Why the Flip isn’t the best camera ever


Following on from my previous post about the MinoHD, I happened to write this in an email for Vinay, who’s about to do some video policy work for an NGO. It might be useful more widely too:

The major limitations/trade-offs with the Flip concept are:

  1. No microphone jack. You have zero options for good sound, unless you count off-camera recording, clapperboards, and post-sync.

  2. Fixed screen means you more-or-less have to shoot from head height. You can’t easily shoot sitting subjects, or people interacting with props. It can be done, but handling in these situations is poor.

  3. Close focus is limiting; big close-ups will always be blurry.

The Flip can do what it does in part because it makes a huge assumption: that 80% of what you shoot will be somebody speaking to you or the camera. That is, a mid-shot of some sort. Most of the time, this is a reasonable guess.

But it’s not a valid assumption for demo-based filming – the story is often told by the detail of the prop you’re showing, and the Flip starts to break down here. There are good reasons people use cameras costing £500, £5,000, or £50,000, and they’re not all about raw picture quality.

Example: want to film a mosquito? With a Flip you’ve no chance. The best camera I have for this is the £225 FS100, which close-focuses down to about 1cm (which is bizarre, actually, but I’m not complaining). It captured the image you see attached to this post. You can tell it’s a female, for heaven’s sake.

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