Replacement for Flip cams in the age of smartphones?

Selsving's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 06/16/2014 - 1:37pm

Hi there


I need help to find the perfect video equipment solution, to replace the discontinued Flip cams manufactured by Cisco until 2011.


I work for an anthropological concultancy company in Denmark, and we are still using these old pocket cameras for our daily work. We use them during fieldwork and interviews to document important situations, statement and narratives - and use the footage both as a visual note-taking for our analytical proces  - and as part of the presentation of insights to our customers. We edit the movies in iMovie, occasionally Final Cut Pro. Often our videos are posted on customers webpages.

If it wasn't for the poor video and audio quality of the Flip Cam, this solution would still be perfect for us. Our main requirement besides good quality of footage is ease of use. In the typical situation it is used by one fieldworker who, while filming, is conducting an interview and interacting socially while moving around in the environment - occasionally taking pictures too. So it has to be dead easy to handle. And furthermore, this fieldworker is often with no experience in filming whatsoever. So we just need that small discrete device that fits perfectly in one hand, with a small screen to make the framing, a big red record button you cant miss - and then we need everyting else handled automatically: Focus, apperture, shutterspeed, iso, whitebalance. Besides this, we need good image stabilization, and the option of using small external mics and, at best, microports.

The problem is, that in the age of smartphones, no company has come up with a dedicated solution to lift the heritage of the Flip cam - to my knowledge at least.

So why don't we use smartphones? For one, they are too expensive considering the amont of devices we need and the kind of harsh handling they will be put through. Secondly, the touch screen and the amount of possible errors it allows for, is really not user-friendy enough. We really need that red physical rec button. 


The best compromises I have come up with are:


Ipod Touch 5th gen.: Drawbacks are the touch screen, awkward fit in the palm, and relatively poor video and audio quality. And maybe a new version is coming in the fall?


Samsung HMX-W300: Drawbacks are poor video and audio quality, no input for external mic


Kodak PlayFull Dual (Zi12): Drawbacks - to be discontinued?


Zoom Q2HD: Drawsbacks are poor video quality, omnidirectional microphone


Panasonic HX-DC3: Drawbacks - the flip out screen is too obtrusive


We're also considering the vast range of regular camcorders and point and shoot cameras, but they all seem either too obtrusive or not easy enough to handle.


So please everyone out there: What is the best solution for us?


All the best from Rune

digisidd's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 weeks ago
Joined: 04/28/2012 - 1:12am

You do not state which Flip you have but I am using the Flip Ultra HD 3rd generation and for what it does the video is outstanding. it shoots 720P HD at 60fps. The color is great and ease of use cannot be beat. If it still works why change. At 720P that would work well for many web sites.
 I have retrofitted mine with macro lenses to be able to get very close to small objects.



Selsving's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 06/16/2014 - 1:37pm

Thanks SDD


It's the Mino HD 3rd gen. we use, and yes, we're still quite happy about them. But we need new ones, and they are no longer available. And - we need better video and especially audio quality. If we could get that, but in the same form-factor as the flipcam, then it would be perfect for us...

Selsving's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 06/16/2014 - 1:37pm

Thank for your reply!


Yes, I have considered those two options, and they offer the quality and features we seek. But they are simply not handy enough. We need that discrete little dedicated video recording device that fits nicely in your palm, and which you can operate easily while interviewing and moving around at the same time... Could it be, that there is simply no such product out there?

Gena's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 04/29/2012 - 4:37pm

There are but there is an acceptance that the Smartphone have help to decimate this catagory of cameras/camcorders. That said Panasonic has the HX-WA03 but it has a flip out LCD that you might not like


Another option is their version of the Action Cam where you could attach the camera to glasses and really have hands free point of view recording


Lastly, on account of I'm running out of alternatives, did you take a look at the specs of the Zoom QHD3. I know you didn't like the QHD2 but maybe they got it right this time. In any case, good luck and I hope you find what you need.