Kodak PlaySport Zx3 pocket camcorder is HD and waterproof

01/07/2010

Information about new waterproof camcorders is coming in frequent pace. New  Kodak PlaySport Zx3 pocket camcorder is quite impressive piece of waterproof electronics.  This audacious little camera can plunge up to 10 ft under water and capture the entire experience in full 1080p HD, also 720p. And you don’t need to worry about blurry footage when things get a little shaky. With built-in image stabilization, the KODAK PLAYSPORT will stay steady.

Main specs of PlaySport Zx3:

  • Waterproof up to 3 meters
  • Full 1080p HD video
  • Electronic image stabilization
  • 2-inch color display
  • Capture 5-megapixel HD stills (16:9)
  • Edit and upload to the Web with built-in software and included USB cable
  • SD/SDHC card slot expandable up to 32GB (up to 10 hours of HD video)
  • Weight 128 grams

My conclusion:

Everything is very OK, but lens is not as wide as I’d like to see. In 1080 mode, lens focal length is 48 mm. I experienced, that on the boat You may need wider view angle, something like 24mm lens.


Panasonic waterproof Lumix DMC-FT2 digital camera does now HD video on the sea!

01/07/2010

Yes, second edition of DMC-FT1 adds AVCHD Lite 720 video, upgraded 14 megapixel sensos and more.

Main specs:

  • LEICA DC Lens with Folded Optics Technology (=read: Quality lens)
  • 28mm Wide-angle Lens (read, usable on the deck in small space)
  • 4.6x Optical Zoom
  • Shockproof, Waterproof, Freezeproof and Dustproof Protections
  • 14.1-megapixel High-resolution CCD
  • Beach and Surf Mode / Snow Mode / Sports Mode
  • Optional Marine Case DMW-MCFT2
  • Sonic Speed AF
  • Fast Start-up Time (read: usable in action)

As Photography Blog says

As with its predecessor, the FT2 is a take anywhere, use (almost) anywhere that combines sophistication with resilience. It’s also certainly one of the better-looking “tough” cameras on the market, only surpassed in our view by the rather attractive Casio EX-G1. The DMC-FT2 really will survive most things that you throw at it, or throw it into – we bet that you’ll only upgrade the FT2 in future for a better specified model, rather than because it cracks under the strain of hectic family life.


Real action-cam for sailing Contour HD

13/08/2009
Contour HD waterproof helmet cam

Contour HD waterproof helmet cam

I wrote about small-budget wide-angle waterproof camera lately. But there is newcomer – Contour HD. Real helmet-mountable action-cam. Tough and waterproof. It has HD 720 capability to shoot really hi-res material to SD card. No moving parts in the camera, no wires, copes well rough handling. But also no LCD display. I don’t think, its a flaw, camera has 135 degree wide-angle lens.

Most of us don’t have helmets like Alinghi 5 multi-hull test-sailors. But I believe, that windy weathehr can provide nice footage from the action on the sea. Most Contour HD samples right now are from skiing slopes and mountain-bike trails. Why not from the sea?

Pro’s

  • HD image quality
  • tough, waterproof
  • small
  • Mac and Windows PC compatible

Con’s

  • No LCD
  • Microphone is too sensitive to wind

More info: Contour HD Helmet Cam


Sailing-proof cellphone

21/07/2009
Samsung B2100 waterproof

Samsung B2100 waterproof

Most of us use their everyday handset on the yacht. I don’t. I’m afraid to loose my Samsung Omnia smartphone. Touch-screen is also quite impractical on the boat, glossy and smooth handset can easily slip out of the hand and fall overboard. So I bought new handset specially for sailing.

I investigated different handsets. There is king of the tough phones, like Sonim XP3 Quest. Tougher than tough (many videos in YouTube), But pricey and bulky. Also biased towards to shock protection — too tough in that category. Looking further, I found that Samsung has also waterproof model — Samsung GT-B2100. And its 3 times cheaper than Sonim. It was no brainer for me. Charger is the same as for my smart-phone Samsung Omnia. Phone is covered with semi-hard, slip-proof plastic. Battery/SIM/SD card compartment is very well sealed and closed by stainless steel screw. But display is small and low resolution for web browsing (just 120 x 160 pixels) and it’s practically impossible to use it for viewing weather forecast and -maps from the web. Handset has video recording capability, but also, resolution and image quality is so poor, that it doesn’t make sense to use it, although it’s waterproof and easy to use on deck. I really liked LED flashlight, it’s easy to use and surprisingly powerful.

Pro’s

  • water, shock and dust-proof
  • small, still easy to handle
  • user-friendly and good usability
  • pretty good reception
  • micro SD card for multimedia like music tracks and family pics to go
  • music player, FM radio
  • flashlight

Con’s

  • useless video camera (poor image quality)
  • useless photo camera
  • useless browser, too small screen, low resolution
  • battery only mediocre (need to charge every other day)
  • stopwatch usability poor: too small digits in stopwatch mode; volume button is active in stopwatch mode (page up and down function); too many intermediate (lap-) times in stopwatch, confusing
  • no GPS

Conclusion

  • affordable and usable handset for yachting

Products mentioned:

Samsung GT-B2100 Explorer

Sonim XP3 Quest


Modified Panasonic SDR-SW20 waterproof camcorder

20/07/2009

Ok, I needed tough video camcorder to record yacht racing events on-board. My modest requirement list was:

  • reasonable priced (well below U$ 1000)
  • waterproof
  • shock-proof
  • easy to use
  • fast start-up
  • wide angle lens
  • small enough to fit into Helly Hansen pocket

So, looking around, I didn’t find any suitable one. It should be SD card cam, due to shock resistancy requirement. HDD and DV cam’s cant cope hitting to the deck, during fast tack or other similar sudden ast of violence. I found some reasonable priced cameras like Panasonic SDR-SW20 and Sanyo Xacti VPC-WH1 and Xacti VPC-CA9. There are also more less known brands like Hammacher and Vivitar. Still, they had quite moderate normal focal-lenght lens. Panasonic has 43 mm (wide end) in 35 mm film camera terms. But I need wide-angle, cause there is no room on the boat and You relly like to catch all the action, not fragments of somebody or pieces of something. I made through search, but still didn’t find any wide angle, compact SD card cam.

So, I had to modify one. I bought Panasonic SDR-SW20 cause the wasn’t Sanyo waterproof at dealers shop. I also purchased Cokin 050S wide-angle “magnetic” adapter. It was obvious, that magnetic fixation cant cope action on the boat. So, I just glued adapter to the camera, using Loctite SuperAttack Ultra Gel instant glue. Cokin 0,5X adapter shortens focal length to required 22mm wide angle and now it’s much more usable on the boat. Cokin has M and S size adapters in their product line for different camera models. Size S fits to Panasonic SDR-SW20. Size M is too large and it’s not easy to make it watertight. Use only very small amount of glue to fix wide-angle converter to the camera. It’s good idea to cover joint with colorless silicone to make modification watertight.

I equipped my Camera with 16GB SD card. I accommodates 4 h 20 m of max quality or 6 h 40 m of std quality recording. Enough for 1 day shooting. Camera came w/o memory card, it was good. Who needs some crappy entry level card, usually found in the package. LiIon battery is small. You have to re-charge it every evening after shooting.

Sample movie (on-board of our Grand Soleil 42R, approaching a mark, spinnaker up, genoa down…)

Pro’s

  • cheap, camera + 16GB SD card + wide angle converter
    less than U$ 600
  • compact, fits easily anywhere
  • handy image stabilization
  • easy to switch on/off by opening/closing LCD lid

Con’s

  • short battery life
  • image quality, no HD
  • no MPEG4 (MPEG2 only)
  • too small “Recording” indicator
  • wide-angle converter too small to provide full sensor image

Products mentioned:

Panasonic SDR-SW20 waterproof SD camcorder

Cokin Magnefix 050S wide-angle converter (size S)

SanDisk Ultra II 16GB SDHC card