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Kodak Zi6 HD Pocket Video Camera

I'm a big fan of the emerging category of "pocket video cameras," first popularized by the RCA Small Wonder (see earlier post) and Pure Digital Flip (see earlier post). These are so easy to use -- small enough to take with you almost anywhere, power on and start shooting in seconds -- and record good-looking standard-definition video that you can quickly post as-is to YouTube, or edit and burn to DVD.

The Flip Mino, for example, is only about 4 x 2 x 1/2 inches and 3 1/3 ounces, but records up to 60 minutes of MPEG-4 video, for $179. It's great for shooting unobtrusively to catch informal shots at events, and is a lot easier to carry than a full-up camcorder. Yes, you give up a lot of options, but you're much more likely to have it along, and it's better quality and easier to use than your camera phone.

But now the pocket video category is broadening with the introduction of new cameras that actually shoot high-definition video (720p), including a brand new new RCA Small Wonder, several models from DXG, and the Kodak Zi6.

I'm very impressed with the Kodak Zi6 HD Pocket Video Camera, especially at the $179 price. It has a larger 2.4" display, shoots HD (1280 x 720) and standard-def (640 x 480) video, plus a 60 fps HD mode for fast motion. It also shoots still photos (2048 x 1536), and has a close-up macro mode.
It's a bit bigger and heavier, but still in the range of handheld devices, at 4.5 × 2.5 × 1 inches and 3.8 ounces (plus batteries).

Even with these features, the Zi6 is still easy to use. The controls are simple and clear, with a small joystick for menu navigation and play control. And, like the earlier pocket vidcams, it runs on easily replacable AA batteries and includes a pop-out USB connector to easily transfer files to a computer (and has built-in editing software that runs from the internal memory). It has a SD / SDHC slot for expandable memory (4 GB holds around 1 hour of HD video), plus around 30 MB of internal memory available. Plus it has two video output connectors, standard A/V for playing on a TV, and component for HD displays.

My major complaint is that you can't silence the built-in sound effects (power on/off, record start/stop, photo shutter), which makes it difficult to be unobtrusive when trying to record at performances and other quiet events.
UPDATE: This is fixed as of 3/2009 with a firmware update -- see the Kodak support page.

Also be aware of common issues with all of these small and light handheld cameras. It's difficult to hold them steady, so your footage will be shaky unless you pay attention to bracing yourself as you shoot. And the sound is recorded from the tiny built-in microphone, so make sure you're getting good audio in the environment, and watch out for wind noise on breezy days.

See my Digital Camcorders Gallery for specs and comparisons of pocket video camcorders.

    Find the Kodak Zi6 HD Camera on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on September 21, 2008.

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