Choose Panasonic over Canon for digicam video capture

I am personally a fan of Canon digicams. And as you know, I am vigorously advocating that compression rates used on digicam video captures are really bad and they should not be used for that purpose. But if you really have no other alternative and you must shoot some good quality video with a digicam, get a Panasonic camera and not a Canon one. While this was a shock for me, Panasonic had their screw tightly screwed ON when they decided which shooting resolutions they would support.

Canon’s brand new SD900 and G7 for example use the also brand new Digic-III chip which is able to shoot XGA video at 15 fps. Unfortunately, the resolutions supported are XGA (15 fps) and then goes down to VGA/QVGA/QCIF resolution (at 15/30 fps). There is no interim SVGA/30fps option and there is no HD 480p widescreen capture mode either (848×480 for HD’s version of 480p, or 720×480 for DVD’s version of 480p).

Enter the also brand new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 and DMC-FZ50. Both are able to shoot: 1280×720/15fps and 848×480, 640×480, 320×240 at 30/10 fps. While I don’t like the fact that it only offers 30 or 10 fps (15 fps is more standard), the fact that it fully supports 30 fps at HD 480p resolution and 15 fps at a full 720p resolution, is amazing. Who needs an HD camcorder that sells for $1200 when you can get something equivelant for $400?

Please note that except Canon and Panasonic no other consumer digicam manufacturer offers such high-res video capture yet (they all go as high as VGA usually).

Given the fact that now you can even shoot a good quality music clip with a camera phone and that these digicams I mention above are many-many times better than the Nokia N93, it really blurs the picture between professional hardware and consumer one. I personally find this not only technologically interesting, but I also find it SOCIALLY interesting. You see, our first ever (cheap a$$) film camera at my home we bought in 1989. We never had a camcorder (my brother bought one just last year for the first time). Having grown up away from the luxuries of such gadgets and sudenly finding myself in a world that you can can get amazing quality hardware for so cheap, to me, this is amazing social progress. No longer you need to buy extremely expensive equipment to do video art, or to shoot test movies as a student director. These days, it can be done real cheap — as long as you have the right talent.

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