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:
Daniel: Hey it's Daniel, I'm at the Launch Conference and I figured I'd take a moment while I was here to show you my camera rig for capturing content.
This is what I carry around with me: It's just a Sean Jackson design bag, and I'll actually zip it up for you to show you how it goes- it's a little hard to do with one hand here. This is just the bag, just like this, and it goes right here. This closes up like this, and that's my bag.
So to show it to you, take it off...open it up, and I've basically assembled what I think is the best content capturing rig around so let me show you the pieces.
First of all, I've got a tripod here. This tripod actually extends out. I've also got another tripod here, and I use this one, which is an ultra pod, along with (?) shot. So here's the ultra pod...let me unscrew this guy...bring him up...about like that...and then in here this is the X shot. This guy telescopes out and can actually be quite tall. What I can do then is assemble these guys here and then I can start capturing content from a table at a pretty tall height. Let me just adjust this real fast.
There's this guy here that I'm actually going to use this tripod to steady this camera while I show you the other stuff. (One second.) This guy here connects to the Kodak Zi8. I actually have two of them- I've got the one I'm recording with right now and then I've got this other one and I use them especially at important events- I like to have redundancy when I'm recording. So I actually record with both......By the way, the Kodak Zi8 has a very nice feature where it's got a mic that can be plugged in externally. So now I end up with a pretty sweet rig just from doing that. And what I can do is attach it up here using the ultra pod and get a pretty good setup just by doing that. Get a lot of height off of it, so it's pretty sweet.
I also have a fish-eye lens for wide angles. I'll actually put this one here so you can see the difference. So the edges get a little blurry, but it does give me a wider angle of view. It just uses a magnetic connection, so that's the wide angle. Then I have an Olympus audio recorder to record audio separately. And then I have the charging equipment for the Zi8. Again another great thing about the Zi8 is that it allows itself to be charged while it's being used which is great. So that is my set up! Hope you enjoyed.
And here are pics:
do you still use the same setup?
Yep pretty much. I'm testing a new setup called the Contour camera but as I posted at http://danielodio.com/community/the-contour-2-a-deeply-flawed-yet-awesome-camera and http://danielodio.com/community/seeking-new-flip-style-hd-video-camera-to-replace-the-zi8-any-suggestions , it's not quite ready for primetime, and I haven't found any rig better than the Zi8, so I've even gone so far as to buy used Zi8s from eBay, since they're no longer being made.
Let me know what you decide to do, as I'd love to find a solid replacement for the Zi8!
WOW! I expected the camera to be a lot bigger. Thats tiny. And this article was written two years ago! Are you still using the same rig today? Or Do you have an updated rig for 2012? And what do you use to edit your videos?
Yeah it's super small. I'm actually still using it 2 years later. I just haven't found anything that beats it by a large enough margin to be worth upgrading. I'm definitely putting feelers out though, since Kodak isn't making this camera anymore. So let me know if you (or anyone) have ideas.
So the RÃ˜DE mic doesn't need any kind of "preamp" or anything, it can go right into the Zi8? I have a RÃ˜DE mic just like this one and I bought a Zi8 off ebay but it didn't work, though the RÃ˜DE still worded fine with my Panasonic camcorder. Do you think, then, I just got a defective Zi8? Does the battery in the RÃ˜DE have to be really fresh? Thanks for your input...
Heya John, sorry I didn't see this comment until just now.
No, no pre-amp needed. The mic has a 9V battery that amplifies it. It sounds like your Zi8 was bad.
Also, as you probably know, Kodak has stopped making cameras, so I'm on the hunt for what my Zi8 replacement would be. Comments welcomed if you have any ideas/opinions.
No problem at all... I now am using the same set-up :-) but I got a Pelican 1470 case (really nice). I've also been using the Zi8 with a standard tri-pod and then the Xshot and mini-ultrabod with the RØDE and a simple extension cord to get the mike less than 3' away and the camera about 15' away. you can see a few of my videos here: http://johnmarkharris.net/category/video/ great set-up! You really helped me a lot with this.
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured:
Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation
Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy
Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83):
Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection.
I've had several people ask me what hardware I use to capture content. First, here are a few examples of the content I've captured: Pew Research's "9 Tribes of the Internet" presentation Mobile presentation at the Finnish Embassy Here's what's in my bag of tricks (total cost $230.83): Kodak Zi-6 HD Camcorder ($129.99 or get it refurbished for $99.99). This is a great little device and it captures video in HD. I prefer it over the very popular Flip camera for a few reasons: 1) It accepts external SD cards. This is a huge deal, as it gives you expandable storage (the camera uses about 1 gig every 15 mins, so you should get at least an 8 gig card for $20.51). 2) It uses regular AA batteries that can be swapped out when you need to, instead of having to recharge via USB connection. Vimeo Plus membership ($50/year), which allows me to upload HD video (YouTube allows this now too; I like the Vimeo interface better but you might not want to pay $50/year) USB Digital Voice Recorder (here's a good one from Amazon for $49.97). Make sure you get the type that just plugs into your computer using a USB connection - no cables required. Omnidirectional tabletop microphone ($22.99, plugs into the digital voice recorder). Great for capturing panelists by just putting it on the table; turns the surface area of the table into a microphone. A regular sized tripod, and the T-Pod tabletop tripod or the QuickPod ($17.37 on Amazon). These are critical to setting the Kodak Zi-6 camera up in places that aren't expecting you to be capturing content! Eneloop rechargable batteries (Costco & Sam's Club sell these for less than Amazon, about $20 for a set) You'll go through batteries quickly - about every 30 to 45 minutes on the Kodak camera, so always have replacements. The Kodak takes two AA batteries and my Olympus recorder takes one AAA (not sure about the RCA but probably similar). Some Additional Tips: I always put the voice recorder up by the speaker or panelists even if I'm videotaping using the Kodak HD camera. This way I get a clean audio source. If necessary, I can always splice them together using an editing program like iMovie, however I always try VERY hard to ensure there is no editing involved (i.e., get the Kodak HD video camera close enough to the speakers to be able to use its audio). Once you start editing, the content uploading process easily can take 10x as long. Do your best to never edit video, even if it looks less professional. Better to have it up & accessible than sitting on your to-do list because you haven't gotten around to doing the edits yet. By the way, an issue with getting the Kodak HD camera close will be that you can't get everyone in your shot if its a panel, etc. Here's a great blog post on a hardware hack to put a wide angle lens on a Flip camera. I haven't tried it on the Kodak yet, but it should work just as well. I have a contractor who transcribes my audio for between 50 cents to 1 dollar per minute of audio captured. This is another reason I use the digital voice recorder and the Kodak HD video camera. It's much easier to upload the audio and send it to her, than to wait until the video is uploaded. Let me know if you'd like her contact information. Also, by recording the audio separately, I can use AudioAcrobat to turn the audio into an iTunes Podcast. Also, Vimeo (and all the upload sites such as YouTube, Viddler, etc) has a limit of 1 gig per video, so I often have to upload the videos in segments (1 of 7, etc.) to upload the entire event.
I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but I've hesitated because I thought that it would only benefit the few of us with high end cameras. But when I finally got my Sanyo VPC-WH1, which is the video version of a point and shoot, I realized how important these concepts are, even on that end of the spectrum.
Like anything, understanding how photography works will make you better at it. This guide is intended for people without photography backgrounds who want to understand how to get the most out of their cameras.
Megapixels Don't Really Matter