By Jake Hellbach, Shutterstock Footage Submitter
Allow me to begin by stating that this is not a full review of the Flip Mino HD or all of its functions. There are already a number of these on the web. This is specifically about using this particular camera for shooting stock.
I received a Flip minoHD camera to test to determine if it could produce video to incorporate into my stock portfolio. The short answer is “yes.” The long answer is below.
The Flip minoHD is a 720p HD camera that can shoot up to 120 minutes of video encoded in H.264 MP4 at 30 fps. These properties themselves equate to high compression that, when coupled with the automatic nature of the camera and the extremely small sensor, creates some problems for lighting and noise.
I have to say, for a camera that is about the size of my iPhone, the quality of the video is pretty remarkable. Remarkable for home use, yes… but remember, we’re talking stock here.
For starters, forget handholding the camera. Its small size makes this unacceptable due to the jello effect from the CMOS sensor. However, the good news is the camera does have a tripod mount on the bottom.
As I do with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon EOS 7D cameras, I used Neo Scene to convert the video from the camera to a 10 bit AVI. This made the video more manageable to edit and added some needed color depth.
My first test was low light. This shot was taken from outside the studio window, shooting in. The subject was lit using a 300 watt fluorescent video light from about eight feet. There were some practical lights on in the background to provide definition between the subject and the dark background. As you can see, there is a great deal of noise and blocking in the shadow areas. I did treat this video with some noise reduction in After Effects, but it still had too much noise to use as stock.
I then re-shot the same scene with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II. This was shot using the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens with the same lighting setup as before. You can see the great shallow DOF this camera and lens combination gives, but that is for another review.
My next test was outside on a sunny day. I also had just finished making a DIY suction camera mount for the car so I decided to test both using the Flip minoHD. This shot on the hood of the car was pretty good, but because of the bumps in the road, you can see the jello effect. Also, the camera seems to have a problem with horizontal lines – this becomes noticeable looking at the roof line of the car.
I performed another test using the suction cup car mount on the car door. I was pleased that this one came out good enough to use as stock and was accepted to Shutterstock. As this was my original intention, I enlarged the video to 100% in After Effects to check for noise. It did have some in the shadow areas as I expected, so I removed that using the noise filter in AE.
The next three tests were done in the studio under more controlled lighting. These were shot next to a window to take full advantage of natural light. I also used a 1000 watt fluorescent video light with softbox. The fluorescent bulbs are 5600K so they provide the same color temperature as the light coming in the window.
Same results here as far as noise in the shadow area. I had to use noise removal in AE.
In conclusion: The camera can under very controlled conditions be used for stock. However, even in daylight it will have noise and blocky areas in the shadows. This will have to be taken out with some noise reduction software like AE. Also, since this camera has no manual functions, any light change will be reflected in the video and ruin the shot, but this is the same as any other camera in auto mode. In bright sunlight, it tends to blow out highlights, but perhaps an ND filter fastened on the front of the camera could take care of that. Indoors, it will work fairly well with some high wattage lights as I did in my test.
I am certainly not advocating the use of this camera as a primary camera. As I routinely express on the forums, one should use the best tool for the job. However, I do find myself keeping this little video camera in the pocket of my jacket just in case something interesting comes up and I want a quick shot.