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A very recent purchase of mine in aid of my mother's forays into the musical world of accordion playing was the Zoom Q3. Now, I'm quite a big fan of zoom products in general, and although I already own the Zoom H4N Handy recorder, I was intrigued to find out how the Q3 would compare. Usually, when I make video recordings with sound I have to set up my H4N and video camera separately and sync the video and audio afterwards, but thinking the Q3 would eliminate the need for this tedious exercise I recently purchased one off the wonderful wide webs and gave it a try.....
::::: The product :::::
The Zoom Q3 is the first recording device from the zoom range to feature a built in video recording facility. This really appeals to musical hobbyists like me who wish to record there playing and performances to asses at a later date. Unfortunately, due to an ear injury, I've not been able to indulge my accordion playing whims for some time so I have taken to helping my mother improve her playing instead. The Q3 features a small yet powerful microphone located on the top of the device, in a rather futuristic looking design. On top of this, it takes SD cards, has a headphone slot and also boasts a small LCD screen so you can see how much memory the device has left and what you are recording. It also has the capabilities to perform 2X video zoom. Quite a lot in a very small package!
::::: The Effect :::::
Now, my first test of the product was a quick video of one of my mother's daily practice sessions. I sat opposite her on a chair while she squeezed out some delicate tangos. We then watched the video back, and realised I hadn't checked the levels- so make sure you do test before making a full performance video or you could get caught out! On our second attempt, after a very quick fiddle with the settings to alter the input volume, all was successful. I even attempted a zoom while in operation of the camera, however I recommend if you are to do this then you should be aware that the zoom function is not very smooth while recording.
We later watched the video back, and my mother was quite embarrassed to see herself playing for the first time- her rapturous expression while pumping her instrument is really something to behold! Anyway, we were pleased with the video, but it isn't of a very high quality, it is probably comparable to video on small lower end flip camcorders. I would also probably recommend setting the device up on a stable surface rather than holding it, as if you suffer from tense and shaking hands like me then the video can come out very shaky. The real benefit of the Q3 is its immense sound quality, which isn't as good as studio or that of its more powerful brother the H4N, but it comes a close second.
::::: The Price:::::
A quick Google tells me you can now purchase the Q3 from £112 on the web, although when I first bought it I believe I paid closer to £170, so prices have really gone down. I'd say this is quite good value for money, but if you already own a higher end Zoom recorder and a decent video camera you may be better served just taking the time to sync your videos and music manually.
::::: My Opinions :::::
All in all, a great little device. Perfect for the amateur musician, or bands who want to quickly and easily upload their videos to YouTube without being too concerned about picture quality.
The zoom Q3 HD is the HD alternative to the popular zoom Q3, it's main feature is in audio and has two microphones from the zoom H4N which costs considerably more. The camera is easy to use and although a little shaky, can be fixed by use of a tripod (it mounts neatly onto any standard tripod)
I find it great to upload videos to the internet with as it comes with it's own bundled software which makes things a lot less confusing for the less computer friendly. The bundled software is basic editing software which allows you to trim the ends off the videos and make them a bit louder although I recommend some external software as it is fairly limited.
I highly recommend the accessory pack as in windy conditions the microphones do not fare well and are highly subject to noises creeping in and ruining your audio.
The camera itself is very easy to use, it is literally set up and go and record with the touch of one button. The videos save onto a separate SD card and can be easily transferred to the computer for storage and editing.
My hubby wanted one of these for a while to record his bands rehearsals and got it eventually a few weeks back, its a fantastic camera, easy to use and fantastic sound quality and just as good a picture.
Dont be surprised if you have never heard of it as zoom are mainly known for audio equipment, and their knowledge really shows on the camera, the sound quality is truly amazing, my hubby recorded the band in a busy pub yet you could hear all their instruments perfectly well, no rustling noise or interference on it al all.
The picture on the screen is only small but we played it back via a 55" tv and it kept a good quality although it was best on the 32" screen. Although it did not come with the cable, this had to be bought separately.
It comes with software to upload online quickly, my hubby was having sync problems so stopped using it and loaded it directly and the problem was resolved.
You can trim the video directly on the camera and you also get the option of taking a capture image of your video, it is pretty simple to use and only took a few minutes to get the basics of trimming the video before you uploaded it.
My daughter is going to use it for when she goes to live concerts as the sound picks up brilliantly.
One thing I am worried about is how flimsy it feels, I do worry what would happen if it gets dropped, it did not come with a case but after looking for them the suggestions came back as using a ds case as its about the same size and much cheaper and easier to get hold of.
Pros- great quality sound and video recording, easy to use.
Cons- Bit flimsy and quite expensive as video recorders go.
Heres the spec of the box
Zoom Q3HD Video/Audio Recorder Features:
Built-in stereo condenser microphones with 120° X/Y configuration for true stereo imaging
Video resolution of 720p at 30 or 60 fps or 1080p at 30 fps
WVGA (standard definition) at 30 or 60 fps is also available for
smaller file sizes
Get up to 45 minutes of 720p at 30fps video with 2GB SD card
Accepts up to a 32GB SDHC cards for 7 hours of 720p at 30fps
Large 2.4″ 320 x 240 color LCD display
Built-in NTSC/PAL TV and HDMI output
4x digital zoom
Video Format: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV)
Audio Formats: 44.1/48/96kHz 16/24-bit WAV or AAC up to 320kbps
Auto Record Level sets audio levels during recordings
Uses two standard AA batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries
USB 2.0 with built-in cable
Windows and Mac OS compatible
Built-in speaker and tripod mount
Includes HandyShare editing and YouTube uploader software, Apple Quicktime, 2GB SD card, two AA batteries