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My awesome sub-$500 HD Camera Setup

I've been using the Kodak Zi8 camera for several years now, and it's been a workhorse of my ability to capture content.  I originally reviewed the Zi6, and then reviewed the Zi8 more recently on this blog, and I also did a post on using a wide-angle lens with the Zi6 or Zi8.

But recently, I gave a speech at TJHSST and the Zi8 failed to record the video correctly, so I decided it was time to revisit my setup, since capturing content is so important to me (as per our company manifesto points #13 and #19).

The price of the Zi8 camera has come down so much since its launch (from above $200 to under $100 now) that I decided to use the following strategy:

Here's a video of the entire setup, with pics below that:

How to Build the Smallest World Class Camera System

On Tynan

I spent $1800 on my first high quality camera. I was on the brink of Life Nomadic, and I justified the purchase with two ideas. The first was that I would be seeing a lot of things for the first, and possibly the only, time. Second, the particular camera I bought, an Epson R-D1s, seemed to hold its value well.

It came as a shock to a lot of people how primitive my camera was in many ways. It had no autofocus, no flash, no video recording capabilities, no self timer, and the only thing it could do automatically was light metering. It did that poorly. After each shot it was necessary to thumb a switch, which mechanically reset the spring for the shutter.

I bought a single lens for it, a Nokton 40mm/1.4. It had no zoom, and the aperture was set mechanically by rotating a ring on the lens. The lens was gorgeous. For those who don't know, a 1.4 F-Stop means that the lens is very fast: it lets in a lot of light. The average camera lens is probably around an f/3.5, which lets in only an eighth as much light as mine did. That's how I got amazing low-light pictures like this one.

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