Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Low cost video cameras

Image taken with sepia camera app for iPhone

Time to share some received wisdom from the RSC crowd about a simple question posed by Justin Spooner from RSC Wales. He asked us all .. 

"We currently use the Busbi video camera with the flip-out screen and the Flip Ultra video cameras for recording and demoing low cost video cameras. Unfortunately the Busbi was discontinued some time ago and one of our learning providers would like to know of alternatives. I have no problem with the Flip Ultra but I was wondering what you all used in the £120 or less range."

The replies came thick and fast from across the UK:

  • There is a lovely wee case study on the recent Scottish RSCs Newsfeed posted by Hugh Dailly which highlights how Perth College have used the Creative Vado Digital Video Camera.  The entry also provides a link to a you tube review on this gadget.  I think they cost around £90 and seem to be quite simple to use. http://scottish-rscs.org.uk/newsfeed/?p=7662
  • My vote would currently go to the Kodak Zi8. HD quality. A key benefit over others in this price range is that you can use an external mic. It also has a macro mode – useful for reasonable close-ups. I realised quite early on that our Flip was useless for such things when I was going to do a video review of an iPod Touch app. It just couldn’t focus close enough. So a bit more flexible than the flip but still easy to use. The black one on amazon is about £119. Other colours are about £5 cheaper.
 Here’s quite an in-depth review on youtube

Part 1

Part 2

We have also recently bought a Samsung Flashcam which does time lapse which can be useful for gathering digital evidence of a time consuming tak such as building a wall etc http://tinyurl.com/flashcam-amazon

  • Try Disgo cameras, they are the same design and price as the lower end cameras.
  • Yep Flips are a good choice as well, also try the XACTI. They come in a number of price brackets and will allow the user to take video and stills and allow the video playback to be paused.

  • I am moving more and more towards simple devices that allow you to shoot stills and video as these tend to be better value for money, more flexible. The one thing I hadn't appreciated until recently was the importance of the pause function when playing back footage.
  • ..the Disgos and Xactis are really good, Xactis prices can get a bit steep.  Another consideration is the holding format, the square of the Disgo or a pistol grip style of the Xacti.  I bought my daughters the Samsung U10s for Christmas, HD and very good.  One thing they commented on is having to hold it very steady, as in HD mild handshake/vibration at 30 fps is very noticable (particularly when the video is taken from the edge of a dance floor in a club after a few beers).  If waterproof for outside use is a consideration then the Xacti has a model and if cheap and waterproof is a consideration Tesco have a Vivitar DVR850W for just under GBP 60 (70-80 elsewhere). Final consideration that may not be important is low light capabilities, but indoors shooting can end up grainy even under eyeball acceptable artificial light.
All I can add to this is that my iphone camera is perhaps the worst mobile camera I ever used! Don't buy an iphone if you want a 1/2 decent camera. Buy one of those new Sony Erricsson phones instead.

And think of how you are going to use the output video, if it's going to youtube then buy one with a USB port (the disgos), but be careful some of these cameras output in MP4 format (apple stuff) which is a difficult format to convert and to be embedded into Moodle,blog ,etc.  

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