As is par for the course with camcorders in this class, there are no manual settings available. The plus and minus buttons above and below the record button operate the meagre 2x zoom, which is digital so reduces quality when the image is magnified. Other than that, there’s nothing for the user to configure at all. The phrase ‘point and shoot’ has been taken quite literally here. The lens is also fixed focus, with a fairly sizeable minimum range of 1.5m, so macro close-ups won’t be possible. However, the lens isn’t as wide angled as that of Creative’s Vado HD.
With previous Flips, we have been mildly surprised by the image quality on offer. Thanks to the use of larger sensors than you might expect for a pocket device, Flips generally far outperform camera phones, or even most compact digital cameras, although few ‘proper’ camcorders would feel under threat. Since there is no backlight compensation option, the UltraHD will be fooled by darker objects against bright backgrounds – such as shooting people with the sky behind them. But where the lighting is more even the results are more than adequate.
More significantly, the UltraHD does a competent job in low light. Here, it actually beats low-end big-brand HD camcorders for brightness and noise, although without any manual settings you can’t compensate with iris, shutter, or gain adjustment. This is particularly important considering the probable uses for a camcorder in this class. With its considerable pocket friendliness, the Flip UltraHD is even more likely to be whipped out in locations with poor illumination. In our gruelling 100W ceiling-lit living room test, it still managed to pick up plenty of colour and detail, where lots of more expensive HD camcorders fail dismally. We even noticed a slight improvement over the MinoHD, implying that the UltraHD’s newer Flip Video Engine contains tweaks in this area.
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