iPhlip: Flip Mino HD

Man these past few weeks have been busy, this time of year is always crazy and I'm always running around trying to get everything I need done in the inadequate amount of time I have to do it in...but anyways, I figured I'd fill you all in on a new toy I picked up called the Flip Mino HD. I'm going to come right out and say it, if you don't already own a video camera and you have kids or are recording important family stuff, don't buy a Flip, get a real camcorder first! I bought the Flip HD because I've was given a Flip Mino (non-HD) to test out for about a week or so to use earlier this year and found it pretty fun to have around, since Apple still doesn't allow me to record video with my iPhone. When the HD version came out I decided to give it a go, but low and behold a couple other similar products came out around the same time so I wanted to give them all a go to see which I liked better. I decided to really test out the Kodak Zi6 and the Flip Mino HD when it came down to it as most of the other similar products just didn't seem to be built all that well. I originally intended to go out and shoot video specifically for this review using both my FX1 and the Flip for a side by side comparison, but I've been just been too busy for that, so what I've decided to do instead is throw up a compilation of various video clips in varied lighting conditions to run the gamet of the situations you might find yourself recording video in. I originally was procrastinating on getting this up online because I originally thought I'd have to edit it all in Final Cut (a awesome app, but a pain to get quick clips edited), but I just got iLife 09, and the new iMovie was able to handle the footage just fine. I threw some clips together, didn't spend a whole lot of time on this, but wanted you to get a broad range of lighting examples... so you'll see that the Flip wouldn't be ideal for spelunking! I didn't use iMovie's stabilization feature, so you'll see a little shake due to the small size and light weight of the Flip. I'm fairly steady, but this video could still make you sea-sick, you've been warned! (just kidding)

(the end of the video alludes to an upcoming blog post...check back very soon)

The Kodak Zi6 has some nice features, such as removable/expandable memory (the Flip has a permanent 4GB built-in...no upgrading later) and the double edged sword of AA batteries...I say this because if you're out camping or just out with friends and your battery kicks out, you need to go find a computer to charge up the Flip, whereas you can just toss in a couple AA's from your local Walmart or convenience store. This however makes the Zi6 a bit larger and heavier, and ultimately I wanted something that was smaller (the Flip is about 1/2" smaller in every dimension) that I would be more likely to take everywhere I go. There are two other aspects of the Zi6 that made me want to keep it too, better contrast in the video as well as a larger LCD screen. The Flip has a 1.5" display, definitely not good for showing to more than 1-2 people at a time, the 2.4" display on the Kodak isn't huge but is definitely nicer for group viewing. The other primary trade-off between the two is the lenses. The Kodak has a slightly slower lens (f/2.8 vs f/2.4) so the Flip performs better in low light (Flip claims down to 1.4 lux) although the Kodak can focus much more closely, all the way down to two inches in macro mode (~28 inches in normal viewing), where the Flip has a fixed focus of about 5 feet (1.5 meters).

As you can probably tell from the above videos, this is not something you would want to record an episode of Lost on, nor would I recommend it for important family events like birthday parties, weddings, family reunions, kid's sports, ect. I would, however, recommend it (or the Zi6) for use as a backup device to always have with you even when you're not expecting to need to record something, it quick to turn on, dead-easy to use and small enough to carry everywhere. It also makes a fantastic gift for kids and teens who want to upload video onto Youtube and share with their friends. The Flip I think will become like the gateway drug for young kids who want to get into video but don't have parents that want to risk buying a $600 camcorder that gets used once or twice and spends the next 4 years collecting dust in the closet. Both products come with really simple software that allows you to do some basic editing (although I find Flip's software far more stable and faster) and do a direct upload to Youtube or Myspace. You'll notice that I've uploaded my videos to Vimeo for this test, and that is because Vimeo supports better image quality so you can get a better feel of the actual results out of these cameras.

What this also means, is now that I don't have to take out and setup all my HD Sony production gear to record things like this (wireless mics, tripods, firewire cables, ect.), I might actually start integrating some video clips into this blog, just maybe though...LOL! BTW, check out Armin's review... he was quicker to write a review than I was :(