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Kodak Zi8 review

Is this new mini camcorder a worthy update to its older brother?

Our Verdict

Not as cheap as a Flip, nor as good as a proper DV camera, but has its merits

For

  • Basic stabilisation
  • Decent low-light performance

Against

  • Audio/video could improve
  • Need to buy an SD card

Kodak's latest pocket digital video camera, the Zi8, is an object lesson in why an impressive spec sheet does not necessarily make a good product.

At first glance, the Zi8 answers all the criticisms we had of the Kodak Zi6.

It has basic stabilisation, a rechargeable Li-ion battery rather than AAs, 1080p recording rather than 720p, HDMI output and a port for an optional stereo microphone. (That last point is particularly welcome; all models in this class seem to completely forget about audio fidelity.)

And yet, while our general impression is positive, niggles remain. The image stabilisation can smooth out small jitters from using it hand-held, but you may be disappointed.

The 1080p recordings, while technically impressive, are a little dirty at 100%, and while the Zi8 claims 30fps, it often drops below this and videos are sometimes a little stuttery.

Alternatively, you can opt for 720p at 30 or even 60fps – great for slow-mos, though there's some annoying vertical banding. Video, though, is generally good.

Low-light performance, in particular, is striking at this price point and the convenience of plugging the Zi8 directly into your Mac and dragging a neat series of clips across, ready to be edited in iMovie '08 and later, is most welcome.

In giving the case a slicker, more designed feel (available in raspberry, as above, black and aqua) Kodak is treading a difficult line; one of the charms of this kind of camera is that it doesn't feel precious, and yet the smart finish here runs counter to that. It also makes it more slippery than we'd like; it wriggled out of our hands and onto the pavement more than once during testing.

You'll start to notice after a while that the internal mic isn't exactly a great performer at the natural distance from which you frame your subjects, but you can at least plug in an external one. The mic jack seems to be a little noisy, however.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Camcorder
Flash Memory Capacity128 MB
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Number of Image Sensors1
HDMIYes
Product FamilyZ
Recording MediaFlash Memory, Memory Card
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NameKodak
Screen Size6.4 cm (2.5")
Video FormatsQuickTime MOV
Recording FormatsHD
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker
Image Sensor Size1/2.5"
Maximum Frame Rate60 fps
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeCMOS
Total Camcorder Resolution5 Megapixel
Maximum Video Lines1080
Progressive ScanYes
USBYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height113.2 mm
Width62 mm
Depth21.5 mm
ColourRaspberry
Video SystemPAL
Product SeriesZ
Focal Length6.30 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Focus ModesFixed
ManufacturerEastman Kodak Company
Product ModelZi8
Product NameZi8 High Definition Digital Camcorder
Aperture Rangef/2.8
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part Number8030777
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.kodak.com
Marketing Information

It's small enough to fit in your pocket, but why would you ever want to put it there? Whether out on the town or just hanging with friends, the Zi8 Pocket Video Camera captures every experience in stunning 1080p HD video. Stay in focus while you're on the move with integrated image stabilization. Then kick back and watch all the action on your HDTV or share your scene on Facebook or YouTube with a flick of the built-in USB arm. The Zi8 has all you need to define yourself in high definition.

Package Contents
  • Zi8 High Definition Digital Camcorder
  • Li-Ion Rechargeable Digital Camera Battery KLIC-7004
  • Adapter and Cable for Battery Charging
  • HDMI and AV Cables
  • Wrist Strap
  • User Guide
  • Software CD (ARCSOFT MEDIA IMPRESSION Software (PC only))
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)110 g
White Balance Modes

Auto