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1,600 of 1,631 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2009
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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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2009
I'm friends with a lot of Boston area musicians, and I have been very supportive of them. Near the beginning of the year, I started using a Kodak Zi6 in preparation for a video project involving the Boston area music community, mostly as proof of concept for the use of modern low-cost video technology in capturing music shows in a very naturalistic, unobtrusive manner. There was a long learning curve, mostly to do with processing the raw video and audio -- video cameras in general are not designed for the lighting and sound levels typical of club shows, and despite the limitations of the Zi6 -- not so good low light sensitivity, a mono-only mic, and the included software was useless for my purposes -- I ended up getting pretty good results.

When the Zi8 was announced and that not only it was suppose to have better low light sensitivity and a higher resolution, but also image stabilization and a jack for an external stereo microphone, it was a no-brainer to get one. What was tricker was deciding on the microphone -- there were some video reviews on YouTube and such, but nobody was really recommending anything in particular. I did find one video using a Sony ECM-DS70P Electret Condenser Stereo Microphone and that seemed like it would work well: it was very compact, seemed to sound pretty good, and was relatively inexpensive. For the memory card, which you need, I just reused the 8 Gb SDHC cards I had bought for the Zi6. I had gotten spoiled with the battery life of the Zi6 -- a couple of cheap, rechargeable 2400mah NiMH AA batteries would be good for all night and nearly 4 Gb of recording. The Zi8 uses a compact lithium-ion battery that lasts maybe only a third as long. Amazon had exceptional deals, though, on both compatible batteries and a charger, so I ended up getting both 2 BATTERY+CHARGER FOR KODAK KLIC-7004 V1073 V1273 M1033 and Kodak KLIC-7004 / Fuji Np-50 / Pentax DL-I68 Compatible Li-Ion Battery. Even though the specs on these batteries give them a higher capacity than the Kodak battery that comes with the Zi8, they've so far been lasting about 80-90% as long. For the price, though, they were/are exceptional deals.

I starting using the Zi8/Sony mic combo back at the beginning of October and the overall improvement over the Zi6 was immediately obvious: even at the same 720p resolution, the Zi8 produced much sharper, cleaner video in a club environment, and the Sony mic just rocked in terms of sound quality. The Zi6 for a long while was reputed to have the best internal mic of all the pocket digital camcorders, but the Zi8 with the Sony just blew it away. The best thing about the Zi6's mic, though, was that it was nearly impossible to make it clip -- it was able to handle insane volume levels. The only times it had trouble was with very, VERY high bass volume levels. The only drawback to the Zi8/Sony combo is that it can't quite handle the same volume levels, especially if there is excessive midrange on the vocals. The Zi8 has an microphone input level control, but even at its lowest setting, I've had a couple of instances where vocals cracked due to excessive midrange volume at around 640khz. But bear in mind that is while standing near the stage and by the speakers at a rock show mixed with too much midrange. But so far, for easily most of the rock shows, the audio has turned out superb with the same processing tricks I learned using the Zi6.

There is one proviso with the audio: I now always extract the audio and use a separate audio editor (something like the free Audacity editor) to clean it up before adding it back to the video (which is actually easier than it sounds). I did notice that there was very narrow "dip" (more like a reverse spike) at about 7900khz that wasn't correctable, but it was narrow enough and at a high enough frequency not to be noticeable. I thought that this was a Sony mic characteristic, but I recently upgraded the Zi8's firmware to 1.06, and the "dip" shifted downwards to about 5500khz, and was a little bit wider, but not nearly as steep. You would think that this would be more noticeable, but that it's now much more correctable than when it was at 7900khz, and the audio overall sounds cleaner than before the upgrade.

The biggest weakness with both the Zi6 and Zi8, and in general with all video cameras, as well as cameras that do video, is the software. Pretty much all concert videos need some adjustments for brightness, contrast, saturation and maybe hue, and the audio usually needs to be corrected with something like a graphic equalizer at the least. This is basic stuff, but nobody seems to include good software for this. The Zi8 comes with ArcSoft's MediaImpression, but while it does allow some good basic adjustments to picture quality, there is nothing for audio adjustment. Both the Zi6 and Zi8 save videos in Apple's Quicktime "Mov" format, and there isn't a whole lot on the Windows PC side that deals with this cheaply and easily. I tried Apple's Quicktime Pro, which is relatively cheap at $30, but I found it too slow, too limited, and too poorly designed to bother with for regular use. I also tried different conversion programs, but you always loose detail with every conversion. I ended up using VirtualDub, which is free, and some free plugins for it. But VirtualDub is not able to directly open up MOV without some geeky trickery, the details of which are beyond what I can put here. Probably for most users, another free program, Avidemux, will likely do. It's not really meant for beginners, but you can find beginner guides easily enough online. There are some $99 programs that *might* do, but my experience with a trial version of one of them wasn't the best, and you need a lot of horsepower to deal with a 720p video resolution. Even when using compact, no nonsense VirtualDub for processing, it typically takes my stripped-down 3 Ghz Pentium D system about an hour on average to process a typical 4 minute concert video for uploading to YouTube.

Anyone interested in my personal results can just do a YouTube search for "MelodyMatters" and all the videos there from the beginning of October to the present (except for one), were done with a Zi8. FYI....
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2010
Video review of Kodak Zi8, using a Kodak Zi8. Toward the end of the vid, I demonstrate the external mic jack.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
I did quite a bit of research before purchasing the Zi8 which I picked up Black Friday weekend for 150 bucks (thanks Amazon!). I was impressed with the video I saw on sites like Vimeo, YouTube and even Flickr - what sold me is the external mic jack.

I work for a local TV station and work with high-end digital video cameras all day so I was really looking forward to the Zi8.

It was easy to use out of the box - the rechargeable battery takes 2 hours to charge which is no time at all (a second battery for "just in case" moments will run you less than $30. The booklet that comes with the camera is very easy to read but if you have additional questions you'll have to get them from the extended guide on Kodak's website. (The booklet gives you the exact web address so it's no big deal but yet a little frustrating).

The camera is just a little bigger than my Blackberry, a little heavier but still easy to drop in my pock and go. I actually kept it in my jeans during an event with no problem.

IMPORTANT: The firmware (the camera's internal software) that ships in the box is 1.03 - you will need to update the firmware to 1.06 or you will get reddish streaks in your video. You will notice them like I did if you take test footage against a white wall. The update is easy to do and fixes the problem in less than 10 minutes.

Like most reviews the shaky video is a problem. I could understand a little trembling when the cam is zoomed in - that's a common problem with cameras. BUT the video suffers in all modes even when fully zoomed out. You're best bet will be a really steady hand and/or tripod.

The color is amazing. The Zi8 picks up colors you don't notice with your own eyes. For instance, when shooting a brown chair next to a window with red drapes, the video actually picked up the red on the chair from the sunlight tinted by the drapes...I never noticed that in person. Now, that can be a drawback since you will notice an abundant of colors in your video from various light sources. For instance, in the living room you will pick up yellow light from lamps, blue light from the TV (if it's on) and yet more colors from other sources like the xmas tree.

The sound from the Zi8's internal mic is impressive. I was shooting a wide shot in the living room, TV on and the cat playing on the floor. Not only did the cam pick up the TV sound but you could hear the tinkle from the tiny bell on the cat toy. I recorded a conversation with someone in a room with a noisy carpet fan blowing about 6 feet away. I thought that had blown the interview but to my surprise our voices were still easy to understand.

The external mic is a wonderful extra and the option that talked me into buying the Zi8. This is a nice extra if you're planning to use this camera for interviews or record people telling stories/explanations at special events like conferences, reunions or weddings. You can also have the ability to set the audio level so you don't get distorted sound from your mic.

I got a couple of SDHC cards on sale (Patriot 8G) and they work really well. They do upload fairly quickly and there is a little lag but for a cheaper price I don't mind.

Some think the rechargeable battery is a drawback but I think it's a good thing. Although AA batts would be more convenient in a pinch, even strong ones would drain quickly when using the Zi8's features.

So am I happy with the camera? Yes, very...because I knew ultimately it fits the use I intend for the camera. That is quick, on-the-fly interviews (with a tripod and an external mic) to upload to websites. Plus, keep in mind these cameras are not intended for optimal video quality but instead for portability with a good picture and sound - that, the Zi8 does. If you are going to nitpick the video then spend more on a real camcorder.

I suggest looking at sample videos on [...] - watch video similar to what you would use the camera for; especially check out the mic test videos - they will impress you with the sound quality.

Keep an eye out for the shakiness on samples videos. If that is going to bother you then maybe wait for the next generation of the Zi8...I imagine with the negativity surrounding that problem, Kodak will hopefully address it with the next line.




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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2009
So I just received my Zi8 today after buying it using the coupons listed in the forum. I was quite happy with the speed of the delivery and the ease of use as I ventured into my first ever camcorder of this size. Im used to the larger, bulkier pieces and I was drawn to this because of its size and the power with the 1080 recording. I did some testing with each setting to see which was best for my and my computer when I wanted to edit or publish some pieces. I was happy that all of them seemed to do well with capturing rich colors and fared well in low light ( at least better than I thought they would).

I have noticed that the mic wasnt picking up alot of the sound but Ill get to that in a minute. I noticed what others on here have noticed about a high pitched tone coming from the camera. I have found that by turning up the sensitivity on the camera I have helped with both of my sound issues. I have started picking up more ambient sound around the subjects Im filming and the sound I heard (only when recording in 1080) has seemed to diminish drastically (probably under all of the other noises). Im very happy with the product and hope to continue finding uses for it. Ive only had it for 24 hours and will update this review as necessary. I hope this helps.

Oh, I was also able to find some cheap SDHC cards and that made a huge difference. You just need to make sure its a good brand so that the transfer rate can support the 1080 recording rate.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2010
== Kodak Zi8 ==


VIDEO OF MOTION: After hours of research, I decided the Kodak IS in fact the better pick over Flip, and my experience proved this correct, I believe. The reason is simple: the Zi8 allows you to shoot higher quality video, and better quality video of things in MOTION (on the 720p/60fps setting). I've noticed that when moving the camera from right to left, even slowly, on a regular 720p setting--like the Flip HD cameras use all the time--you get slightly shakey, pixelated video. The Zi8 eliminates most of this problem by offering the additional 60fps (frames per second) setting, which allows you to pan around, up and down, left and right, and NOT worry about shakey, pixelated video.

GENERAL VIDEO QUALITY: The Zi8 allows for a higher quality setting at 1080p which is, true to its word, a very high quality-looking video, though slightly more cropped at this setting. Video quality at the high settings lives up to its pixel ratings--it's excellent, especially for so small a camera.

EASE OF USE: Controls on the Zi8 are fairly intuitive (with some cons, below), and the camera is easy to get the hang of quickly. I wouldn't be deterred by comments that this is the more "technical" camera; I think anyone can learn the Zi8 fairly easily. All you need to know is the difference between 1080, 720/60, and 720--the important settings you'll want to manipulate occasionally depending on what you're videoing.


USER INTERFACE: I think the Zi8 is the best we have in technology so far, but it's not quite there yet. What would make this a perfect camera? Frankly, if Canon made it. Then perhaps the user interface--which is a bit awkward, especially in reviewing and deleting videos--would be up to par. I find it difficult to delete one video without the Zi8 immediately asking me if I'd like to delete the next. And if you've reviewed part of a video and paused it, the delete button will cycle you immediately back to the very first screen. I'm caught off gaurd by this, and find the delete feature ever so slightly risky--beware of deleting the wrong video! It's also generally difficult, I find, to scroll through videos you've taken; you must push a button to cycle your current video back to its beginning in order to see the next or previous video--this seems minor but believe me, it gets annoying and a bit confusing (even for someone good with gadgets).

CONTROL OVER SETTINGS: I would have liked more control over the settings, which offer very few options outside of brightening/dimming the screen and turning on or off the image stabilization and face tracking. Nonetheless, the controls are easy to get the hang of, although lacking in what you can actually "hang of" in manipulating settings.

DEFECTIVE MODEL: Perhaps most distressing about the camera is that the model I first received froze several times, rectified only by taking the battery out and putting it back in. Not good! Also, I noticed that a couple of my very short video clips were corrupted and unreadable--even MORE not good! I ultimately ended up replacing the model I was sent, and the replacement seems fine. But something to be weary of.

USB/RUBBER EXTENSIONS: One more thing--the rubber gizmos that extend from the Zi8 are a bit flimsy, and I worry that with enough use, the USB interface or the cover to the SD card slot will break off. It's a good quality camera overall, but the extensions seemed to have missed the quality-boat.

STICKER: On the most picky note, the Kodak executives who decided a GIANT GOOFY STICKER should be stuck to the front of the device that blazons "YouTube!!" and "HD!!" should be wrapped in a similarly foolish and juvenile sticker that says "FIRED!" and then, well...fired. That sticker sets the price of the camera back $50 in aesthetic value. Remove it at once, and see what the camera OUGHT to look like!


This is the best HD pocket camera that exists today, but it's not perfected. The user interface is a little sloppy in places (Canon--master of the user interface--should take over its redesign!), and my own model had some minor issues with freezing and corrupting video several times (I replaced it for another that works fine). But the Zi8 takes higher quality video than Flip, and it's easy enough to use--all in all a cool camera that shoots great video for the price and size, although it's still very much a "first generation" device.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2009
I received my zi8 a week before Christmas and have been using it almost every day. I absolutely love it and the reasons are: price, portability, ease of use, expandable memory, and nice design. The camera is probably the easiest device to use that I've ever owned. You install the battery, SDHC card, turn on power, and press the record button. It's that simple. The menu for adjusting video modes (1080, 720, 640, etc) and other features are just as easy to use.

I can't really understand some of the reviews here that talk about poor image quality, terrible Image Stabilization, zoom feature darkens video, etc. These reviews make no sense to me. You paid under $200 for this camera and it does exactly what it's supposed to do! Now, if you paid over $600 for a camera then I can understand the complaints about image quality, IS, etc. The videos I shot over the Christmas holiday came out exactly as I anticipated. They were all shot with limited lighting so the quality wasn't superb but they were definitely acceptable. The shakiness in some of the video was expected since I shot all of my videos handheld. If you don't have an EXTREMELY steady hand you will not produce perfect video as if you were using a tripod. The EIS feature helps but doesn't produce tripod mounted video. Just use common sense and think about it. You are trying to hold a device perfectly steady that weighs under 4 ounces. It is almost impossible to not shake!! If you plan on shooting handheld and don't want ANY "hand shake" in your videos then don't buy this camera. Invest in a bulkier/heavier camera that will add weight and decrease shake. Some of the reviewers have too high expectations for this little camera. Leave the high expectations for the higher end cameras and don't believe all of the hype you read in the marketing literature for this cheap little device. I will agree though that the battery life is awful. Knowing this ahead of time, I bought an extra battery and was able to shoot about 2.5-3 hours of video during Christmas. Also note that image stabilization sucks battery power, so if you can shoot from a tripod you will get more battery life. I shot the entire Christmas event with EIS turned on so battery life wasn't great.

The software is not excellent but it gets the job done. Again, like the camera, it is very simple and easy to use. I had no issues with it at all. I was able to combine my videos into 10 minute "movies" and then used a free video compression utility (handbrake) to compress the video, while maintaining the quality, for uploading to my smugmug account.

The reality is, this camera is a perfect "carry around" camera that produces acceptable and sometimes exceptional video at a very low cost. It is NOT for the purpose of creating professional video, although some claim they are able to and I don't doubt them. I can't wait to take this thing on vacation with me so I don't have to drag around my bulkier hard drive based camcorder, especially walking around in amusement parks!

BOTTOM LINE - 4 stars (8 out of 10) and I love it for what it does!

PROS - price is right, good quality video sometimes exceptional (depends on lighting), excellent design, portability, expandable memory (allows you to carry multiple cards instead of having to delete or transfer video before using it again)

CONS - battery life is poor, no SD card included (should have came with a 4GB SD card at a minimum), software is just ok
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2010
I have filmed indoors, finished with a macro on the flowers to give you an idea of the quality, so judge for yourself. It does not have a wide angle lens (like the Vado).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2009
The camera telephoto zoom lens is a bit shaky while transitioning into a mazimum zoom position, also an audible click is present. The camera has a remarkable capability for such a small unit. I used a tripod to eliminate any hand movment. The picture quality is adequate on the computer but I have yet to try it on the HDTV screen. Overall I give this unit 4 stars although the customer service at Kodak leaves a lot to be desired.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2009
Got this Camera for certain purposes

1) Small size
2) Easy transfer to PC
3) Basic camcorder functions that FLIP has with additional features like 4X Zoom and some little image stabilization
4) Ease of use without complex features that require reading a manual
5) Recording movies in the local multiplex without arousing suspicion

and knowing very well that a Pocket Video Camera cannot replace a full size Camcorder.

Bought it from Kodak last week and it seems to work as expected. The bundled Arcsoft software installs when connecting the Zi8 to the PC and has basic editing capabilities.

And, Thankfully I did not experience the high pitch whine that some reviewers heard. When playing back videos in max volume on the PC I do hear some slight whine, but it's barely noticeable. The Audio recording is clear when the subject is within 15 feet. An external mic would be great, but I did not buy this to lug another mic around.

The low light recording is not good and that was expected. Even high-end camcorders are bad in this area.

This is a camcorder you can whip up from your camera bag or purse or jacket pocket or wherever you carry yours, shoot a quick video for a few mins, and be on your way without fiddling with a lot of controls.

Electronic image stabilization works, but barely. There's noticeable shake when shooting while walking and that's because the camera is the size of a cellphone making it hard to hold and keep steady. It takes a little while to figure out how to hold it and make the vidos look smooth. Personally, my video shakes were caused by the replay of the muscle memory of countless tremors from many years back. The videos are more stable shot with my left hand!

4X Zoom works, but it's not smooth. It moves in and out like a Kangaroo. Not a fan of this feature.

Have not measured battery usage, but I think it winds down in under an hour. It's better to buy a second battery. I bought one from Kodak for $30. Recommend it when traveling.

Bought the Transcend 16 GB SDHC Class 6 Flash Memory from Amazon and it can store 2+ hours of 1080p or 4+ hours of lesser defintion video.

Taking still pictures with this is not recommended. The 5 MP images are better than cell phone pics, but still mediocre.

You can use Quicktime or the bundled Arcsoft to watch videos. Watching the .mov files on VLC or Realplayer makes the video pause and jerk around.

Connecting to the computer is a breeze. You can use the built-in usb connector or pop out the SD card and use a card reader if you have one.

So four stars for me - I take a star off for bad still pictures and not so good image stabilization. Other than that I have shot more video in a week with this than with my Sony camcorder and that is precisely the point of buying this. Definitely a keeper.
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