I was looking for a new pocket Camcorder that was comparable to those offered by Flip Video. I had tried the Flip Video camera and while it was OK, I was not impressed with the 640×480 resolution that it offered. I then stumbled upon the Kodak Zi6 HD Pocket Camcorder and thought I would give it a whirl.
The local business supply shop had the Kodak Zi6 for $180, complete with rechargeable batteries, carrying case A/V cables for TV hook-up. It also offered 720p HD recording at 1280 x 720 pixels in both 30 fps and 60 fps. Its 2.4`LCD screen was larger than any of its competitors and the Kodak Zi6 weighed in at just under 6 ounces. After speaking with the salesperson, I got 10 percent off which was a great deal when I compared it to pricing on the Internet.
I was a bit disappointed at the rechargeable battery option that Kodak included with the Zi6. Instead of lithium ion rechargeables as many other pocket camcorders are offering Kodak opted to include 2 x AA nickel metal hydride batteries and a charger. While these batteries have a relatively short life, the upside is in a pinch, you can go with any AA battery to power the Kodak Zi6.
Using the batteries included with the Kodak Zi6, I have been getting approximately 1.5 hours of recording time, depending on how much I watch what I record. I would seriously recommend picking up some decent recharge ables and ditch those that are included with the Kodak Zi6.
I did notice that when I was recording in HD mode, the battery life decreased more rapidly than in just standard VGA mode. Maybe it was just me. I was watching and deleting a little more in HD mode than in VGA mode.
The Kodak Zi6`s most impressive feature in my opinion is the expansion slot for SD cards. The SD expansion slot in the Kodak Zi6 will take SD cards up to 32 GB, which will allow you to record approximately 10 hours of HD video. The downside is the Kodak Zi6 includes only 128 MB of on-board memory, but given the relatively low cost of SD cards, this isn`t a problem.
In testing some of the features of the Kodak Zi6, I found that I could get approximately 40 minutes of video on a 2 GB SD card when recording in HD mode at 60 fps.
Another feature that impressed me was the ability to easily change between still picture, VGA, HD and HD60 mode, allowing me to easily adjust the video quality of the Kodak Zi6 camcorder to match my needs. If the video was destined for the web, I could record in VGA (640 x 480 pixels) or if I was recording something to keep, HD60 (1280 x 720 pixels) was my choice. Still pictures are OK, but remember, this is not designed to be a camera, but it can get you through in a pinch. There is no image stabilization so if you are taking still with this camcorder, get a small tripod. The video below was taken using the Kodak Zi6 HD camcorder – the still images were also taken with the Kodak Zi6. The short video clip is overlooking the Bay of Islands and the city in the distance is Corner Brook.
The auto-focus of the camera can sometimes be a bit sluggish but the color accuracy is great. Realizing that this is a $180 camcorder that comes in under 6 ounces, you have to realize the limitations. It doesn’t take long to learn how to pan and steady the image.
The microphone is fairly powerful on the Kodak Zi6 camcorder and this can be a bit of a drawback when filming outside. Wind noise will become a factor. If filming in a crowd, people close by can be easily heard on playback.
The controls of the Kodak Zi6 are simple, making the camcorder easy to use. Some may disagree but I find the positioning of the controls very easy to use. The main control is a joystick button which is used to stop and start recording, as well as select between the various quality modes and adjust the volume on the Kodak Zi6. On either side of the joystick control is the video/playback button and the stop/delete button. After a few seconds, it’s easy to use the camera controls, watch video that you’ve recorded and move between the still images you have captured. The fast forward / rewind / slow motion features are an added bonus.
One of my biggest complaints with this Kodak Zi6 HD camcorder is the lack of a way to format the SD card or even erase everything that you have saved on the card. Kodak expects you to take care of this while at a PC, but that’s not always an option. Make sure you have a few spare SD cards with you just in case. Another quirk with the Kodak Zi6 is that it does not power-on when plugged into a computer via the flip-out USB connector. Most other cameras do, but for whatever reason, Kodak has opted to not include this feature on the Zi6. This was not that much of a concern for me, I use an SD reader rather than connect the camera directly to my PC anyway.
The software included with the Kodak Zi6 camcorder is the ArcSoft MediaImpressions. This software is installed automatically if you plug the camera into your computer, or you can install it directly from the CD provided. The software however, is not MAC compatible, but reading the movies from the SD cards is not that difficult and works the same as any USB mass storage device. I would suggest trying some different video editing packages that offer more features.
While the Kodak Zi6 pocket camcorder should not be used for your main camcorder, its features and small size makes this camera is great! I would recommend the Kodak Zi6 pocket camcorder for its features, ease of use and price. Keep in mind it is not meant to be a mainstream camcorder for filming major productions, but it is a great addition to your gadget lineup.