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Old May 20, 2004, 8:35 AM   #1
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hi all,

first i wanna thank Steve for this magnificant site. i've been visiting here for more than 3 years and now i registered coz i wanted to hear about your opinions about my new camera needs.

now i have an old but cool olympus d490z and i know it's time to go for an update. weirdly i want the new one record videos too 'efficiently' with a reasonable zoom function like x6 or more.

as far as i saw, Canon S1 IS and Minolta Z2 were ok about those but the videos they produce consume a lot of space. what i want is to be able to record at least an hour (uncut) video especiallythe concerts igo to. i prefer avi over mpg or mov and i want to have an 640x480 or 320x240 option. i know 640x480 30fps will consume a lot but i want that as an option too.

i could buy acam(dvd)corderas well if u can advice some but this time they have a very lame still pic capabilities. i wanna be able to take good pictures when i spend that much of money on it. i feel hopeless inbetween. i can spend upto $650 for this.

Steve please help me! what would u suggest me to do? and of course everyone else, i would appreciate any kinds of suggestions.



thanks

h.


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Old May 20, 2004, 12:02 PM   #2
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The best video I have seen on a digicam is the Fuji S5000 and the S7000.
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Old May 21, 2004, 11:33 AM   #3
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Videos DO consume a lot of space...you have to think of it in terms of video taking 30 (or 25) pictures a second...then you realize how much space video needs.

Unfortunately there are compromises going both ways...digicams take great photos but mediocre video that takes up a lot of space (even the Oly C-770 with its MPEG-4), and camcorders take great video but very low resolution photos.

You have to decide which is more important to you, and then buy it. If they are equally important, then you will have to make some compromises. In that situation, personally I'd be looking at the older market...go to a camera outlet store (if you have one) and get say a 3mp camera and an older (but still new) camcorder.
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Old May 22, 2004, 3:19 AM   #4
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thanks for the advices. iknow quality videos need that amount of space to be written, but in my opinion, the cam companies should have done better about compressing especially mpeg4 videos. thefiles their cams produce are almost uncompressed. but in overall, of course it's not their priority and also i personally think that this is a marketing issue.people like mehas to buy both a digicam and a camcorder.



i think i'll go for a mini-dvd camcorder and still won't be happy. thanks a lot.



h.
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Old May 22, 2004, 9:16 AM   #5
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Actually, a good video recorder will offer an NTSC film frame rate (23.976) which will save you memory (or tape) on the missing 6 frames per second that can easily be reconstructed later in hardware (like a DVD player) or software (like TMPG Enc or Adobe Premiere). Almost every DVD you buy and all movies at the theatre you watch use this technique. May not seem like much for quick videos, but for 1-hour long sessions like you want, it adds up =)

In my opinion, because of the sheer price you pay, analog camcorders are still a best buy. I've seen some digital camcorder recordings and the resolution they offer, I wasn't impressed. Standard 8mm film exported to PC can have the same resolutions and has a few advantages over its digital brothers. Memory is never an issue since each tape (typically) stores 2 hours low, or 1 hour high quality and its battery life is much longer. I admit digital camcorders are more convenient for computer use, but I just don't find it quantifiable for the price they sell them for.

It's up to you on what you want to get, but ask yourself one simple question. Which are you going to use most, taking pictures or taking movies? Whichever you answer, that should be the hardware you set your goals on. For the price you pay on a digital camcorder, you can get a very high quality digital camera. But do you want motion or motionless media =) I suggest browsing around looking for sample digital camcorder videos before buying one. It may change your mind.
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Old May 22, 2004, 9:21 AM   #6
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I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with the comment that the S7000 has the best video capability.

Yes, it does have one of the best FRAME RATES (30 fps), so as far as the video being "fluid" and not jerky, yes, it's very good at that. Also, it does not limit the amount of time you can take a video at. As long as you're using a reasonably fast memory card you can keep taking video until memory runs out - which will be quick, as I think it's been quoted that 9 minutes of video takes up close to a gig of space!

The part I would disagree with is "quality" of the videos. For whatever reason, Fuji's trend lately has been to compress the hell out of the still photos in many of their newer model cameras - some don't even offer compression/quality settings at most sizes, anymore. This trend seemed to carry over into the video side, too. I took a 640x480 video using a Canon A70, and one with the S7000, and the A70's video is *clearly* sharper. The S7000's video is again, more fluid being twice the frame rate, but you can see some artifacts and choppiness to detail in the Fuji videos. They almost reminded me of the Sony Mavica videos, which compressed heavily "way back when" in order to fit them on floppies.

To the original poster: Others are saying this - video on cameras takes lots of memory, and you're not (at this time) going to get around that. As others have posted, if video is more important, get a camcorder. If it's not, the S1 would be a decent choice, but look for sales, as I think $499 is slightly pushing it.

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Old May 23, 2004, 9:37 AM   #7
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thanks for the digital camcorder quality warnings theghost. i'll try to find some samples. i used sony's hi8 before and their videos were really great, but it takes a lot of time to do conversions to optimizedavi files or so. my house is like a digital lab already and i spend a lot of time on those. now i want a 'machine' that could save my time.

i haven't seen any samples from a dvdcam or minidv cam yet. i'll have a look at them. from your comments i got it as they are not as good as prior technology cams.

greg, i agree with you in fuji videos. for a digicam, s1 is number1 in my mind because of itsflawless videos and great photo quality. as far as i saw, fuji and minoltaz2 videos were not that good.

now i'm looking at 3ccd cams too because people keep saying the quality they produce is the best and i saw panasonic has very small oneslike a photo cam.the higher models can take even 2mp still pictures but they are pretty expensive.

still in progress.

thanks to everybody who made comments on the issue.

h.
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Old May 24, 2004, 10:06 PM   #8
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h-guy,

I went through somewhat the same decision myself recently-- i.e. looking for something that's both good at videos and still pictures. From playing with various cameras that might qualify, here is what I found...

Mintola Z2
It may be a good camera, but I just can't bring myself to accept the space-age styling and cheap feel of the body/controls, so I eliminated it on this basis alone.

Canon S1 IS
I feel this is the camera that comes the closest to fullfilling the promise of both video and still pictures in a single package. The only downside I could see was the small LCD screen & somewhat lackluster still pictures. It's not that the quality of the pictures is bad-- they're just not as good as that of the best $500-range cameras. I came very close to buying this one.

Fuji S5000/S7000
Quality of still images is poor on these cameras due to overly agressive JPEG compression. And as others have mentioned, this heavy compression is present in the camera's movie mode as well. I eliminated these models from consideration for this fact alone.

Olympus 770
I have not seen this camera yet, but it sounds like it might be a real winner-- i.e. MPEG4 for smaller movie file sizes. The downsides would be use of xD cards (expensive media) and how the Olympus 7xx series bodies feels like a slippery bar of soap.

Panasonic FZ10
Yes, I realize this isn't the best cross-over model. However, this camera has an above average movie mode-- It can do 320x240 @ 30fps with file size limited only by the memory card. These specs are identifical to that of the Fuji S5000, but I was shocked at how much sharper the FZ10's movies looked compared to the Fuji. This camera also takes first rate still pictures and has one of the most solid feeling/professional looking bodies in it's price range.

In the end I decided quality still pictures were more important to me than movies, so I went for the Panasonic. I have found the Panasonics movie mode to be excellent for what it is (very sharp and fluid, but low resolution) and find it looks about as good as a VHS camcorder when played back on the TV.

If you insist on getting a camera that is equally good at both, I feel your only two real choices are the Canon S1 IS or the Olympus C770. I would like to see Steve do a head-to-head comparison of these two models.
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Old May 24, 2004, 11:08 PM   #9
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h-guy wrote:
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thanks for the advices. iĀ*know quality videos need that amount of space to be written, but in my opinion, the cam companies should have done better about compressing especially mpeg4 videos.
You're forgetting one issue, the camera needs temporary storage while it is doing all this processing. We're spoiled by computers...they have infinate power reserves (when plugged into AC), lots of temporary storage on the hard drive while processing, lots of internal memory, cache memory, not to mention lots of processing power!

The average digital camera only has enough internal memory to temporarily store its largest picture size (say an uncompressed TIFF or RAW), and the picture just stays in there long enough until it is written to the memory card. If you ever looked inside a digital camera, there's not much room for more hardware. And if you added more processing power to the camera, that means shorter battery life.
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Old May 25, 2004, 4:11 AM   #10
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Mikefellh wrote:
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You're forgetting one issue, the camera needs temporary storage while it is doing all this processing. We're spoiled by computers...they have infinate power reserves (when plugged into AC), lots of temporary storage on the hard drive while processing, lots of internal memory, cache memory, not to mention lots of processing power!

The average digital camera only has enough internal memory to temporarily store its largest picture size (say an uncompressed TIFF or RAW), and the picture just stays in there long enough until it is written to the memory card. If you ever looked inside a digital camera, there's not much room for more hardware. And if you added more processing power to the camera, that means shorter battery life.
well.. of course you are right.

the reason of my 'rebelling' was because we pay a lot and we still cannot haveone singlemachine for both photos and videos we like to take. i've been scanning the reviews of camcorders for the last 2 days and i'm amazed how 'bad' they are. in addition, i cannot believe they define taking these terrible still shots as a specification of their cameras. they are useless.

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