Don't toss your camcorder just yet
Digital still cameras have come a long way in their quest to conquer DV camcorders, but for video enthusiasts, they still have a ways to go. There's the lack of stereo sound recording, and some cameras have short video-clip length. But even the best digital camera can't come close to recording the 1 to 1.5 hours of video that a DV camcorder can. And no digicam features a 22X optical lens, like the Canon ZR90 (shown, $599 street), or an analog-to-digital conversion feature that lets you turn older VHS and Hi8 tapes into DV footage. In addition, DV camcorders do a much better job of adapting white balance and focus during changing lighting conditions while recording. Most digital cameras lock in white balance at the start of the clip and lose track of moving subjects during video recording. And few digital cameras let you zoom while recording video, a common feature on DV camcorders. Also, DV camcorders generally feature larger LCD screens for playback, built-in titling, image stabilization, and speakers for audio playback. Perhaps the most-missed feature on digital cameras is controllable shutter and apertures when in the video mode. Without shutter control, most action shows up with significant blur, even in bright light. But at the rate digital cameras are improving on the video front, these features may all be in next year's top models.