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Old Mar 15, 2011, 1:51 AM   #1
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Default Choose: Kodak Zx3 or Zi8?

I've had a Kodak Zi8 for almost 5 months
and recently got a Kodak PlaySport Zx3 (5 days' ownership)

If I had to choose only one
my reasons - most important first -

Zx3 -

1) Waterproof and more rugged build
- this is pretty important for a pocket camcorder that will get carried around a lot.

2) wider angled lens - 35mm equivalents -
48 mm @ 1080p, 36 mm @ 720p, WVGA and stills
(kind of a normal lens @1080p, and wide angle at the rest)

3) longer battery duration

4) easier to change battery.

Zi8 -

1) much more efficient in file storage - almost 1/3 the file sizes of the Zx3 - with very little (if any) visible loss in image quality (to my eyes) - I can get about 3hours of 720p/30fps on a single 4Gb card - whereas the Zx3 did only just 1h 5m!

2) I prefer the red OK/track-pointer button and the better UI/navigation - especially selecting video resolutions

3) external stereo microphone socket
- although to be honest I have only used this for a test, and since have only used the built-in mono mic.

4) macro focusing
- again a nice to have, and I have not really used this.

There are obviously other differences, but these are my top reasons for choosing one over the other.

The Zi8 may look less rugged - but I have not encountered any problems -
but then I am careful - treating the Zi8 as if it were fragile -
I actually treat the Zx3 the same way - better safe than sorry.

The battery access on the Zx3 is far superior to the Zi8, where one has to slide off the Zi8 front face/cover - always feel that I may break off the tab that holds the face in place - so much so that I much prefer to charge the battery in the camera rather than removing it to use an external charger.

Since Zx3 battery access is so much better - my preference is to remove the battery and use an external charger.

Zi8 lens is narrower, it becomes really noticeable to me at 1080p -
Zi8 lens 35 mm equivalent: 61 mm (1080p), 46 mm (720p/60 fps, 720p, WVGA), 42 mm (still) (at 1080p Zi8 is really nearing a short telephoto, or over long normal lens - it is just awkwardly narrow; 46mm at 720p and wvga is kind of normal focal length - but the 36mm equiv on the Zx3 is just so much more usable to me)

The thing that annoys me most is the Zx3 storage - Kodak moved from the very efficient/intelligent vbr (variable bit rate) on the Zi8 to a cbr (constant bit rate) on the Zx3 - resulting in file sizes that are almost 3 times those of the Zi8 - there may be measurable image quality differences but I cannot see them visually.

Video comparison of the bit-rates of the Playsport Zx3 and the Zi8.

YouTube - 2010 07 29, Zi8 vs zx3

The video poster claims the Zx3 uses constant bit-rate (cbr)
- whereas the Zi8 uses variable bit-rate (vbr) and he thought the Zi8 clips looked better even at the lower bitrates -
to be fair one member here did not agree -
see thread Sticky: Kodak Playsport Zx3 Reviews RoundUp

This means I have to really use an 8Gb SDHC minimum in the Zx3 to get just over 2hrs even at 720p/30fps - whereas on the Zi8 I can use just a 4Gb SDHC with over 3 hours' capacity (but the battery in the Zi8 would have run out at about 1h 35m -whereas the Zx3 still had capacity after 1h 45m.

See my user reviews:

Zx3 - Post #173 (link) in Sticky: Kodak Playsport ZX3 Full review ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)

Zi8 - Post #1299 (link) in Sticky: Kodak Zi8 Full review: series ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)

OK if I could only have one which would I choose?

Hard choice - overall (for now) I would pick the Kodak Playsport Zx3
because of its waterproof and rugged build
and wider angled lens.

If the Zx3 used the same recording/file storage method as the Zi8 (ie: vbr instead of cbr)
then my choice would be overwhelmingly clear for the Zx3.

But it doesn't -
and I have both.....

Just a thought - maybe it's mere wishful thinking -
but could the Zx3 be changed to use the same/similar vbr recording/storage method as the Zi8 -
by a mere change of firmware?

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 15, 2011 at 2:46 AM.
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 4:56 AM   #2
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If I ha to choose again should be the title.

today it should be ZX-3 or ZX-5 or Zi8
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 11:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishycomics View Post
If I ha to choose again should be the title.
today it should be ZX-3 or ZX-5 or Zi8
Perhaps - but at this point in time I have no experience of the Zx5 -
and is there a replacement for the Zi8 coming?

FWIW - based on specs only ref: KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera / Zx5

1) Zx5 battery is not user changeable
- a BIG MINUS for me
(for now I would not buy it on this point alone -
running out of battery without a nearby AC outlet - cannot continue without the purchase/use of an external battery pack - that adds bulk and kind of defeats the point of a pocketable HD camcorder -
of course if the battery life is >3hours/charge - then this might be moot - and I may change my mind)

2) Narrower view lens
- Zx5 has more or less the same focal length as the Zx3
- which may on first sight seem like a good thing
- BUT the Zx5 has a smaller sensor - a lens with the same physical focal length - would have a narrower view since the smaller sensor area subtends a narrower angle
- unfortunately Kodak.com has not shown the 35mm equivalents on their specs yet, and I have not been able to get at any manual or specs - so we do not know for sure - but I suspect that the view is narrower - by about a factor of 1.27x the 35mm equiv focal length - so as a guesstimate that may be 61mm @ 1080p, 46mm @ 720p, wvga and stills - similar to the narrower angle of the Zi8.

EDIT to ADD
===========================================
I just found this on Kodak PlaySport Zx5 HD Specifications | Kodak PlaySport Zx5 HD
not Kodak.com but at KodakPlaySportZx5.org
don't know how reliable this is -
but it looks like a Kodak advert/sponsored page.

" Sensor type 1/3.2-type, 5 MP CMOS
Lens
  • 5.5 mm, 35 mm equivalent
  • 48 mm @ 1080p
  • 36 mm @ 720p
  • 36 mm @ WVGA
  • 36 mm still capture "
It seems that the lens angle look (suspiciously?) the same as the Zx3 - a good thing.
However I do not understand how this could be with a smaller sized sensor?
===========================================

3) Smaller sized sensor
- in theory could mean that it may be noisier - but we'll have to see if the advance in sensor technology may have overcome that. But the smaller size also affects the lens angle of view see (2) above.

To be fair it's not all negative for the Zx5 -

Conforms to international standards:
  • waterproof—IEC 60529 IPX8, up to 10 ft
  • dustproof—IEC 60529 IP6X
  • shockproof—MIL-STD-810F, 5 ft. onto plywood
Focus:
Zx5 actually has AF (Auto-Focus) - compared to the Zx3 or Zi8 fixed focus -
the closest normal (non-macro) focus is now 10cm = ~4"
compared to both the Zi8 and Zx3 closest normal focus of 100cm or ~40"

Zx5 macro focus also has a range of 7-17cm = 2.75-6.7"
compared to Zi8 fixed macro focus 15cm = ~5.9" (Zx3 doesn't even have macro)
  • auto: 10 cm–infinity
  • macro: 7–17 cm
  • auto underwater: 13 cm–infinity
  • macro underwater: 10–22 cm
Zx5 has been demonstrated to be pretty tough
video showing Kodak Playsport Zx5 surviving drops at 55ft, and then 100ft down a stairwell

Kodak: Plugged In - PlaySport Zx5 (2nd generation) Video Camera

Now that's what I call impressive -
just wish one could change the battery!
- and it looks like even throwing it 100ft down the stairwell will not open it to get at the battery!!!!

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 15, 2011 at 1:44 PM. Reason: added lens specs from KodakPlaySportZx5.org
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 6:03 PM   #4
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Another minor annoyance of the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 -
sequential file naming.

I use Format to delete all the previous video files from the SDHC card.

The Zx3 resets its file name counter -
so that the first video recorded on that formatted card will be 100_0001.MOV in folder 100SPORT.

This is the exact same name and folder as the first video recorded previously -
this can lead to confusion, or worse, over-writing of existing files.

The Zi8 does not do this as it seems to create a new folder and name its files with the folder number as a prefix - that way the file names are unique.

I save my videos to hard drive by creating a uniquely named folder -
so at least there isn't much danger of over-writing an existing already saved file.

But it is nevertheless annoying to have the same named files in the same sub-folder.

I have kind of mitigated that by using Bulk Rename Utility to rename my Zx3 files.

But this seems like an unnecessary over-sight, and additional step
- when the Zi8 seems to name its files fine after a format of the card.

Again I think/hope that this can be corrected in a firmware update?

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 16, 2011 at 12:02 PM.
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 6:05 PM   #5
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just rename folders
or never delete lad video t hat simple
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 6:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishycomics View Post
just rename folders
or never delete lad video t hat simple
Right if I always leave the last file then the file-name would sequentially follow the last previous one -
but what happens if the last file is a 4Gb one, on a 4Gb card?

Of course one can then do a workaround by recording very short video
just to get the next file-name/number -
but all this is unnecessary on the Zi8 -
so why is the Zx3 resetting its counter after a format?

As for renaming the folders -
I already am renaming the files to make them unique -
but again why should this really be necessary -
the Zi8 does not have this problem.
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Old Mar 16, 2011, 5:23 AM   #7
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then you do like any other book make a part ttwo.

c/p to the card

something that isso simple to do


rename the folder. to whatever and file to whatever. that simple try it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
Right if I always leave the last file then the file-name would sequentially follow the last previous one -
but what happens if the last file is a 4Gb one, on a 4Gb card?

Of course one can then do a workaround by recording very short video
just to get the next file-name/number -
but all this is unnecessary on the Zi8 -
so why is the Zx3 resetting its counter after a format?

As for renaming the folders -
I already am renaming the files to make them unique -
but again why should this really be necessary -
the Zi8 does not have this problem.
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Old Mar 16, 2011, 11:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishycomics View Post
then you do like any other book make a part ttwo.
c/p to the card
something that isso simple to do
rename the folder. to whatever and file to whatever. that simple try it.
Don't think I can quite understand your instructions -
maybe it's not simple enough for me ?

Like I said I already solved this by simply renaming my files when I upload/copy them to my PC -
but it's a workaround - an additional/extra step, that should not be necessary.

I said right at the start this was a minor annoyance -
it's not a big deal - simply annoying - that I have to rename my files, when I do not have to do this on the Zi8.

It's like your preference for Zi8's navigation in simply highlighting the video resolution and it's set -
whereas on the Zx3 have to highlight it, then press the center button to set, or it reverts back to whatever was set after 2secs -
so press the button to set - simple right?
and very obviously not beyond either of our capabilities -
try it, right? - but annoying, right?

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 16, 2011 at 12:04 PM.
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 8:31 PM   #9
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One of the main reasons I bought the Zx3 was for waterproof and rugged build -
not that the Zi8 is particularly fragile or flimsy -
nevertheless on side-by side comparison one can see that the Zx3 is the more rugged:



This was one of the reasons why I didn't take the Zi8 out more often.

So I thought about it -
perhaps if one could put like an "armor" over the Zi8?

Doing some minimal research I found there were "skins" and a sleeve available.

The skins had some very attractive and eye catching designs they were like overall body decals but claim to be made of quality vinyl - so would offer protection against scratches etc. so would make the Zi8 somewhat more resilient - perhaps not quite "rugged" - but better.

I obviously came across the Kodak made silicone sleeve - this is plain black and stretch fits over the body leaving cutouts for access. One of the off-putting points seems that some found it built up static and became a lint magnet.

But in the end I bought one of these since it seems to offer reasonably good protection and was discrete looking.

As it was my sample of one does not seem to attract dirt/lint etc - perhaps Kodak now treat it to be anti-static?

Anyway I like this silicone sleeve it gives the Zi8 significantly more protection - although the Zi8 is still not waterproof - it seems that it will stand up to rougher use.





Kodak Part # 1736933

Couple of images I found on the web:


I got mine from B&H for under $12 shipped.

A good addition for the Zi8 - seems to offer good protection.

Last edited by UnknownVT; Mar 17, 2011 at 8:50 PM.
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Old Mar 17, 2011, 8:47 PM   #10
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yeah I could walk in ther lol.

I agree the sleeve is awesome and a screen protector is deffently needed on both trust all.

I doused mine at a Dolphan show so i need not worry its water resistant to a certain degree.

Mine is wearing the joystick, and I had bought a broken one, th trouble is openin up this unit to repair. I was best to let lying dogs lay.

the Zx-3 in due time will wear down the Aluminum casing will flake, and when it does whach out.

Also you think those chrome pated screws are stainless, and the body galvenised LOL

Dippy da dip at home depot some rubber dip will do the trick. on the zi8 oh man did I give away the secret. yeah go getem.
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