I've had this camera for about 3 weeks now. The video quality is superb in good light but fails somewhat in low light conditions but remember, this is a budget HD camcorder and for the price, you cant go wrong. If you want to shoot Hi Def videos on the fly, get this camcorder.
Also, Amazon were great, ordered it on a tuesday got it wednesday.
Camcorder Aiptek Pocket Z500 PLUS I have hardly put this product down since purchasing it. The high definition video quality is excellent and so easy to use, which is good because the hand-book is quite poor regarding information. You get about 4 hours of film time on a 16 GB SDHC card, which is more than adequate. Zoom is quite limited at x3, but cost obviously plays a part. I also own a Sony camcorder costing £1500-00, which gives superb results, but find that I use the Aiptek all the time because it fits in the pocket and is therefore always with me. I would not recommend this product to the more advanced user, or anyone who uses a lot of post production. There are better camcorders for the serious user, but they are a lot more expensive. A great product for anyone who wants decent quality, ease of use and compact size. I love It!
I have the model sold in America as the Action-HD. The quality of the video in daylight is remarkable for such an inexpensive camcorder (its about 120 pounds in the US including tax). I am able to record 1080p at full speed using a class 4 SD card, although a class 6 will be welcome for getting video off the camera and onto the computer. Indoor performance in good light is a bit more limited, though the quality is good enough to down convert 1080p to 720p and remove most of the noise. The inbuilt led video light adds little benefit unless the subject is very close, and the widest angle is not enough for more than a head shot. The auto focus tends to wander indoors and low light as well, but works very well outdoors. Macro mode is good and is easily switched on. Night shot is not the Sony feature, with just a marginal improvement. I may appreciate this more with a bit more experience. Controls are easy, with the most common settings available through a external 4-way toggle. There is not much settings control possible, most are automatic, but there is a limited ability to adjust white level.
The 60 fps mode in 720p is great for action shots ... creates a very smooth effect where there is lots of movement.
The outdoor image quality competes with low end digital cameras on a per frame basis - it possible to get quite reasonable stills from action scenes.
The codec is H264 embedded in mpeg 4 medium itself embedded in a Apple Quicktime .mov format. I think they used this so the sound could be embedded on the fly while maintaining the image quality. This means on Windows you will have to install Quicktime (which is already on your machine if you are using iTunes). Mac users need do nothing, though it might be worthwhile for both Windows and Macs to buy the Quicktime Pro licence from Apple (around 20 pounds at the online Apple Store). This makes it easy to do basic editing and convert the .mov file to the format of your choice. There are other free and commercial options for editing and converting.
The build quality is reasonable, though the lcd monitor seems a bit fragile. It is reversible. so you can shoot yourself. My model came with a small table-top tripod, which is needed for this if you don't have long arms!
The sound quality is reasonable. There is no easy way to connect an external microphone, and it is sensitive to sound behind the camera ... don't talk while shooting. It has a voice recording only mode, which will hold a lot of continuous dialogue. It records in AIFF.
It is also a digital still camera, though less good at this than recording video. It is nominally 5 megapixel. It has a 8 megapixel mode, but this is interpolated. It has an inbuilt flash. The results are reasonable.
The LCD monitor is good enough, but washes out in good light outdoors. It is sufficent for framing, and you can't manually focus, so that is adequate. It seems a little blurry when playing back material, but is good enough to evaluate your footage. Pulling the LCD monitor out turns the camera on, closing it to off.
It can record analogue video from ordinary SD quality composite video with sound, as output from a TV, conventional camcorder or video camera. This can be used to watch video on the go. Likewise sound can be recorded. I have not used the media player capabilities, and don't plan to.
It can output 720p and 1080p through component cables that are included, for direct connection to a HD TV.
All in all it is great for the money. I would give it 5 stars if there was a good cheap device category, but will give it 4 just as a camcorder. It performs as well as cheap HD tape based camcorders, though not with the mid and high end.
Aiptek have made a number of similar cameras in the past, and this model goes up a resolution to near 1080p level (1440 x 1080 rather than full HD). The build quality is not too bad, although the LCD screen feels a little flimsy. The unit is small, so easy to pop into a pocket or bag.
Taking images outside in bright light produces a reasonable picture. Panning around creates a but if judder, which is more noticeable in 1080p 30Hz mode than 720p 60Hz mode. In lower light levels (such as daytime indoors) the picture quality shows much more graniness, and isn't up to scratch in my eyes. Sound quality is not great.
You will like this camera if you just want to capture the moment, but are not too concerned about exceptional quality. It is basically a step up from the previous SD cameras that save to memory cards, but I think has a way to go before it will get near miniDV or HD harddrive cameras.
Nearly there, but not quite...
...I will be returning mine as it's not as good as I had hoped.