For some time I’ve been thinking about Vlogging, but using the webcam on my laptop produced a jumpy video I found distracting. I already own a full-size video camera, but the thought of digging out all the cables to upload the video seemed like a huge roadblock that would keep me from moving forward. I figured there had to be something new with all the vloggers entering the fray, so I looked at some of the most prolific vloggers to see what they used. Many used professional equipment which is not in my budget, but a few used a small and inexpensive camera called a Flip.
The price was right, the size attractive, but I wanted some info from real users, so I queried my followers on Twitter. Quite of few of them owned the Flip and they rated it from excellent to horrible. I decided to delve deeper into their ratings to find out why some loved it and others hated it. I thought perhaps those who hated it expected more than the camera could produce and those that loved it might have possibly had realistic expectations for the camera. It turns out, I was right.
It’s Perfect For What It’s Meant To Do
If you’re looking for a high-end camera with great color, fabulous sound, and lots of features, a Flip isn’t the camera for you.
Most who hated their Flip complained about these very things. What the camera does do is take up to 60 minutes with AA batteries for a power source in good light. It has decent sound, a decent picture with appropriate light, and great battery life. However, the best part is that it’s tiny, portable, and ready at a moments notice to take video and then in just seconds it can be placed into your computer with its pop-out USB port for a quick upload.
The automatic white balance is sufficient under optimal lighting conditions. Low light shooting will result in yellowed or rust colored video. The 2x zoom is not much, but it allows you a little bit of interest to your video. It’s accessed by the single button control on the back and therefore can sometimes be hit in error when trying to start or stop the video. It’s not too bothersome, though.
The sound is quite good for such a small camera. Just be sure to be within 3-8 feet from your subject (the closer, the better the video and audio are anyway). Playback on the camera includes the audio, but the speaker is of low quality, so it just lets you know you’ve captured it – the final output is much better.
My Pink Ultra Flip
The software is preloaded on the camera and self-installs on any computer you attach it to. This is both convenient and problematic. For starters, it seems like every time I connect my Flip the software has been updated and so I must go through the additional installation process. Then, the Flip must stay attached to the USB port during editing and transferring as the software can’t be used as a standalone program.
The software has some editing features such as cropping the beginning and end of the video, putting several short videos together into a single video with automatic transitions between them as well as music (add your own or choose from a few selections provided). I’m not going to spend much time on the software because it changes so frequently.
Transferring is easy and done quickly through the attached USB. That’s probably my favorite feature! No waiting to find the appropriate cords and you can use it with any computer that has a USB port.
There are currently four FLIP versions – from the low-end 30-minute video version that’s simply named the Flip Video to the newest and most spendy version the Flip MinoHD. I chose the mid-range Flip Ultra with an MSRP of $149 (I paid $119 at Zappos.com with free shipping and 12% cashback through BigCrumbs.com). I chose it because the higher priced cameras didn’t rate any higher than the mid-range camera.
What’s In the Box
I purchased the pink Flip Ultra (60 minutes) which comes with an inexpensive pull-string carrying pouch, wrist strap, Video out cable, and instruction book. All software is already loaded onto the camera and is activated and updated when the camera is attached to a computer.
There are other accessories available such as an underwater case, tripod, action mount (strap it to your helmet or bike to catch all the action), and additional USB cables. I did buy an optional case for it.
- Manufacturer: Pure Digital Technologies, Inc.
- Part No: F260P
- Size: Width: 2.2″ x Depth: 1.3″ x Height: 4.2″
- Power: AA Batteries
- Digital Zoom: 2x
- Digital Video Format: MPEG-4, AVI
- White Balance: Automatic
- Flash Memory: Integrated 2GB (not expandable or removable)
- 1.5″ Color Display
- Microphone: Built-in
- Connector Type: 1 x USB (built-in) , 1 x Composite video/audio output
I love my Flip and have certainly taken video of events, and people that I would have missed had I not purchased it. I believe it’s worth the price and love mine.