Canon Powershot S3 IS Video Recording

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Ashirwad writes, “I just bought a Canon S3 IS and am pretty much satisfied with it except for one big issue. Its AVI files eat up the memory too fast and I can get a max. of 4-5 minutes of video on my 512MB SD card. I heard that an MPEG format video could have saved me. Now, as I had taken this camera on a trial basis, I can always, within a few days, get it exchanged. Are there any suggestions about another camera with similar specs and prices but one which can record more at the same quality?”
While there are other Digital Cameras with similar feature sets to the Canon S3 IS, I wouldn’t recommend switching cameras simply because you’re running out of room for recording video. The S3 IS records AVI files with M-JPEG compression, which does offer a substantially smaller file size than many other compression options used in the AVI container, without sacrificing image quality. Getting a still camera that records in MPEG-4 may save you a little space, but it’s quite possible your video will look worse as a result too. What you really need is higher capacity SD cards. A very quick search of memory prices turns up 2GB SD cards in the $20 price range and 4GB cards in the $40 price range (as of this writing).
Another thing to consider in your video recording process is where you will use the video once you’re done with it. If you’re putting your video on the Web at someplace like YouTube, you can reduce the required space by shooting 320×240 video, especially if what you are shooting will never appear anywhere other than online.
If what you really want is a video camera, that’s another story. I’d suggest opting for something like a hard drive based JVC Everio line camera or the Panasonic PV-GS320 for both affordability and overall quality.