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Customer Review

291 of 297 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good choice, 7 April 2011
This review is from: Kodak PlaySport Zx5 Full HD 1080P, Waterproof, Dustproof and Shockproof - Black (Camera)
i own the zx3. so when kodak said they where bringing out another waterproof camera with macro i couldnt wait to see what it was like.
it is alot like all the other kodak camcorders. it records in the following:
WVGA, 720p 30 and 60 FPS, 1080p
it also has a 5 megapixel camera option on it.
it has 4 extra colour effects which are good if the mood strikes.
normal, High Saturation, 70's film, Black and white and Sepia
it also has the glare shield which the zx3 has. the difference with the zx5 is it has a sensor which change's the screen automaticaly. i have tried it and it works very well.
i found the low light to be better than the zx3. the 60fps low light was really good.
it has an internal battery which some people dont like. i thought it would be a problem to but after having the zx5 for nearly a week i havent even noticed the internal battery.
you can record 2 hours and 35 mins in 720p at 30fps. which is better than the zx3.
you can edit the video on the camera its self and then press the share button to upload it on to facebook, youtube and other sites. you also have the arcsoft software that comes with the camera.
the zx5 has water correction which i would ashume works the same as the H20 setting on the zx3. the underwater video is a lot better than the zx3. it is very clear and the autofocus works very well underwater.
here is some underwater tests using both cameras:


some people have said about the zx5 having bad audio. i have had a lot of pocket HD camcorders and some of them had bad sound others have had really good sound. to me the sound is ok. i would admit that the zx3 has slightly better sound but to me the zx5's sound is ok.
here is a sound test which was done. i dont think the sound is that bad.

kodak have said that the zx3 will be discountinued soon. which means that the zx5 will take its place. i think that the zx5 has a lot to offer. the zx3 has some huge shoes to fill but it also has had its issues to.
the only issues i have found so far are that there is a background noise when using the camera underwater. also sometimes when you move the camera infront of the sun you get a bronze flash on the screen. some times the autofocus tries to focus behind you when there is nothing there. its not as bad as the sony bloggie cm5 but it is there.
i do like the zx5 and i have really enjoyed using it. i dont find the sound an issue and having used the zx5 for nearly a week i havent had any problems with the internal battey.
at the end of the day you have to make up your mind what you want and what camcorder fits those needs.
here are some pros and cons for the zx3 and zx5:
ZX3 Pros:

Cheaper. better sound. removable battery.


soon to be discontinued. zoom has problem. low light is grainy. some have green pixels in low light. low light not so good. records 1 hour and 20mins per charge

ZX5 Pros:

has macro. has auto focus. better underwater video capture. battery records 2 and a half hours per charge. zoom is better. video quality is better. has special colour effects. low light is better. its dust proof, water proof and shock proof.


slight background noise when underwater. bronze flash sometimes on sunny days. autofocus can sometimes jump. which means it goes out of focus for a couple of seconds.

so there you go. i really like my zx5 and i think i will be using it alot more than the old zx3. i hope this has helped.
for more videos and reviews check out Chrisc74 on youtube.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Apr 2011 10:51:11 BDT
D. Hart says:
Very comprehensive review thanks.

Posted on 30 Apr 2011 12:45:53 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 May 2011 11:54:02 BDT
Sascha says:
Thanks for your review and more importantly your early video output comparison tests on Youtube, "Chrisc74"!

While several elements of your review are useful, I think the most critical difference - literally a game-changer is that the ZX3 has a *removable battery*. All lithium-ion batteries have a very limited capacity: something like 300 charges before they start to lose the ability to hold as much charge as before. Not being able to slap in a new inexpensive battery like you can with the ZX3 (which can cost as low as 3% of the device, meaning you can have several) is a huge disadvantage. Do you really want to risk missing so many "Kodak moments" just because of not being near enough to a power port? There is also a very good reasons why conventional point&shoot cameras almost always use removable batteries or conventional consumer batteries. The thought of paying so much money and then the device effectively becoming a paperweight within a year just because of its non-removable battery should not please anyone...

In short, without being able to change the battery of a device, especially when its more expensive than the device its meant to be completely replacing (since ZX3 is being discontinued) is such a poor design decision that you may as well consider the new device a downgrade! It is such an odd decision that you wonder if the ZX3 was so successful that it was cannibalizing the sale of Kodak's other budget camcorders and point&shoot cameras so they decided to introduce this new "brick"?

In addition, given you actually held both devices in your hand, you didn't mention probably the most critical benefit for the ZX5. It is not "has a macro" - while nice to have, this can be partially emulated with easily available attachable macro or even wide-angle lenses (even Kodak sells one). It is not "better underwater capture". It is not "records 2 and half hours per charge" since this charge time from the internal battery *will* decrease over time and you cannot replace its battery in the field like the ZX3! It is not that its shock-proof (MIL-STD-810F compliant) or dust-proof (IEC 60529 IP6X compliant) or water-proof (IEC 60529 IPX8 compliant) since the ZX3 is identically water-proof and almost as rugged. It is not even that it has an auto-focus system (which cannot be controlled) - while this is a big difference and overall advantage, fixed focus lens has several advantages, e.g. they are much more predictable and stable, better for fast motion and you don't have to worry about focusing unless the object is close (much less than 1 meter to be noticeable on ZX3), which you can improve by getting a wide-angle lens.

The most important difference, other than the slightly improved video quality, is the *image stabilization*. From all the video tests I have seen (yes, I spent an entire weekend researching Kodak video products and Youtube video tests), the ZX5 has very noticeably better image stabilization. It is simply listed, on the Kodak site, as a "digital image stabilization" for the ZX5 compared to "electronic image stabilization" for the ZX3 but the difference is so great that ZX5 may as well be true optical image stabilization. This can be an issue if you wish to use the camera aggressively (lots of bouncy places and vibrating contexts, e.g. sports and vehicles) and do not wish to post-process the video to attempt to stabilize the image (e.g. VirtualDub's DeShaker plugin or Youtube's tools).

Finally, there's a factor that affects subjective video quality tests if you only compare using the displays of the two devices. The ZX5 has auto-brightness control on its LCD display so therefore the device display should look better under different light conditions, though more unstable, even though it has no effect on the video output.

In summary,

ZX5 cons: no removable battery!!!
ZX5 pros: better image stabilization, better low light performance and slightly richer colors.

ZX3 cons: soon to be discontinued.
ZX3 pros: removable battery, cheaper.

Ideal device: ZX5 with external macro and auto-focus disable/enable button, wide-angle mode, improved low-light performance, freeze-proof (at least -10C), crush-proof (to 100kg), use as a webcam, AND most importantly of all, *removable battery*. Kodak, WTF were you thinking! Even if you made the device slightly more shock-proof and dust-proof, it isn't worth the loss of removable battery while in use! Oh, and I noticed you reduced the CMOS sensor (1/3.2 in ZX5 compared to 1/2.5 in ZX3) - thus practically guaranteeing higher image noise. Also, it is interesting that the ZX5 has better low light performance despite the smaller sensor. Did Kodak improve the device's firmware greatly or is it due to the higher automatic ISO range (100-1600 on ZX5 vs 50-800 on ZX3) or is the sensor from a different manufacturer or something else? If it is the former, then theoretically the ZX3 low light performance could be improved just by updating the firmware, but since its being discontinued I guess we will never find out :/

That said, it looks like Kodak have a substantial lead in this budget Full HD field with both the ZX3 and ZX5, especially now Flip is being discontinued. Even the newly announced Samsung HMX-W200, based on specification, looks inferior. At the moment, you'd have to change field and either,

1) focus on ruggedness: go for something like the much more expensive, very fiddly and serious-amateur GoPro HD Hero to compare (another reason why going crazy about overengineering the ruggedness in the ZX5 is a little pointless since you could never compare to serious devices which are, for example, waterproof to ten's of meters instead of 3m/10ft),

2) focus on stills: the new Panasonic Lumix TS3/FT3 looks like a good P&S still camera with Full HD capability and its rugged as a bonus! Its actually more rugged than the ZX5 since its additionally freeze-proof to at least -10C. However, its not crush-proof like the Pentax Optio WG-1. One problem is it comes with on-board GPS which, if used, will as usual with all these packaged products, drain the battery and its tracking is highly unlikely to be as good as dedicated GPS trackers/loggers or even some smartphones. In addition, it currently costs 1.2 times more than the ZX5 and almost 3 times the cost of the ZX3 - no doubt a lot of the premium is due to the unnecessary GPS! Not a budget device at all.

So, personally, I'll be getting the 30% cheaper ZX3 before it goes out-of-sale, a wide-angle/macro lens, a case, a lanyard, a bicycle mount and two extra batteries for the total price it would cost to get one ZX5! For travellers, the external charger (K7700), so you can charge an additional battery while it is not inside the device, is probably a good idea too. This is a complete package for most current and future needs for years to come (I already have a 32GB 100x SDHC card and GorillaPod). By the time Kodak or a competitor actually gets around to making an "ideal" device in this still newish environmental-proof budget camera field, I should have got a lot of use out of the venerable ZX3!

This also leaves me with a healthy budget for the best-in-class "point & shoot" camera available for indoor shooting, which means a tough choice between the non-rugged/"ordinary" still cameras of Canon S95 (good 720p video, many still features, staple choice of serious still amateurs and pros), the new Sony DSC-HX9V (Full HD:60fps@28Mbps- best in class video, very high quality all-in-one) or Canon SX230HS (similar to Sony except takes slightly better still pictures with more still control but less overall features). The Panasonic LX5 probably has the best in class indoor still shots, but its video artefacts (CCD sensor blooming/smearing), especially at night, are horrible and at 43mm wide it is about as pocketable as an elephant - so I'm not considering it. None of these cameras are as as slim or as light as my old titanium Canon IXUS 960 IS/SD950 IS (though the S95 almost is), but they are much better cameras!

Apologies for the length of this comment! :)

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2011 16:07:30 BDT
Anon says:
Hi SN,

An interesting post, thanks for taking the trouble to write it. I'd just like to make a couple of comments if I may!

Firstly, assuming you are in the UK, the Zx5 does come with an HDMI cable. In fact it comes with exactly the same set of cables as the Zx3. The list of "what's in the box" is in the full product description on Amazon's page.

Secondly, I understand your point about the battery, but wouldn't agree it's such a game changer for most people. The battery of the Zx5 will last more than 50% longer than the Zx3 (two and a half hours vs something like 90 minutes, so a big imporovement.) Despite the fact you can purchase extra batteries for the Zx3, most people don't, they just want the built in battery to last longer. When Chris74 first talked about the Playsport Zx5 he said he was concerned about the battery being built in. After using it, he said he didn't find it to be an issue at all.

I'm not sure if the 300 charges comment is accurate for the Playsport battery, but even if it is, this would mean you could record for 20 minutes every day and it would be 6 years before you'd lose the ability to hold as much charge as before! The numbers are somewhat hypothetical, I'm just making the point that non replaceable batteries aren't necessarily a bad thing - particularly if they last longer than replaceable ones. For many customers the positives will outweigh any negatives.

I'm not disputing that your comments don't hold true for you and how you want to use the product (obviously they do!) just that some people may find that in reality it's less of an issue.

That said, I'm pleased your second choice is a Zx3. You'll have a nice set up there and I hope you enjoy it.

All the best,

In reply to an earlier post on 3 May 2011 17:22:29 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2011 11:43:08 BDT
Sascha says:
Thank you for your reply, Kodak Martin! Also, thank you for the UK micro-HDMI cable correction for the ZX5. My original comment was been based on the assumption that the total package is the same as the one often reviewed on the web, including Youtube. I have amended my comment accordingly.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree regarding the removable battery. It just seems a bit out-of-place having this product straddling consumer video products and serious-amateur video products without such a feature, especially since the two most likely contexts of use are as "Environment-Proof Urban Vlogger" and "Rugged Travel Camcorder". Lack of this feature would limit the usefulness for the latter and long-run reliability for the former, in my opinion.

But I accept you have otherwise produced a couple of excellent products and I most likely would have been happy to at least try out the ZX5 within the return period if the ZX3 were not available.

Posted on 8 May 2011 12:30:16 BDT
S.Page says:
A great, detailed review!
You can read as many reviews as you like on these products but nothing highlights the differences like seeing the actual footage. Thanks for your hard work, can't wait for my zx5 to arrive.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Dec 2011 23:07:08 GMT
Can you get replacement batteries for these, so you can have one on charge whilst the other is being used in the camera?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2011 08:08:57 GMT
Anon says:
No, the battery is inbuilt so you can't swap it.

Posted on 8 Dec 2011 22:17:09 GMT
Matt says:
hi there what comes in the box with the camera ??? cheers matt

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2011 08:41:52 GMT
Anon says:
Hi Matt,

You get the Playsport unit (obviously!) user guide, HDMI cable, AV cable, USB cable, UK plug and a Euro plug. The battery is built in - you'll need an SD card if you don't have one

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Feb 2013 00:52:56 GMT
Feb 15th 2013 I just got one sealed in the UK via Amazon and NO HDMI lead :/ was half price though £65 Came with latest firmware 1.06, even though I dragged the MP4 test video I made 720p to a fast Nvidia Graphics Chipset and 1.66mhz 8GB Ram and HDMI Out to a Sony Bravia, well just running the file via the Updated Media Impression Software it ran ok FullSCreen on the Laptop, BUT would NOT run Full Screen on the Bravia via the PCs HDMI and it works fine via VLC player on other MP4s so not happy, so i need to source a HDMI lead :/ I imagine it'll be better but as they are unedited clips, I may have to edit them and re-import to the camera for best full screen results. Using Tried and Tested VLC player I play films of all kinds AVis and MP4s straight off memory sticks and SDcards but not with the Zx5, it was very slow and jerky, and it was the same when I copied it to local drive, I used a 16GB Class 10 newly Formatted SDcard, the only media player that works is the Media Impressions Player which I admit has a lot of good features and a way to export video to different formats, so maybe FullScreen isn't lost yet on a fully edited and exported video for Youtube or Vimeo say? But not the most compatible Mp4 codecs I've come across, and no new Firmware since 2011.
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