April 2, 2015

Zoom's Newest Audio Recorder Is Also an HD Video Camera. Wait, What...?

Zoom Q8 Audio Recorder and HD Video Camera
Sometime in the middle of January, Zoom, the venerable manufacturer of audio recorders, snuck a product announcement past everybody in the filmmaking community, and it's a strange one.

The product in question is the Zoom Q8. Think of it like this: it's essentially the same thing as the H6 audio recorder -- with the interchangeable microphone mounts and everything -- but with the added functionality of a fixed-lens camcorder that shoots HD video (2304x1296 actually). Here's the product launch video, which sheds some light on what the Q8 can do and who it is ideally suited for.

Here are the features, specs, and a few photos.

Zoom Q8 Audio Recorder and HD Video Camera
  • Records up to 2304x1296 Video at 30 fps
  • 160° Wide-Angle Lens (16.6mm f/2 Equivalent)
  • Detachable X/Y Condenser Microphone
  • Compatible with Zoom Microphone Capsules
  • Dual XLR/TRS Combo Inputs
  • Records up to Four Simultaneous Channels
  • Record up to 24-Bit / 96 kHz Audio
  • 2.7" LCD Touchscreen
  • Doubles as USB Webcam & Audio Interface
  • 1/4"-20 to 3-Prong Adapter Included

Zoom Q8 Audio Recorder and HD Video Camera

Zoom Q8 Audio Recorder and HD Video Camera
While the Zoom Q8 isn't going to be anybody's choice to shoot their next feature film (I mean, I suppose it could be if you were really determined), it seems like it has potential to be a useful tool for wide range of people. Of course you've got a few obvious use-cases like video journalists and people who want to shoot concerts without the burden of shitty in-camera sound. However, I think this odd little device may just have a place in the filmmaker's arsenal of tools as well. It could find use with those who shoot BTS footage constantly (I would definitely use it for that purpose), and it could be a reliable B-camera or C-camera for interview setups, especially with the added audio functionality.

At $400, it's a relatively inexpensive tool, although unless you have a specific use for it, you're likely better off putting that money towards some vintage glass or something. With that said, if you're interested in the Q8, it's available right now from B&H.

What do you guys think of the Zoom Q8? Does it have any place in the filmmaker's toolkit? If so, where?     

Your Comment

30 Comments

Depending on the low light capabilities, I bet it's great for conventions interviews, and other Youtube oriented projects.

April 2, 2015 at 2:48PM

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Robert E Bishop
Writer/Director
74

You know this is actually a good idea. It would be great for shooting BTS and Vlogs. Some people don't require a 'tough' action cam. I also has the benefit of improved audio.

April 2, 2015 at 3:06PM

1
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Madara
writer/director
276

BTS is exactly what I was thinking too. When convenient the sound recordist could grab footage. Or it could just be in a locked off position. This would be an easy way to grab bonus material for a webseries.

April 3, 2015 at 11:26AM

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Jeff Macpherson
Writer / Director
220

I guess I don't see the market for this. If you're using the Zoom to record audio for a project with a nice camera then you're obviously not going to be using the onboard camera. If you're using the camera for behind the scenes that's cool, but what if you need the recorder for the shoot that the BTS is documenting?

April 2, 2015 at 3:24PM

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Just a thought here; what about using this primarily as an audio recorder, rather than a camera? Because of the video capability, it would mean you would know what files you were dealing with at a glance, and if the logging was incorrect (esp on a guerilla or amateur shoot) it would make many an editor's life easier.

Maybe they could cut back on the video features to improve sound recording/minimise file size. Thoughts?

April 2, 2015 at 3:41PM

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haha yeah exactly what I was thinking. I'm using a h4n for audio, and most of the time I describe where I am and what's around me so I can find the corresponding track. But when I outsource the sync, it's just a pain to do that job. That device would sove that problem easily (if there's a way to record low quality video + high quality audio)

April 3, 2015 at 12:12AM

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Eric Paré
Bullet-time + light-painting artist / filmmaker
81

And also the fact that like many of the folks here, I have been using Zoom products for ages... So we kind of know what to expect as for the audio quality of that new device.

April 3, 2015 at 12:16AM

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Eric Paré
Bullet-time + light-painting artist / filmmaker
81

I could be handy if you're using a slate too and the camera can get a glimpse of it. So you're getting visual slate on your audio. Even without a slate it could help to "see" what audio is.

April 3, 2015 at 11:30AM

9
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Jeff Macpherson
Writer / Director
220

Just a thought here; what about using this primarily as an audio recorder, rather than a camera? Because of the video capability, it would mean you would know what files you were dealing with at a glance, and if the logging was incorrect (esp on a guerilla or amateur shoot) it would make many an editor's life easier.
Maybe they could cut back on the video features to improve sound recording/minimise file size. Thoughts?

April 2, 2015 at 3:45PM

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whoops double post

April 2, 2015 at 4:08PM

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Depending on the quality of the video, maybe this camera would be great to interview with crowd of reporters and microphones in front of the respondent.

April 2, 2015 at 4:11PM

13
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theuerweirich@me.com
Director of Fotography
348

Goodbye, see you!

April 2, 2015 at 4:47PM

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bobunitone
Editor/Director/Writer/All Round Great Dude
161

The photos show a Q4 and a Q8, both of which have lenses too wide for general purpose use.

April 2, 2015 at 4:50PM

0
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not interested.. Stick to great audio zoom

April 2, 2015 at 5:42PM

8
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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
956

It will be great for all the youtubers who need good audio and don't want to bother with a second gear for video like a DSLR with specific lens. It's clearly not for everybody.

April 2, 2015 at 6:33PM

11
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If they can compress the video enough, it could have a use as a "scratch" video track. It would never be cut to in a final edit but could be a wideshot of the production to provide some for post production to reference (sync, lighting, etc.)

April 2, 2015 at 6:45PM

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weird.

April 2, 2015 at 8:32PM

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I think definitely useful for the youtube/vlog type videos. Also, I work a lot with people in third world countries that have very little budget for equipment but would like to make videos to update people about different projects and such for NGO work going on. I could see this working great for that because they could potentially buy one piece of gear and get nice audio and video. I like it.

April 2, 2015 at 10:45PM

27
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Zoom adds video without a zoom lens.

April 3, 2015 at 12:33AM, Edited April 3, 12:33AM

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Charlie K
1311

From the ZOOM specs page:

--Compatible with USTREAM Producer, Flash live Media Encorder, Skype, and other popular streaming applications
--USB interface for live streaming
--Built-in audio mixer
--Direct monitoring for zero latency
--Dedicated Headphone output / Line out
--2 XLR's.
--720p @ 60fps
--96kHz
--ZOOM audio quality

A company that is making it clear they want the live streamers, like me. :-) Since audio is a far higher priority than video when it comes to live streaming this may be a perfect camera for us---finally.

I am searching for a time limit on video. Can't find that specified anywhere. I am assuming, since they clearly reference live streaming, they don't have one.

April 3, 2015 at 6:21AM

15
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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1778

Oh, digital zoom. well.....

April 3, 2015 at 6:24AM

2
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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1778

OHHHHHHH, barrel distortion---CAN"T USE IT!!!!!!!!

cameras for kids

April 6, 2015 at 12:51AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1778

I was actually researching an inexpensive solution to shoot a low budget video podcast on location, and rather than buying a USB soundboard and a webcam, this looks like a one-device solution. Double the price of what I was looking at ($100 webcam plus stand alone mixer), but the simplicity would be nice.

April 3, 2015 at 2:11PM

4
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I think for the audio quality Zoom has this is actually a good price.

April 3, 2015 at 9:26PM

1
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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1778

I think it will be very useful for text journalists to use instead of/in addition to their smartphones. When out on jobs, particularly sports and events, it isn't uncommon to record the interview to reference later.

With something like this, the news organization could also get usable video with good sound to use on their website. Granted, the quality will be less than what you get with a real crew, but often enough there will only be one journalist at the scene.

April 3, 2015 at 4:33PM, Edited April 3, 4:33PM

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Is it just me or the lens is way too wide for ideal purposes, maybe in the near future if this things gets some traction in the market we'll see detachable lenses like the iPhone. A bit narrower, make it a 35mm equivalent. Still maybe in the next generation this ZOOM will have some sort of "zoom", get it? get it? :P

April 3, 2015 at 7:05PM, Edited April 3, 7:05PM

8
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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
301

I hope in the next generation they do have a zoom lens. They probably had cost in mind when they put just digital zoom in it. The 2 XLR's WITH phantom power, and Zoom audio quality, are the most attractive things to me. Seems like they put a lot for the dollar into it.

And, oh yeah, I did get it.

April 3, 2015 at 9:32PM

0
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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1778

Great for documentaries, event shooters, stage performances, weddings! Any situation where a wide master shot is needed as a continuity back-up and reliable balanced audio from mixers, professional mice etc. it's small enough to be mounted on the hotshoe of any DSLR/camcorder that's lacking balanced audio inputs.

April 4, 2015 at 11:21AM

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This would be a great camera for short, journalistic style interviews, but would help if it had a more standard say 50mm type lens. I like the suggestion of others for a variety of lenses. This format has great potential for the future esp. for MoJo (mobile journalism). Wish list would include a one inch sensor instead of its 3mb one third inch sensor! Maybe Sony will pick the idea up?

April 6, 2015 at 6:47PM

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Mount it to the back end of a Mic Boom, to point at the actors and the clapper board - combine Behind Scenes and reference video for sync use.
It's mass would help balance the ends of the Boom out, so could be of use to reduce muscle strain in Boom Ops.

April 15, 2015 at 3:03AM, Edited April 15, 3:03AM

0
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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
131