Steve Garfield purchased the cute little (OK, not so little, it’s larger than many competitors) Kodak Zi9 camera recently and brought it to the Boston Media Makers meeting. And while this $179 camera is not going to enter my short-list of favorite documentary cameras (on the list are Panasonic’s DVX100 & HVX200, Sony’s A1U & EX1, and expect the Red Scarlet to join the list as soon as I actually get a change to use one) it offers an intriguing option for quick and dirty point and shoot image capture.
Kodak Zi9 is small enough to take with you everywhere you go, it’s simple enough you can hand it to anyone to shoot, and it’s cheap enough you don’t have to worry if it gets lost, stolen, or suffers damage when used in a risky situation. And the 720p image quality (encoded as H.264) is pretty good given the price. As the quality of camera sensors goes up, and the price of camera sensors and flash memory goes down, expect to see small cameras get better and better. They could soon rival the traditional camcorder, the only issue is over time how much are the camera manufacturers willing to cannibalize their traditional camcorder market. It’s a fun little camera, I hope to get a chance to do more shooting with it.
This test was not about how pretty the video can look, it’s about how does the camera do in a common documentary situation. Here are the basic specs on the Kodak Zi9 camera:
Camera Type: Point and Shoot Camcorder
Resolution/Sensor Size/Type: 1.6 megapixels 1/4.5″ CMOS
Lens: 4.1mm – F/2.8 (fixed focus) with 2x optical zoom
Minimum Focus: 27.6″ (macro focus: 2″)
Display: 2.4″ TFT active matrix LCD (no viewfinder, no flip-over display)
Video Format: 16×9 H.264 (MOV, AAC, LC) 720p @ 30fps or 60fps
White Balance/Exposure: Automatic
Sound In: Built-in Microphone (mono)
Sound Out: Built-in speaker (mono) and audio on composite video output
Computer Interface: USB 2.0
Video Output: Composite video and Component video
Digital Still Features: also shoots digital stills in JPEG format and has a built-in flash w/ close-up and normal modes, and red-eye reduction
Internal Storage: 30 MB Flash Memory (built-in, specs do say 128M, however, only 30 can be used for image storage)
Storage Slot: SD Memory Card, Kodak recommends use of SDHC High-Speed Card
Additional Features: YouTube capture mode
Power: Uses 2 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries (included along with a charger) or 2 AA Alkaline batteries (nice not to have to deal with a built-in LiIon battery like some other devices)
Accessories: carrying pouch, cables, manual
Warranty: one year
Weight: 3.8 oz.