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The Kodak Playsport, whose model number is Zx3 id Kodaks follow up to Zx1 also by Kodak. The main change within the model is the fact that the zx3 is waterproof not only weather resistant, which is great especially if you are out in the rain or if your recording on holiday. It can survive up to ten feet of water surviving up to half an hour submerged so no worries if you drop it in the ocean like I did. Just, for a test dive I took it in the pool with my little ones and honestly its great in water, no problems whatsoever. There is especially no problem with what you are getting for the price. It is not a state of the art camera but it is great for family outings.
The camera basics:
This camera is definitely not going to add any extra weight in your bag or pocket, it is quite a nice size, no bigger than your iPhone but it is slightly heavier than a your phones, but not so much that it will agitate you. It is said by Kodak that the camera is 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.8 inches and weighs around five ounce. The body is textured to allow for an easier grip, which is especially good within water as you do not want your camera slipping in and out of your hands. The casing is also very sturdy. The camera has fallen out of my hands on multiple occasions and even though the case is simple plastic there has been no scratches or breaks so I assume it's a very good quality thick plastic, however I do worry about it falling because it is not a shockproof camera. Also I would not recommend using this in snow for long periods as the camera is not freeze proof but it has resistance to dust so desert areas or areas with a huge amount of dust should not *fingers crossed* get damaged. The storage capacity of the camera is entirely dependant on the size of your SD or SDHC card, the bigger it is the more you will store. But in theory you should get 80 minutes of recording on a 4GB card, but it does have 128MB internal memory. The battery life on the camera is also around one and a half to two hours, and it uses a rechargeable battery which is really annoying as it can take absolute light years to charge in comparison to the time it works so it is not a plus point. It takes about 4 hours to charge via USB cable and two hours via plug. If you are going to film in 1080p then keep in mind the battery life will die very fast and the only way around this is keeping extra batteries on board.
The camera design:
The Playsport has a Fixed focus, f2.8, 48mm lens which is the same as having a 35mm lens. The front of this lens is not protected very well so I am always fearing scratches and dirt, you need to be very careful with it. The cameras minimal zoom in 3.3 feet above water and 4.4 feet below water so zooming into object can become a huge hassle. The camera also has a microphone, which is basically monotone so it will not pick up many tones or pitches of sounds. the camera also has the option of being controlled by remotes that controls the camera via a hidden IR receiver. Just like all cameras the blinking red light whilst recording is also there. This light can be shut off.
The controls on the camera are pretty much idiot proof. The anti-glare LCD is 2.5 inches wide and all the operational buttons apart from the power buttons are surrounding the LCD in a circular pad. The LCD anti glare is excellent in viewing outdoor as well as the 3 settings for the screen brightness it makes it easier to see.. The power button is on the back of the camera higher up on the right side. The up and down buttons on the controls next to the LCD zoom up to 4x and the left and right buttons control recording settings. The pad is also used for fast forward, rewind, and volume whilst playing the volume. The center button has various uses. It is used to control the start and stop of recording, capture a photo, and finally to play/pause/stop videos whilst watching them. There are four other buttons on the left side of the pad they aid you to watch the recording in Liveview or watch what you've shot; delete photos and videos; as well as using the settings. These changes in the settings will only improve visibility on the LCD screen not the video itself which is a bit of a pain, as if it is excessively sunny or dark the settings will not aid the video in getting better or worse.
To ensure water stays out of the camera all areas such as USB ports are kept well sealed and watertight by two small flaps or doors on each side of the camera body. The ports being covered include a USB port, a HDMI port, battery port, a slot for the memory card as well as a AV jack .
The video quality:
The video for a camera this size is phenomenal. The video at 1080p had a crispness that is very rare for a pocket camera and the colours are so vibrant it is unbelievable. Unfortunately on a large screen fast moving object can turn out blurry in the 1080p mode so it's a lot smoother on the 720p settings and the more you zoom the worse the quality but luckily it shoots very well in low light and there is noise reduction. And to be honest the underwater results aren't bad either.
The photo quality:
This disappointed me, it is just like shooting with a phone, and the photo quality is not all that amazing. It also takes a few seconds to shoot a photo before you can go for round two and I hate waiting. I think I shall stick to my camera when photos are concerned.
Loading photos onto the computer:
Firstly, like with most cameras you have to install the camera. This occurs immediately after you connect the camera via USB to your PC or laptop. This software is actually amazing it allows you to upload directly onto multiple applications like facebook directly. There is also a basic photo and video format editor included. I love the fact that it is all in one. I also love the fact that I can edit and enhance my videos on the software as well as add effect to the photos. The only downfall is this software will not work on my husband's Mac it is for windows only so I am restricted to my HP. On a Mac you would use this camera just like a USB and edit using whichever software's you have available.
You can obviously, not expect a minicamcorder to be as good as a normal HD camcorder at any aspect. But as far as most minicamcorders go this is an excellent piece of work and to be completely honest, its more than good for the pricing and it is an absolute beauty for the HD quality of videos.
My friend had the Kodak Playsport ZX3 and I was very impressed with it so we decided to invest in our own, although when we went to buy it we discovered the newer model: ZX5. They look relatively the same which is good as it was the set up and the feel of the camcorder that we liked about it. This camcorder is an absolute bargain at the minute and costs only £79.99 which is such good value as when it was first released it was priced at £150.00. We have yet to take the camcorder on holiday and really see it in action but in March we are going to Jamaica where we hope to take part in plenty of water sports and really get some use out of the camcorder.
Exciting times! We have used the camcorder on a number of occasions and had some good experiences and some not so good ones, the not so good ones though are down to not really understanding how the camcorder works. For example, my best friend asked me to come and watch her daughter at a swimming gala and film her. I thought, 'great! Here is my chance to use the camera around water!' Although I did not get anywhere near the water and filmed from the far parameters of the swimming bath. I set up the camcorder and focused on Sophia as she jumped in and started swimming. With this camcorder though you cannot zoom in much (it only has 4x optical zoom) so I found myself reaching out with the camcorder and trying to get closer physically to the subject of them film. This resulted in very shaky footage as I struggled to keep it still. Coupled with this the video quality was really dark as there is no flash on the camcorder. The whole ten minutes of video shot was a blurry, wobbly dull blurry of movement, splashing of water and you could only just make out Sophia at all. Watching the video back gave me a headache! Despite this, I resolved to improve my filming skills!
The most success I have had with the camcorder is taking it to Go Ape where we had a whole hen party trying to complete the aerial assault course. The footage here was brilliant, it was outdoors so the picture quality was clear and bright and I caught some very comedy moments as people came down the zip wire. From previous experiences I had learnt to hold on to the camcorder tightly to prevent too much juddering and use the camcorder is slow fluid movements. The camcorder was brilliant too as it picks up audio really well and it captured all the screams, cheers and jeers as people completed various stages of the assault course. To round up my experiences, I will say that I would fully recommend this camcorder, it is really good quality and as long as you appreciate some of the limitations it has and learn how best to use the camcorder you will have lots of fun with it and shoot some excellent footage.
==Price and availability==
You can buy the camcorder for £79.99 from electrical stores or online stores such as Amazon.co.uk. This is really good value for money for a full HD camcorder.
camcorder comes in a couple of different shades but the one we bought was white with a black front. It is designed for outdoor use and boasts that this is shock proof, dust proof and even waterproof up to 3 m. The shell of the camcorder is sturdy and robust but at the same time it looks sleek and fits comfortably in your hand. Compared with most camcorders the screen is quite small at 2". This does not bother me as I chose this upright style of camcorder for the shape and design. I would rather have a good quality small LCD screen than a large poor quality one anyway and this is more than ample to see what you are filming. There is a feature that means that you can alter the brightness of the screen and activate the glare shield. This means that you should find seeing the screen easier when out in daylight. You can even chose to view the footage in black and white as sometimes this is easier to see than colour. The footage will be recorded in full colour however.
The device has an internal memory but also has a SD card slot to expand this so that you can record 10 hours of footage rather than the 1 hour you get with the devices internal memory. Don't let this mislead you though as you will not be able to shoot 10 hours of continual footage without the battery dying. I am able to shoot about 4 hours of footage before the camcorder needs charging up. The difference between this model and the previous Kodak one is the lack of a removable battery. You can only charge this battery up whilst in the camcorder. This prevents you bring able to have one battery on charge whilst using a spare for example. This is a little frustrating but to charge the device fully I find that it only takes around 3 hours so as long as you plan your filming around this, you should not have a problem. The camera is supplied with a plug and lead to charge it up. There is also a USB cable to transfer footage on to the laptop/computer from the camcorder. The camcorder will capture film in the following modes: 1080p (16:9) 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps, 720p (16:9) 1280 x 720 @ 60 fps, 720p (16:9) 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps, WVGA 16:9 848 x 480 @ 30 fps, Still 16:9 5.3 MP. Full 1080p footage is superb if it is shot outside. When watching the filming back on the television it looks really good, crisp clear images with movement that flows seamlessly. The camcorder supplies you with a HDMI cable so you can view the footage direct from the device onto the television. To mix it up, there are a few different shoot modes where you can film in black and white, 70's style and sepia. The 70's style is interesting as it has a few scratches on the screen and offers a slightly different coloured grainy feel. I also like sepia as it gives footage an old warm feel. Black and white is really good quality and very classic.
==Set up and use==
The camcorder is ready to film as soon as you turn it on and it is so quick to set up and change the filming mode if that is what you want to do. Once ready, hit the one button and away you go. Once you get used to the feel of the camcorder it becomes much easier to film. A feature about the camcorder I like is that it can be used with any standard tripod. This is a sure way to stop the jerky hand movements that are so familiar with amateur family videos! Once you have finished filming you stop it with the same button you use to turn it on and record. How can you go wrong! You can watch it back with any of the normal functions you associate with watching video such as rewind, fast forward and pause. You can toggle with the volume too as along with a god quality microphone it also has quite good speakers. If you want to trim your video footage you can and as soon as you have it the way you want it, you can upload it to social networking sites or email it once you have the device connected to a computer.
Roll on Jamaica! I will have so much fun with this camcorder and I do not have to worry about it getting sand in or water damage. I will take it out swimming and get some underwater footage to really put it to the test but I have really high hopes for it. So far after a few early hiccups, I am becoming more confident with the camcorder and really impressed with the results.
Having a camcorder means that you get to capture those precious moments and relive them over and over again. Memories are really important and if you are looking for a cheap camcorder to help you achieve this then look no further. This is an absolute bargain.