Friday, July 04, 2008

The future of video cameras

So, we're getting ready for a trip and really don't feel like lugging our Sony mini-DV camcorder along with our digital camera. Everyone's talking about the Flip Mino, so that would be a possibility. Then again, our still camera has a movie mode, with the same resolution as the Mino (640x480), except that it has a 12X optical zoom, better optics, and a better sensor. It doesn't have much in the way of video compression capability, storing its video as MJPEG (just a sequence of JPEG compressed frames), which means that videos require 1GB per 10 minutes or so. But that's not such a big deal these days. Even though it is discontinued and Konica Minolta is no longer in the camera business, there was a firmware update that allows it to use 2GB SD cards. A quick trip to Costco, and we have enough storage for our trip.

So, it seems that we're on the threshold of major change, not just in laptop computer mass storage, but also in video cameras. For those who need more than a cell phone or Mino -- and who aren't professionals -- what's the motivation behind getting anything other than a good digital camera with video capability? Pretty much every digital camera out there supports at least 640x480, or standard definition. They certainly have the sensors to capture HD. Flash memory prices will be low enough within the next couple years that it will really not make any sense to buy a hard drive camcorder. The only remaining question will be: do you really need to shoot 10 hours of video before the next time you'll be able to dump the video to a computer or DVD burner?

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