Digital Video Cameras and MP3 Voice Recorders for the Outdoors

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Welcome to another installment of Sea Kayaking Dot Net's fence post navigation series, your online resource for tips, pointers and helpful hints for sea kayakers around the world.

Today's topic is portable digital video cameras, digital voice recorders, and their utility on sea kayaking day trips and overnights. Two economical and compact, easy to transport models to consider are the Flip Ultra digital video camera, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and the Sony ICD -UX 70 MP3 digital voice recorder, about the size of a doublewide USB flash drive. Both are simple to operate, run on common alkaline batteries, and fit handily, as a pair, into watertight LockNLock boxes no larger than half an egg carton.

The advantages of the Flip Ultra and Sony's ICD digital voice recorder are their small size and ease of use. Push a button and off you go, recording in stereo technical paddling discussions around the campfire or footage of the island and waters you're visiting. Both digital recording devices are small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, making them particularly handy for packing into a sea kayak, where space is at premium, especially on extended kayak camping trips.

The drawback of both units is that neither is waterproof (although you can buy a watertight case for the Ultra and shoot footage while underway or while rolling). While you're on the water, both need to be stored in gasket-sealed watertight cases.

Both units offer simple one-button operation. For the Flip (well-regarded for its omnidirectional microphone, depth of field and sensitivity in low light), you simply set the camera onto a miniaturized tripod, press the red record button, point the lens at your subject, and start filming.

The camera's onboard omnidirectional microphone is effective for picking up both narration and ambient outdoor sound. Once you've shot your footage and brought the camera home, you open the camera's USB port, plug it into your Mac or Windows computer, and use the camera's onboard software to download and edit your footage.

The Flip Ultra runs on two AA batteries, handy for sea kayakers who habitually bring along a dozen or so AA batteries to power their GPS units and VHF radios.

The Flip Ultra records to internal flash memory and can hold about an hour's worth of high quality sea kayaking footage. Drawback is, once you've shot an hour of footage you can't shoot anymore until you've downloaded your current footage and cleared the camera's memory.

The same holds true, but to a lesser extent, for the Sony ICD digital voice recorder. A miniature MP3 recorder, the ICD runs on a one AAA battery and includes a port for both an external microphones and a set of headphones. Like the Ultra, the Sony MP3 recorder records onto internal flash media. You can record nearly sixteen hours of high quality audio on the MP3 recorder, making it handy for recording interviews, commentary and conversations with local residents if your paddling location is exotic or remote.

Well that's it for today's installment of Sea Kayaking Dot Net's fence post navigation series, your online source for tips, pointers and helpful hints useful to sea kayakers around the world.