Kodak Playsport Zx3 Review - Controls and Underwater Abilities Review


Being a pocket Internet camcorder, the Playsport’s features are few and far between. There is a 4X zoom, but it’s digital so will reduce detail when used. The lens itself is fixed, with a focal range of 1m to infinity. So all but the nearest subjects will look sharp, although there’s no macro option for extreme close-ups. Image stabilisation is available to counteract jerky camerawork, but it’s electronic, and therefore not as effective as the optical systems employed by higher-end models. At least you can choose to turn it off if you want.

There’s also an exposure control, although this only has three levels, or you can set exposure to auto mode. Surprisingly, there’s a microphone level control as well. Face detection is available, too, and this can be disabled if desired. It proved itself reasonably capable at picking up faces and adjusting exposure accordingly during our testing, although focus remains fixed.

A further setting enables an LCD glare shield, which allegedly improves visibility in bright conditions, although the dull winter weather at the time of this review didn’t give us much opportunity to really put this feature through its paces. That’s about it for manual settings. You get a little more to play with than some pocket Internet models, but there are no options to alter focus, shutter, iris, or even preset scene modes, which is par for the course for a camcorder in this class. Pointing and shooting are meant to be your main options.

Nevertheless, the Playsport is obviously not just another pocket Internet camcorder. Its underwater abilities are a key selling point, and here it matches other waterproof models currently on the market, at least on paper. Kodak claims it will handle a depth of 3m, so underwater antics whilst snorkelling or in the local lido will give it no problems, assuming you’re allowed to record footage at the latter. But deeper diving will be risky. There’s an underwater setting available, too, which alters the white balance to compensate for the effects of sub-marine shooting.

The Playsport is ruggedised, although Kodak makes no quantified claims as to what height you can drop the unit from onto which kind of surface and get away with it. Two flaps are used to keep the internals dry, with one covering the ports and the other the removable battery and SD memory slot. These are secured by sliding switches, which will be quite hard to open accidentally, although they’re also a little tricky to secure in the first place. We found the Playsport resisted the water testing we inflicted upon it with flying colours.

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