There was a time when many said DSLR cameras with video capabilities wouldn't make much sense, but look where we are today. Now we're starting to see point and shoot cameras offering more into HD video features, but it's still nothing to get too excited about. Point and shoot cameras with HD Video still aren't quite at a level to make any filmmaker go nuts - but then again there are guys spending big bucks shooting short movies and music videos through an iPhone. Here's three cameras that have already made it as winners in this years popularity contest, but should be even more popular during the holidays. If you're like me, and you've got friends asking you about what new camera they should be getting into, keep an eye out for the Canon S95, Canon G12, and Nikon P7000.
Canon Powershot S95 Images
I'll dive into some fun novelty features that these cameras have built in on a different post, but for now a quick highlight of the external hardware and basic features. The Canon S95 is an improvement over the already popular S90. Many settings can be controlled manually like shutter, aperture, ISO, and white balance. For photos, the S95 can also shoot in RAW which will give you more dynamic range to edit images in post. A friend of mine recently took the Canon Powershot S95 on vacation and found the camera's ability to take such nice pictures in it's auto settings, there was no need to shoot in RAW and edit later. For serious photographers, the manual settings and RAW photo options are great features in a pocketable Point and Shoot camera. All three cameras use SDHC media cards for storage and are HD video capable @720 24fps with HDMI out as well as a port for USB AV out.
Canon Powershot G12 Images
Unlike the other two larger cameras, the Canon S95 does not have a hotshoe option and very little analog dials / buttons to manually change camera settings. If you're willing to carry a slightly larger camera, the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000 will get you closer to that DSLR feeling. These camera have several dials and buttons dedicated to quickly change camera settings. On the Canon G12 there's a single dial dedicated to ISO, and a single dial dedicated for Exposure compensation. Another dial controls the main menu for AV, TV, Video, and one more jog dial on the back controls the shutter speed. It's not in familiar places, but with short time you'll master these controls.
Comparing the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000, the Canon can accept a remote shutter. The Nikon P7000 does not have a port for this. For travelers who want to fire the camera remotely, or control it via Intervalometer (timer remote) for some nice Timelapse photography or to trigger for HDR bracketing, the Canon G12 would be the better camera. FYI - The remote does not start video mode. Also take note, the Canon G12 uses the same connection as the T2i or Canon 60D. The intervalometer shown is one I use for the larger DSLR's found here: http://cheesycam.com/canon-60d-timer-remote-timelapse/
Nikon Coolpix P7000 Images
For video mode, the Nikon P7000 does have an external Mic input. That's a very nice surprise for someone that is planning to do more video work than photos on this smaller camera. I can see myself mounting an LED video light and a good external microphone to enhance the whole video experience. Perhaps a tiny camera cage stabilizer would make it even more fun to take around events. One super huge advantage Canon has is that this type of camera has existed for many many years. Many adapters, lenses, and accessories have been designed for earlier G10 & G11 bodies, which is still compatible to the G12. You can find some additional Telephoto adapters, Macro Filters, and Wide angle lenses for the Canon G12 here: Canon G10, G11, and G12 Adapter, Lenses, and Filters
Even the Canon OEM waterproof housing for the G11 is compatible with the G12. This already makes for a perfect underwater HD video camera on the cheap. Special wide angle lenses, fisheyes, and step up Macro filters are widely available through Canon and aftermarket companies. Since this is something new for Nikon, I can't even locate the lens adapter for the P7000 yet. Hopefully we'll start seeing some new accessories for the P7000 by end of year to further expand it's usability.
Nikon P7000 with Ikan Fly Kit, Rode VM, and Z96 LED Light
Since the Nikon P7000 has a 3.5mm input for an external Microphone, I quickly threw on my Rode VideoMic. Next I mounted it to the Ikan FlyKit DSLR Stabilizer (I'll get to that later). With a Flexible Power Arm, I also mounted the Z96 LED video light. I have nothing interesting to record right now, but testing it out, everything works great and the image stabilization in the Nikon performed well. I'm not sure if there's a way to set the video to 'manual' mode but I did notice some exposure changes in the video while running around. I'll have more stuff to show on the Ikan FlyKit DSLR Stabilizer soon.
I know people will be looking for information about these popular cameras during the coming holidays, so i'll have more information to come. There's a ton of things I haven't covered like built in ND filters, Hybrid Image Stabilization, registering Custom Settings, built in Effects like Fisheye and Miniature Filters, built in HDR Processing, and much much more. I'll try to get it to it soon, but there's more technical specs at the product pages below. Showing right to left Canon S95, Canon G12, and Nikon P7000.
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