What to look for in a video camera - if you're a real estate agent

Services for Real Estate Pros with Eastman Kodak Company

Hi ActiveRainers,

As I've been traveling the tradeshow circuit in real estate, I've been asked a lot of questions about video as it pertains not only to Kodak cameras and blogging, but some of the things that are important for real estate agents to consider with video.  In a few weeks I'll be at NAR 2010 and working alongside many of the great tech passionista real estate professionals and bloggers who speak on this subject, and for the first time NAR is having live video blogging via the NAR Conference Live website,  which will feature 20 of the most influential real estate professionals capturing and posting video of the conference in real-time.  I'm proud to say that many of them will be using our KODAK Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (which has many of the features described below), so be sure to check that out in a few weeks. 

In the future I will be writing about many things related to how to do great business building techniques with video, and featuring some of the best and brightest of your real estate peers who have great success with video in their business.  But as a starting point,  I thought I'd write about some of the important things to look for in video cameras and their importance to agents:

1) Video Resolution, in High Definition (HD), preferably 1080p:   There are in general two consumer formats for Progressive Scan (denoted by "p") high definition that are the most common today.  The first is 720p, and the second is 1080p.  This number refers to the horizontal lines of resolution scanned vertically from top to bottom of the screen (progressive) in the video image.  The higher the # of lines, the sharper the resolution and the sharper the detail/crispness of the video image. The "p" part of this gives you more smoothness than the older "interlaced" formats  (like 1080i).

What does this mean to you?  Bottom line, more detail and image clarity with the higher resolution.  This is not to say that 720p is bad, and in fact 720p can often be indistinguishable on many "HD" televisions, but 1080p is called "full HD" for a reason, and it is good to have.  More laptops and devices are capable of displaying 1080p video, and as your customers switch to full HD, it's always good for you to have the latest capability, especially if you can get it for a great price, which will help you show off your listings and yourself in the best possible quality.

720p video of course will be smaller in file size than 1080p, so for things like client testimonials or a blog video, it's a good option to retain. Most 1080p cameras give you the ability to switch down to 720p modes to shoot smaller videos and give you flexibility. 

This also affects zoom.  Most of these cameras have digital zoom (meaning the software/electronics is doing the zoom),  as opposed to optical zoom (where a lens is doing it).  On digital zooms, the farther you zoom in the worse your picture quality degrades.  Starting your video in 1080p mode means we can functionally zoom out farther with a digital zoom with less loss in clarity than a lower resolution camera.  This is why most 1080p cameras have a 4X zoom, and 720p cameras usually have a 2X zoom or none at all.

Clearly, 1080p is the best overall choice for most real estate professionals.

2) External Mic: Most cameras, including ours, come with built-in microphones, which are decent for everyday situations.  But if you are shooting a virtual tour, narrating an agent bio video, or getting a client testimonial, you want the clarity of the audio to be crisp and clear.  The only surefire way to do that is to get a lapel or directional microphone like the one shown below, and hook it up to yourself or to the subject.  This will ensure you get the best sound.  For agents who shoot tours on busy streets, or any environment where there is ambient noise, the microphone will make your video sizzle with great audio!



3) Image Stabilization:  So this is important because all of us have a small amount of "shake" in our hands when we hold the video.  As you zoom in on a subject, this becomes even more noticeable.  Cameras like the KODAK Zi8  have this feature built-in, which allows for a much smoother shot and less shake. This is a must-have for general shooting purposes, and will help avoid your clients or prospects thinking that there are a lot of earthquakes in your town!  (which is a bad thing by the way, in case you were wondering..)

4) Tripod Mount Capability:  Even the best of us can't avoid all the hand shaking, and when you are for instance taking a virtual tour and panning from left to right on a room, you want to go in a straight line.  A nice handheld tripod makes a big difference.  I actually carry several mini-tripods everywhere I go so I can get to them in a hurry if I need to shoot a video or take a picture.

5) Built in USB and editing software:  The ease of use is key here. No cables and no software install to worry about.  You should just be able to plug and play, and transfer images or video right off of the camera for quick upload to social media sites, MLS, and other sites you use.

6) Expandable Memory (SD/SDHC Cards):  There are several advantages here.  The most obvious is the ability to record as much video as you want.  Another benefit for agent offices that are sharing a video camera, is that each agent can have their own SDHC card and share the camera amongst themselves, as opposed to each buying their own camera.  Some cameras come with a high capacity onboard memory drive.  But the limitation is that you hit the wall with how much you can record.  On balance, most professionals agree it's better to have unlimited storage capability, and the choice to pick the amount of memory that's right for you.  Most agents will do just fine with one (1) 8GB SDHC Card.  If  you do a lot of video and use it as a cornerstone in  your blogging, vlogging and business, consider a larger card to store lots of video, and invest in an extra battery.

7) Ease of Use: Make sure the camera is easy to use, and has a good sized, bright LCD display so you can see what you're doing.  Cameras that have a few navigation buttons are also very helpful, and make it a lot easier to shoot the type of video you want quickly.

8) Onboard digital camera function:  Make sure it also has a digital still capture mode, and that this mode is accessible via the buttons on the camera.  It's very annoying to navigate through 5 or 6 different menus to get to a digital camera mode, so cameras that have this capability available in the main menus are generally the easiest to use.

There are lots of great cameras out there.  Our Kodak Zi8 is widely regarded as one of the very best compact video cameras in the pocket sized range under $200, and it certainly one of the best reviewed and most used in real estate.  You can get the Zi8 for the great price of $129.99 at our Real Estate Store online, which is $50 OFF retail MSRP.  (Includes free shipping on any order over $100)

I would recommend you buy an SDHC Card with it.  An 8GB (gigabyte) card will give you about 2 straight hours of recording time, and it will take all the way up to a 32GB SDHC card, which will record a whopping 10 hours of video! So to summarize:  If you're getting a video camera for real estate, get a great camera like our KODAK Zi8 and buy at a minimum:

1) SDHC Card for memory storage

2) Handheld Tripod

For those of you in rainy areas:  If you would like a waterproof variant that shoots 1080p, our KODAK PLAYSPORT Pocket Video Camera is waterproof to 3m and ruggedized - perfect for shooting your virtual tour in the middle of a hurricane.  (Not that I would recommend this, because that too, is usually a bad thing)

Check them out at www.kodak.com/go/redeal, and save 20% off the accessories too, and please feel free to write me with any questions. Be on the lookout for my next Sponsored Post where I start delving into some of the particular tips/tricks that agents use to be successful with video!


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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Roy Kelley 10/25/2010 08:26 AM
  2. Fred Griffin 10/26/2010 03:47 PM
virtual tours
video cameras
high definition
agent bio

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Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Hi Karen - no, the Zi8 doesn't come with a 13mm lens, but I'm testing an aftermarket lens kit that "supposedly" delivers that.

When I finish the testing I'll let you know if the quality is good or not.


Oct 25, 2010 12:39 PM #41
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

By the way Karen -- Check out this link for a Fisheye lens that is compatible with the Kodak Zi8.

This gives you a 170 degree field of view, and there is a company called Previsite that has online software that helps you create virtual tours easily out of Fisheye shots - I'll be posting more on that shortly.

http://www.usbfever.com/index_eproduct_view.php?products_id=867  -  Fisheye lens for $29.99

The person who posted this has a video on the bottom that allows you to compare the fisheye to a wide angle to standard view.

Oct 25, 2010 12:44 PM #42
Dustin McClure
Mossy Oak Properties Outdoor Realty - Mooresville, NC

I use the PlaySport made by Kodak. 1080 HD and water and dirt proof. Works great with high quality video. Only $140. Great buy!

Oct 25, 2010 03:20 PM #45
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Karen - thanks for the comments!

Dustin - the Playsport is pretty unbeatable for what it does - glad you are enjoying it!.  W00t!

Oct 27, 2010 05:29 AM #46
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Here's a response to the earlier question about how much time you can record with SD Cards.


 - Record about 20 min per 1 GB at 720p HD at 30 fps.    This means in normal 720 mode about 80 minutes for a 4GB card.  If you kick that up to 1080p, we see real world results at just about 1 hour per 4GB block.


Since most of you are going to buy or use 8GB or higher cards, you'll be able to do anywhere from 2-10 hours of video  (two on an 8GB and ten hours on a 32GB)


Oct 27, 2010 05:52 AM #47
Alex Morris - Austin Real Estate Agent
Austin, TX

Outstanding information.  Thank you sir!

Oct 27, 2010 06:27 PM #48
Gregory "NNN" Garver
NNN Brokers USA Commercial Real Estate - San Francisco, CA
(323) 696 1031, Net Lease Broker

How much did it cost you to sponsor this blog?

Oct 27, 2010 07:42 PM #49
Clinton Porter
Keller Williams - Littleton, CO

What about the Kodak PlayTouch?

Oct 27, 2010 09:32 PM #50
Kathy Denworth
Century 21 Schwartz Realty - Islamorada, FL
Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo

I love my V570, but alas, the zoom is not zooming anymore. I have a Canon that I bought for my zoom shots. I should probably carry my V570 for my wide angle shots. My hubby is doing research on a replacement. Why doesn't Kodak bring back the duel lens?

Oct 27, 2010 11:47 PM #51
Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

Mine stopped zooming too before it finally did just die.  I'm thinking that issues with it kept Kodak from going further with the camera but they should fix the issues and  bring it back.

Oct 27, 2010 11:52 PM #52
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Convenience is more important to me than any other quality in a camera, because I won't carry or use a camera that is bulky or heavy or complicated.  I think that's why the Flip video is so popular... with all it's imperfections, it's likely one will have it when one needs it.

Oct 28, 2010 12:34 AM #53
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Mark, did anybody tell you . . .you look just like George Lopez?

Oct 28, 2010 01:01 AM #54
Don Gockel
NextHome The Gockel Group - Palmdale Lancaster Quartz Hill - - Palmdale, CA
Realtor, Broker, GRI - Antelope Valley Real Estate

My son purchased a Zi8 on my reccomendation and WOW what a camera. He even went so far as to duct tape it to a telescope to video the first "drop" test of the Scaled Composit's (where he works) Space Ship II. His video has been approved for release to the public at this youtube site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iohD9r9d6HI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

I think the only thing that you missed talking about is the remote that is available so you can set the camera up on the tripod, step back (with the remote mic) and record!

Oct 28, 2010 05:56 AM #55
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Hi Everybody!

Sorry for the delayed response, I've been on the tradeshow floor and it's been really busy - great response to our Zi8 and printers, and thanks to all of you for commenting.

Here we go:

Hi Alex - Thank you and glad you found it helpful!

Hi Greg - For the pleasure of interacting with all of you, I didn't pay nearly enough, it was a deal in fact!

Hi Clinton - The Kodak Playsport is our newest.  It does 1080p like the Zi8 but adds a touchscreen navigation, on camera editing capability, and a built-in SHARE button for easy social media upload.  The Zi8 has the share features too, but it's in the software, not on the camera itself.  It's a great camera, and you can get a great deal off of it in our REAL ESTATE STORE - The price will be $183.96 there, definitely check it out!

The Zi8 is a current model and will continue to be for quite awhile, and you can't go wrong with either camera.

Hi Kathy/Karen - I've relayed the comments to our marketing team, and the feedback on bringing back the wide angle is definitely noted!

Oct 28, 2010 10:20 AM #56
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Hi Margaret - The Zi8 is about the size of a sleek smartphone, it's a little thinner than most Flip Models I've seen but it is a little bit bigger on height and width.  That said, it easily fits in a pocket or purse and I think you'll find it highly portable.  For ease of use, a lot of folks have told me that the 4 button operation of the Zi8 and the ease of getting the digital camera feature up are quite user friendly


Hi Fernando - I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the comment, but I do know that I'm nowhere near as funny as he is.

Hi Don - Great comments on the remote and glad you like the camera!  The remote is picking up steam because of the increasing use of client video testimonials and agent "bio videos", it's definitely convenient and thanks for pointing that out!

Oct 28, 2010 10:27 AM #57
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Mark -- I have a pretty good video cam but when I was in the market and comparing the Zi8 came up over and over as a really good buy.

Oct 28, 2010 12:14 PM #58
Milan Cole
JMA Properties, LLC - Portland, OR
Portland Real Estate

Good advice, but you skipped over portability. It's got to be small, light, and still durable enough to survive some bumps and scrapes.

Oct 28, 2010 01:25 PM #59
Kirk Westervelt
Van West Realty - Greenville, SC Realtor -Short Sale Expert! - Greenville, SC
Kirk Westervelt, Broker In Charge, Van West Realty - CDPE - Short Sale Agent - Home for Sale - Greenville, Simpsonvil...
Mr. Lopez, you are very funny and I appreciate you taking the time from your busy stand-up comic circuit and your popular TV shows to teach us about video cameras and what not. Thanks! You are awesome!
Oct 28, 2010 01:43 PM #60
Kim McAllister
Eastman Kodak Company - Rochester, NY
Kodak Real Estate Solutions

Hi Chris - thank you and hope the Zi8 makes your short list!

Hi Milan - Appreciate the comment, and you're right.  I think the portability of the Zi8 is excellent, and my personal experience given that it travels with me through the airports and on numerous trips through security etc. is that it holds up pretty well.  If ruggedized is your thing though, you may want to also look at the waterproof Playsport from Kodak too  (10 feet water proof).

Hi Kirk - My pleasure!  (I'm never gonna live this down)

Oct 31, 2010 07:05 PM #61
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Thank you for this informative blog. I am now more knowledgeable after reading your blog in regards to wide lens and HD video resolution.

Nov 27, 2012 10:41 AM #62
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