Which mini camcorder should I choose?
September 26, 2009 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Which mini camcorder should I get - the Kodak Zi8 or the Flip Ultra HD?

I'm trying to choose between these two camcorders, both priced just under £150.

I thought I'd settled on the Flip, but then heard about the Kodak Zi8 and am now flummoxed! The Zi8 becomes available in the UK next Thursday, but has been on sale in the US for about a month; I've been reading the reviews.

At this stage, the Kodak Zi8 seems the better choice as its image is a bit crisper; it also has image stabilisation, an external microphone jack, and most importantly, an SD card slot. However, reviews suggest that its battery life isn't great (40 minutes to an hour?) and some users have complained of a whine when using the internal mike.

If you've used either of these models, I'd be grateful for your opinion!

(Incidentally, I have seen this question, and it was somewhat helpful, but both models mentioned are a little older.)
posted by hot soup girl to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have absolutely zero experience with anything in this price bracket, but I just wanted to throw another spanner in the works - have you considered a compact stills camera? They can often shoot excellent quality video. The Canon IXUS 100, for example, is £168 here, and apparently shoots good quality HD video.
posted by Magnakai at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2009

I've never tried the Kodak, but I've got the Flip HD (and had an older Flip before that). Yeah, sometimes the image feels a little warbly if you're bouncing the camera around (so, uh, try no tot do that), but the built-in microphone is fantastic and it shoots well in low light. I like it.

In theory it would be nice if it had a removable memory card but in practice I've never needed to shoot more than 2 hours of video at a time (or even over a week-long vacation).
posted by meta_eli at 7:14 PM on September 26, 2009

There are a few digital cameras that do HD video, but I'm not aware of any that do it well. Poor jerky image & terrible sound.
posted by meta_eli at 7:16 PM on September 26, 2009

I can't tell you anything about the Kodak, but I can tell you about my Mino HD experience.
Do you have shaky hands? Then the Mino probably isn't for you. Because of the lightweight and small form-factor, it can be very difficult to hold steady. Had the Kodak been out earlier, I might have gone that way just for the stabilization.
The zoom is more or less worthless. It's awkward to use, and doesn't offer much in the way of..well..zoom.
On the other hand, it's dead simple to use, even for the completely techno-phobic. You turn it on, hit the red button. Simple.
Low light performance is ok, worked fairly well in a darkened hospital room.
The microphone is surprisingly sensitive, sometimes almost too sensitive.
The software, once it is installed, is fairly full-featured.No one-click facebook uploading, which is kind of lame. It does have youtube and myspace though, as well as Flip's own site.

We also had the the still camera vs. small vid-cam debate, but ultimately the ease of use of the Mino won out.
posted by madajb at 7:47 PM on September 26, 2009

The image stabilization alone will positively affect the quality of your videos enough that the Kodak Zi8 is the obvious winner. If you haven't already seen the stabilizer in action, check out this video shot by the Zi8. The first horizontal pan in the subway station is simply Dead. On. If you've never tried to hand hold/shoot video before you can't appreciate it, but in the "real" world it's the heavy bits that make the difference between home movies and movies. The Zi8 gives you this in something you can fit in your pocket. I'd almost say it's game-changing. In a year nobody will make cameras without built-in IS. The results are just too good not to.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:31 AM on September 27, 2009

I think CD has it--I hope so, anyway. I've been researching the really inexpensive HD capable models and the Zi8 seems to be the critics' choice. All the reviews I've read say it's the best camera of its kind.

I'm pretty sure Santa will be getting me one of this for Christmas. The only con I can see so far is the focal length seems to be pretty set, and there doesn't seem to be any manual focus ability(?) But there is a macro mode, so we'll see how it goes.

Do a search on vimeo and you'll see tons of sample footage from both cameras.
posted by zardoz at 11:18 PM on November 25, 2009

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