Shooting Video With a Point and Shoot Camera

Learn about the hardware needed to shoot HD video with your camera

Young woman in warm clothing in snow taking photo with digital camera

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With so many new cameras offering the ability to shoot high-definition video, many people are replacing a digital camcorder with a still image camera, giving them both video and still images. If you want to create point and shoot movies, you really need to do some homework before buying a new camera, making sure it includes the exact features you want.

Tips for Using the Movie Mode

Use these tips to make the most of your point and shoot camera's movie mode, finding the type of hardware you need to make the most of your point and shoot movie capabilities.

If you’re in a hurry, finding the right buttons for movie shooting can be tricky. Be sure to test your camera’s movie mode before you need it in a pinch.

Understanding Frame Rate and Resolution

When you're looking to purchase a beginner-level camera that you plan to use to shoot HD video, it's important to know that the camera has the features that will meet your needs. Make sure you know the maximum video resolution that the camera can record, usually 1080p or 720p. Also, make sure you know what type of speed the camera can offer with point and shoot movies. Anything less than 24 frames per second probably will significantly affect image quality in a negative way.

With many cameras, you can shoot at a variety of video resolutions. Full HD, 1080p movies will be extremely high quality, sharp movies, but they’ll require far more storage space than VGA movies, for example. Even shooting at 720p HD mode will provide plenty of resolution for viewing on a TV.

Start Recording

To begin shooting movies, your camera probably has one of three options.

  1. First, you may be able to turn the mode dial to movie mode (usually marked with an icon that looks like a movie camera) and then press a record button or the shutter button.
  2. Second, you may have to look through the camera's on-screen menus to find and activate the movie mode, which you then can start and stop with the shutter button, which is the case with the GE E1680W.
  3. Third, you may have a dedicated movie recording button, possibly marked with a movie camera icon or a red dot/record icon. Just pressing this dedicated button will start and stop the movie recording. If you plan to shoot a lot of movies, the dedicated movie button probably is the best option, as it will be the fastest and easiest to access. However, point and shoot cameras with a dedicated movie button tend to cost more.

To Zoom or Not to Zoom

In addition, you will want to make sure that the camera's optical zoom lens is available while shooting point and shoot movies. With some beginner-level cameras, the zoom does not work as you shoot HD movies, meaning you'll have to move closer and farther from your subject, which can be difficult while you're staring at an LCD screen. Some beginner cameras allow you to use the zoom, but their autofocus mechanisms work slowly when you zoom while shooting a movie, which will cause image quality problems.

Holding the camera steady while shooting video can be difficult because most point and shoot cameras do not have a viewfinder. Pressing the camera's viewfinder against your eye while shooting a movie can help you hold the camera steady. Without a viewfinder, you may want to use a tripod with the camera while shooting a movie, just to ensure the camera remains steady.

Using Sound

To record sound with your movies, make sure the camera’s internal microphone is turned on and operating. You will need to work through the camera’s menus to find the audio settings. Or, better yet, make use of an external microphone, if your point and shoot camera has a port for an external microphone. Unfortunately, some beginner-level cameras don't offer this port.

Using the Right Memory Card

Finally, make sure that you’re using a large capacity, high-speed memory card whenever you’re shooting movies with your point and shoot camera, especially if you’re shooting HD video. Without the right memory card, you could experience problems when shooting movies. Some cameras will simply stop shooting the movie if they cannot move the data from the camera buffer to the memory card quickly enough, which will be extremely frustrating.