Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kodak Zi8 Pocket HD Review

MyKodak_Zi8-2011-06-15-23-04.jpg



 
A few months ago I was doing some research on the pocket video cameras. My church had an upcoming teen activity that I wanted some good video footage of. I wanted a small video camera that was High Definition, and that would allow me to upload files to YouTube in a short amount of time. I also wanted something rugged enough to withstand the elements of a little mud and water. I was going to be in the middle of the action of some very muddy events.




The more info I read, the more I realized that this would be the perfect tool for my project. They are inexpensive, very mobile, and capture quality HD footage that is easily transferred via USB or SD card. Now, the only problem was finding out which one to buy.

There are several quality pocket video cameras on the market, but all of the reviews I read rated the Flip and Kodak cameras at the top. I was slightly discouraged that the creator of the Flip cameras, CISCO, was going to stop production. Also i found that the Flip camera’s memory was not expandable. I have really gotten used to plugging in SD cards straight to my Mac, instead of using the cumbersome transfer programs that come with the latest gadgets. Kodak had 2 different models that I couldn’t decide between, the Zi8 and the Zx3/Playsport. After reading a ton of reviews, the Zi8 seemed to have a superior picture quality. Many people mentioned their surprise with the HD footage even in low light conditions. I also found that the Zi8 was the only model with an external microphone jack, which ended up being a major selling point since I was planning on doing interviews. On the other hand, the ZX3 camera was literally built for the extreme conditions. It is supposed to be waterproof up to 10ft, and it has a very sturdy shell. I have to share this awesome review i read on the Kodak website, It’s great!

“I lost it {his Kodak Zx3} winching out a car from the median on the highway during a snow storm we had just after Christmas (it was my Xmas present). Well I just found it today, I'd looked for about half a dozen times and they had even mowed that strip of median and it missed blades. Here's what it looked like when I found it and after I cleaned it up. Turned it on and it worked like a champ and the battery still had charge on it after almost two months in the grass, rain, mud and snow."

HaHa! They need to call this guy up and give him a sales bonus, or get him to make a commercial or something.

Ultimately, I settled on the Kodak Zi8 for several reasons: I really liked the external mike feature (though i didn’t end up using it for this project), I was impressed with all the reviews, and I found a refurb. on sale for 65$ - including shipping. I was a little scared about the durability of this model in the mud, but it held up nicely. I included a picture of my cam so you can see the elements it had to face. haha!

One last thing I must mention, just for the electronics geeks like myself, is the frame rate. While most of these camcorders advertise 1080p HD quality, the framerate at these setting is not very good. If you are filming something with quick movements, the motion will be very choppy. I would suggest dropping the settings to 720 HD which will allow you to increase the fps from 30 to 60. I used the 720 HD/ 60 FPS setting in all of the teen activity videos, and it seemed to work well.

Overall I am extremely satisfied with my purchase of the Kodak Zi8, and the versatility of the new pocket video camera. The only specs about these cameras that really holds them back is the framerate and limited zoom. But to me, the price that these are going for easily outweighs these limitations. It will be interesting to see how these pocket cameras progress. I am guessing they will have to provide some really good features to survive, since all the new mobile phones are upgrading their cams to HD. It’s still amazing to me how you can cram quality HD video, in such a small package.

If you want to check out the Kodak Zi8 in action, below are a few links of some of the footage I was able to capture during our teen activity and at a Braves game I went to. Be sure to increase the quality setting on the YouTube player to get the 720 HD picture.




More Action Vids
http://youtu.be/JRprsWHdsZw

http://youtu.be/HdSNRcu5h2Y

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