1,587 of 1,615 people found the following review helpful
Best camcorder if you're on a budget and need external mic input,
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.
-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.
Tracked by 30 customers
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 41-50 of 116 posts in this discussion
Posted on Nov 11, 2009 8:18:07 AM PST
Nathan Andersen says:
You can now change your star rating when you edit your reviews. They just enabled that feature about a month ago. Nice review, by the way.
Posted on Nov 11, 2009 1:58:31 PM PST
Susan Robinson says:
Fantastic post. I'm leaning towards buying this camera, and it's mostly a results of the depth of your review - You included so much helpful information - about external microphones, battery, battery life. I was also very impressed with Kodak's response to your concerns. Again, Wow! thanks for this.
Posted on Nov 13, 2009 7:52:38 AM PST
K. Johnson says:
I just want to say, Excellent Review! I've been thinking about picking up a pocket camcorder and was a it swayed by the 3.5 star average of the Kodak, but I really like it's expandability. It sounds like, from your review, they fixed some of the issues that would have caused others to give it a lower score. Your review alone has made me lean more towards Kodak than the competitors.
Posted on Nov 16, 2009 6:57:42 AM PST
Sina Macfarlane says:
could you please tell me why you don't recommend this one as a typical mom purse cam? I looked into the Flip Ultra HD and it doesn't look like it has a many features as this one. When I watched the video on this one, it looks like there is a light for night filming. And the Flip Ultra HD didn't say that it had the Image Stabilizer. The prize is about the same, but when I film my kids, there is always a lot of action, so I want to get a good one. Plus when we travel to Germany I want to take it instead of carrying my big video camera. I appreciate your input. Could you please let me know? Thanks!!
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2009 7:51:34 AM PST
Derrick A. Jeror says:
OK the reasons I would typically recommend the Flip Ultra HD instead of the Zi8 as a purse cam:
- The Flip works in low light situations better, no the Zi8 does not have a light for night filming.
- The Flip comes with MUCH better software. Unless you have software you are already used to (I use iMovie09) this will make a huge difference.
- The Flip Ultra uses AA batteries. So unless you plan on getting an external battery pack like me it's cheaper to keep more batteries on hand
- Camera movement just seems to be better on the Flip, even compared to the Zi8 with the stabilizer on (which doesn't do much).
So if you want to take a bunch of indoor video where lighting isn't great, you'll like the flip better. If you don't have editing software already and don't own an Apple computer you'll like the Flip's software better. If you want to be able to cheaply and easily swap batteries anywhere the Flip is better, and if you're going to walk around a lot holding the camera in your hand and not using a Tripod I think the Flip is better.
BUT, under controlled lighting (or outdoors), with iMovie or FinalCut, with an external battery pack and using a tripod to shoot your video the Kodak Zi8 is better and gives you more features and capabilities than the Flip.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2009 10:51:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2009 11:15:08 AM PST
Sina Macfarlane says:
Thanks, I appreciate the help a lot!! Can I bug you about one more thing? Is there a big difference between the flip ultra camcorder or the flip ultra hd camcorder? You know so much, it's nice to be able to get advice from a pro!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2009 2:44:16 AM PST
G. Phillips says:
I was wondering the same thing. Costco had the Ultra for $100, and didn't know if the Ultra HD was worth $50 more.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2009 4:15:07 PM PST
Big Bopper says:
this is very helpful advice, thanks
Posted on Dec 18, 2009 7:11:48 AM PST
This camera was the recommended choice by the tech person reporting on the Today Show on 12/18/09.
Posted on Dec 19, 2009 4:10:46 PM PST
Donald E. Cochron says:
When you use the ECM-DS70P mic how much does it shorten the battery life since it draws power from the Zi8? I bought a Zi8 to take to Denmark to record my brother-in-law's 50th wedding anniversery celebration and would like to get all of the skits that are presented (like "this is your life" in song). We all will not probably not have an opportunity to get together again after this celebration. I bought 3 extra batteries and 2 16G sdhc card so I think I am covered. (maybe?)
Don Cochron (email@example.com)