Since the company’s very beginning, Zoom has focused on creating products for musicians. With advancements in audio and video technology, as well as the continued evolution of customers’ creative desires, the company’s products have crossed over to an array of uses that is considerably wider than just music. In converging new technology with creators’ ever-expanding ambitions, Zoom builds products that rapidly gain market share and that, just as importantly, help facilitate creative expression. Surveying the company’s handheld field recorders—characterized by refined sound elements, improved preamps and mics, and enhanced usability—and its Handy Video Recorders, which employ an easy-to-use form factor to meld great video capture with high-quality Zoom audio, it’s easy to see that now is an exciting time for the company, whose existing brand cachet is already considerable.
To discuss Zoom’s latest creation, the Q8 Handy Video Recorder, The Retailer spoke to VP Brand Experience Micah Eberman, who, to begin, noted that Zoom has been designing cameras with higher-quality audio for several years. “The thought process behind the Q8 came from asking ourselves, ‘What would happen if we designed a video camera with a full-blown four-track recorder built in?’,” he said. “The more we thought about it, the more we realized it could enable convenience and creativity that had never been available before.” In the Q8, we find some of the elements from the H5 recorder—interchangeable mic capsules, two phantom-powered combo inputs with excellent mic pres—combined with those from the latest Q4 video camera, but then further advanced with a wider-angle, brighter lens and higher resolution.
In describing the Q8 Handy Video Recorder’s unique value proposition, Eberman said it centers on three essential elements: convenience, customization and quality. “You can shoot and record audio on the same device, watching and hearing the results immediately,” he stated. “There’s no need to go into post-production to mix video and audio, because it’s done already.” He underscored that the audio, in particular, is a big differentiator. “Marrying great audio with video can create a powerful experience,” he stressed. Attesting to the power of the experience is the enthusiasm with which the market has embraced the Q8, as reflected in high levels of interest, strong sales and consistently positive feedback.
In the music products industry, for every person who loves to get tweaky with a product’s settings, another just wants to take out the product and use it; to Zoom’s credit, the Q8 Handy Video Recorder accommodates both types. “With our video scene settings,” Eberman began, “we make it easy to set for the environment, hit record and go.” With the audio, though, users have the opportunity to capture sound in ways that are truly peerless. “The included X/Y mic capsule records excellent, immersive stereo sound,” Eberman continued. “But, should you wish to record interviews or a video blog post, you can snap on one of our shotgun microphone capsules. Add to that the ability to plug in your own microphone, or grab a feed from a mixing board, and you have endless opportunities to get fantastic audio.”
To make sure the “getting tweaky” types are satiated, I’ll provide the most critical specs that serve to make the Q8 Handy Video Recorder so enticing. It records up to 2.3K video (2304×1296 pixels at 30fps/24Mbps), as well as two kinds of HD (24Mbps and 16Mbps for increased storage capability). Users can record at frame rates of up to 60fps at 720p for capturing fast action video. On the audio side, users can capture up to 24-bit, 96-kilohertz audio. A low-cut filter and foam windscreen allow the elimination of low-frequency noise and rumble, and there are three Auto Gain settings, as well as a built-in compressor and limiter. The Q8 can record audio along with video, or it is usable as a standalone stereo or four-channel, audio-only recorder.
The Q8 comes with a robust package of accessories. Included as standard are the following: detachable stereo X/Y microphone capsule (XYQ-8), foam windscreen, rechargeable Li-ion battery, USB cable (50cm), tripod to three-prong action camera mount adapter, lens cover, lens hood, strap and operation manual. Among the optional accessories, which are not included, are a mic stand mount (MSM-1) and guitar headstock mount (GHM-1), soft case (SCQ-8) and compatible mic capsules (SGH-6 shotgun capsule, SSH-6 stereo shotgun capsule, XYH-6 X/Y stereo mic capsule, XYH-5 X/Y stereo shock mount mic capsule and MSH-6 stereo mid-side mic capsule).
Asked what, in particular, end users have found most impressive about the Q8 Handy Video Recorder, Eberman was quick to answer, citing “its combination of stellar audio and great optics.” He continued, “People like the ease of use…the ‘set it and go’ simplicity. They like the ability to record for long periods without the camera overheating, as some in its class are wont to do. This makes it great for podcasting, interviews and performance capture. They like its quick power-on and record option, which makes it convenient to record when the opportunity strikes.”
Ultimately, users appreciate that, as ever, Zoom has worked diligently to democratize great sound and video, and to offer new opportunities for creative expression. Eberman amplified that point when The Retailer asked for whom the Q8 is most ideally suited and to whom a prospective dealer should consider marketing it. He remarked, “There are great fixed-lens cameras for recording action sports and such. The Q8, however, appeals to a myriad of creative types.” He cited musicians, bloggers, podcasters, stage performers, educators and students, while also referencing electronic newsgathering and a diversity of other uses.
Of a piece with Zoom’s continued drive to innovate, the company hasn’t closed the door on sibling products of, or successor products to, the Q8. Eberman noted, “As we have since the introduction of the Handy Video Recorder line, we expect to continue to evolve and innovate with our video products, making it easy to record great video and audio.”
The Q8 Handy Video Recorder, which is currently shipping, is available for $399.99.