Kodak Playsport Zx3 Review

During the summer Kodak was kind enough to lend me a Playsport to test out for a two-week camping trip. The Playsport is a light-weight, pocket-size HD video (and still) camera that is waterproof to 3 meters.

The Playsport features a 5 megapixel sensor and shoots video at WVGA, 720p and 1080p through a fixed focus lens that works out to a 35mm equivalent of 36mm for stills, WVGA, and 720p and a 48mm equivalent for 1080p.  It offers 30 frame per second on all video modes plus an additional 60fps mode at 720p. The lens is a fixed focal length, but it does offer a 4x digital zoom and electronic image stabilization. It has 128MB internal memory, but is primarily designed to shoot directly to a SD or SDHC card. And finally, it has a built in mono microphone and speaker for playback, USB 2.0, AV out, an HDMI connector, and accepts a standard 1/4” tripod mount.

But enough of the technical specs. The PlaySport is the most fun video camera I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I used it in the truck, in the trailer, in the pool, and it spent several hours in the ocean off of Cape Cod tethered to my wrist.

Like all other cameras in the pocket video class, it’s easy to criticize the lack of optical zoom, fixed-focus lens, or the fact that the audio can get a bit strange sounding when the microphone is wet. But I kept coming back to, “It costs $160 and it’s waterproof.”  I own an expensive video camera, and I wouldn’t take it to the beach for fear or getting a few grains of sand in the mechanism. But there I was, playing with the kids in the ocean surf and shooting video clips.  I shot mostly at 720p to balance quality with file size, and I was pleased with the results.

When it came to uploading a few clips to YouTube, it was also a breeze because the Playsport produces H.264 .MOV files that can be directly uploaded, no editing or re-encoding required.

The bottom line:  Two weeks with the Playsport changed the way I see personal video – from expensive and fragile to something really fun I could carry with me all the time. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use digital video camera that you can take anywhere, look no further. Highly recommended.

Camera Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a camera is tough. Choosing a camera for someone else is even tougher. So with Christmas on the horizon, we’ll help you wade through the sea of cameras at your local retailer and narrow down the choices to a more manageable number.

The key to choosing a camera is to consider it a tool. Your challenge is not to find the perfect camera because it doesn’t exist. Instead, we’re looking for the best tool for the job. So to begin, we’ll divide the digital camera marketing into three categories: Pocket, Compact and SLR.

Continue reading

Canon G9

Rebecca wrote,

“I’m looking for a good point and shoot camera.  What do you think of the new Canon G9?”

The G9 specs look impressive, and Canon has added back a few of the features that I thought were missing when I reviewed the G7 for Monitor Magazine. I’ve been trying to review the G9 for a few months, but unfortunately Canon’s Canadian PR rep hasn’t been able to send me a loaner yet, so the best I can say is that it looks promising.

Choosing a Digital Camera

Before we begin, it’s important to understand that almost everything about photography involves compromise, and nowhere is that more evident than when choosing a digital camera. Like any other tool, different cameras are best for different people and different kinds of photography. The goal of this article is to help you choose the best camera for you.

Continue reading

Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3

Hank asks,

I’m looking for point & shoot top end with 28 mm lens, what do you think of the Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3. I’ve read the reviews hard to believe how opinions differ.

Unfortunately I have not had any experience with the DMC TZ3, but when it comes to reviews I have found dpreview.com to be reliable, accurate, and unbiased.  Hope that helps!

Does brand matter?

Trevor asks,

In your honest opinion is there much of a difference between manufacturers of digital SLR cameras?  Is it better to look only at the two biggest being Canon and Nikon or are the other ones worthy of a look too like Olympus and Sony?

As usual in photography, it depends 🙂  While Canon and Nikon dominate the professional DSLR market, other manufactuers including Fuji, Leica, Olympus, Pentax, and Sony have some nice products.  If you are looking to buy a camera and one lens for recreational photograhy, all of them are worth of consideration.

Continue reading