"Great Images Solid build quality Defective image sensor"3.0 starson by fineartvideo
Pros: Great Images. Solid build quality. Usable under water. Multiple video formats - 1920x1080x30, 1280x720x60, 1280x720x30, 720x480x30. Decent sound quality.
Cons: No optical zoom. Dead pixels in three out of four units.
Summary: I had a Flip Ultra HD which shoots at one setting, 1280x720x30 frames per second. I wanted the 60 frames per second rate (for smoother motion) and the underwater feature of the Kodak Playsport. The Kodak Playsport image is much crisper than the Flip, has better contrast and better color accuracy in low light. The low light sensitivity is very good compared to the Flip. The Playsport feels solid and rugged in the hand, but it is a bit more complicated to use than the simple, one setting Flip. The Kodak has a 5 megapixel still image setting, something the Flip can't do at all. Stills shot in bright light are incredible, with crisp, clear distortion free image quality right out to the four corners. There is no visible chromatic aberration (color fringing around objects). Even my Nikon SLR's kit lens had some of this, but the Kodak doesn't.I would have given this 5 stars if not for the defective imaging sensors.
Shooting at the 1080 resolution produces a very sharp image, but at 30 frames per second, it has a staccato look to it when objects move. The image stabilizer works, but very minimally. Shooting video at the 720-60 frame mode yields less sharpness, but the motion is very smooth. On the DVD you make from this camcorder, you won't see the sharpness advantage of the 1080 mode, because DVD's are only 480 anyway. But you will see the smoother motion of the 60 frame rate, so I recommend shooting at 1280x720x60 mode. For some reason, this also provides a more wide angle view which is desirable for scenic outdoor shots and tight indoor spaces.
The weak link is the lack of an optical zoom lens. if you zoom digitally, you lose sharpness. You might as well capture the full wide image and zoom in during post production on your PC or Mac. The view screen is very hard to see outdoors in sunlight, an even indoors it looks chalky and dim. It's just the viewfinder that looks that way. The recorded images are fantastic. They exceed the quality of the new Sony SD camcorders by quite a bit, and those cost double what the Kodak costs.
The real disappointment comes in the lack of quality control for the imaging chips. The first Playsport I bought had a dead pixel, which shows up as a fixed white spot on the image. Not wanting to return it until I had another unit, I bought a second Playsport before returning the first one. I went through three more units that all head dead pixels, one unit having as many as five of them. Kodak finally sent a replacement, but it was a refurbished unit that had scratches and scuffs on the view screen and on the back of the camera. There was a smudge print on the inside of the lens where obviously a technician touched it while working on it. It can not be cleaned without completely dis-assembling the camcorder. My fear is the waterproof seal would be compromised by disassembling the unit.
In short, the design, build quality and image quality far exceed what you'd expect for 150 dollars. It's even better than many standard big name 300 dollar camcorders. Unfortunately, the quality control of the imaging device and the Kodak customer service fall short. I appreciate their fast service, but they never solved the problem. Sending me a refurbished unit in place of my brand new one day old camcorder is something I find unacceptable unless they also refund the difference in value of a new unit verses a used one. Rick Bennette
Updated on Sep 1, 2010