Digital Camera Movies
For many people being able to shoot short movie clips is an added attraction when buying a digital camera. With advances in technology the vast majority of digital cameras now have a movie facility. It is only cameras at the very low end of the range and professional cameras that are unlikely to be able to record movies.
If being able to record movies is important to you there are a number of factors that you need to look out for. All digital cameras are certainly not equal when it comes to their ability to record video clips.
To assess a digital camera's capabilities for shooting movies there are five key points to look out for.
The length of time that movies can be shot for is increasing. There are a number of digital cameras available that can record continuous movie footage until the memory card is full. Don't get carried away by this as even high capacity memory cards soon become full when you are shooting movies. Other cameras are more limited with many standard cameras being able to record around three to four minutes for each video you shoot.
The majority of digital cameras will offer you a choice of resolutions to shoot at. You can select the resolution that you wish to use by using the camera's menu system. Changing the resolution size has three main effects.
First the higher the resolution the larger the picture will appear when played back on a television set or computer monitor. Shooting at a resolution of 640x480 will provide a full screen picture. Lower resolutions will cause the picture to appear only in the middle of the screen.
Second a number of digital cameras will record for a longer time when a lower resolution is used. For example a high resolution of 640x480 may restrict the maximum amount of time a movie can be recorded for to a minute. Whilst shooting at a lower resolution of 320x240 could increase the maximum recording time to three minutes.
Third shooting at a high resolution creates a larger movie in terms of storage on a memory card. Therefore the higher the resolution you use the faster your memory card will become full.
With the advent of widescreen televisions a small number of digital cameras are now offering a resolution that ensures the movie will fill the entire screen.
Frames per second
The number of frames per second a movie can be recorded at relates to how smooth the movie will look when it is played back on screen. The more frames per second a digital camera is capable of recording at the smoother the movie will be. Cameras capable of shooting at thirty frames per second produce virtually flicker free movies whilst lower resolution will result in lower quality videos.
Colour or Black and White
Nowadays the vast majority of digital cameras will capture movies in colour. It is usually only cameras at entry level that are limited to black and white footage. Even so check the specification before you buy to make sure the camera can record in colour. Some cameras will offer you a choice of colour, black and white and sepia movies.
As with colour it is now highly likely that the movie clip will be recorded with sound. Again it tends to be at the lower end of the market that you find cameras unable to record sound with a movie.
There are a couple of downsides that you should be aware of before you start shooting movies. The first is that even short movies tend to be heavy users of memory cards. For example a 1 gigabyte storage card can only capture around fifteen minutes of footage when recording at a rate of thirty frames per second with a resolution of 640x480.
Another downside is that shooting and playing back movies on the camera's LCD screen chews up batteries very quickly.
You may notice that some cameras also offer time lapse movies. A time lapse movie is a series of still shots. When the shots are shown one after the other they create a movie effect. Time lapse movies are typically used to record a flower opening or to plot the path of clouds moving across the sky.