The other day, one of my friends posted a query on social networking sites. She’s looking for a camera that can more or less deliver the same video quality of a Canon EOS 5D Mark II sans the price tag. A full-frame digital SLR with video capabilities is in a league of its own, but there are existing gadgets in the market that can somehow “reach” the quality of sharp shooters and dedicated camcorders.
One such example is the Flip MinoHD. At first glance, it looks like your usual mobile phone in candybar form. This 720p HD video recorder has a 2-inch TFT screen and cute buttons below it, the layout almost similar to what Apple iPod Classics have. This particular model comes in 2 colors: silver and black. Storage capacity is at 4GB—no removable memory cards for this device—enough for 2 hours of video recording. Videos are encoded in MP4, 30 frames per second.
On one side of the Flip MinoHD is the on/off button. On the other is a switch that ‘flips’ out the USB plug. This USB plug is also the only way to charge the battery and transfer the videos to your computer.
What I find impressive about this lightweight toy is its user-friendliness. Push the power button and the welcome screen will greet you.
After a split second, the screen now acts as a viewfinder. The remaining minutes allowed for recording and the word ‘Ready’ are displayed as well. Simply pressing the record button/red circle in the middle starts the recording process. For zooming, pressing up and down does the trick while recording is ongoing. Pressing the record button/red circle stops the recording. It’s as easy as that.
Viewing videos on the small screen may be a headache for some, but it’s better than nothing. For a screen as small as this, the details can still be appreciated and color is quite vivid. The speakers are good enough, but nothing exceptional.
One thing I noticed about the Flip MinoHD in record mode is that it automatically adjusts exposure compensation. I think it also decides white balance on its own. Check out this video:
When it’s too sunny, the video looks washed out. Normal lighting conditions bring out the right color in the clips. Haven’t tested battery life yet—it didn’t conk out on us when we recorded short clips of about 2 minutes each in a day.
Manual control is non-existent, making Flip MinoHD as straightforward as it gets. For simple home videos and projects, the convenience of digital video recording is in this sleek package. I recommend this for travel junkies who want to document their trips without the hassle of lugging around heavy gadgets. This also suits students who have frequent video projects, unless recording to tape is required, or quality is an issue.
P.S. The 5D Mk II is something else, especially when it comes to photography. A lightweight full-frame shooter which I call “the girl version of the 1Ds”. A key factor in an awesome video shot with a dSLR like that of the 5D Mk II is the lens attached to it during filming. Creamy bokeh, dreamy videos. ♥