Ease of use: It can’t get any more simple than this, well at least not until thought controlled devices come to be. There is an on/off button on one side of the device and a flip-out usb connector on the other. A big red button starts/stops the recording, a play button allows reviewing of videos, a trash button allows videos to be deleted. Simple!
Recording video: Hand-held cameras seem to have inherent issues which I failed to address in this test shoot. Sudden movement, fast panning, bouncing while walking with the camera, I could avoid these quite easily with a bit of forethought and planning. I’d advise keeping this handy little camera as still as possible though, let the action happen in frame rather than moving the camera if you can. Moving cameras cause an effect that we don’t experience as we move, our brain compensates for our body movement. Trying to watch video that doesn’t have this compensatory system can make some feel rather nauseous.
The results of the Flip are pretty good, certainly enough quality for making quick and simple videos for the web. Note that the video is 640 x 480 pixels (ah, remember when that was full screen?) and 30 frames per second. So, thats quite smooth for most uses, it seems to handle that well, but is dependent on the skill of the user for producing ‘watchable’ video.
Next test, see how well it does on a tripod, yes it has a tripod mounting! In my opinion almost all motion camera work is of much better quality if done with a tripod/dolly/other stable mounting. The experts in steady-cam shooting can make some very effective footage, but some of the hand-held work we see on the TV is atrocious and induces motion sickeness! Bolt a Flip on to the top of a half decent tripod and suddenly you have a much more watchable video, steady pans and tilts, no more shaky hand effect.
I thought this camera might be slow to respond to light changes, and probably not very good in low light. Inside of a fairly shadowy house the camera did very well at adjusting to the lower light levels. This isn’t night shooting but is pretty good for such a budget camera. I didn’t expect it to cope well with sudden changes in light levels, e.g. turning toward the sun, but again for such a low budget device it did fairly well, not quite being fully blinded by full sun, and recovering quickly as the view moved out of line with the direct sunlight.
Getting your files off the camera couldn’t be easier. Plug the whole camera into a USB port, it starts up and acts like a portable drive. First time you use it on a PC run the setup files from its memory and you have the necessary tools to browse and save your video files.
This excellent tool at around the £100 mark is exactly how gadgets should be. It does a good job, in a simple, unfussy way, is easy to use, intuitive and fills a very tidy little niche for quick and easy video recording. You can easily keep it in a pocket or bag for that moment when you just have to make a movie.
This camera would be a great addition to the armoury of any teacher allowing the easy capture of field work actrivities, laboratory demonstrations and such for archiving and access after the event. It would be perfect for putting in the hands of students for their own activities, for example, recording and reviewing their own presentation performances or capturing group project meetings.