The Zoom Q8 Handy Video Camera Review
Following on from the Zoom Q4, the new Zoom Q8 video camera produces excellent sound quality recorded at 24-bit/96kHZ - something we have come to expect from Zoom - but with video capabilities that can record up to 1296p at 60fps. Furthermore, the Q8 features Zoom's interchangeable capsule system and two XLR inputs to allow for up to 4 channels of audio being recorded simultaneously. This allows the user to switch out one mic for another, depending on the job at hand. This makes it an ideal camera for YouTubers, video bloggers, podcasters, musicians capturing a live performance, or capturing a presentation in the classroom, lecture theatre or workspace.
Some of the main features include:
* Support of SD/SDHC/SDXC cards
* A 2.7" touchscreen full-colour LCD display
* A 160-degree wide-angle lens
* Detachable XY stereo microphone
* XLR/TRS inputs
* Phantom power
* Digital zoom with 4 settings
* Self-timer function
* Four track recording functionality
* Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
The current standard for YouTube video is 1080p. The Zoom Q8 is capable of shooting at a higher resolution than this and producing very sharp and clear images - ideal for producing high-quality videos for the web. The camera is a very big improvement on the first Zoom video cameras in low light - where they were pretty much unusable - and even an improvement on the Q4, but still somewhat lacking compared to say an iPhone 6 camera or GoPro in similar conditions. But with decent lighting the video more than holds its own.
The Q8 comes with an F2.0 aperture/ fixed 160-degree wide-angle lens and some will love the results and others won't! This produces the fish-eye image associated with action cams. While it can't be turned off on the camera, it can be removed in post by filters and plugins, so it may not be an issue after all.
This is where the Q8 excels compared to its main competitors. The supplied X/Y stereo mics capture audio in great detail, but there are many other options available if so desired. The interchangeable capsule system allows you to attach one of Zoom's other mics to the camera to better serve the job at hand. A low-cut filter and foam windscreen allow you to eliminate low-frequency noise and rumble; the three auto gain settings, compressor and limiter allow for further refinement of the audio source.
Two XLR inputs are also built in to the camera to allow for additional mics to be attached. Phantom power is available from these inputs and the Q8 can function as a four-track recorder. The Q8 can also function as a stand-alone field recorder if so desired.
As an example of what you might expect when using the Zoom Q8, I have used it to shoot a short guitar clip for my Youtube channel. The audio was only captured using the supplied X/Y mics and the room lighting was less than ideal. Overall, I think the result is more than useable and degradation in video quality is a result of the compression applied to the file as I reduced its size as much as anything else.
The Zoom Q8 will serve the musician, Indie filmmaker, podcaster, blogger, teacher or presenter very well, especially where pristine audio is required. At a RRP of $779 but a street price much lower, the Zoom Q8 could be exactly what you require for your video projects.