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Informal 1080p HD video comparison: Panasonic GH1 vs Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon SX1 IS vs Sony HX1

Many of today’s digital cameras boast High Definition movie recording, and many of them look pretty good. But how do they really compare against each other? To find out we shot the same sequence moments apart with four cameras, each quite different from the other, but all capable of recording smooth 1080p video.

All four cameras were using their default automatic settings and the sequences were filmed handheld with image stabilisation enabled. This is very much an informal test, and doesn’t demonstrate the advantages of using a DSLR (or the GH1) for video – including better performance in low light, interchangeable lenses and the potential for a small depth-of-field. Indeed by zooming during the clip, it places the 5D mark II and GH1 at a disadvantage compared to the super-zooms which are designed for it. But since we had the opportunity to shoot the same sequence with four 1080p-capable cameras, we thought you’d be interested in seeing the results.

Note the Panasonic Lumix GH1’s MTS format (for its AVCHD video mode) is not compatible with Vimeo, our video host, so we used Adobe Media Encoder to convert its files into the MP4 format using the same frame size, frame rate and H.264 compression.

The original files are all available for registered members of Vimeo to download and evaluate for themselves. Let us know which you think looks best in the Cameralabs forums!

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 - black

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1




Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 720p / 50fps HD video

Here's the GH1's 720p AVCHD mode, filmed with the G VARIO 14-140mm lens. Note like other DSLRs, it's hard to adjust the zoom without shaking the body. Notice how the camera adjusts its focus as we zoomed.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 1080i / 50fps HD video

Here's the GH1's 1080i AVCHD mode, filmed with the G VARIO 14-140mm lens. As before, it's hard to adjust the zoom without shaking the body, but this time notice how the AF is slower than the 720p version above. This is because the GH1 has more frames per second to work with for AF in its 720p mode.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II 1080p / 30fps HD video

Here's the Canon EOS 5D Mark II's HD video - in auto mode - using the EF 24-105mm lens. Again it's tricky to adjust the zoom without twisting the camera.

Canon PowerShot SX1 IS 1080p / 30fps HD video

Now onto the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS, demonstrating its 20x optical zoom range, equivalent to 28-560mm; the benefit of a motorised zoom is obvious. The bit rate is as high as the 5D Mark II - between 40 and 50Mbit/s.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 1080 Fine (1440x1080) HD video

And finally the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1's 1080 Fine mode, which actually records at 1440x1080, then stretches it to 16:9 on playback. Again, there's a 20x zoom, again equivalent to 28-560mm, but this time the bit rate is just 12Mbit/s. Again the benefit of a motorised zoom is obvious.


Which do you think looks best? Tell us in the Cameralabs forums!

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