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!