Anyone who's ever experienced a film with great audio knows how vital sound is to the movie. The Q3 Handy Video Recorder brings our renowned audio technology to the camcorder, making it the best sounding video camcorder you've ever heard.
Brilliant Stereo Recording
The Q3 uses the same microphone capsules as our industry-leading H4n Handy Recorder and is perfect for recording anything where great audio and video are a must. From live musical performances and rehearsals, interviews, conferences to video podcasts, journalism, education, recitals, weddings or sports, the Q3's pristine audio quality takes your videos to another level.
Designed with everything you need to make your movies right out of the box, the Q3 includes HandyShare software for editing, and a 2GB SD card for up to 1 hour of video recording time. And the Q3 will also accept up to 32GB SDHC cards for a staggering 16 hours of moviemaking!
Cutting Room, Distribution Included
When your shoot is complete, the Q3's cleverly designed USB cable lets you upload your movies to your computer. Then use HandyShare to edit and share them on your favorite websites including YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. Or, plug in the included TV cable and watch your videos on television.
With its high-quality, MPEG-4 SP video format at 30 frames per second, the Q3 renders crystal-clear video at 640 x 480 resolution. And the Q3's large, 2.4" LCD screen with a resolution of 320 x 240 makes viewing easy on the go. Its display also includes audio meters so you can quickly set and monitor your levels as you shoot.
True Stereo Sound
The Q3 has two condenser mics onboard, engineered in the same X/Y pattern that gives recording pros the best stereo recording possible. Arranged with the right and left mics on the same axis, this design ensures that the mics are always an equal distance from the sound source for perfect localization without phase shifting. The result is a great sounding recording with natural depth and highly accurate stereo imaging every time... all at the touch of a button.
Get Closer to the Action
The Q3's X/Y microphones are directional, so you can "focus" the mics on your sound source like an "audio zoom" function. Use the onboard audio meters to set the gain to Low, High or Auto so you can record in very loud or very soft environments. Or use the Q3's Auto Record Level function to automatically set the appropriate recording levels for the situation! Shoot your video with the confidence that the Q3 is capturing great audio at the absolute best level possible.
Sound Matters on YouTube
With the Q3, all your videos will sound like they were recorded in a professional studio. Ideal for shooting any kind of musical performance from jazz to classical to metal, solo to orchestral, the Q3 will make it fun and easy to shoot your music videos anywhere, anytime.
Q3 Used in Room
The Q3 also makes it easy to share your videos with your friends on YouTube. Simply plug the Q3 into your computer, launch the onboard HandyShare software and select the videos you want to put on the web. And if your vision needs a few edits, you can use HandyShare to cut your movie before you share it with the world.
Reduce the Learning Curve
To play music better, seeing your performance can be almost as important as hearing yourself. With the Q3, you get both capabilities. Music educators and students alike will find a plethora of applications for the Q3 from the classroom to the practice room. Ideal for recording auditions or making video lessons available to students, the Q3's amazing stereo recording will capture every nuance while the video rolls.
Dress Up Your Videography
The Q3 makes an excellent accessory for anyone who does videography as a full-time occupation or as a hobby. Imagine being able to use the Q3 for individualized video shoots of the bride and groom before a wedding. Or give a Q3 to everyone in the wedding party for personalized video clips. Capture the wedding music with ease. The possibilities are truly endless. And with pristine, focused audio, you'll never miss a moment, even in a noisy environment.
Make Your Own Sports Center
Have great seats? Every crack of the bat, swing of the club or bone-crunching tackle can be captured with amazing clarity... especially when you're close to the action. Capture the sights and sounds of the game from the little leagues to the big leagues.
Go Blogging Heads
It's never been more important for journalists and bloggers to be versatile in the field. Shoot "on the scene" video, edit and upload with ease, all with broadcast-ready audio. And because the Q3 has a standard tripod mount, you can put it just about anywhere for the perfect shot in any environment.
Q3 Used in Journalism
The Q3 puts a little bit of video and a whole lot of audio together in one quick and easy to use camcorder that lets you produce great movies on the go!
- Carry Pouch
- 2 GB SD Card
- AV Cable
- 2 AA Batteries
- Built-in stereo condenser microphones with X/Y configuration for true stereo imaging
- Get up to 1 hour of video with bundled 2GB SD card
- Accepts up to a 32GB SDHC card for 16 hours of recording time
- Large 2.4-inch LCD display with a resolution of 320 x 240
- Video resolution of 640 x 480 at 30 frames/sec
- Video Format: MPEG-4 SP
- NTSC / PAL TV output
- Optics Lens Type: Fixed Focus (0.8m to infinity) with 2x digital zoom
- Audio formats with video include 44.1/48kHz 16/24-bit Linear PCM WAV or MP3 up to 320kbps
- Audio only formats include 96kHz 16/24-bit Linear PCM WAV
- Auto Record Level automatically adjusts audio levels during recordings
- Uses two standard AA batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries
- USB 2.0 with built-in cable
- Windows and Mac OS compatible
- Built-in speaker and tripod mount
- Includes onboard editing software, YouTube uploader software, Apple Quicktime, TV cable, softcase, windscreen, 2GB SD card, two AA Batteries
- Optional power adapter available (Zoom AD14)
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zZounds Expert Review
For better or for worse, many electronics consumers are foregoing professional-grade quality and a slew of features and instead choosing simple, affordable devices that are easy to use. The success of the Flip video camera is a case in point. It won't get you 3-chip HD quality and you probably won't be pulling focuses or tracking shots on a dolly, but you can get decent video and (maybe more important) get it up on Facebook right now with a Flip.
But enough about the Flip. This review is about the Q3 Handy Video Recorder from Zoom. It, too, is an easy-to-use handheld video recorder that lets you shoot decent quality video and easily upload it to your video sharing website of choice. But, it has something the Flip can't touch: namely, the same stereo condenser microphones found on Zoom's ultra-popular H4n audio recorder. You get all the upside of quick and easy digital video, plus the added benefit of pristine sound.
Couldn't Be Simpler
Manual? We don't need no steenking manual. Here's all you need to know to get started shooting video:
1. Switch On
2. Push Record
That's it. You're recording. An LED in the record button and a little red light below the camera lens stay lit up to let you know you're in record mode, whether you're the director, or the talent. When you're done shooting, plug the Q3 into your computer via the onboard USB 2.0 jack, and use the included tools to publish your latest masterpiece to YouTube. You can go from unboxing the Q3 to Internet Superstar in about a half hour.
What's In The Box
The Q3 comes with a pair of AA batteries and 2GB SD card so you don't have to wait to play with your new toy. The SD card is pre-loaded with Zoom's (Mac/Windows compatible) HandyShare software, which offers basic editing tools and has shortcuts for immediate upload to Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace. You also get a foam windscreen for location shooting, a cloth bag for toting your Q3 to the location, a Quick Start Guide (I think we went over that already), and an A/V cable (1/8-inch miniplug to RCA L/R/V) for TV connection.
Zoom makes a few optional add-ons as well, such as the AD14 power adapter. This comes in handy for longer sessions or when you're fresh out of batteries. You can also get a padded, water-resistant Tourtek case if you need a little extra protection than the included pouch will afford.
Eyes and Ears
The Q3's video settings are not adjustable. It shoots 640 x 480 MPEG-4's at 30 frames per second. Similarly, the field of view through the camera lens is fixed, though you do have a 2x digital zoom. You can, however, adjust the audio quality. Choose from 16- or 24-bit uncompressed PCM/WAV files at CD-quality 44.1 kHz, or higher-than-CD-quality 48 kHz, or higher-than-higher-than-CD-quality 96 kHz. (Keep in mind, the 96 kHz WAV setting is for recording audio only; you can't shoot video on that setting.) If ultra-high-quality audio isn't crucial to the project, you can also set the Q3 to record MP3 audio, with twelve resolution settings (from 48 to 320 kbps).
The stereo condenser microphone capsules are mounted in a cage on the top of the Q3, aimed perpendicular to each other (X/Y pattern). The microphone gain is switchable from Low to High sensitivity if your audio source is relatively constant, with an Auto setting for sources with a wider dynamic range. Use the switchable low-cut filter to tighten up the bottom end and remove unwanted rumble from passing traffic, wind, etc. Audio playback can be monitored using the onboard mono speaker, or through a pair of headphones if you need to be covert about it.
Video playback can be monitored from the 2.4-inch (320 x 240 resolution) LCD screen on the back of the Q3. The display is overlayed with other helpful information, including stereo audio-level meters, a recording time counter, and icons for battery life, audio resolution, and more.
The storage capability is adequate, holding about 50 minutes of video with 16-bit/44.1 kHz uncompressed audio on the included 2GB card. Dropping down to the highest quality MP3 audio setting will bump the record time up to an hour or more. If that's not enough, the Q3 will accommodate SDHC cards up to 32GB, but keep in mind the max size of any individual video file is 4GB (2GB in audio-only mode).
Most of the adjustable settings are accessible via the Menu button, located just under the display screen. Here you can set the date and time, sound quality, activate the low-cut filter, and more. Removing a recorded file is just as easy. Just highlight the file with the navigation buttons, and press the Trash button. Gone, baby, gone.
I wanted to get a feel for how the Q3 would respond in a variety of situations, so I demoed it in a few different locations. First, I just goofed off around the house with it. I didn't set up any special lighting; I just roamed from room to room to see how it performed. Obviously, the video isn't going to stack up with a pro-quality camera, but overall I was happy with the output. I will say it performed better when there was plenty of light. I noticed a loss of detail in the dimmer areas of my house, and the colors were a bit darker and less vibrant. Even in what I would consider "normal lighting conditions" the colors were a bit washy, but not unbearably so. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way, as Zoom has released a firmware update that is supposed to improve low-light performance.
Next, I popped the Q3 into my gig bag and headed off to band practice. The whole point of this thing is video with good audio, so I wanted to use it in a setting where the sound plays a significant role. We get pretty loud at rehearsal, so I set the gain switch to Low and activated the low-cut filter to keep the Q3 from clipping. I was really impressed with the audio quality, both in WAV and MP3 modes. It was better by far than the internal mics on other video cameras I've used. Does the Q3 sound as good as the other audio-only recorders Zoom makes? Yes, I'd say so. It may not have all of the frequency response at the extreme ends of the Bass and Treble, or quite the same detail in the sonic image as some of the super-expensive recorders available, but I would have no problem calling this thing a pro-quality piece.
You'll Flip For the Q3
If you're in the market for a portable, Internet-ready video recorder, you could do a lot worse than the Q3. For my money, it beats other options like the Flip in that you can store/offload videos to convenient SD media, and the sound quality blows those other cameras out of the water. And, the price is right, too.