Celebrities like to say that the camera adds ten pounds, but I think it is even harsher on martial artists. For them, the camera takes away three years–of skill.
A video camera is an essential tool for exploring your own posture and movement habits. It speeds you along the path to your own ideal performance, by capturing and exposing your mistakes. The camera sees what you cannot, even with the help of a partner and a full-length mirror. It is the next best thing to constant corrections from a master instructor.
Since I can’t afford a live-in Kung Fu master, I decided to buy a camcorder. After reading some mixed reviews for the popular Flip Video models, I chose the Kodak Playsport Zx3 instead.
The Playsport is a great value at a low price. It records in Full HD (unlike the Flip); it supports external memory cards up to 32GB in size; it has a removable battery pack (good for nearly 60 minutes of recording); it takes 5MP still photos; it is waterproof (up to 10 feet); it has an anti-glare screen, digital zoom and electronic image stabilization features; USB and HDMI ports, so you can connect it to your computer, or directly to your TV; bundled video editing software; tripod mounting socket; and it fits nicely in your pocket or your hand.
And all cables are included in the box. You get all this for an MSRP of $150–and it’s even cheaper on Amazon today. Did I mention it can record in 720p at 60FPS? Yeah, it does that too. Motion shot at 60 frames per second is twice as smooth, on playback, as even the finest instructional DVDs.
Other users have complained about less-than-perfect image quality in 1080p Full HD mode, but it looks good enough to me. Here is a screen capture from a video I took in Seattle’s Carkeek Park, featuring ten thousand rustling leaves.
If you’ve shot any video of your martial arts practice lately, with this or any other camcorder model, please feel free to post the URL in the comments section below.