I just got back from a Hawaiian vacation. Before I left, I waffled on what camera gear to bring. I had previously purchased a waterproof ‘bag’ that would fit my Kodak Zx1 camera but wasn’t too jazzed about using it since the back of the bag was blue rather than clear so while I’d be able to use it, I wouldn’t be able to see the screen while shooting.
The day before I left, I decided that I’d buy Kodak’s latest HD camera in the Zx line, the PlaySport (aka Zx3) which has a lot of the same features of the Zx1, except that it’s waterproof (to 3m/10ft), shoots in 1080p (@30fps) and has electronic image stabilization.
I had read some reviews and everyone seemed to agree it was perfect for snorkelling and similar water sports. I was impressed with a few videos I came across so decided to pull the trigger and bought one just before we left.
I am SO glad I did. Take a look at these clips…ideally in 720p HD, which is how I shot them (at 60fps) to see why:
I’m still blown away by the quality of this ~$150 HD camera…especially since it’s waterproof…many point & shoot camera manufacturers sell waterproof housings for their cameras for that price (plus the camera cost).
I was also impressed by the quality of the 5 megapixel still images the camera took:
Considering it was always around my neck while I was in the water, I was able to get still shots I wouldn’t normally get to take with my regular cameras without some kind of expensive protection.
My only gripes with the camera are:
- weird underwater audio – obviously, there isn’t much to record underwater, but there is a lot of strange digital noise mixed in with the recorded audio of my Darth Vader breathing and ocean gurgling
- the ‘H2O’ mode doesn’t stick when set – this seems to improve the underwater audio quality but unless you leave the camera on the whole time, I had to manually set it to this mode every time I powered on the camera. Definitely not ideal.
- battery life – didn’t seem to last as long as the AA’s in my Zx1 do. As it uses the KLIC-7004 Li-Ion battery pack, it wasn’t as convenient to swap batteries like the Zx1 – unless I bought a second battery
- wrist strap – seems like it would have been better to include a neck strap for in water use – I just clipped the included wriststrap to a lanyard I had to accomplish the same thing
Despite the issues above, I still think it’s a great camera. Hopefully a firmware update can address the H2O mode audio issue.
I wish I had went with my original plan to just use this camera and my Nikon P6000 point and shoot camera on my trip…the one day that I decided to not ‘get wet’ and take my DSLR out for photo ops, I managed to slip on a rock on the shoreline and while trying to save my DSLR which was in my hand, my camera bag containing my 35mm and 10.5mm fisheye lenses went for a quick dip in the ocean…the 35mm is electronically dead and the fisheye will probably seize up soon. Also two batteries for the P6000 (also in the bag) got nuked in the salt water. Then, moments later, while I was assessing the damage done, a ‘rogue’ wave soaked me (I was still on the shoreline) and completely killed my iPhone 3GS.
Yeah, it was an expensive and depressing day. Next beach vacation, it’s the PlaySport only for me.
Update: Here’s another video (with clips from the above ones) with about 99% footage shot with the PlaySport (the turtle in the sand clip was shot with my P6000):