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I'm interested in purchasing a portable video recorder that will do a respectable job of recording live performances. I've been advised that there are two leading units, each with their own shortcomings: the Flip (with mediocre sound) and the Zoom Q3 (with mediocre video).

Any experiences or advice? Other units to consider? All input is appreciated.


Tags: Video, live, recorder

Views: 264

Replies to This Discussion


Haven't heard the Flip so I can't speak first hand about it. I have the Zoom H2 which is does a great job with live stuff. I record my band rehearsals and they sound very good.. A friend has the H4 and says it's more versatile due to it's multi-track capabilities and will accept XLR connections. Hope that helps.

Thanks. I'm interested in doing video recordings either for YouTube or for instruction purposes -- I've been using the Tascam DR1 for audio recordings with superb results -- I've been told I may have to trade off sound for video quality with some of the popular video recorders I've heard about. Have you done any video recording along with the H2?

I've heard the same about both the Flip and Zoom. It might help to know how much you're willing to spend because if you want the best of both worlds - quality sound and video - it will cost you.

Something you could consider is getting a high-end cam for the computer. It's another trade off because you might get great video but less than adequate audio. Unless you record the sound through a good audio interface. I'm not sure if there are computer cams out there that have the ability to use a mic separate from their built-in mic. This would be a nice feature. I've seen people on here get good results but I'm not sure of the equipment used.

Hmmm, I just remembered there was a recent Acoustic Guitar mag article on Recording YouTube Videos. You might find some info in this article.

Thanks for the information. I do want to get something portable that can be taken to live performances. For live audio recording I've been using the Tascam DR1 with an external mic that works great. I was figuring in the $200 zone give or take a few dollars. I will check the AG article. Thanks again.
I have yet to try this. I have a Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 (purchased for daughter - so I'd have to "borrow" it to use it, hahaha) and all the necessary mics and things to do a video recording in the studio. I'm not so sure a setup on the road would work as well. The AG article does state how to sync the video with audio when doing each separately. The trick is to clap once and then sync the audio clap to the video clap. In theory everything else should fall into place.

I've done a bit of research online and it seems the Kodak Zi8 gets consistently high marks for video performance. Apparently the video quality is rated better than the Flip models, it can have it's memory increased (unlike the Flip) and it has an external mic input unlike most of the portable units -- you can use a quality mic to improve the sound that goes on the video. They're all over Ebay, many with bonus 4GB memory cards.

I may give this a try....
An added bonus with the Kodak Zi8 is an optional remote control for it!
Thanks, John. The price is fantastic -- worth having even if you use the remote occasionally... Zi8 certainly looks to be the best bet in portables.
I'd say that the Zi8 video is very slightly less good than the latest (120 minute) version of the Flip. The Flip definitely has a very aggressive high pass (low cut) on the audio. The Zi8 has both replaceable card and included AC adapter - so you can literally shoot for hours.

Here's the thing, even with the mic input, the audio on any under $2000 video cam is pretty sure to suck. They have auto-level control, high noise and distortion, and limited frequency response. The solution is to record parallel audio on a different system, then sync in post. Depending on the state of the computer and video industries, this might be easy or hard . A few years ago editing video was easy, the results sucked. Now the results can be great, but the files are huge, the compression is extreme, and the resources required can be pretty heavy. Both Microsoft and Apple reduced the functionality of their free video editors in their latest versions, too.

One solution for syncing without investing in video software is REAPER - they've just added video playback, editing, and rendering. For the kinds of straightforward video most of us are interested in, it's quite a useful tool.

Zi8 mic comparison:

Parallel recording and syncing in REAPER:


Thanks for the information and links. I do like the fact that the Zi8 has removable/expandable memory and the AC adapter. I would definitely do a separate recording with my Tascam DR1 on the serious recordings and sync it later. I anticipate less-than-studio quality on any of the portable units w/ built-in mic capability. I do have Sound Forge and Vegas (which handles video production) -- I will check out Reaper as well. I did upgrade a separate PC for sound production so the large files are manageable.

I appreciate the advice.
To everyone here: I'm cross-referencing this with a similar thread, "Equipment for recording yourself", at The Mandolin Cafe. There are some good responses there as well.

Great information -- thanks. I appreciate this.


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