Saturday, August 30, 2008

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Canon digital still-camera captures motion better than the camcorders!


Wanna make indipendent films without jagged motion?
Wanna see videos in full resolution on a computer screen?

Get a professional camcorder or... Canon digital still-camera!!!

A paradox, but seems to be true for the most camcorders... :)

See frames-comparison at the end of the article.

I've been in a great hesitation what digital camcorder to buy in order to make my movies with, but I still stick to my good-old Canon Powershot A540 still-camera. And it is for a reason...

What digital camcorder to buy - a buying guide by Tosh

The main concerns were video quality and ease of frame-by-frame editing, camera is intended mostly for movie-making. ( Well, it wasn't so simple, but let's simplify it. :) )

So what kind of storage to use?

1. Mini-DV
2. DVD
3. HDD
4. SD Card

It seemed, that my main goals directly lead to MiniDV with its inter-frame compression of 25 Mbit/s and frame-by-frame!

However, mini-DV video is interlaced and the motion looks terrible on a PC screen - my movies wouldn't make it to TV directly :)

So video should be de-interlaced. But after being deinterlaced, the video looses one half of its vertical resolution and it doesn't look nice. Thus with miniDV you seem to get higher quality, which however should be deinterlaced and screwed up???

What about the other formats?

DVD, SD, HDD - usually use MPEG2, up to 9 Mbit/s. Must be decoded during editing, which is less convenient, decompression and recompression leads to more quality losses, and fast motion is supposed to look bad.

However, I thought that MPEG2 cameras are deinterlaced on-the-fly, so this might be better?
I thought so, until I did play with a 2007 Sony HDD camera - Sony DCR SR-200.

Interlaced, also!!! Terrible... But is it like that for all?

I am afraid that in order to be satisfied with the look of the motion of the video, I need either progressive scan, i.e. professional camcorder or Canon HD pro-sumer camcorder. In the worst case, I have to stick to my wonderful piece of engineering Canon A540 or get a newer model. :)

Canon Powershot A540 (2006) - Professional video with digital still-camera!

- MJPEG, about 15 Mbit/s (tweakable by CHDK), allowing painless frame by frame editing.
- Progressive scan and nice looking motion blur.
- Convenient reviewing of videos and even editing with the camera itself.


- No image stabilization.
- Limited zoom - only 4x and no good control of its speed (vs. like 10x - 45x and control of the speed of zoom)
- No exposure control and manual focus.
- Just 11 kHz mono sound
- Limited storage - maximum 2 GB SD cards, less than 20 minutes per card.
- Slightly lower resolution (640 x 480 vs 720x576)


Video with Digital Still-Camera (Canon A540)

Note the smooth motion-blur

Video with a camcorder (Sony DCR SR-200, HDD)

PS. Actually, while playing those "ghosting" effect is not so noticeable... But if you want to take a frame from the video - surpriiiiiize!

Whatever... Interlacing sucks... ;-)

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