I bought a Flip Ultra last night. It’s the most featureless video camera I’ve ever used, but I like it. Surprised?
For what it’s designed to do, it works very well.The specs are unimpressive: Fixed focus, 1x digital zoom, 640×480 resolution, no expandability, 1 hour of recording time.
But sometimes you want simplicity. And it’s very simple to use. Hit one button to turn it on and another button to record. Plug it into your computer and software loads asking what you want to do. Arrange your recorded clips in sequence and it’ll shoot video straight to DVD or YouTube or your computer, among other things. If you want more features, you can load the clips into another video editor for heavier cleanup.
This morning I wanted to capture my son playing with his new toys. No problem. I set the camera up on a tripod and got to be part of the fun. All too often when shooting video, you miss all the fun because you’re babysitting the camera.
It’s small and light. It fits in a shirt pocket. I took it to church with me and shot a few seconds of my son playing in the cryroom.
You can playback and delete individual clips right from the unit, and you can hook it up to a TV if you want to see what it looks like on something other than its postage stamp-sized screen.
While I’d like autofocus, optical zoom, and the ability to record on SD cards, that’s just not all possible at a $150 price point. Not now. Maybe in a couple of years. In the meantime, this thing gets you by.
I’ll be able to capture some memories easily, and when I want to demonstrate something works when I sell it on eBay–like when I finally get around to selling those three Atari 8-bit computers in the basement, or thin the train collection a bit–it’ll take me five minutes to make the video and get it on Youtube. Embedding it in the eBay listing will be the hardest part. That’s good. And by being able to demonstrate that those computers and trains work, I should get higher bids, and I may even make back the money I spent on the camera.
For what this camera is meant to do, it’s great. Serious videographers will need something more powerful. But the casual user will love this thing. It works reasonably well, and it’s so easy to use, a lot of people won’t even have to read the instructions to start using it.