Buying a digital camera can be an expensive venture, especially if you are interested in taking both still photographs and videos. While you can buy a separate digital camera for each activity, it is more cost effective to buy a combination digital camera. This article will provide you with the pros and cons of several combination digital cameras that are designed to take both still photographs and videos.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 Digital Camera (Best for novice to intermediate photographers.)
$600 suggested retail price
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 Digital Camera is Sony’s answer to previous problems with combination digital still and video cameras. They increased the resolution of its still camera features to a fantastic 5.1 megapixel CCD. This allows you to print out quality prints 8 X20 and larger, a great feature that avid photographers should appreciate. To help reduce the problems with small viewfinders, this camera offers a 2.5-inch LCD screen that provides easy photo composition, or video viewing. The lens on this camera is a Carl Zeiss Vario Tesser 3x, 6.7-20.1mm lens, which translates to a 38-114mm traditional film camera lens. Focus range for this camera is limited to 1.6 feet and farther. One drawback is that the camera’s computer automatically controls exposure length, and there are a limited number of pre-set exposures and functions that can be used to create still photographs.
The movie mode is limited to capturing 640 X 480 or 320 X 240-pixel resolution moving scenes with sound. The amount of time that the camera will record is based on the size of the memory card that you are using. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M1 uses MPEG4 code instead of MPEG1 like other cameras. The benefit of this feature is that it allows the camera to capture better quality moving images. Another advantage of this camera is that it allows you to record in slow motion by using speed burst image clusters. Another drawback of this camera is that it initially comes with a 32MB memory stick duo, which is not adequate for recording movie clips, or for capturing more than a dozen or two photos at a time.
Canon PowerShot S2 IS Digital Camera (Best for all types of photographers)
$499 suggested retail price
The next combination digital camera that is available is the Canon PowerShot S2 IS Digital Camera. It has a slightly lower megapixel count than the Sony Cyber-shot, with a megapixel resolution of 5.0. It has a high enough resolution, however, to print out quality photographs from 8 X 10 to 11 X 17 with some cropping of the images. Its viewing screen is also a bit smaller than the Sony model, as the Canon viewfinder is only 1.8 inches, however this is still large enough to be easy to use.
This camera has many advantages over other combination digital cameras offered by the competition. First it provides the ability to manually set the exposure length, aperture priority, and shutter priorities so more experienced photographers have more control over their compositions. It also has several pre-set modes that make taking quality photographs easier for novices and intermediate users. These qualities make this camera great for family events and professional compositions. Other advantages of this camera include: image stabilization, AF Assist Beam, ability to record up to one hour of movie with sound per clip, stereo sound recording, stitch-assist mode for panoramic shots, night display for clearer dark pictures, USB cable and video cable options.
Samsung SCD5000 DuoCam MiniDV Camcorder/ 4MP Digital Still Camera
(Best for people who want higher quality digital videos, and who take still photographs occasionally.)
$999.99 suggested retail price
The Samsung SCD5000 is a high quality digital camcorder that also has still photograph capabilities. It is best suited for people who will use the DV camcorder option more than the still photograph option. It is lightweight, weighing only about 1.4 pounds. It has a lower resolution for still photographs than the other two combination cameras that were highlighted in this article, as the Samsung model only has a megapixel resolution of 4.0. While it does have a lower megapixel resolution, it does still have the ability to print quality images up to 2272 X 1704, which are fine for larger color prints. Its 3x optical zoom allows for close-ups and other digital features allow the user to capture low light images with higher quality than other cameras of similar make. You can store still images on a memory stick, and/or you can transfer images to your computer using the included USB. The drawbacks for the still photograph mode of this camera is that the camera does have a lower megapixel resolution than other comparable cameras, and it doesn’t allow for manual adjustments or manipulations of the exposure lengths or shutter options.
The digital camcorder mode of this camera has the advantage of allowing you to select from three different video image capturing modes: 680K pixel CCD, MiniDV, and MPEF4. The lens makes it possible for digital zoom to take place while recording up to 800x, or 10x with the optical zoom. This camera also has Power Nite Pix function, which allows movies to be taken in low light conditions. Finally this camera offers a 2-inch LCD viewfinder that lends to its ease of use.
While this camera has many of the features that novice and professional photographers are looking for, the reviews for its use are mixed. In addition to being nearly one thousand dollars to purchase, compared to about $500 for comparable models, this combination camera has been criticized for poor low light image quality, and poor performance with indoor shots. Other problems that were reported related to malfunctions and distortions that developed on video images when using the zoom lens features.
When you are deciding on which combination digital camera to buy do a little research on your own. Go to an electronic store that allows you to try out the camera before you buy it. See images that were created by each camera that you are considering, and see how easy each model is to use. Finally, choose a camera that will meet your electronic and photography skill level. Buying a digital camera is an expensive investment, so make sure you are buying the right camera for you before you pay $500 to $1000.