Kodak Zi8 HD High-Def Video Camera Review for Under $150

http://www.MikesGadgetGiveaway.com Dollar-for-dollar, you just can’t beat the Kodak Zi8 “Flip Killer” camera. Here are some of the great features in this review: under $150, external microphone input, HD high-definition 1080p, 720p@60 FPS

The Kodak Zi8 is the first camcorder with an external microphone input for under $150. Check out the resource link for a demo video.

 
The Great:
- Under $150
- External microphone input
- PC and Mac compatible
- True HD high-definition: 1080p, 720p @ 60 frames per second, 720p and WVGA video
- 5 Megapixel Camera
- Nice big LCD display
- Records in QuickTime format with the H.264 compression standard
- SD Card Slot
- Built-in USB connector
- Image Stabilization / "face tracking"
- Removable Lithium-Ion Battery
- Macro function to shoot close-ups
- HDMI cable adapter (and cable is included!)
- External power charger (included)
- External AV cable connection (cables included)
- Battery included!
- Video quality good enough to do "chromakey" – green screen!
- Blows away the competition in terms of quality
- Includes PC editing software (you don’t need it if you have a Mac)
 
The Not-So-Great:
- Can’t see yourself in the viewfinder
- Built-in USB connector is short
- Slow "boot up" time
- The zoom is "chunky" – not smooth
- Does not include SD card
- Battery life is 1.5 hours per charge
- Terrible audio hum if you plug a microphone into it with the power adapter connected
- Can’t use the camera as a webcam
- No light or flash
 
Overall Rating
4.5 out of 5
 
Where to Buy
- Kodak Store
- Amazon [Get it in Black Blue Raspberry]
- Any other online or offline retailer
(Note: these are affiliate links)
 
The Review
 
What is the number one thing I look for in a camera?
 
An external microphone input.
 
If you don’t have one, your videos will "seem" bad. 
 
And for some reason, very few camera manufacturers except Canon put external mic inputs on cameras that cost less than $600.
 
This little $150 camera has one. And it works great.
 
Now the next thing about the Kodak Zi8 is, it is super easy to use, very flexible and it looks like a BlackBerry which is pretty cool!  Here’s the great thing.  The quality. It blows away the Flip.  I’d say, it is easily four times better.  What I also love about it, is it stores and saves in QuickTime format.
 
It’ll record in 1080P, 720P – that’s at 60 frames, so you can actually record sports. It has image stabilization built in.  
 
Another super awesome feature – it has an SD card slot, so you can add a 32-gigabyte card in this thing and record about six hours of full high-definition video.
 
Now the other thing that I love about this camera – it records in QuickTime format!  
 
You just pop out the chip, put it in your computer and you record and can do anything you want with it in terms of say, editing it, popping it into any software to edit.  You can make a product with this thing and it looks great.
 
And in the sample video, we actually do a little ChromaKey test!
 
It’s small, fits in the pocket and it takes 5 megapixel photos as well.
 
It also has a nice removable battery.  Lithium ion – lasts about an hour and a half, that’s a little bit of a drawback – I wish it lasted longer and so far, I haven’t found additional batteries at a local store.  
 
The camera actually comes with an HDMI cable.  If you don’t know what that is, it is a little port on the side so you can plug it into a high definition screen. And the quality is fantastic!  The Kodak Zi8 approaches a $500.00 high definition camera in terms of quality.
 
There is one other thing that I love.  Across the top, it has a macro switch, which means, you can get this super close and it focuses quite nicely. Great when you want to shoot stuff outdoors.
 
I took this thing to a U2 concert with the Black Eyed Peas. The quality was amazing and I did some split testing with a little portable Casio camera and a Flip Mino HD.  The Kodak Zi8 was easily four times better quality.  The image stabilization is decent. Exceptional performance and the LCD screen is very nice quality, very big!
 
I love being able to pop out the CD card, pop it into my computer and be able to immediately start editing.
  
Drawbacks
 
There are a few, but I can live with them…
 
You cannot use it as a webcam.  Not that that’s a big thing these days, virtually every portable camera that you get nowadays, you cannot use as a webcam because they compress using the H264 compression standard which isn’t really "real-time".  
 
Next, the battery only lasts about an hour and a half.  It was a real bummer when I was at the U2 concert.  I was taking a lot of clips to share with my family and my friends and battery ran out before the end of the concert.  Big bummer because there were some cool stuff at the end of the event and the encore was fantastic.
 
From the time you press the start button, it takes about 10 seconds to boot up. You have to remember that this is basically a little computer.  If you think you can just turn it on, point and shoot, you’re going to be sad and lose a few seconds.
 
Another thing that’s a little bit annoying is when I want to move between capture modes, you move a little joystick to choose your quality and it takes a while.  There is a hesitation, so I would suspect that the next generation of this camera is going to be a lot faster.
 
The digital zoom feature is "chunky" – what I mean is it’s slow and moves in noticeable "pops" instead of being smooth. It’s not nice to look at, but what the heck, at least it zooms in.
 
The camera has a built-in USB plug. That’s kind of neat and it’s connected to a little flexible cord which isn’t bad.  I wish it was just a little bit longer because the camera actually gets in the way when you try to plug in other devices.  If you only have two USB ports, it’s kind of hard to just squeeze stuff around on your PC.
 
The last thing – and my guess is the Kodak people don’t even know this.
 
I did an interview with a customer one day and I knew it was going to go longer than the batter would last. So I plugged in the external power connector and an external wired microphone. I decided that day to be smart and double check the audio quality before recording the entire 2 hour meeting.
 
When I played back the footage, there was a very LOUD hum – my guess is it’s caused by the power adapter not being filtered so there was 60 hz buzzing but ONLY when an external microphone was connected at the same time.
 
Fortunately I had two cameras with me and I just swapped batteries when they got low. But for now you’re stuck with battery power if you want to use an external wired microphone.
 
The Bottom Line
 
The bottom line is Kodak has REALLY raised the bar for the low-end, under $200 cameras.
 
I can’t recommend it highly enough – in my opinion nothing comes close in the price range and I love the small size and external microphone input.
 
I’m even going so far as to buying three of them, getting some tiny mini-tripods and taking it on the road with me to do 3-camera shoots when I do interviews. Combine these with two wireless lavaliere microphones and ambient light and it’ll look and sound as good as most any high-definition consumer camera set up and fit in a shoebox.
 
My recommendation is to get a Kodak Zi8 NOW – they’re fantastic!
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