Feb 18, 2010

Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder

For years I have been making music videos. Not the MTV type, but where musicians are playing music on tape. I have not been happy with the sound as they are designed to get baby's first words they give music a very mid rangy overbite and the sound of the hand moving controls on the camera is louder than the subject being recorded.

Back in the day we had these huge cameras that took a full sized VHS tape. They were heavy and hardly convenient but you could pop the tape out of the camera and right into your tape player and watch it right away. They also had a nice feature...you could unplug the microphone and plug in a better mic or ever take a feed from a mixing board.

Today the tapes are smaller or not at all, they are now small 'palm' 'hand held' camcorders. No longer huge and bulky requiring a strong should but gone is the immediately watchable recording (unless you are moderately tech savvy) and gone is the ability to change the sound quality (without buying a commercial or 'pro-sumer' type outfit).

I was considering buying the latter or maybe one of the many portable digital recorders (Yes I have a gazillion dollars of recording gear but it is a lot to bring if you just want to do a 'report card' type of recording)

Then along comes the Zoom Q3 video and audio recorder for slightly more ($30) than a recorder alone.

  • Decent cost (around $300)
  • Above average stereo sound. While it is not the equal of closed miking it does a 1000% better job than  a consumer camera.
  • Very light
  • Very Portable
  • Works with any Tripod
  • Comes with a built in USB cable
  • Carrying case, 2GB sd card and a windsock included
  • Capable of expansion to a 32GB card but you get about ½ an hour recording per GB
  • Some zoom ability but still fixed focus
  • 3 level settings high, low and auto
  • Can be an audio alone recorder

  • The name. While there is some merit in calling a product exactly what it is calling your breakfast aborted chicken embryos instead of scrambbled eggs dosen't help the cause.
  • The handy USB cable is too short, while fine to hooking to a MacBook it is a male end and a port would serve better. For plugging into a serious machine like a PC you need to find a USB extension cable with both a male and a female pin
  • The colour. Minor I know but what is wrong with black or grey for equipment?
  • The recording format. For some reason they went with the proprietary Quicktime format instead the more useful Windows Media or the universal MPEG format. This makes editing a bit of a pain. Even with Quicktime pro the options are VERY limited compared to Windows movie maker.
  • The Q3 needs A LOT of light. Most of my club recordings are grainy
  • It eats batteries and while it still runs when the batteries are low the audio will fade in and out. So you need the AC adapter ($35)
 Over all I am very happy with it. There isn't anything out there to compare this too and given the price point someone will make a similar product with more features and a higher cost.

Here are a couple of vids I shot with the Q3

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