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Old Mar 6, 2011, 3:05 AM   #1
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Default Kodak Playsport Zx3 Reviews RoundUp

As I recently ordered a Kodak Playsport Zx3 - I did a fair amount of research - which meant finding reviews.

I thought it may be useful to do a sort of roundup of the ones I found useful.

The single most useful review was actually one of the last I found -

ConsumerSearch.com HD Camcorders -
where they review the reviews -
ie: survey the available reviews, rate them, and come to some consensus -
the logical thing I would do, if I had the resources and time.

It is well worthwhile reading their Full Report on Compact HD camcorders
where they explained how and why they picked what they picked.

The top choice of the pocket HD camcorder was
Kodak Playsport Zx3 (link to review)
in the review are a list of the sources/reviews -
fortunately for me these were the reviews I read -

CamcorderInfo.com - Kodak Playsport Camcorder Review

CNET - Kodak Playsport

PCMag.com - Kodak Playsport Video Camera

About.com - Kodak Playsport Camcorder Review

PC Advisor - Kodak Playsport Zx3 Review

Please feel free to add any other reviews that were worthwhile.

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 6, 2011 at 8:03 PM.
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Old Mar 6, 2011, 3:43 PM   #2
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Kodak advertise the KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera Zx3 as waterproof but without any credentials - and they do not claim it is shockproof only saying it is "rugged" :
Quote:
Go anywhere—rugged design enables full 1080p HD video recording in just about any environment
and
Quote:
From the waves, to the slopes, to the mud-soaked trails, this baby was made for the extremes.
However the Playsport Zx3 does look to be ruggedly built - are those looks deceptive?

here are a couple of reviews:

Crutchfield's page on the Zx3 says: " rugged design withstands falls from up to 4 feet " and " The Kodak PlaySport features a rugged, shock-resistant design, so you can take it along on your next rock climbing or snowboarding trip. "
Crutchfield also has a video review: Video: Kodak ZX3 pocket cam
[note: Crutchfield is a vendor - but they do have a good rep for doing their own research and testing of equipment]

Switched.com Zx3 review: " With nothing more than cosmetic damage, the Zx3 survived our ruggedness test, which consisted of dropping it from shoulder height to a dirt surface and then to a sidewalk, and stepping (but not stomping) on it. "
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Old Mar 6, 2011, 5:17 PM   #3
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This is an interesting video comparison of the bit-rates of the Playsport Zx3 and the Zi8.

YouTube - 2010 07 29, Zi8 vs zx3

The poster claims the Zx3 uses constant bit-rate (cbr)
- whereas the Zi8 uses variable bit-rate (vbr)

In theory the Zi8 videos ought to be more efficient and files smaller?
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Old Mar 7, 2011, 12:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
This is an interesting video comparison of the bit-rates of the Playsport Zx3 and the Zi8.
YouTube - 2010 07 29, Zi8 vs zx3
The ZX3 image is much cleaner and sharper. The Zi8 may look more saturated and 'colorful' but that is a bad thing. The Zi8 definitely has lower resolution. It is always better to wind up the saturation during editing, as you can't replace detail that has been lost in over-saturated recordings.

Oh, I forgot, nobody seems to "edit" videos any more.. LOL


ps: both cameras need to drop shutter speeds to 1/60 to eliminate the vehicle 'jerkyness' with a bit of motion blur... But then again, nobody seems to be interested in 'film quality' any more...

Sigh.. I will retreat to my Panny LX5 and Canon HF100's...
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Old Mar 7, 2011, 1:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevmar View Post
The ZX3 image is much cleaner and sharper. The Zi8 may look more saturated and 'colorful' but that is a bad thing. The Zi8 definitely has lower resolution. It is always better to wind up the saturation during editing, as you can't replace detail that has been lost in over-saturated recordings.
Oh, I forgot, nobody seems to "edit" videos any more.. LOL
ps: both cameras need to drop shutter speeds to 1/60 to eliminate the vehicle 'jerkyness' with a bit of motion blur... But then again, nobody seems to be interested in 'film quality' any more...
Thank you very much for your observations.

To be honest I initially only viewed that YouTube clip as displayed which would have been all of 360p then at 480p - so I merely took the author's word for it that the Zi8 video quality seemed better - and at 360p or 480p it did look more attractive with more saturated, higher contrast and slightly brighter images.

But I absolutely take your point -
I merely posted the link because I was very surprised at the vbr dropping to so low on the Zi8 - and it kind of surprised me that a lower bit rate was said to appear "better" than a higher cbr.

Examining the clip at 720p (since that is what the first set of tests of 720p/60fps was originally shot at)
I wish I could say I could see the difference between the starting 10 sec clips (0:49-1:18) and the end of 2min clip (1:28-2:50) for the Zi8 - when the vbr would have dropped on the Zi8 - but I can't really -
the only thing I can say is that the Zi8 images look slightly punchier than the Zx3 - probably due to higher saturation, contrast and slightly brighter - it was really hard to see that the Zx3 was any sharper - if anything the Zi8's slighty brighter image seems to show more detail?

As a non-expert I kind of agree with the author of that video - the Zi8 image looks better (but only just) - and did not seem to drop in quality despite dropping quite drastically in its vbr to less than half its original starting rate, and that of the Zx3.

Now at 1080p for the 1080p/30fps clips - this was a harder call as the Zi8 image was obviously bigger - here I would agree that the Zx3 image seemed to be sharper with better acutance - but the Zi8 image seemed less sharp/acute than the Zx3 image even at its starting 10 sec clip (3:12-3:39) when its vbr was still high above 10,000kbps, and higher on average than the Zx3,
then in the end of 2mins clips (3:40-4:08) I would be very hard put to see any degradation of the Zi8 from its beginning higher vbr clip.

But like I said I am not an expert and would be very grateful for any pointers in the right direction of what to look for - since I am only basing image quality on what seems visually more attractive - and may not know what to look for in terms of faults/artifacts etc.

Thanks,
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 10:03 AM   #6
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"what to look for" will come with experience, after you have painstakingly edited many movies. I was particularly struck by the shadow of the letters on the wall. Shadows are always tough to enhance, and in this case the Zi8 knocked out the detail, especially at 1080.

I did see that the motion of the vehicles was far less distinct and jerky at the lowest bit rates, but I can understand why you might think that to be a good thing.

Whatever you buy, it's job is to keep you happy. Maybe you won't be happy tomorrow, but most of us have been along that journey. As Snoopy once said "True happiness is finding an age you are happy with, and sticking with it."

If only that applied to cameras...
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Old Mar 8, 2011, 12:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevmar View Post
I was particularly struck by the shadow of the letters on the wall. Shadows are always tough to enhance, and in this case the Zi8 knocked out the detail, especially at 1080.

I did see that the motion of the vehicles was far less distinct and jerky at the lowest bit rates, but I can understand why you might think that to be a good thing.
Thank you for the pointers.

So I went back to re-examine the 1080p clip
which I had already agreed the Zx3 looked sharper with better actutance -
I can actually see what you were talking about the shadows of the letters on the Zx3 being more distinct - however this was for first 10 sec clips when the Zi8 had higher vbr than the cbr of the Zx3!! - not only that the "shadows" on the Zx3 looked more like sharpening halos to me - but it was more distinct - where the Zi8 looked "softer". I am still using an old fashioned CRT monitor to view these.

I looked several times for the jerkiness on the end of 2 minute clips - and I think I could just detect it on the Zi8 -
but if I looked/examined the same way - I think I also see it in the first 10 sec clip when the Zi8 vbr is actually higher than the Zx3 cbr.

So for me this is inconclusive on a mere look-see basis -

I think the differences may have more to do with the lenses -
the Zx3 being wider angled and may actually be sharper -
or different image sharpening - maybe that's why I think the Zx3 rendering of the letters and shadows look as they had sharpening halos.
The jerkiness could be simply because the Zi8 shows the vehicles larger so would accentuate any motion, don't forget I think the first 10 sec clip showed some jerkiness too, when the Zi8 actually has a higher vbr than the Zx3.
Of course this could be my inexperience -

be grateful if you'd please explain why I would think jerky motion was a good thing?

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 8, 2011 at 12:31 PM.
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