Back in July I wrote about a new pocket video recorder that was due out from Kodak, the Zi6 HD camera. Kodak was positioning the device as a “Flip Killer” and people started tweeting and talking about it like crazy. When it was released, a bunch of the people I follow on Twitter bought the Zi6, but for one reason or another were unsatisfied and returned it, including my friend Dan Benjamin. In Dan’s blog post on the Flip vs the Zi6 he stated that the picture quality of the Kodak camera simply wasn’t up to snuff, especially in low light conditions. He also complained about stability and audio recording performance.
This past week Flip came out with a brand new entry in the pocket video space, the Flip Mino HD camera which is their answer to the Zi6. Given Dan and others’ hesitations about the Zi6, it would seem that Flip once again has the upper hand.
Not so fast.
Another friend and blogger, Scott McNulty, has posted an excellent side by side video comparison of the Flip Mino HD and Kodak Zi6 pocket cameras. To my eyes and ears, the results are pretty clear – the Zi6 wins hands down. Even from this short test, the Zi6 performs extremely well in all light conditions, even outdoors at night. The Zi6’s image is clearer, has truer color and increased detail than the Flip’s. The image stabilization of both cameras is about equal. As far as audio goes, some people will indeed like the fact that the Flip’s microphone picks up less ambient noise, but it also results in a muffled track that will most likely need to be amplified when edited. Not good.
When you look at the video comparison of the two cameras, and you factor in the Zi6’s increased screen size, it’s ability to take macro shots and its expandable storage capacity via smart media, I think the Zi6 comes out ahead. In addition, one of the complaints against the Zi6 vs the original Flip was that it was more expensive. With the release of the Mino HD, the Flip is once again the more expensive of the two, even when you factor in the rechargeable lithium ion batteries that users like John Lawson say you’ll need for the Zi6. Personally, if you’re recording in HD I’m not sure why you’d want a camera with inferior picture quality anyway, but then again, that just might be me. Thanks to Scott, I’ve finally made my decision and put the Kodak Zi6 on my Christmas wish list. Ho ho ho!
UPDATE: Andy Ihnatko has done his own comparison and interestingly has reached the exact opposite conclusion. He thinks the Mino’s picture is better. He’s on the preverbal “crack”. The Zi6’s image is much sharper, more defined and has better depth of color than the Flip. He does agree that the Zi6’s audio is better, which now there is no doubt about. So apparently if you like washed out images that need level adjustment and audio to match, the Flip is the camera for you. Personally, I’ll be sticking with the Zi6.