Should You Purchase A Combo Movie and Still Camera? :: Digital Photo Secrets

Should You Purchase A Combo Movie and Still Camera?

by David Peterson 15 comments

More and more video cameras these days have 'still image' capabilities - that is, they can take single images as well as moving video.

And this begs the question - should you purchase a video camera that doubles as a still image camera for when you don't want to take movies. Or alternatively, should you purchase a still camera that also does movies?

My answer is No!

So Why Not?

The main reason is that movie cameras have been built for just that... moving images. They haven't been designed for taking really good still images.

You will be able to get adequate pictures from these cameras, but you won't be able to get the control, or resolution of a dedicated still digital camera.

Video cameras are designed for TV viewing. So the resolution is very low - less than 2 megapixels. You won't get acceptable results if you try to print still images at this resolution.

The same principle applies when trying to get movies from a Point and Shoot camera. Yes, you can create them, but they won't look as good as a dedicated movie camera.

What about Combo Cameras

There are newer combo cameras that claim to do both still and moving images. But it seems although the newer cameras are better than previous models, they still can't do both really well.

Will this change?

I believe so. The technology should improve in the future to allow the same camera to capture both moving and still images with the same quality as dedicated cameras. In the meantime, if you want to take both still photos and videos, I recommend you purchase two separate items.

Most people think this post is Useful. What do you think?


  1. elle says:

    I wish they'd make cameras without the video feature... wouldn't it make them a little less expensive? It used to be such a joke. Now, the video HAS to be TV and HD quality... so they think to sell a camera.

    I'm looking for a new camera now... I really don't care what the quality of video is.. just how well it works for photography for me.

  2. Casey says:

    I think that a video camera should just be that a "Video camera" and a digital still camera to be used only for photos. If you are serious about video or still you know what i mean, even if you take a photo at 3 megapixel on a video camera it is still to small to do anything with it. Most video cameras do not have the settings of a digital photo camera therefore is should not be used for stills. I have taken 3 megapixel photos in photoshop CS2 and there is not much you can do with them.

  3. Dan says:

    While buying both types of cameras is the best solution, having a still camera that can shoot small clips is fun and worth using for clips that one may want to put up on the net or send to family. All you need to do is watch a senior's face when they see their first great-grandson moving about and you'll know what I mean.

  4. Canute says:

    If you think that combo cams are not good at one thing or the other then you should look at a Sony Cybershot video.
    My uncle bought a 3MP one and the video on it which was shot about 640x480 with amazing sound is something that left me thinking about combo cameras.
    If you think that is no good then remember this - don't expect to get SLR like pics and professional movies camera like video on a device. It's not possible because when tech get better the high end goes higher. Unless you want the pro quality pics and movies of the 70's camera's in a single device.
    If you don't do much shooting better go for the new nokia cell phone with video recording and 2MP cam.

  5. Neel says:

    Hey thanks David.

    I was planning to buy a one for all solution, for Video and Stills, but I guess I'll do a re-think now.

  6. mounir says:

    sportif calme j'aime la vie .

  7. Westy Hirst says:

    I have a Sony TRV11 which took fantastic stills until I dropped it. I sent it away to be fixed but it was never the same again. I recently upgraded to a TRV350 and am very disappointed with the quality of the stills. However, because the video is now easily accessible and available on the memory stick, I am taking a lot more video than I used to.
    Now I am in the market for a digital SLR.

  8. Phillip says:

    Agreed, except that some of the newer still cameras can take video of reasonable resolution; good enough to be used for home video. I have a Sony DCR-TRV350 Digital8 video camera that takes still photos (effective 0.3 MP) which does not provide sufficient quality stills. For family snaps, you need at least 1MP to get something usable that you can put in a photo album, so i believe some of newer video cameras may give the ability to capture happy snaps, but no more than that. I also have a Panasonic FZ30 (12x zoom) that takes 640 x ?? video, which is essentially TV quality, and usable for family video. Although I used to lug both still- and video on trips, the video is being left behind more often than not. A 1GB memory card gives me sufficient still photos and video clips for a typical day trip (usable video clips should not be longer than approx 5 seconds each; anything longer tends to put the audience to sleep ...)

  9. kim says:

    I agree!!!!! I work for a camera department and tell people daily that they need to buy the correct camera for what they are doing. Many of the newer video cameras have the ability to put stills on a media card rather then on the tape which is an improvement. However these pictures are still not the best quality. I still prefer my SLR camera to any of the digital cameras I have used, but the processing is much more expensive.

  10. Glenn says:

    I agree with you David! You want video, use the right camera. Same goes for photos. But that does not mean rejecting a video camera because it also has still capability. I have a Sony DCR-TRV350 Digital8 video camera. That is not the reason I bought it although it does have the advantage of doing stills. Unlike some video camera, it does not put the stills on the video tape. It uses the "memory stick". The advantage here is that if I do not bring my still camera, I can grab images off the video tape or shoot directly to the "memory stick". But this is the rare circumstance. For the best quality, use the correct type of camera!

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