As the electronics in digital cameras become more powerful, they are increasingly being put to the task of recording video. The Canon Powershot S1 iS does a pretty good job, recording movies at 640x480 resolution, 30 frames-per-second speed, allowing zooming, and updating the exposure in real-time.
Its limitation that we focus on is the maximum clip length of 8 minutes (can't record your children's school concert) at the highest resolution. What other limitations are there?
The new DSC-M1 digital camera from Sony claims to take movie making to the next stage. Here are some of its features:
* Stereo microphone
* Movies recorded in MPEG4 format, which allows longer movies in the same size of memory card -- 48 minutes on a 1GB memory card (by my calculation) at highest quaility.
*Hybrid mode that continuously records and saves five seconds of video, but in lowest quality 320x240 15fps mode. When you press the shutter button, the last five plus the next three seconds are saved. The hybrid comes in because a still photo is also taken when the shutter is pressed: five second of video, a high-resoution photo, and three seconds of video. The reviewers at Imaging Resource note that there is a one second gap in the video on either side of the still image.
* Burst mode takes 16 photos at a speed of 7.5, 15, or 30 fps. I am guessing this is in movie mode, but records them as photographs. Digital Camera Resource notes that the viewfinder shuts off during this mode.
This is an interesting camera that screams to me: version 1.0. The M1 gives us an idea of what is possible for a digital camera, but is just a stepping stone, because many of the exciting features seem partially implimented.