Saturday, January 1, 2011

Kodak Zi8 Review

Rating: 4 stars

Best Uses:
HD Shooting, Documentaries, Travel, Movies/Short Films, Home Movies

Recommended for the video enthusiast.

I am currently using the Kodak Zi8 to film a documentary for a film festival. Both my friend and I own one, and we are currently using two of these to film the movie, in addition to a higher-end $800 camera. The only difference between the two cameras is 3mp and a difference in lens size. The Kodak is obviously not quite as good, but it becomes extremely handy for filming footage on the go. For a student filmmaker, who wishes to create real quality footage, this should be your number one choice, unless you happen to have at least $500 on you.

I couldn't ask for a better camera within this price range. It beats any model of the Flip any day, and for a significantly lower price, too (you will save aprox. $40). I did tons of research to try to find a cheap full HD camera with external mic input, and this was only one of two I could find with both of those features. The other option was the Kodak Playtouch. Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the Zi8 predecessor was the big awesome touchscreen, but other reviewers say that its glitches outweigh its pros. Many prefer the Zi8 over the Playtouch. I for one actually strongly prefer the physical buttons over a touch screen, because these make the more important features easier to access. Using the buttons, I can quickly switch between video capture and browsing photos and videos. The built in settings allow me to adjust all the bare necessities, including the amount of audio captured through the built in mic and external mic. This makes this camcorder much easier to use than most. The Zi8 can film in WVGA, 720p, 720p (60fps), 1080p, and take 5mp stills. I can transfer my footage into my computer using the built in USB plug. The computer only recognizes the SD card (which is totally fine with me. much faster too) and opens by default in iPhoto. I usually just open it up in Finder, where I open up a folder to reveal all the SD card's contents.

Large Clear LCD, Quick Focus, 1080p Full HD, Lightweight, Tripod Mountable, External mic input, Easy to Use, Audio Output, HDMI Output, USB, SD Card Slot, Great Picture Quality, Strong Blacks

The screen quality does not reflect the video quality, so I am not able to watch my movies in full HD after I have filmed them. When shooting in low light, the dimmer spots are almost black, and the video becomes very grainy. I wish it had flash, but if I really need that feature, I just pull out my iPhone 4. As a high-schooler, I cannot afford a lot of gear, but possibly in the future, I see lighting and bounce boards being very helpful. The Zi8 sports a 5x zoom: not quite ideal for filming objects from a distance. Instead, I have to move myself and the tripod up to the actual scene. When I take the camcorder off its tripod, I find it difficult to hold the device completely still, as opposed to a traditionally shaped camcorder. The fact that the Zi8 is thicker on top makes it slightly more so.

Limited Zoom, Top Heavy, Poor In Low Light, Only 5mp

Accessories I Recommend:

  • Polaroid 72 inch Tripod
  • Opteka TH20 Ball Head with Quick Release Plate for Tripods
  • Audio Technica ATR-55 Condenser Shotgun Microphone