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The new definition in small HD cameras
The Flip Mino HD allows you to custom skin the unit through the Café press website, giving you a unique look to your small HD camera. While the camera may look cool, it has to do much more work to record the image to its CMOS chip than the SD version does. Under certain circumstances and specific situations, the camera performs extremely well for a small, inexpensive solution to shooting large-format QuickTime movies.
I took the camera out to shoot in both daylight and lowlight conditions, and found the camera works surprisingly well, delivering a clean, albeit well compressed HD video. I only had the HD Flip for a little more than two weeks, but it was obvious that everyone who saw it and held it, really liked it. The file management on the camera's screen makes it really easy to weed out bad videos too (although it holds an hour of footage).
see a still image of the QuickTime (1280x720)
Lightweight and portable
On one hand, it's great to have a lightweight camera, one that you can put into your shirt pocket. However, after using the Flip Mino HD for a couple of weeks, it didn't become any easier to hold the thing still enough to get a good picture. The CMOS chip has its hands full, trying to capture that 1280x720 image at 30fps. I don't have any expectations of this thing becoming a production camera resource - but it's the kind of camera that you might want to have just so you can shoot some larger format movies of something spontaneous.
ROBOTS AT THE CNN BUILDING
The Flip Mino HD may be too lightweight for its own good. It's very easy to carry. It's equally easy to move while shooting with it, but camera movement on the Flip Mino HD can sometimes warp the image as it's being recorded. This generally occurs when the camera is handheld, and the camera movement is quick. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not the subject matter is high contrast or well lit. However, there is no image stabilization when this small HD camera records to the CMOS chip, so it does surprisingly well considering the fact that the whole camera is lighter than some cell phones (and smaller in size also).
In other tests, I put the small camcorder on top of a tripod. It was a little silly to see this tiny HD camera sitting on top of 4' sticks, but securing the camera improved the image quality tremendously. A small tripod company named JOBY makes a flexible plastic system called the Gorillapod which would be an excellent tripod for this little camera. But before you go and spend your money on a JOBY tripod, the Flip Mino HD is so small, it can rest on top of just about anything easily. You might even affix it to a rigid surface with a stick of gum, or a piece of scotch tape if you want to Macgyver it.
The camera shoots for an hour, which makes it a perfect candidate to record anyone's studio HD podcast (or vidcast). As we move towards service of higher bandwidth, and larger format video on demand, viewers will want to see more resolution in the content. This camera is easy to move around as its SD sibling, and the clean format can be edited in an HD timeline without upscaling the source material.
Whether you set it down on a table, newspaper stand, handrail, or affix it to just about anything you'd like by attaching it to a JOBY Gorillapod tripod, as long as the camera doesn't move around very much (even if your subject matter does), you'll be excited by the bump in resolution from the previous 640x480 QuickTime.
Here are a couple of tests done during the day and at night on Sunset Boulevard:
At a price tag of around $200, the customizable Flip Mino HD easily nudges out its predecessors as the must-have solid-state portable camcorder. With the same USB download and recharge, cool looking form factor, and connectivity to standard RCA cables, it has everything you need to fit HD recording capabilities into your shirt pocket. You can find out more about this camcorder by going to their website: www.TheFlip.com.
You'll find my suggestions for use of the Flip Mino HD and SD for professionals in my previous article on creativemac.com. While the Flip Mino HD seemed to be a little more delicate than the SD version, being able to see the bigger video image was well worth the trade-off. You'll need a steady hand (probably not something you'll mount to your skateboard - although you might do it to the SD), but because the Flip Mino HD comes packaged with software, you'll be uploading HD videos in no time.
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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles. In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design. When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
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