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Old Jul 26, 2005, 5:18 AM   #1
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I'm torn between these two cameras. I'm replacing my Pentax Optio S (the original 'fit in an Altoids tin' model). I want 5mp or better, a big screen (=>2.2")with lots of pixels (>200k), VGA 30fps video, in an ultra-compact form factor. I have a number of other models in consideration (Casio EX-S500, Pentax Optio S5n, Panasonic FX8, Kodak V530, Canon Ixus 50) but these are my top 2.

My main dilemma is that I like the idea of the optical image stabiliser of the Panasonic (Kodak has digital/software), but not the video format as I understand it uses Quicktime Motion JPEG and that you can only fit a small amount on even a 1GB card. So I had convinced myself that I want MPEG-4 format video, but reading on these forums it seems that the quality might not be up to much. I don't want to use the camera as a camcorder per se, but just for catching a few minutes here and there, but I'm still worried by the memory card filling up. I'm also unsure whether Microsoft Windows MCE 2005 will play either of these formats. Any pointers or opinions?

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Old Jul 26, 2005, 9:37 AM   #2
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The Windows Media Player will play just about anything. It is the people with Mac computers that have to jump through some hoops with MPEG4.

Not sure what quality difference you are talking about, but you won't see the difference between MPEG4 and Quicktime movies. I have a camera with MPEG4 and it is excellent.

I couldn't get by without a viewfinder as I take a lot of pictures outdoors and the sun is usually shining here. But if you don't use the viewfinder on your Pentax you don't need one. I'm guessing that must be the case as several of the cameras you have listed have no viewfinder other than the LCD.

You seem to have all of the information you need. Of the point and shoot cameras without a viewfinder the Fuji F10 and Panasonic FX9 are good choices. They both approach low light in different ways but are effective. Unfortunately both take a lot of memory space for movies. I don't find I grind away making long movies with my Casio. The past movie mode is a big help in that you can wait for something interesting to happen and then start recording rather than grind away waiting for the fish to jump again or the toddler to do something cute. But even without past movie mode I doubt I would take very long movies.

Both of your choices look good in their own way. I think I would wait for some good reviews, but I doubt there will be any big surprises. The Panasonic FX7 LCD didn't gain up very well in low light even though it focuses fine in limited light. But owners don't seem to be particularly bothered by that if they don't improve the FX9 LCD.

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Old Jul 26, 2005, 10:06 AM   #3
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Thanks for your helpful response. I can't remember ever using the viewfinder on the Pentax so I'm not concerned whether my next camera has one.

Since posting I managed to download 2 movies - 1 from the Kodak and one from a Panny FX8, which I suspect will be fairly similar to the FX9. Both movie sizes are scarily big - the kodak is 5MB for 10 seconds (circa 512KB/s) and the panny is 13MB for 12 seconds (circa 1MB/s) - so I'm not going to get much on a 1GB card on either camera, and the QT Motion Jpegv Mpeg-4 dilemma is less significant. I'm now more inclined to the FX9 than the V550 as I can get a bit of discount on Panasonic through my work.

More of a dilemma now is that I'm going on holiday at the beginning of September and would like to use my new camera, whatever it will be. It looks like the Panny FX9 isn't out till late September. I'm not too bothered about the extra megapixel over the FX8, but the difference in pixel count on the LCD is huge (114k v 207k). I've read that 114k on a big (2.5") LCD makes the images pixelated. Any comments on the FX8 LCD from anyone? Should I hold out for the FX9 and take my Pentax on holiday?
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Old Jul 26, 2005, 10:38 AM   #4
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Just to add some comment on MPEG-4 vs M-JPEG

MPEG-4 is no worse than M-JPEG in movie quality (both 640x480 for apple-to-apple comparison), not that I 've noticed in my hours of movies taken using both formats (Canon Ixus 50 M-JPEG & Kodal V550 MPEG4), on the same subjects (my over-active son).

But the filesizes of MPEG-4 are just a QUARTER of M-JPEG!!!

To some extent, MPEG-4 movies are even more pleasing to the eyes. Its object-oriented compression algorithm will try to single-out moving objects from the background and make them more distinct.

But MPEG-4 DCs may be MORE COSTLY than M-JPEG DCs. Why? Because the MPEG group decided to charge the implementors (the DC vendors) high license fees for using the compression technology (back in 2002). Whereas M-JPEG algorithms are more like Freeware. There was once talk also about charging the MPEG-4 clients (we customers) on a movie-length basis (but of course impractical). I think probably the DC vendors might have absorbed the costs for us already.

Finally, DON'T count too much on the movie formats (compressions) when choosing the DC. Because at the end, it is still the CCD & the Lens that characterize the quality of the pictures and movies.

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Old Jul 26, 2005, 4:26 PM   #5
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Buy more memory cards, that should solve your delema about file size. It's a camera. If buying 2 or 3 more 512MB memory cards isn't enough then you're taking too much video and you're better off buying a video camera.
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