Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update: Flip Camcorder vs Canon Powershot

Two months ago I gave my wife two cameras, at her request, for her pending adventures in Fiji. She wanted a regular still camera and a simple camcorder. I provided in the husbandly manner: a Canon PowerShot A460 ($100) and a Flip ($180). As is my role in such matters, I showed her how to use the basic features of the Canon and the Flip (the Canon was instantly clear, the Flip clear too, until it got to the included software for watching and saving video, which was obtuse and confusing, but eventually understood), and she was off on Aug 1.

This situation provided an unscientific Petri dish to explore how 40ish moms would take to these devices. This week I had a chance to see exactly how she had been using these and what she thought.

RESULTS: I noticed that Jennifer never used the Flip, and instead used her Canon for both stills and, frequently, videos. Why? I asked. Partly because of the “shoot” button on the Flip – it required a bit of “push” that was awkward, and it wasn’t always clear when it was shooting. That, combined with the totally closed system it required to download and watch the videos made the Flip almost useless. Its workflow was obstacle-ridden and complicated. For instance, you cannot watch the videos without connecting the Flip to the computer, launching the in-house software from the camcorder, then going through the various menus and pathways to grab and watch. The Canon, on the other hand, plugs in to the computer (she has a Mac) like any camera. It launches iPhoto automatically, and pulls in photos and videos together, seamlessly. Once the videos are in iPhoto they can be watched and enjoyed anytime. While Jen isn’t really one for editing, she shoots video with “sketches” in mind, and when I arrived, it was relatively easy for me to drag her clips to a folder and then into Final Cut Express. There, in just about 15 minutes, I put them together into a tiny sketch and posted them to Vimeo. (NB: It would probably be even easier in iMovie, but i wasn't using iMovie...)

BOTTOM LINE: as cool and hip-looking as the Flip is, it provides so much closed architecture and arcane useability that when it came down to it, one camera was better than two, and the videos from the still camera (and workflow) were far superior to the still photos from the Flip (and workflow). She has tucked the Flip away now and I doubt it will be used any more, except in the toybox of our 6 and 8 year old.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I have a canon elph sd1100IS which I love. I was just about to buy the flip but thought I would do a bit of research first. I have found a couple of articles such as yours that touts the canon as more user friendly an equally as capable as a strict cam corder. My husband will be so happy to know that you just saved him/us about $200!!
We have a Mac, too and I hear that the Flip does not do well with Macs...too bad!

Rubin said...

Yes, too bad: the Flip is really cool looking. I'm stunned to hear that it is revolutionizing camcorder sales, being perhaps the most popular video camera ever. Style is important, but i'm stunned by that. I wanted to like it SO much...

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear you report on this technology!

I've used a variety of Canon PowerShots while skiing. Shooting video clips wasn't on my mind when I bought my first one, it was the size and the rugged titanium case. Now I shoot a few hours of video and lots of stills each season and produce two "stretched sketches" about 15 minutes each of the season highlights. (one for the kids I teach, and one for my ski buddies).

I've had good reviews, but your book that I just purchased gives me a whole new insight into shooting scenes and editing... Thanks! This summer, I'll be putting the lessons to work using a Canon flash drive camcorder.... getting ready for the ski season and Winter Olympics. Lots of opportunities for sketches!!


Whistler, BC Canada

Pooja said...

I always prefer Canon cameras as they are the best. I recently purchased Canon Powershot SD960 for my mother and the performance is great. For more in detail refer Canon Powershot SD960 Digicam