March 20, 2006
| || |I'm in the market for a combination camera/camcorder.
After reading the reviews
, though, I'm confused on one basic point. What do these cameras record the video to, and is it something I can replace on the road when I don't have access to my computer? In other words, can I buy a half-dozen gigabyte flash or CompactFlash memory cards and fill them up while I'm on the road? And if so, how much video can I fit onto each card?
These hybrid devices usually record onto Secure Digital (SD) cards, and yes, you can carry a few high-capacity cards on the road with you and swap them as necessary. The amount of video that will fit on a card depends upon the device's resolution and compression options. For example, Sanyo
claims that you can fit a little more than 40 minutes of HD video on a 2GB card, while Sony rates the Cyber Shot DSC-M2's 30fps VGA movies at about 40 minutes per 1GB. And remember--those capacities apply only if you don't shoot any stills. However, as long as you don't plan to shoot epic features while you're traveling and can accept the limitations of these devices--the video will not look as good as most MiniDV recordings, and the MPEG-4 encoding they use makes editing the movies difficult--they sound like the right solution for you.
has been an avid photographer for almost 30 years. Her digital-imaging coverage has been referenced by academic journals and Web sites and published in all forms of media.