As many readers of this blog know, I’ve used two different cameras for our Intro to Multimedia Journalism course here at Eastern. The first year, we bought tape-based Kodak cameras. The second year, we upgraded to disk-based Kodak Vixia HD cameras.
Each semester, I ran into several problems with the equipment: it was too complicated, or it wouldn’t work well with the software, or the files were so huge that it took forever for students to back up their work.
This year, we rethought the needs of the classes while making a purchasing decision on a new set of multimedia kits for the classrooms.
The upshot was that we wanted something simple and easy to use, that would also work well with our software. First, we looked at the Flip Camera, but at about the time we were getting our proposal together, Flip stopped producing cameras.
Then, we looked at the Kodak Zi8, similar to the Flip because it had the ability to use an external microphone. But after we’d put together the proposal, Kodak discontinued the Zi8. Grrrr!
So now we’re in possession of two classes worth of Kodak PlayTouch cameras. The cameras include a dual-purpose headphone/mic in jack.
The cameras are very easy to use. On-screen menus are not terribly confusing, and the video and audio quality are pretty good for a pocket video camera. They also record in m4v format, which makes importing into video editing software incredibly easy.
One of the purposes for choosing a pocket video camera instead of a higher-end camera was to remove as many technical obstacles as possible for beginning students, many of whom aren’t planning on careers as videographers. By removing the technical obstacles, the idea is that they (and their instructor) can spend more time focused on the purpose for video – telling the story.
I know some college media outlets are already using these cameras for reporters. For those who were looking at the Flip or Zi8, this seems like a pretty good alternative – at least until they discontinue it too. The price for the camera itself is around $125. I would encourage you to invest in a carrying case, however, as these things are definitely small and seem like they’d be easy to break.
I’ll report back more after we’ve used them for a semester.