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Randy The Tech Professor

October 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Pocket Video Cameras: Do They Really Shoot 1080p?

Hello everyone,

As I have stated in a previous post, my two favorite pocket video cameras are the Flip UltraHD and the Kodak Zi8.

These small video cameras are so easy to use because once you have your video, you just plug them into your computer via USB and simply copy the video over to your computers Hard Drive.

Both cameras claim to shoot 1080p (“Full HD”) but this is really not the case. “Full HD” means 1,080 lines of vertical resolution (1,080 horizontal scan lines) and these cameras because of their very small sensor cannot actually achieve a native video resolution of 1080p (the “p” stands for progressive frames per second).

The video that these cameras produce is quite good, but what is actually going on is the process of “upscaling”. The Flip UltraHD and the Kodak Zi8 are “upconverting” their video signal from a lower resolution to the higher resolution 1080p. Upscaling a video signal to 1080p is not the same as recording it with a native resolution of 1080p.

But not to worry because you don’t really want to import your video at 1080p anyway. Go ahead and shoot the 1080p (upscaled), but import at 540p (less data) and your video will be much faster and much easier to edit. Video at 1,080 lines from top to bottom at 60 frames per second is too much data to be importing!

If you import at 1080p you’ll have to heavily compress the video (which makes it look bad), or if left uncompressed will take you forever to edit! Import at 540p (half of the 1080p resolution) and your video will still look fantastic – better than DVD quality!

Professor Randy says: The Flip UltraHD and the Kodak Zi8 are both awesome! Enjoy them even more by importing their video at 540p resolution!

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