I've shot some perfectly acceptabe B-roll footage with an Aiptek Action-HD camcorder. It has 4x optical zoom and will do 1080-30p-, 720-60p, 720x480-60p and 325x240. It's also a 5-megapixel still camera. It's $200 at Walmart.
They just came out with a newer model, the Action-HD GVS. It has a 5x Optical Zoom & Gyroscopic Stabilization plus an external microphone jack. It's $250 at Amazon.
I have been looking at them to go along with my DSLR instead of the built in capability like the Nikon D90 has. I need something within a month and I wish the second generation HD movie DSLR was out now. I do way more still photography but like the mix of motion video and stills on a DVD. I was looking at the Kodak Zi6. It has an SD Card slot that can accommodate cards as large as 32GB. I just like the compact size and have the video when I need/want it. New model was announced at CES the Zx1.
The Kodak cameras max out at 1280x720 at 60fps, they only have either 2x or 4x digital zoom and the stills are 3 megapixels interpolated. The Aiptek cameras max out at 1440x1080p at 30fps and will do 1280x720p at 60 fps and they have a 4x or 5x optical zoom depneding on the model. The stills are a real 5 megapixels non-interpolated. They also take SD cards up to 32GB.
The recently announced Kodak Zx1 is a more basic model than the current Zi6, although it is splash and dirt resistant and has a HDMI port.
The 30p mode on any of these micro-camcorders is a little too slow to capture totally smooth motion, the 60p mode is fine. Also, both the Aiptek and Kodak cameras record to h.264 MOV files, Vegas will not ingest these directly because of a minor incompatibility with the audio stream. There is a very simple and quick way to use the QuickTime player software to convert the audio into something that Vegas likes and QT just smart renders the video so there is no loss in video quality.
John, this is now getting interesting for an application where I could use a couple of small cams.
The problem is that I would have to upgrade to a new computer to edit the h.264 (still working with a 1.5Ghz P4). Then I'd have to upgrade to Vegas Pro 8XX (still working with V6). Yes, I'm too woefully out of date to use an inexpensive camera.
I have both a Kodak Zi6 and a Kodak V1073. Surprisingly, I like the video from V1073 better even though it is a still camera that merely has a hd video mode and even though the V1073 tops out at 30fps. Why? The Zi6 has no stabilization and no optical zoom. The V1073 has both. Also, the widest lens setting on the V1073 is noticably wider than the Zi6 and the bitrate is higher as well. I shot some video of my son at a skateboard park the other day and it simply rocks. It was handheld and zoomed in from about sixty feet away and it looks very smooth indeed.
Open the Aiptek .MOV in Quicktime
Go to "File" > "Export."
Select "Movie to MPEG4" and hit the "Options" button.
Just under "File Format" (which should be MP4) select the video stream and then select "Pass Through" as the video format.
Now select the audio stream
Select "AAC-LC (Music) for the audio format,
48k output sample rate and "Best" encoding quality.
Then save the file, it will only take a minute or so to convert the file. This will create an .MP4 file which will load into Vegas and will also play just fine on a PlayStation3.
i have the candy bar shaped webbie so i can pretty much have a camera in my pocket at all times...yes it is what it is...yet i've been amazed at how nice the footage is...of course i don't expect much quality indoors and would rarely use it indoors...but all the outdoor footage has been a bit of a jaw dropper...and the files just drag right into vegas no prob...sure not for everyone and some may laugh and for the price ($170) i would think the quality is better than the flip hd...
I bought my wife the Kodak Easyshare Z1485 IS for our recent trip. The 720HD .mov files worked in Vegas but had the usual sluggish performance playing it on the time line.
Sample video (only filter used is Neat Video). http://www.vimeo.com/4367529
I have to echo Spot here - just picked up a Sony Webbie HD at Best Buy for $160, and love it for what it is... I use it all the time for little web one-offs. As with any of these "pocket HD" camcorders, your lighting has to be good to get a decent shot. If I need something higher-def I borrow/rent a friend's P2.