Zoom Q2HD flash camcorder offers live streaming, adjustable stereo field


posted Friday, July 20, 2012 at 6:25 PM EST

The Zoom Q2HD audio recorder / flash camcorder. Photo provided by Samson Technologies.Although the bread and butter of Zoom Corp.'s product line is aimed at musicians, there are several gems among the Japanese company's products that have also gained popularity with videographers. Among all the drum machines, effect processors, amplifiers, and the like, several of Zoom's audio recorders pair nicely with video-capable SLRs and mirrorless cameras. The Zoom H1, H4, and H4n in particular offered a handy feature set including a tripod mount on the side that could easily be converted to a hot shoe mount, making it simple to pop the recorder on top of your camera to capture a much higher-quality feed than could be provided by onboard mics.

With onboard mic jacks and better-quality internal mics becoming more common on interchangeable-lens cameras, the need for a dedicated audio recorder to accompany your SLR isn't quite as great as it once was, but Zoom hasn't stopped developing new products with the video market in mind. A couple of years ago, it launched its first audio recorder model that also included basic flash camcorder functionality, the Zoom Q3HD.

The Zoom Q2HD is both an audio recorder and a basic flash camcorder in a single device. Photo provided by Samson Technologies. Click for a bigger picture!

The Zoom Q2HD is both an audio recorder and a basic flash camcorder in a single device.
Photo provided by Samson Technologies.

Now, it's followed up with a new model that, again, focuses first and foremost on top-notch audio quality. As in the original Q3HD, the new Zoom Q2HD's camera functionality is somewhat basic--think something akin to the typical camera phone and you're in the ballpark--but it could certainly suffice for impromptu videos when you don't feel like bringing a dedicated camera along. The company's US distributor, Samson Technologies, notes that the Q2HD features an updated image sensor and lens. It's not immediately clear what's new with the sensor, which is still a five megapixel CMOS chip with the 1/3.2"-type form factor typical of most camera phones. The new lens still has both a fixed focus and aperture, but the minimum focused distance has increased by about nine inches (23 cm) to four feet (1.23 m), so you won't want to use it for closeups. The maximum aperture has also fallen slightly, from f/2.8 to f/3.2.

It's in the area of audio capture where the Zoom Q2HD sports a pretty significant upgrade. It is, says Samson, the first handheld camcorder (and the first USB microphone) to offer mid-side stereo recording, a feature that debuted previously in the camera-less Zoom H2n recorder. Typical A-B and X-Y stereo mics simply use two adjacent microphones to capture a fixed stereo sound field much as your ears would, differing from each other in the spacing and pointing of the mics, and in the quality of the stereo effect. Mid-side mics, though, add a third microphone into the mix. Two directional microphones capture the left and right-side audio field, while a center mic faces the subject, and captures the mid field. By adjusting the mic levels, the mid-side mic gives you some control over the stereo effect, letting you tune it appropriately to a specific subject.  

The Q2HD's mid-side design lets you adjust its stereo effect to your tastes and subject matter. Photo provided by Samson Technologies. Click for a bigger picture!

The Q2HD's mid-side design lets you adjust its stereo effect to your tastes and subject matter.
Photo provided by Samson Technologies.

Compared to the Q3HD, the new Zoom Q2HD also adds an analog microphone control dial, in place of the previous two-step (low/high) gain switch plus auto setting. That means you can gradually adjust levels on the fly, if ambient levels have changed enough that you're starting to clip audio, or your subject has become to quiet. Other worthwhile changes include support for live streaming using software such as Ustream Producer, Flash Media Live Encoder, or Skype, and writing to SDXC storage cards. The user interface has been refined, including the ability to switch orientation in playback by pressing and holding the Play key. Video is still captured at up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixel (Full HD) resolution using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264.

Pricing for the Zoom Q2HD is set at about US$200, with availability this month. More details on the Zoom Corp. and Samson Technologies websites.

Live event coverage is a snap, with the Q2HD's audio / video streaming support. Photo provided by Samson Technologies. Photo provided by Samson Technologies. Click for a bigger picture!

Live event coverage is a snap, with the Q2HD's audio / video streaming support.
Photo provided by Samson Technologies.

Press Release

Zoom’s Q2HD Redefines the Handheld Camcorder Market as the First Camera to Combine HD Video, Mid-Side Stereo Recording and Live Streaming, All at an Affordable Price

(Hauppauge, NY – July 09, 2012)  Zoom takes the handheld camcorder to new levels with the release of their latest camera, the Q2HD. The Q2HD is massive improvement from its predecessor as it is the first handheld camcorder with both onboard Mid-Side stereo recording and live streaming capabilities when connected to a computer. In addition, the Q2HD features an upgraded camera sensor, enhanced user interface and much more for capturing and sharing great looking videos that sound better than ever. The Q2HD is also the world’s first USB microphone with Mid-Side miking capabilities. All this at a brand new astonishing price point of $199.99 and hits stores this month.

“With all of the upgrades Zoom made in designing the Q2HD, it makes it easy to record and share content in a wide variety of applications,” says Mark Menghi, Director of Marketing for Samson Technologies, the U.S. Distributor for Zoom. “Whether you’re using it for live musical performances, rehearsals and recitals to journalism, education, sports and travel, the Q2HD is perfect in any setting.”

The Q2HD is the first handheld camcorder to offer Mid-Side stereo recording. With its condenser microphones in 30° to 150° Mid-Side stereo configuration, the Q2HD gives you natural depth and accurate imaging. Select 1080p or 720p for amazing clarity and detail no matter where or what you're shooting. With a new lens and imaging sensor, the Q2HD captures exceptionally clean video that is compressed with the industry standard H.264 video codec.

Now, you can stream your videos through your computer directly to the web with the Q2HD. This is another first for Zoom. Simply connect the unit to your computer via USB cable and start streaming like the pros. The Q2HD’s streaming function is compatible with Ustream Producer, Flash Media Live Encoder, Skype and other top streaming applications. It's never been easier to broadcast your movies on the web in real-time.

The Q2HD is packaged with everything you need to make your movies right out of the box. It comes with a 2GB SD card for up to 40 minutes of HD video, HandyShare editing software and two AA batteries.

Zoom is renowned all over the world for its recording and guitar effects gear. Headquartered in Tokyo, Zoom has continuously created a diverse line of original, innovative audio products from effect processors, to rhythm machines, samplers and recorders. Samson Technologies is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Zoom products. Samson is based in Hauppauge, New York.