Monday, November 26, 2007

Flip Video camera - a review

So I bought one of these handy, little Flip Video cameras when I was home in San Diego last summer vacation. I've been trying it out in various situations over the past 3 months and here are some things to consider if you're thinking of buying one for yourself or someone else for the holidays....

1 - It is incredibly convenient and easy to use. It's small and light and runs on two regular AA batteries. The buttons are easy to reach and it's simple one touch on and one touch off.
2 - It records in fairly easy to manipulate AVI files.
The one I have records about an hour of video (or about 1 gig) before it's full.

That's the good - now the not-so-good...
3 - The sound is ok, except for the extremes - too loud or too soft or if it's windy outside.
4 - The zoom lens is basically non-existent. This is the biggest drawback for me, and why I will be looking into getting something else for my video needs. As you can see from this kendo video - I was about 50 ft away in the first row of the stands, and everything in the distance is soft and muddy - yes, you can tell it's students playing kendo, but you can't really tell who they are, etc.
Even in my classroom video that I posted before this one - you can't read the signs on the chalkboard and I'm probably only about 20 ft away at the back of the class. So it's ok for up close interviews, but forget about anything beyond a 25ft radius.
5 - The extendable arm is a nice touch, but it won't mesh up well with my iBook, so I bought the cables and these work fine.
6 - At first, the user interface when wanting to watch or upload your Flip clips was incredibly tiresome and hard to use. Flip has recently tried to remedy the problem, but when I tried to download the new interface it wouldn't work and you only get one chance to try. So now I simply hook up the camera, and transfer the AVI files from the camera to my laptop harddrive - which works just fine for me, but may be a little more difficult if you're a complete computer novice. I was VERY frustrated when I first bought the camera with the program they FORCED me to use to see my clips, but now it is slightly better.

In conclusion, I think you get what you pay for. I got my Flip on Amazon and with shipping and the extra cables it came to about $140. Very cheap for a cool little digital video camera, but a very limited-use digital video camera. And I've had to carry around two cameras with me lately - one for pics and one for video. So. I'm going back to having just one camera that does both. It's gonna be my Xmas present to myself.


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