Sunday, February 6, 2011

flippin' awesome!

Since becoming parents over a decade ago, my husband and I have recorded very little footage of our children, and it's something that I already regret. We've purchased various devices over the years with the intent to capture memories on film, both for our sake, and our children's sake, but we never really used any of them, save for a clip here and there. I have no video footage of myself as a child, I'm envious of people lucky enough to have home movies. The closest thing I have is a grainy video from our wedding with really bad sound, as bad as it is, I still like to watch it once in a while to see and hear my Dad.

This vacation, however, all of that has changed. I purchased a flip video camera (ultraHD 8GB, $179.99) for my business for the purpose of recording product reviews and tutorials. I didn't really intend to use the camera on vacation, I'm technically-challenged (understatement of the century), and I assumed it would take a while to figure it all out. Do you want to know how quickly I managed to figure it all out? I was recording footage withing two minutes of pulling out of the store's parking lot! The flip camera is *that* easy to use. One button start & stop, what could be easier than that? The camera comes with a small user guide, but it's interface is quite intuitive, other than a quick skim-through, I didn't really bother with the user guide.

The camera is very small, not much bigger than a cellphone, so it's easy to stow in my purse, it's always charged, so I've always got it handy, 'just in case'. So far, I've recorded 72 clips (!!!). Yes, I've gone completely overboard, I've already pared some of the videos down, the camera's preloaded software is rudimentary, but it allows me to edit the videos to the best of my ability (let's face it, I'm not going to get an Oscar for anything I record anytime soon). I can trim videos (cut off footage at the beginning and the end), merge videos, add music and titles -- I really have no need to do anything more than that. The preloaded software also gives me the ability to create still pictures from video footage, I haven't had the chance to get any developed yet, but given the quality of the video footage, I expect the stills will turn out well.

Downloading footage from the flip is quite easy, an attached USB arm, combined with its preloaded software, makes the task of storing video files a breeze. I simply plug the device into my laptop, and videos are saved to a folder (named with the month and year) and removed from the camera, while recharing the camera's battery at the same time. I don't have to fuss with cables or a charger, and I don't have to worry about video files being stored in 7 million diferent folders. It's a genius device, to be sure.

The high definiton video footage recorded by the flip camera is pretty great -- incredibly crisp, with clear audio. Image stabiliazition means the resulting footage is not shaky, no matter what I'm recording (if I'm walking and recording, the footage is remarkably steady). The camera's preloaded software makes it easy to share videos on various social media websites, though I've only uploaded videos to my Facebook account manually, I do not give any application access to my Facebook profile.

As great as this camera is, there are a couple of things I would change if I could. The zoom is not very powerful, it's sort of useless (I call it the 'baby zoom' when I'm recording -- and yes, I have to narrate everything). You're better off moving closer to whatever you're recording if you can, but in some instances (on a whale-watching tour, for example), that's impossible. The camera isn't great at recording in a dark setting, the resulting footage is grainy and unfocused (not that we record a lot at night, get your mind out of the gutters!). We took the flip to a family dinner last night, the restaurant's lighting was quite dim, and the resulting footage is not very clear. The power button is easy to turn on accidentally, though if unused for a short period, the camera shuts itself off.

Overall, I'm very (very!) pleased I made this purchase. The flip camera will be a great asset to the business -- our YouTube channel will be functional shortly, I think it will be a great way to connect with people about the products we sell. As a side benefit, our kids will one day be able to view snips and clips of their childhood. If they ask about life prior to 2011, I'll just have to tell them video cameras didn't exist (it will be our secret, right?).


  1. LOL Yay! Alan really enjoys his, though his biggest complaint is editing. It would probably work better for us if our Windows computer was up-to-date, but he manages well enough after converting the video to a different format.

  2. I do most of my editing now but first uploading all the video clips to Youtube as "private" clips, and then using the new Youtube editor. The only complaint with this is that somehow it leaves audio from the Flip sounding kind of tinny, but that does not happen with the audio from my other video camera.

  3. BTW, here is my review. I guess I sort of tore it apart :-) I need to post an update with some of the things I've come to like versus my other video camera - like a clear, fixed cover over the lens so that nothing will mess it up. The other camera has the cover freeze up in winter sometimes, and is prone to damage and getting grime in there.

  4. Al, you'll be happy to know the camera came with a wrist strap, and I have the ability to rename the files with a meaningful name. I've not had any issues uploading the videos to Facebook, but uploading a clip to my blog was another story (I gave up, that's how long it took!).