Review: Kodak PlaySport digital video camera

Just in time for a trip to Hawaii, I started playing with the Kodak PlaySport digital video camera. This is not my first Kodak digital video camera – right around the time I was playing with a friend’s Flip camera and was looking for a personal videocamera, too, and I got a chance to check out the Kodak Zi8 (I ended up publishing several films made with that camera like a Weekend in Paris and a video about Italians talking with their hands)

Here’s a short video montage from my Hawaii trip – from frolicking on the beach and in the water, to snorkeling with fish, to recording in the rain and seeing double rainbows, to a wild, doors-off helicopter ride all over the island, the PlaySport kept up with my playful activities. (Review continues below the video)

What I loved about the Kodak PlaySport:

I spent a lot of time around water this summer (at both the ocean and in swimming pools) and I loved that I could bring the camera with me and not worry about getting it wet or sandy, unlike my Canon 7D I carry around with me when I’m in “serious” photography mode. The autofocus when switching from landscape to macro worked well, too.

In addition to the videocamera setting, the still pictures it took were pretty good (5MP) which was great when I didn’t need to shoot film and not switch devices.

The size and grip of the device were great, and overall it was smaller than the Kodak Zi8, though that meant the screen was a bit smaller as well. The rubber casing felt rugged and I was never worried about dropping it. I had the red model on the far right and liked having some color in my devices (my Zi8 was the cranberry model, too).

Best of all, it was very intuitive to use and I still haven’t opened the manual.

Where the Kodak PlaySport could improve:

After the first time I took the videocamera underwater and wanted to transfer pictures back to my computer, it was very difficult to open the waterproof hatches and get to the mini USB port later that day. At one point I had to use a knife to ease it open. After that, it was much easier, but I was a bit worried I would break it. I would suggest opening the hatches not too long after the underwater experience and make sure the salt doesn’t dry on.

The responsiveness of the buttons could be better (noticeable when shuffling through and deleting), as well as the microphone switching from underwater mode to above-water mode – once in a while the sound quality was muffled as though water clogged it temporarily.

One more thing I noticed was some shakiness while walking (and of course on a helicopter), but it would be nice if some sort of stabilization could be stronger / built-in in the camera to combat all the playing you’ll be doing with the camera.

The verdict on the Kodak PlaySport:

None of these were deal breakers, and I would definitely recommend the Kodak PlaySport video camera for an all-around digital video camera you can knock about, and you’ll find ways to use the underwater feature since you have it!

Disclosure: This product was provided to me by Kodak Italy (thanks!) I was not compensated otherwise and no review was promised in exchange. The review is my own words and feelings.

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Director of Product Marketing @ HubSpot. Early hire @ Automattic / Founder World Nutella Day. MBA Alumni Advisory Board @ Santa Clara University.

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