By: Joey Cam
December 9, 2009
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PRODUCT REVIEWED: Kodak Zi8 HD pocket camcorder
When I wanted a pocket video camera and started researching them a couple of months ago the #1 feature I looked for was HD video recording quality. After looking at everything offered on the market I focused on one device, the Kodak Zi8. My first impression after first opening the box was that it was a bit bulkier than other pocket camcorders I have seen people carry around. Still the Zi8 fits in my pocket. I have not been disappointed after the purchase but I do think the technology on some of the features can be improved. I will explain in my review below.
Kodak Zi8 HD Minimum System Requirements
• Windows XP SP2, Vista, Windows 7 or Macintosh OS X 10.4+
• Pentium 4 2.8 GHz CPU or better
• 1 GB RAM and 64 MB Video RAM
• 1024×768 monitor resolution
• 300 MB hard drive space
• USB v1.1 or higher
Included in Packaging
• Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera
• Rechargeable battery
• USB and Wall Charger
• HDMI and RCA cables
• ArcSoft video editing software
• User Guide
• Wrist Strap
Size / Weight
The size dimensions of the Kodak Zi8 are 21.5 x 113.2 x 62 mm (0.9D x 4.5L x 2.4W in.). The LCD Viewfinder is 2.5”. The Kodak Zi8 weighs about 3.88 ounces (110g) without the battery. The battery weighs about .62 ounces (17.5g). So the Kodak Zi8 + the battery weighs around 4.5 ounces (127.5g).
(Video and Still) The Kodak Zi8 records video at 1920×1080 “1080P” @30fps, 1280×720 ”720P” @60 fps), 720 @30 fps and WVGA 848×480 @30fps. It takes wide-screen still pictures at 3072×1728 “5.3 MP”. All video and still recording modes are in 16:9 format. The 720P @60fps recording mode is aimed at action shots like live and close up sports recording. The main use I have for that recording mode is when I am driving and have the Kodak Zi8 mounted to my dashboard. It works as a neat in-dash cam (with optional mounting accessories not included) recording the scenery while I drive.
The Kodak takes 5.3 megapixel snapshots. The quality of the still images are more than good enough for most people but not great quality. Then again we aren’t looking at this device for still image capability.
The Zi8 records video in .mov HD format and still images in .jpg format.
I am extremely impressed by the quality of video footage this pocket camcorder takes at 1080P and 720P. I can’t find the correct words to describe the quality of the footage for this sub-$150 HD pocket video camera so here are a few links to YouTube videos I shot with the Kodak Zi8 linked below.
Test Footage I Took with the Kodak Zi8
• Average day Kodak Zi8 1080P
• Sunny day Kodak Zi8 1080P
• Sunny day In low-light conditions the Kodak Zi8 is not that great.
• Night Test: Outside LAX Airport
• Night Test: Outside Forum Kodak Zi8 1080P
• Very Low Light Test: Inside closed stadium
Internal Memory / Expansion Slot
The 128 MB of built-in memory that the Kodak Zi8 has is very small, only enough for several seconds of HD video. So it is mandatory, not optional that you purchase an SD memory card with the Zi8. The Zi8 has an SD/SDHC card reader. The max capacity it will read is 32 GB. The camera will record about 20 minutes of video footage per GB at 720P/30fps. It will record 10 minutes of video footage per GB at 1080P/30fps and 720P/60fps. When you factor in that a 32 GB SDHC card will format down to around 30 GB of memory, a 32 GB SDHC card will hold about 5 hours of 1080P video footage.
Battery Life / Charging
The exact model of the Kodak Zi8 Li-Ion rechargeable battery included in the packaging is KLIC-7004. The recording time of the Kodak Zi8 battery is listed at 90 minutes during 720P @30fps recording. I have never recorded video footage long enough to even drain half the battery on any given day so I am not sure what the actual battery life is for 1080P recording. The charging time for the battery is 2 hours via wall adapter and 4 hours via USB connection.
Microphone quality / Extra features
When first researching the Kodak Zi8 I saw a few complaints about the internal microphone’s recording quality. While it is not as good as high end video camcorders it still records decent quality audio in most situations. One situation where it will record very poor audio that might even be choppy is when recording at a club with the music blasting and people yelling. If you want better audio recording you must use an included Zi8 feature, an external microphone connector. You adjust the input gain through the menu settings.
At the top of the device are 2 macro settings. One is for recording objects less than a foot away from the camcorder and the other is for recording objects that further away, which you will be using most of the time. There is a standard 1/4“ tripod mount connector at the bottom of the Kodak Zi8. The ¼” mount connector is the same size that is featured on normal sized camcorders and cameras. So there is no need to look for a special tripod mount for the Zi8. The Zi8 features built in video stabilization. It does not work that great but it is better than what most pocket camcorders have which is nothing.
Transferring to your computer / Uploading to YouTube and Facebook
Transferring the HD footage from your Kodak Zi8 to your computer is very simple. Just plug in the device via USB to your computer and it will automatically install the drivers for you. The Kodak Zi8 will be recognized similarly to a USB drive on your computer. Once the device is plugged in just open the Kodak drive and drag and drop the files from the player to your computer. You must be aware that the first time you connect the Zi8 to your computer it might take up to a full minute for it to be recognized before the drivers are automatically installed.
Uploading to YouTube, Facebook and other sites that support HD video is as simple as uploading a picture. Just choose the Video Upload option at your preferred site and then Browse your Computer for your HD video. Once you find your video just upload it. The longer the length of the video the longer it will take to upload. Also the slower your Internet UPLOAD speed the slower it will take to upload a video. For some of you that might mean it will take 30-40 minutes to upload a single video.
Included Arcsoft Media Impression software
When your Kodak Zi8 is connected to your computer you will notice that 2 new drives appear. One of those drives contains the Arcsoft Media Impression software. Just go into that drive and initiate the install. The software itself is rather basic. It offers very simplistic video editing options. But for any video editing beginner the Media Impression software will give you more than enough features until you advance.
The main two features that will come in handy will be video trimming and “media converter”. The video trimming feature will allow you to cut out any portion of the video, then resave it. The media converter option will allow you to shrink down the video in case it is too large to upload to a site or share with someone. Be aware that when you shrink down the video size the quality of the video will also shrink. Also the vast majority of HD videos you create will be too large to send directly to someone via email. It must be uploaded to a site and be shared via link.
• It has digital zoom but no optical zoom. Optical zoom is needed. If you are wondering if any of the pocket camcorders have optical zoom the answer is no, none, I already checked.
• Image stabilization is not that good. It could improve.
• Low-light video recording is not that great. Other pocket camcorders offer better recording quality with low lit conditions
• Size. The Kodak Zi8 is one of the bulkiest pocket camcorders around. I wish it could be a little smaller.
Final Thoughts and Rating of the Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera
The recording quality is exceptional for a pocket camcorder. I like that it records at full HD “1080P” unlike most other pocket camcorders currently out. It is very feature-rich compared to the vast majority of its competitors (external mic connector, image stabilization, tripod mount). I also like that it has a battery that is very easily removable, unlike other pocket camcorders. I dislike the low-light video recording, lack of optical zoom, weak image stabilization and its bulkiness compared to the competition. Despite being the pocket camcorder I recommend, I will take a point and a half away due to the negatives I stated and give this device 3.5 out of 5 Mouse Pointers.
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