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Old Dec 18, 2006, 5:39 PM   #1
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Is it true that Aiptek MPVR and similar hybrids have better video quality than plain old digital cameras with video capability?

I've seen some slim digital cameras like Casio Exilim that can take MPEG4 video with VGA resolution at 30 frames/s. How does the video quality of such cameras compare to the hybrid camcorders?

Also, what are some of the digital camers under $300 that have excellent video with MPEG4 compression?

Thx.
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Old Dec 18, 2006, 11:10 PM   #2
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Most of the "Name Brand" digital camera owners hang out in other parts of Steves Forums. Hopefully, there are some who have both and can answer your question.

If you have done some research and have models in mind, check to see if there is a review of the model in Steves Digicams. Then go to theSteves Forum for the manufacturer and ask about the video on that model.

My old Nikon 5200 has pretty good video, but uses Quicktime .MOV format and goes thrua memorycard in a hurry!
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 1:01 AM   #3
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This is difficult to give a simple answer to.

The video capabilities of both hybrids and digital still cameras vary widely. Very widely.

Pretty well all the hybrids take video using mpeg4 compression. This means they have excellent capacity, at some cost to quality. Dsc's, on the other hand, have only recently started using mpeg4. Which means most of them take uncompressed video. Which looks better than mpeg4 video, but sucks up memory like crazy, fills up your computer's hard drive, and is cumbersome to edit.

I can only give you an example. I have a Digilife DDV-920, and a Samsung Digimax i6. Approximate costs were $150 and $250. Both take mpeg4 video at 640x480/30fps.
Both have ccd sensors.

The Digilife takes less grainy video in dim light, and has a much better microphone. Video taken with the 920 in daylight is more detailed than the Samsung, because it's not compressed as much.

However, the Samsung is my choice for daylight filming because it has an optical zoom, the sensor is not as affected by bright highlights, it has better image stabilzation, it gets itself ready to work in far less time, the shots don't suffer from dimmed perimeters, it has a lens cover, and it has a whole bunch of sub-functions that just plain work far better than the Digilife's. Like a 1cm super-marcro mode.

But, the 920 has a remote control, pivoting screen, and video-in capability. So I need to have both.

(I used the video-in port on the 920 today to record some old camcorder footage. Then, in a video editing program, I was able to slice up the footage, delete junk, and reorder the pieces as needed. Amazing to be able to do this, and the 920's video-in port is the key piece of the puzzle.)

Anything using MPEG4 will be compressing the video considerably, which means some loss of quality. This isn't as big a deal as the dramatic reduction in file size might indicate, because the compression is done very cleverly, and video derives "quality" partly from the fact the subject matter usually is moving. If subject matter is not moving, compression is greatly reduced or even eliminated. Shot using a tripod, MPEG4 video looks excellent.

Any video other than using MPEG4 means that the video will be very much more detailed, but will fill up your memory like crazy. The file sizes will be so large you'll probably be unable to edit them into a movie on a home pc. It's also common to reduce the frame rate just to keep the data throughput within the limits of the camera's processor, bus etc. This means that the nice sharp video will show distinclty jerky motion at, say 20 frames per second. Bear in mind that 640x480 at 30fps means the camera is taking thirty 640x480 stills per second.

Another must is image stabilization for video. These small cameras have no mass to dampen movement. Optical image stabilization is better than digital IS.

Try to get something that allows you to operate the optical zoom during video capture, and if possible, does not mute the audio track while zooming.

So there's a lot to consider. Some people who review dsc's have enough interest in the video mode that they acutally review that mode seriously.
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 7:10 AM   #4
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1. the Aiptek MPVR can be Purchased in a store, most other hybrids are online purchases.

2 Mpeg4 compression has been around for over 6years and started out as an Avi format. the larger file . compressing further with Asf format.

casio compaired to the Aiptek, hands down casio.

Remember the hybrids in this section are

"PC HYBRID CAMCORDERS"

they are a multi functional unit that does it all, but lack the better qualities of a Professional device, if it is a camera, camcorder, mp3 player , voice recorder, card reader, webcamera, playback uni, andset top box recorder

Imagine carrying all those items with you?
MPEG4 has been around over 6 years , avi format, now compressedfurther to Asf format. other cameras Use .mov, MJpg, Avi and are a greater filesize

15 minutes on a 1 gig card , over a 48-1 hr 30 minutes on hybrid.
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 12:25 PM   #5
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sgspirit, great post!

I wish there was some kind of a side by side comparison of video quality for different digital cameras/camcorders.
I'm deciding between Aiptek MPVR and Casio Exilim EX-P505. I only care about the picture and video quality. I can't care less about the MP3 and voice record functionality. EX-P505 has stereo sound, 5x optical zoom, and MPEG-4 compresson. So it looks very attractive. I wonder if it will take better video than Aiptek and other hybrids.
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 12:37 PM   #6
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cannot afford every model but I looked into that camera what only stopped me was no view finder.

I grab that over the aiptek. why Optical zoom. no questions about it.


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Old Dec 19, 2006, 2:17 PM   #7
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Part of the reason I don't post video samples is that unless they are taken on different cameras at exactly the same time, of the same scene, it's not a level playing field. That's why camera reviewers use the same subject matter for all the cameras they test.

Yes, it's certainly worthwhile trying to get better video performance, but I'd venture that the scene and the skill of the user will make a bigger difference than all minor "hardware" differences. After all, when I decided to rely on relatively cheap hybrids to get video footage, rather than a camcorder, I was making a decision to make a huge sacrifice in technical quality, in order to get other advantages.

The good thing is that this forces you to adopt the best filiming techniques. Superior technique with a lousy camera will get usable images, but bad technuque with even the best equipment is a waste of time. There are lots of sites on the Internet with tips for getting good video footage.

(Besides, good technique requires no hardware, no batteries, no memory card, starts up instantly, costs nothing to use, and can't be stolen, lost or broken.)

As I mentioned, I just edited a bunch of footage originally taken with a real camcorder. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to use image stabilization, and the person who shot the video was using panning and zooming almost continuously. They didn't seem to have put much thought into what would make presentable clips. The end result was footage that's not as good as I shoot with the hybrids. More detail, yes, but overall it gives you eyestrain to watch it.

So I wouldn't worry too much unless a camera's video looks like crap. The Casio's optical zoom is a big advantage over the Aiptek. As long as it has image stabilization, and given you don't care about the mp3 etc, it sounds like a fine choice.

You might also check out the Samsung NV3, NV7 and NV10.
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 4:49 PM   #8
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sgspirit, I like your point about good filming technique. Extensive zooming and panning can easily spoil any video taken even with an excellent camcorder. This is actually the reason I thought I don't really need a camera with a powerful zoom, but on the other hand, I want to be able to frame the scene. Also, image stabilization seems to be pretty important.

Thank you for suggesting the Samsung NV series, I'll definitely take a look at those. Are there any other digital cams with MPEG4 worth considering?
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Old Dec 19, 2006, 6:51 PM   #9
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Hi isusanin
Like you I am looking at dsc with MPEG4 video. I would like to share with of my findings. Those with MPEG4 thatcaught my attention are :

Samsung i6, NV3 and NV10, Casio Z60 & Z850, Kodak V610 & C875 and Pentax S7 & A10

From reading the specification of each camera andconsideration, here are my comments.

I like Samsung but unfortunately there is no Samsung dealer in my area for me to hand-try the camera. So I have to 'strike' it out from my list :sad:

As for Casio, it got very goodrating for it's still picture. Someone told me that it can capture 30 mins in 1Gb, but from the specification, I calculated the result to be as below :

HQ = 640 x 480 resolution at 30 fps and an approximate file size of 4.0 MB/sec (4.3 mins per 1Gb)

Normal = 640 x 480 at 30 fps with an approximate file size of 2.1 MB/sec (8.1 mins per 1Gb)

LP = 320 x 240 at 15 fps with an approximate file size of 745 KB/sec (22.9 mins per 1Gb)

So Casio is out from my list. Unless someone tell me my calculation is wrong

Now I am undecide between Kodak C875 and Pentax S7. The considering point between these two for me are :

Battery: Kodak AA vs Pentax Lithium. AA is cheaper but I was told Lithium give stronger power for camera. Anyone can help to give opinion on this?

Movie file type : Kodak MOV vs Pentax AVI. My hybrid camera give me AVI and I have been doing wonderful editing jobwith my Ulead Video studio. As for MOV, I have not try before. Will it be the same as AVI? Oh, yes..forvideo length in 1Gb card, Pentax can store about 40mins. But for Kodak, I couldn'tfind anything about it.


Well, isusanin, I hope this help.

P.S. I just got feedback about AA vs Lithium in another forum. I will share it with you here.

From : mrb

From my research I believe that Li-Ion batteries pack more power relative to their size, therefore they are usually lighter, making the camera lighter. They also have a slower discharge rate than NiMH batteries. To get a second battery for a Li-Ion camera will be more expensive at first.

For me, I chose a camera with AA's, just in case. We went on vacation last year, and my daughter forgot the charger for her Li-Ion Olympus battery, so she could not use the camera.






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Old Dec 19, 2006, 7:41 PM   #10
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I just recently purchased the Samsung NV3 and all I can say is WOW. The quality of this camera is amazing. Circuit City had it on-line for $229.99 (it says $299.99 but when you select to add it to your shopping cart, it automatically deducts $70!). It is 7.2 megapixel and records MPEG4 in 640x480 @ 30 frames or 720X480 @ 20 frames. The photos and video quality is excellent and the optical zoom works while recording video. The Casio's optical zoom is disabled during video recording (at least with the S600 and S700).
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