tried my wife's Sony DSCW100 and I don't like the video quality as much as the Canon - darker, slower auto-focus, image stabilization doesn't seem to work as well (perhaps doesn't work for movie mode) and the VXFine setting that gives you 640x480 @ 30fps, doesn't use that much less room. Although you can get 4GB, 8GB memory sticks - and I've heard rumours of larger sticks coming this year.

Other plus for the Canon is the optical zoom is usable in video mode. I've heard that many camera's don't support optical zoom (either no zoom at all or resort to digital zoom) because the mechanics are too noisy. So for now, I'm sticking with the S2.

I am keeping an eye out for another option - possibly a hybrid as I too have an old Hi8 that doesn't see the light of day b/c it's too big. New camcorders are smaller, but don't seem to match 640x480 unless you get into an expensive HD model and I like the option of flash memory so that I can copy to PC without having to worry about FireWire (which I don't have on PC's or laptops I use).

Hmm ... was that too much info?
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Old Feb 15, 2007, 9:05 AM   #5
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H. I understand why people are recommending Canon etc. but there is a perfectly acceptable option which seems to match all of your criteria and has superior video to the Canon and virtually all other digicams.

Whilst I also have an Olympus 8080W (it does take superior stills) and have just bought the Oly Sp-550UZ (couldn't resist - the specs are too stunning) I find that the camera I have used most to date has been the Sanyo Xacti HD1 (there is now an updated version).

1. So small it slips into your pocket / wife's handbag and as such gets far more use than a large digicam.
2. 10xoptical zoom and 100x digital (for video - can zoom during filming and videos until you fill the CF)
3. HD video - fantastic on a large HD LCD (I shoot everything in HD as you can always convert down if required and you are future proofing your videos. There are many many other video options though if you want to reduce the size (though you can easily do this in-computer).
4. Inexpensive - under US$500 I guess
5. 5 MP camera (can take stills whilst taking video - you lose a few seconds of video but don't have to stop and switch to photo mode). I've printed these on 8x10 and they look superb.
6. Uses Compactflash up to 4G
7. Excellent macro

I could go on but there is a very good review on this site ! There are now other options out there of this type but I've found the Xacti HD1 to be a very sound investment.
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