As the name suggests, the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 is a ruggedised camcorder that is geared up for outward bound pursuits.

A revision of the likable Kodak PlaySport Zx1 model we tested last year, the of this camcorder  has much improved controls and feels great in the hand.

The coloured back panel – a glorious purple on the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 we had to review – is a soft, grippy rubber while the front has an array of four selection buttons splayed around a navigation wheel. These allow direct selection of different video recording modes, playback, delete and settings.

At the very bottom are a tripod jack and a wrist strap so the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 can be used by climbers or attached to the outside of a rucksack.

The Kodak PlaySport Zx3 is a heavy-feeling 144g, with a removable lithium-ion battery. It’s primed with an HDMI output (and comes with an accompanying cable) for hooking up to a TV to show off your video footage. A copy of ArcSoft MediaImpression video editing software is included for PC users to perform some quick editing prior to uploading their footage to YouTube or Facebook.

It can record 1080p HD video in 16:9 widescreen and has a 4x digital zoom. This isn’t the smoothest zoom we’ve tried. It’s initiated using the up and down arrows on the main navipad and is rather jerky. Panning around a street scene was more satisfactory and we were pleased with the colour reproduction of the Kodak PlaySport Zx3. Whites tended to bleach out, however. In a well-lit indoor environment, things were a little muted but still sharp.

Switching recording modes is done by clicking the camcorder button then using the navi-arrows to choose 720, 720 @ 60 frames per second or 5Mp still photo capture. In camera mode, the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 seemed rather slow to focus but otherwise takes reasonable snaps for a camera of this type and that you’ll be using one-handed.

An image stabilisation function is joined on the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 by other helpful features such as a face tracker and a sun shield that allows the person shooting the video to see what’s in the frame. There’s a monaural speaker with adjustable volume. We didn’t find it very effective, though.  

The other distinguishing feature is that the Kodak PlaySport Zx3 can be used in watery environments. We gave it an initial test by setting it to record while placed in a large jug of water. Even while we paraded around the office, sloshing water around, the footage was all but unmarred. A later splash around the local swimming pool also proved the Kodak’s waterbaby credentials.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Kodak PlaySport Zx3: Specs

  • Sensor type: 1/2.5–type 5 MP CMOS
  • Lens: 5.54 mm, 35 mm equivalent. 48 mm @ 1080p. 36 mm @ 720p. 36 mm @ WVGA. 36 mm still capture
  • Zoom: 4X digital
  • Image stabilization: Electronic
  • Display size: 2.0 in
  • Storage: 128 MB internal memory[1], SD/SDHC card expansion slot
  • Focus modes: Normal
  • Focus range: 39.4 in.100 cm - Infinity
  • White Balance: Auto
  • File formats: video: H.264 (MOV), AAC LC/ Still: JPEG
  • Capture mode: 1080p—1920x1080, 30fps
  • 720p/60 fps—1280x720, 60 fps
  • 720p—1280x720, 30 fps
  • WVGA—848x480, 30 fps
  • still—5.3 MP, 16:9 widescreen, interpolated
  • monaural speaker
  • USB 2.0 (high speed), AV out, HDMI
  • Tripod mount: 1/4 in. standard
  • KODAK Li-Ion Rechargeable Digital Camera Battery KLIC-7004, AC Adaptor
  • 58×112×20.32mm
  • 128g without battery
  • Sensor type: 1/2.5–type 5 MP CMOS
  • Lens: 5.54 mm, 35 mm equivalent. 48 mm @ 1080p. 36 mm @ 720p. 36 mm @ WVGA. 36 mm still capture
  • Zoom: 4X digital
  • Image stabilization: Electronic
  • Display size: 2.0 in
  • Storage: 128 MB internal memory[1], SD/SDHC card expansion slot
  • Focus modes: Normal
  • Focus range: 39.4 in.100 cm - Infinity
  • White Balance: Auto
  • File formats: video: H.264 (MOV), AAC LC/ Still: JPEG
  • Capture mode: 1080p—1920x1080, 30fps
  • 720p/60 fps—1280x720, 60 fps
  • 720p—1280x720, 30 fps
  • WVGA—848x480, 30 fps
  • still—5.3 MP, 16:9 widescreen, interpolated
  • monaural speaker
  • USB 2.0 (high speed), AV out, HDMI
  • Tripod mount: 1/4 in. standard
  • KODAK Li-Ion Rechargeable Digital Camera Battery KLIC-7004, AC Adaptor
  • 58×112×20.32mm
  • 128g without battery

OUR VERDICT

When playing back our underwater footage fresh from the tank as the Kodak PlaySport Zx3’s innards seemed to be working rather hard, but this and the sluggish zoom were our only real negatives. A great little camcorder to take on a trip to the beach, you’ll probably find yourself leaving its limited settings alone and simply shooting on the go. No bad thing mind.

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