Friday, July 1, 2011






Pocket-sized digital video cameras have become a great documentation and communications tool for both the amateur and professional alike. At the recent CES Show, Kodak introduced the PlaySport ZX5, a second-generation HD mini digital camcorder that’s waterproof to 10’ for up to 2 hours, shockproof to 5’ on to plywood, and dustproof, a successful test that I personally experienced during a recent Texas sandstorm.

There are many mini HD video cameras, but this one is truly feature packed. Most impressive is the ability to utilize up to a 32 gb removable memory card, typically not found on competitive models, giving you the capability to record up to 10 hours of HD, or thousands of 5.3 mega pixel stills.

(TIP: Memory card storage is the preferred storage medium as the internal storage is very small. Over-sized memory cards that contain large numbers of clips/stills, if damaged, will result in big project losses compared to using several cards minimizing that risk. Also, when you remove a large card, special readers may be required for downloading, something that in-store photo services may not have. Naturally, you can download directly from the PlaySport to your MAC, PC or other editing device.)

The automatic digital image stabilization, necessary correction for mini handheld cameras, is greatly improved. A 5.5mm – 35mm, 4X digital zoom, is typical for such cameras. The underwater capability includes a menu selection for color temperature correction. The light sensitivity, not as low as some others, is very good and the auto-focus has a quick response. A macro menu selection is offered, but results leave a bit to be desired. Capture effects include vivid color, normal color, sepia, B/W, high saturation and a seventies look. Capture modes include 1080p (16:9) 30 fps; 720p (16:9) 60 & 30 fps; WVGA (16:9). ARCSOFT Media Impression software for on-board or PC, not MAC, editing is included. Downloading to the Casablanca Bogart editing system works exceptionally well too. Possible negatives, mono in/out audio and an internal, service replaceable, battery.

The PlaySport has five dedicated operational buttons: power, capture mode, review, delete and share. The share button offers direct connection to your personal email addresses and social networking sites when connected to your computer.

(TIP: Consider the use of a commonly available handgrip to steady this or any other small digital camera. It makes panning and crane shots a snap. The Fat Gecko is a great solution in that it combines a suction action mount with a handgrip/extension. Fantastic, must have, accessory that works with many other cameras under 4 pounds. )

Some unique, optional accessories are offered. The ones I particularly like are the action mounts, wireless remote, AV cable and floating wrist strap.

(TIP: Dashboard videos are easily recorded with the action mounts. Perfect for production and news applications and fun for the enthusiast, too.)

The PlaySport offers a USB output to your computer. It also can feed the composite input of display or recording devices via the optional AV cable, or HD via HDMI. An on-screen menu allows output selection of either NTSC or Pal TV standards, also a feature not normally found.

The KODAK PlaySport is a rugged, well designed, camera. Weighing in at only 125g and 0.7” thick makes for easy transport. It meets the high standards of the Pro, especially for B roll, as well as the video enthusiast. This is one digital camera that serves many purposes, and does it well.

(TIP: When purchasing an SDHC memory card you should select at least a CLASS 4 or higher. Transcend offers a 32gb CLASS 10, available on line for about $50. The higher the CLASS value, the faster the response time, something very important to video performance on any digital camera.)

MSRP: $179.95


Bob Skidmore is a freelance writer, who may be contacted at, or followed at for the latest gadget industry news. He does not represent, or endorse any of the products he reviews and his opinions are solely his points of view and not those of the manufacturer. The manufacturer generally supplies products at no cost and no other compensation is received. THE GADGETEER is highly selective as to products he feels worthy of review so as not to waste the reader’s time, thus the reason for many superior ratings.