A few months ago I had been searching for an inexpensive way to record video for tutorials. I have my D90 which shoots excellent HD video, but it’s also my primary camera body, so I couldn’t use it if I wanted to do a shooting tutorial.
With that said, I set out to find a great HD video solution that wouldn’t break the bank. Enter the Flip Mino HD. For $229.99, I got an awesome little camera that performs really well in low-light situations and records great audio as well.
The Mino HD comes in two models – one which records 60 minutes of 720p video at 30 frames per second (fps) and another that records 120 minutes of the same. I went with the 120 minute model for flexibility purposes.
This thing is super portable! It’s about the size of a cell phone and I can carry it comfortably in a shirt or pants pocket and it doesn’t feel out of place. The USB connector flips out of the top (thus the name), so it doesn’t get in the way and I don’t have to worry about carrying a cable to connect it to a computer. However, the USB connector on the camera seems to be a little smaller than those on my 2-year old MacBook Pro and so I have to use a cable to make it work.
The 2″ TFT LCD Screen is nice and bright, which is great for shooting outdoors on a sunny day. You can still clearly see your video and know whether or not you got the shot. The camera also features an HDMI port (cable not included) that allows you to connect it directly to an HDTV to show off your videos. The tripod socket allows you to mount it on a tripod, monopod, lightstand, or Gorrillapod.
Performance is superb. The 1280 x 720 HD video at 30 fps is nice and clear and the audio is outstanding for such a small device. It seems to handle motion and panning pretty well, unless the motion is extremely fast. The touch-sensitive buttons are very functional and I don’t have to be very deliberate in order to activate a button. The video format is H.264 with AAC audio compression and the files are saved as MP4 files, making them compatible with most consumer editing programs like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie in addition to the higher-end editing tools.
Here’s a couple of short clips – the first showing motion and panning and the second showing motion and handling contrast and exposure:
Overall, this little camera is a great device to have for any purpose and it goes with me in my camera bag all the time. If you need a portable video camera to capture family, friends, tutorials, or just about anything else you can think of the Flip Mino HD is a great fit. You can pick them up directly from their website or from any major electronics retailer. The 120 minute Mino HD retails for $299.99, but I’ve seen them on sale for $199.99 too! A great buy for a great device!