For those of us who have come up through the still side of photojournalism, we will never forget those fateful words: You need to learn video.

When I talk with folks in the industry, most have said okay, I’ll do it. But there are a few who are hesitant, so we’re going to help them out. Where do you start? What tools do you need? How much is this going to cost?

This week, we take a look at the Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera. Granted, it’s at the end of its lifecycle (you can pay too much for it new or pick up a refurbished one for under $105), but the replacement – the PlayTouch – has essentially the same functionality.

(There are reportedly some image quality differences between the two and the PlayTouch has a slightly wider lens on it.)

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We picked up 18 of the Zi8s for teaching tools in the Journalism Department at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After more than a year’s worth of student use, they’re holding up very well – no camera failures. Because of the simplicity of the camera, the fear threshold is very low – it’s not intimidating and it allows students to learn storytelling, not the tool.

In the coming weeks I’ll be looking at some add-ons – all cheap – that will help improve your video storytelling skills.

If you’ve got a tip, if you’ve got a trick, if you’ve got a widget, if you’ve got a gadget that you think everybody else in the industry should know about, send me some information on it and I’ll get it out there.

3 Responses to “Learning Video: Where To Start”

  1. I have been using a Kodak Zi8 for short pieces to camera and video blogging the past 3 months. It’s ability to shoot HD 1920 x 1080 is a real plus for such an inexpensive piece of equipment. However, I must disagree with your comment that the new Kodak Playtouch has the same functionality.

    What makes the Zi8 so functional for video blogging is the microphone jack that allows you to plug in an external lavaliere or lapel microphone. To my knowledge this is not something that was included in the new Kodak Playtouch cameras. This is a critical difference in terms of functionality in my opinion.

  2.   Mark E. Johnson

    Pieter –

    I agree COMPLETELY with the need for the mic jack – and the PlayTouch has one, as well. From the Kodak web site:

    > I/O interface: USB 2.0 (high speed), AV out, HDMI, external stereo mic/headphone jack

    From the site demo, it looks like the jack sits on the top of the camera, as opposed to the side like the Zi8.

    Check back next week when I’ll be talking about cheap lav mics to pair with the Kodak.

  3. I’m a big fan of the Kodaks, both Zi8 and PlayTouch. I have four of them and use them for multicamera shoots that I can do myself. We produce a lot of seminar videos, and I can set up on a seminar panel with three cameras, using the fourth for audience and b-roll cover shots. We use a Zoom R-24 eight track audio recording surface to isolate audio for each panelist and synch the audio in post using Sony Vegas Pro 10.0. The Vegas Multicam editing mode is fabulous and lets us do edits as if we were calling live shots. You can see some of our finished projects at

    We also found a great source for stereo lavalier sets, They make a great mic pair, which works well with the Zi8 and PlayTouch for two-shot interviews, you get each mic on a separate channel of the stereo track.

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