By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: A national buyer for Ted’s Cameras revealed his thoughts to on the ever-growing trend of hybrid digital still cameras with high definition video recording capability. Will hybrid cameras eventually replace camcorders altogether?

Video recording capability on digital still cameras is evolving to the point where with DSLRs, like Canon’s full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which records Full HD 1080p video, and Nikon’s D90, which records HD 720p video, you’re getting some features that camcorders can’t match because of the benefits of DSLRs.

In compact cameras, Canon’s SX 1 PowerShot, with its CMOS sensor, can shoot 1080p video at 30 frames per second. And Panasonic Australia has already replaced a camcorder with a hybrid. Panasonic Australia decided to discontinue its SW20 standard definition waterproof camcorder in favour of the new Lumix FT1 rugged waterproof hybrid, because it shoots HD video in AVCHD Lite.

The video quality from the DSLRs is stunning in the right hands because they have larger image sensors than camcorders and they offer the possibility to film with a wide variety of changeable lenses.

As these are hyrbrids, there are some downsides and one of these at the moment, on both the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90, is the video file size. The D90 only records up to 2 GB movie files. The EOS 5D Mark II shoots up to 4 GB file size, which will give around 12 minutes of HD footage in one block of shooting. Another issue of both DSLRs is they don’t have unlimited ability to manually adjust settings during filming.

A national camera buyer, Ted’s Cameras national product manager, Mark Allister, however sees the potential in hybrids.

“It’s probably better,” Allister said about the video image quality from the DSLRs. “It’s a little bit different because of the way you use the camera, it’s not like a conventional video camera, but the actual image sensor is quite a bit bigger than what’s in a compact video camera, so it gives more of a cinematic feel.

“Of course the other big plus is that you can change the lenses on an SLR, so you can change the whole aspect by using different lenses, so it gives you a different feel.”

Allister rated the sound quality. “I used one of them at the Indy last year and the sound was as good as what you get out of a video camera,” he said.

“The downside is that you can’t add too many accessories to it. The other downside of an SLR is that it’s quite a bit bigger than most video cameras so you can’t really stick it in your pocket, whereas video cameras are getting really small now, they’re almost pocketable, so video cameras still have a place because of their size.

“But I think people who are thinking about an SLR and a video camera will think of buying this to have the two things in one.

“SLRs are still a bit top end as far as the people who buy, at the moment anyway, but most people looking to upgrade their SLR see the feature of having video in their camera as a big plus.”