Customer Review

1,594 of 1,623 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 (Camera)
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.

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

Work-around:
- 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.

Con:
-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.

Work-around:
- 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.

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

Work-round:
- 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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Comments

Tracked by 30 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 116 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 22, 2009 11:13:14 AM PDT
gromit says:
having the same exact problem. I contacted Kodak, they offered no solution. My Zi8 is going back!

Posted on Aug 23, 2009 12:23:48 PM PDT
A. Rodela says:
Which mic are you using? I need to find one quick!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2009 7:54:07 AM PDT
Here's the lapel mic I'm using.
Audio Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone

I also just ordered a Sony stereo mic to use instead of the built in internal mic
Sony ECM-DS70P Electret Condenser Stereo Microphone

Posted on Aug 24, 2009 9:43:34 AM PDT
John Fields says:
Great review, Derrick! Your solutions and work-arounds will help consumers decide whether to jump on board or look for a different camera.

I've been waiting for this camera for a month now, so I'm inclined to go ahead and purchase it. It will be interesting to see what Flip and Creative release in the next 6 months.

Posted on Aug 24, 2009 6:45:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2009 6:54:48 PM PDT
JenX says:
Thank you so much for commenting on the fact that you need an sdhc card. I just got the zi8 from Kodak and spent over half an hour with them in online chat and they could not help me and recommended I get a different sd card but no mention of needing an sdhc card....THANK YOU!!!!!! The high pitch whine may bother me enough to send it back though...not enthralled with their customer support:(

When did you notice the high pitched whine...I downloaded a couple test videos to my computer in 720p and didn't notice anything but want to make sure I fully test it in case I have that problem as well...was it when you played back on a tv? or everywhere? loud background or constant?

Posted on Aug 25, 2009 3:47:01 PM PDT
Could you please tell me how much battery performance deteriorates when you use zi8 with the Sony ECM-DS70P mic?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2009 5:57:07 PM PDT
I don't know yet. The microphone is on order but I was told it could be 2 weeks before I get it. I don't believe it will have much effect at all on battery performance. I'll be making a video review of the camera along with all of the accessories I chose once I have them all.

Posted on Aug 28, 2009 11:45:56 AM PDT
Thanks for your helpful tips and product recommendations? Do you know for a fact that the Tekkeon TekCharge Rechargeable Li-Poly Battery includes an adapter that will accommodate the zi8?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2009 4:21:09 PM PDT
It's the zi8 that comes with the proper adapter, not the Tekkeon battery. The zi8 comes with a USB to power plug cable that works perfectly with the Tekkeon battery. Tekkeon also makes other battery packs, one that uses AA batteries. Check them out and choose the one that works best for you. Any battery pack with a USB power output will work with the Zi8.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2009 6:56:54 AM PDT
Aprille Byam says:
gromit (and Derick) - I've brought your issues to the attention of our engineers who are scrambling to come up with a solution ASAP. I hope to have an update soon. - KodakAprille (@KodakConnect)
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