Best Video Camera on Earth for $180
Quick Review of the Kodak Zi8
This is not a marketing related article like most of the posts on this blog, but it may interest readers in the marketing/production/design world nonetheless. Do you shoot interviews? Customer testimonials? Aspiring product reviewer or blogger? Impromptu capture-the-moment-around-town videos? Work events, grand openings, parties, birthdays, dog eating soap bubbles?
Using the Kodak Zi8
I just bought the Zi8 on the weekend for $180 at London Drugs. It's the easiest video camera I've ever used. We had a $3000 Canon XH-A1 in our studio that we pulled out for pro shoots and mini-interviews. Although the little Kodak can't really compare on a low light/zoom/quality optics level, it's ridiculous how good it is. The 1080p mode is great. The videos are very very good, and with the electronic image stabilization there is zero shake noticeable in playback, with video shot just handheld. I took video inside and outside over the weekend. The outside video is exceptional (because the little lens works best in bright light). The indoor video with lower light is a bit grainy, but still looks really good. Audio is great. I videod a birthday party and even got decent "blowing out the candles" footage in near pitch black. I hooked it up on the spot to my 50" LCD TV with the supplied HDMI cable, and we all had a good laugh... everyone was totally blown away by the audio/video quality. "That little thing made that video?!" It has lower shooting quality levels too: 720p/60fps and lower, but I'll probably never use them. The 60 frames per second is better for sports so you can slow-mo the action later, but unless you're running around chasing the action, this camera will be useless for most sports. (Remember, it has no optical zoom.) Walk closer or back up to zoom. That right. Use your feet. Digital zoom only crops the image...don't use it. Actually this is kind of a novelty in itself. It's sooooooo small that moving around is natural. You can get down low, run close, move sideways... it adds to the creativity. I enjoyed the low tech for once. It's like using a prime lens on a DSLR still frame camera like the Canon 7D. The fixed focal length lens limits you in a sense, and frees you up to move your body and find cool angles.
This is simply the best "home video camera" that I ever used. It's like a microscopic pro camera that you can take anywhere. I bought a 16GB SDHC card that gives me over 2hrs of recording time at full 1080p. I jacked the camera directly in with USB and copied the clips to my Macbook Pro. They playback just fine, and the format is .MOV so they should be easy to edit with iMovie on a Mac (haven't tested it yet). It comes with bundled software for a PC if for some odd reason you're a PC person. ;-)
It could be better if...
I wish it came with a case, but I'll find something that'll work. And it would be nice if the lens had a little powered cover to keep dust and fuzz off. In the end, every family should own one of these. Every company should own one of these. They're just too easy, too cheap, and too much fun to ignore.