Sunday, February 6, 2011

# 5: Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,227 of 1,252 people found the following review helpful: 4.0 out of 5 stars Best camcorder if you're on a budget and need external mic input, August 22, 2009 This review is from: Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black) (Electronics) Check out my sample footage video on Youtube. On Youtube search "djeror zi8 low light"

In my previous review of the Kodak Zi8 I was pretty frustrated at the fact that whenever I used the built in microphone the recorded videos had an annoying high pitch whine that made the audio from my videos almost unusable. Kodak recognized that this was an issue and created a firmware update that fixed the problem. It also fixed a few other things like the previous issue of the image getting darker as you zoomed in. They seem to have fixed all of the major problems with this firmware fix.

I do tech product reviews so I need the following things:

- External mic input - most of my videos are shot wearing a lapel mic
- Macro mode - I have to get close to little tiny screens
- SDHC memory - I go to all day trade shows, I need 10+ hours of video
- Power options - I need to be able to shoot while AC power is plugged in or use a large external battery.
- Under $200 - I'm poor.

Because of these requirements no other camcorder can fit my needs. One cool thing about this camera is that it is much more upgradable than the other pocket cameras on the market.

-The built in microphone is OK now that they fixed the whining noise, but it's still not amazing.

- Don't use the internal mic... I use an Audio Technica lapel mic for 1 person interviews.Audio Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone For events I ordered a Sony stereo mic to use instead of the built in mic. Sony ECM-DS70P Electret Condenser Stereo Microphone . Although I wish that Kodak made the internal mic better, for the most part I am kind of excited that the Sony stereo mic will give me much better sound than any of the standard internal mics that any of the pocket cams have.

-Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) sucks a lot of juice. Also the Zi8 uses a proprietary battery rather than cheap swappable AA's. Battery life when shooting non-stop is 1hr 16min in 720p 60fps with EIS on. If you turn off EIS you get about 1hr 41min at 720p 60fps.

- Use the USB to power cable that comes with the camera in conjunction with an external battery source. This is a must if you are going to be recording for more than an hour with EIS, cause that's about what the internal battery will give you. Tekkeon TekCharge Rechargeable Li-Poly Battery You can just stick this battery pack in your pocket and connect the charging cable to the Zi8. This will allow you to record for a super long amount of time. I haven't tested to see what my total record time with the battery pack will be but it should be around 5X the standard recording time. (about 6 hours with EIS on, almost 9 with it off) This gives you the best battery life of almost any camcorder. Sure it's an extra cost, but when you're at an all day trade show you don't have to worry about running out of juice.

- Image stabilization can't rescue video you shoot while moving around. Any camera motion makes video awful.

- Accept the fact you should probably be using a mini tripod with this camera or at least stand still. Also, although it takes a bunch of time to process if you have the new iMovie the image stabilization processing you can do is light years beyond what the EIS in the Kodak Zi8 can do.

One more important note. Make sure you buy high speed SDHC memory cards for this thing. If your SD card is not fast enough the camera will record for like 2 seconds and then stop with an error. It took me a while to figure out why the camera kept stopping recording when in HD mode but worked fine in SD mode. It was because of my old SD card. You need to make sure your SD card has a write speed of at least 9MB/s if you want to record in 1080p. These high speed cards cost more, but you need them for any camcorder that is going to record HD video to them, it's not just the Zi8. I think most Class 6 high speed SDHC cards should work.

If you want to get the most out of this camera plan on spending an extra $100 - $150 in order to buy upgrade items. Personally I've come to the conclusion that the extra expenses were worth it. It all depends on what you plan on using the camera for. For a typical mom purse cam this would not be my recommendation, I would say go with a Flip Ultra HD. But for someone with particular needs like mine this camera may be the only one that fits the bill.

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408 of 417 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Great Value, awesome! But don't expect it to compete with $3000 camera, October 12, 2009 This review is from: Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black) (Electronics) I rarely will type/review products but I've been a little frustrated reading the reviews of this product on Amazon and by users at other sites. Many users seem to think that this camera was designed to compete with expensive, professional cameras that cost thousands of dollars and produce full HD quality video. That's not what this is. Also, while my camera hasn't had the 'noise' issue from the Mic, i have seen a camera that had the issue and its BARELY noticeable. Its almost like a very quiet background noise from a Florescent light or something.

Kodak has designed, marketed, and built a camera to compete with FLiP and has clearly produced a FAR better product.

I'll keep it short and sweet and first explain who I am and what I am using this camera for. I use it for:
-Home Videos/Fun stuff with old buddies and friends
-For work when I need some quick video that's easy to upload online, or put in iMovie and edit
-For work when I need more complex videos that may require editing, or somewhat lengthy video but I want the ease of use/portability.

I have seen some of the problems stated with the internal Mic and I have had none of them (I do have the upgraded Firmware that is now standard 1.03, and Kodak says this completely eliminates the issue...again have never had the issue on my camera). A relative of mine was lucky enough to purchase this product when Kodak did an 'early' release a few months ago and occasionally his videos will have a bit of a higher pitched background noise, but it doesn't interfere with the sound from the video -- its just a light background noise that, honestly, i've heard on dozens of cameras. Don't forget, without an external Mic the camera only records mono so -- the sounds quality isn't going to be great anyway!

The video is great, image stability isn't as advanced as those available on more expensive cameras but it is better than anything i've seen in a FLiP or other Kodak model. It does work and you can see a difference, even if its not huge. Its SO easy to flip between video modes. The 1080p is awesome, but sometimes its nice to move back down to 720 and the 60fps to capture 'action' footage.

One negative -- which most people may see as a positive -- i do wish there were more settings, or at least the ability to play around with more features/edit modes. Its GREAT easy to use, its a point and shoot video camera -- but with the great lens and abilities, it seems like Kodak could have -- pretty easily -- had this camera competing with much higher end cameras. If all the hardware was put to great use this could compete with $500+ cameras. But I understand wanting to keep it simple.

I like having the SD card. Some people would prefer the internal memory, and yes by the time you buy a decent sized SD card the camera is more expensive than the FLiP, but, the FLiP has a very limited memory. This camera is limited only by the size of the card...Definitely a positive!

Finally, I know people that are both in the TV business and do a lot of Video blogging and they are drooling over this camera because of the external mic capabilities. One reason lots of 'pros' didn't like FLiP was because of the audio issues. Kodak has solved those, not to mention providing better quality video.

Again this isn't something to shoot with if your a young film-maker or a die-hard amateur cinematographer. But if you need something cheap to get some great quality video, or need something super easy to use that is really portable....Take the plunge. And if your considering FLiP -- don't bother...

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613 of 631 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Actual footage in different lighting conditions, December 3, 2009 This review is from: Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Black) (Electronics) Length:: 2:22 Mins

Instead of shooting a review, I took some video, outdoors in the dark, in a dim room, and various lighting conditions. I erased the audio portion - it was just wind and ambient noise. The original video is great quality - hopefully Amazon does not compress it too much!

Christmas lights in front of the house, the tree inside the house, and some footage at the local gym (dark, medium and bright conditions!)

I also shot some close-up footage with the close-up setting on and off so you can see how it works.

All videos are recorded by the camera in .mov format.

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