Canon's little hybrid cam was supposedly pushed back until the end of May, but it has started to trickle out to some US dealers this week. There is a previous thread here
that discusses some of the specs and gives links to some sample footage. It's basically a 7MP still camera with 720p-30fps video capability. I picked one up yesterday and have spent a few hours toying with it...
First off, this thing is small
. It's a tiny bit larger than a pack of cigarettes or a deck of cards, and a bit thicker, but I was amazed at the size. Slips easily into a pocket. Some have complained about the ergonomics of the upright form-factor, but I had no problem handling it comfortably, and I'm 6'4" tall with hands to match.
Still pictures are excellent. The DCRP review rates them on par with the Canon S3 and I was very pleased with the shots that I took. But the big draw of this camera is the 720p video mode. So how good is it? Well, from the footage I shot today I would say that it's only as good as the samples that have been posted in the aforementioned thread. The clip of the streetcar from the DCRP review is pretty much what you can expect from the cam under optimal conditions, i.e. bright daylight conditions. Indoor footage gets noisy very quick if there isn't plenty of light. I owned the Panny TZ1 previously, which had an excellent video mode that would shoot widescreen vids at 848x480, and the TX1 video is definitely superior to it, but I don't think it's going to make anyone want to return their HV20.
The TX1 records in MJPEG format, which results in HUGE file sizes. You can get roughly 4 minutes of 720p-30fps video per 1GB, with a supposed 4GB limit on any one movie. I have found that the best way to play back these raw MJPEG .avi's is with Media Player Classic using the ffdshow MJPEG decoder. This also gives you the option of using the multitude of ffdshow filters that can spruce up the footage a bit.
I have just one clip of my own for now, a raw MJPEG avi. A short clip of a bright yellow bird I found outside my house (anyone know WTF kind of bird this is or did someone's pet get out of it's cage? LOL). The zoom was maxed for most of the shot and it's difficult to keep the cam rock-steady at full zoom, as you will see, but I did my best. I will post more footage later...
Had to use MegaUpload because it's 107MB...http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GD35L7C7
Another clip, 171MB. A babbling brook. http://www.megaupload.com/?d=1GSSIE3P
I should mention that both of these were shot around 6:00pm on an overcast day.