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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Now that cameras offer the ability to shoot high-definition video, many people are replacing a digital camcorder with a still image camera, giving them the ability to take both video and still images. Here are a few tips on how to make better videos with a point and shoot camera.

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 you plan to shoot HD video with, it's important to know the camera has the features you need. Make sure you know the maximum video resolution 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 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 are extremely high quality, sharp movies, but they require far more storage space than VGA movies, for example. Even shooting at 720p provides plenty of resolution for viewing on a TV while taking up less space.

How to Start Recording

Generally, you can record video with a point and shoot camera in one of three ways:

  • You may be able to turn the mode dial to Movie Mode (usually marked with an icon that looks like a movie camera), then press a Record button or the shutter button.
  • You may have to look through the camera's on-screen menus to find and activate the movie mode, which you then start and stop with the shutter button.
  • You may have a dedicated movie recording button, possibly marked with a movie camera icon or a red dot/record icon. Pressing this starts and stops the movie recording. If you plan to shoot a lot of movies, the dedicated movie button is probably your best option, since it's the fastest and easiest to access. But, point and shoot cameras with a dedicated movie button tend to cost more.

To Zoom or Not to Zoom

Before buying a point and shoot, you want to make sure the camera's optical zoom lens is available while recording movies. Some entry-level cameras don't have this feature, which means you'll have to physically move closer and farther from your subject. This can be difficult while you're staring at an LCD screen. Some beginner cameras allow you to use the zoom, but their auto focus mechanisms work slowly while shooting a movie, causing some image quality problems.

Hold Steady

Holding the camera steady while shooting video can be difficult because most point and shoot cameras don't 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 while shooting a movie 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'll find the camera's audio settings in its menus. Internal microphones are not ideal, though, so you might consider using an external microphone, if your point and shoot supports it. Unfortunately, some beginner-level cameras don't offer a port for an external microphone.

Using the Right Memory Card

Finally, make sure 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 is extremely frustrating.