The PlaySport is a rugged camcorder, so it need only take competent video and stills, and survive abuse. It meets and exceeds expectations on all categories.
As mentioned earlier, Kodak claims the Burton Edition PlaySport can survive five-foot drops, as well as water depths up to 10 feet, and it is dustproof. I can’t validate the water depth and dust claims, but I can attest to its toughness. After abusing it for a few weeks, I’m confident it will survive the occasional spills and wipeouts associated with snowboarding and skiing.
Like the other PlaySports before it, the Burton Edition PlaySport automates nearly every shooting function, including focus, exposure, white balance, and any other picture control you can think of – and it does a reasonably good job. There is a facial detection feature that does nothing discernable, and this PlaySport, unlike the previous Zx3 model, includes a Macro Mode for shooting up close. The zoom function is limited to a 4x digital that destroys the picture quality and is best left untouched. And finally, there is an underwater mode that Kodak claims compensates for the different light dynamics with underwater shooting. I’ll have to take their word for it as I didn’t notice much difference with it on or off.
The various shooting filters are fun to mess around with, if not a bit gimmicky, but the various video resolutions are a nice addition, including the smooth-as-silk 60 frames per second mode.
Video, Still, Audio Performance
The Burton Edition PlaySport shoots the same video quality as the Zx5, which means that it looks good in decent lighting conditions, and suffers greatly in low or challenging light, complete with image grain as well as detail and color loss. This is the situation with all pocket camcorders, which really have to up their game if they want to compete with the new crop of smartphones that are capable of shooting decent video.
Of course, you can’t dunk a smartphone underwater and expect it to shoot video, which is exactly what you can do with the PlaySport. Underwater video works as advertised, but you won’t be able to see much in murky water given there is no external light source on the Burton Edition.
The Burton Edition can also survive bumps too, but the digital image stabilization will warp the picture on significantly bumpy video. Keep that in mind when attempting to film any first-person mogul runs.
Stills are stuck at five megapixels and do a reasonable job for a pocket camcorder. Picture quality is the same as video: good light means good pictures, low light means lousy pics. Again, with smartphones taking better and better pics, Kodak really needs to up its game in the quality department.
Audio pickup is relatively poor on the camcorder, which makes sense, considering it’s sealed tight as to make it waterproof. There is no external mic input, and any subject will sound muddled unless they are speaking directly at the device.
Operation and Extras
The Burton Edition ships with some great extras that make it a compelling buy, including a small gripping tripod, 4GB SDHC card, carrying case, remote, USB cable, wall adapter, AV cable, and HDMI cable. The tripod is especially fun and I found it to be especially useful, and the inclusion of the HDMI cable is a big plus considering most manufacturers exclude it.
The Burton Edition PlaySport also ships with Arcsoft Media Impression software, which is a basic editing suite that is not as buggy as some others I’ve used, but still relatively useless. In addition, the camcorder has a social media tagging feature on the camera for easier uploads to Flickr, Facebook, and other sites, which I found to be also useless.