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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review - Kodak HD Video Camera

It's review time.  You know I like technology, and I couldn't resist the Kodak Zx1 Pocket Video Camera.

To quote their website
Adventure can strike at any moment. Capture it in HD with the Kodak Zx1.  Built to take on rain and snow, bright ligjt and low light, this camera is ready for action.  Now, no matter where life leads you, recording it all in stunning HD quality is as close as your front pocket.
Not sure why they mention the front pocket; but that's semantics.  It could be in your rucksack, for a hiking expedition, or your summer jacket for a day at the fair.

Video is captured in 720p, at 30 frames per second at a ration of 16:9
There are two other recording modes:
HD60 - Recorded at 60 frames per second - ideal for high speed action
VGA - Recorded in 4:3 ratio at 640x480; 30 frames per second.

Being resistant to rain, snow, and dirt, you can record in any environment, without damaging the camera.  It also has a ruggerised feel to it.

It takes still pictures too, at 3MP - not be best, but better than some cameras on mobile phones.

Once the video is recorded, it's possible to upload directly to YouTube using the built on software, which installed easily on my PC.

If you're a control freak, and like to adjust white balance, focus etc, then you'll be disappointed.  The only setting you can change is the date and time.

It's not the most intuitive of cameras, but it doesn't take long to get used to the controls.  Also, the zoom is a little jerky, so shouldn't be used during recording.  At least this will prevent the jarring zoom effects that some people insist on including in their footage.  Shoot. Stop. Zoom. Shoot.  Much easier on the eye.

Now, I must cover the supplied accessories; because this is one area that many manufacturers let themselves down.  Not here; oh no!  Kodak have surpassed themselves with this package:

  • 2 x AA pre-charged, rechargeable Ni-MH batteries
  • Battery charger
  • HDMI cable (yes, you read that right!)
  • AV and USB cables
  • Wrist strap
  • Pouch
  • Designer cover (!!)
  • User guide (more like a quick start guide)
  • Built-in ArcSoft Media software

You may have noticed that the supplied batteries are AA.  This means, that in emergencies, you can just pop in a couple of Duracells and away you go.

I've had a play, and it's really easy to use. The onboard memory is negligible (OK, virtually nil) so a SDHC memory card is a must, and that needs to be factored into the price.  It's also not the lightest unit.
The low light performance isn't bad, but I haven't tried it outside in the evening, where I suspect the picture quality may fall below acceptable standards.
The audio quality is also not too bad, and there is a firmware upgrade currently available, to improve it further.
Remember, this is a small, budget unit, not a broadcast quality television camera.

So, this package must cost a pretty penny, I hear you moan!  With the charger, batteries supplied, HDMI cable, you could be forgiven for thinking this was expensive.

Well; you are forgiven.  For a few pounds short of £50 - all this could be yours; not forgetting the SDHC card you'll also need.

It's a definite must have; and as the weather improves, and life move outdoors for the summer; this could be an excellent accessory to add to your days out.
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