Pocket camcorders are slowly beginning to find their share of space amongst flip camcorders. They are affordable, sleek and unlike flip camcorders can be easily pocketed. That’s not the only positive aspect about them. Rather than being hard drive based these little beauties come with either a respectable amount of built-in memory or they can be further expanded via the memory expansion slot – provided they have an expansion slot. Also they are much easier to use and don’t require you to refer to a manual. Simply point and shoot the video you need to record.
What we have here is the Kodak Zi8 and their entry into the world of pocket camcorders has been taken rather positively when compared to their digital camera segment. The Kodak Zi8 proves that the company is still competent enough to go amongst the best.
The Kodak Zi8 is just about 2.4 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches in size, which makes it just as thick as any other Nokia N series phone and just about as broad as a Blackberry. So you can easily pocket it without much of a hassle. As far as weight is concerned the camcorder weighs in just around 115 g, which makes it rather light but not light enough to be tucked into your shirt pocket. As mentioned from the overall looks and design of it the Zi8 resembles a cell phone more than a camcorder but at the end of it all it still is a pocketable camcorder; that too a very good looking one.
The Zi8 is quite broad in terms of width but what you get is a decently wide 2.5-inch screen. Towards the front you will find four rather small buttons – settings, delete, video selection and preview. As mentioned these buttons are comparable to the size of rice grains and selection can be difficult, especially for people with large fingers. Towards the center you’ll find a four way joystick which doubles as a record button as well as a zoom button when pressed or pushed upwards or downwards. If you take a look towards the top you will find a tiny little switch that allows you to choose between landscape and macro mode.
Towards the side you will find the power button and a memory expansion slot that supports a whopping 32 GB. Sadly the people at Kodak don’t feel the importance of throwing in a memory card which is an added expense since the camcorder can just squeeze in about two minutes of video at the lowest resolution. The Zi8 also comes with a USB connector but has a rather user friendly design. The unique flip-out design allows you to effortlessly detach the USB connector from its bay without the need for foreign objects. There are a host of other connections such as the microphone jack and an HDMI out. The Zi8 is powered by a lithium-ion battery and is user replaceable.
A point worth mentioning is the ArcSoft MediaImpression software that’s provided with the Kodak Zi8. The software basically allows you to import and upload videos to various sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. It allows you to create, edit and trim your videos to suit your specific requirements. Hover your mouse over any video and the video will automatically play in a small window thereby allowing you to preview the video before proceeding with an upload. Other than that you can join, convert and send videos using Windows mail.
Sadly the Zi8 features no optical zoom and comes with an unwanted 10x of digital zoom which basically pixelates the video whenever used.
As far as video quality is concerned the Kodak Zi8 performs exceptionally well considering that the company produces awful digital cameras. The Zi8 is currently the only camcorder that can capture full high definition video at 1080p – unlike their competitors and obviously their previous Zx1 and Zi6 models, which were only capable of recording at 720p.
Video recorded at 1080p are sharp and vivid with a perfect blend of color, contrast and saturation - provided the video is recorded in a perfectly lit room. That said the Zi8 is also capable of recording video at 720p at 60 fps – best used for recording sports, 720p at 30 fps – for sharing video with family or friends and WVGA – most appropriate when total available memory is an issue.
The Kodak Zi8 also features an Electronic Image Stabilizer but the difference between the video that is captured with the Image Stabilizer on and off is negligible. Now, apart from the other modes mentioned the Zi8 is also capable of taking still images with its 5 MP CMOS censor. But since Kodak Zi8 is more of a camcorder than a camera not much importance has been given to enhance its overall images quality; the main reason why pictures appear overexposed or too dull. It even has a macro mode but then again you will need to manually focus on the subject.
Other than a few drawbacks mentioned at Rs. 9,999 (MOP) the Kodak Zi8 is an excellent little camcorder to own. Not only is it the most affordable mini camcorder capable of recording at 1080p but also comes with a memory expansion slot that supports a decent 32 GB of memory.
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