Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Digital Camera Movie Mode

Many of the digital cameras you find on the market today have a variety of fun and useful features. For example, you can easily switch between many different shooting modes depending on your subject and lighting conditions. Most cameras have a sports mode for action shots, a close-up mode for detailed shots, and maybe even a special mode for nighttime pictures. One of the best features of digital cameras, however, has to be the movie mode.

The exact specifications of the movie mode (or if your camera even has one) will depend on the make and model that you have, of course. But in general, movie modes allow you to record between one and two minutes of live footage, with sound and everything. The data is saved on your camera's memory card, usually in the form of an mpeg file. You can record as many of these mini movies as your memory card will hold. Later, you can upload the file to your computer and play the video back using Windows Media Player, or the equivalent. Most cameras allow you to watch videos in the preview window, just as you would be able to review regular photos.

This movie mode feature is great because of the versatility that it affords you. Instead of having to lug around your digital camera plus a camcorder on your next vacation, you can just bring the digicam. I don't know about you, but I never shoot more than a couple of minutes at a time with a real video camera anyway, so it doesn't bother me that the recording time on the digital camera is so short.

Movie mode can add a lot to your collection of vacation photos. You can take all your regular pictures, of course. Then when you get to a really interesting place or if you find something unique that you want to explain, you can switch over to movie mode and record your findings that way. The movie files are small enough that they can still fit onto the same CD as the rest of your photos, making it very easy to stay organized.

Another great use of the movie mode is for sharing videos with family or friends who live far away. For example, my husband's parents live quite a long way away from us, so they naturally complain that they are missing out on a lot of their grandson's "cute" toddler antics. They are too impatient to wait for us to fill a whole standard videotape, and they don't get as much satisfaction from seeing still photographs all the time. So what we do now is record my son on our digital camera's movie mode as he's playing or whatever. Then we coordinate a time to "meet" with my husband's parents online via one of the instant messaging services. Next, we transfer the newly minted mpeg movie file of our son using the instant messenger's file transferring feature. Since we both have high-speed internet connections, it only takes a couple of minutes to transfer the small files. The result is that my in-laws can watch a lot of short videos of my son engaging in everyday activities. They feel more connected to him and don't feel as though they're missing out as much. It's a nice compromise.

As you can see, there are many good uses for your digital camera's movie mode. Try it out today!

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