Before the Flip Camera, video cameras came in all different shapes and sizes. Then the Flip came along and suddenly all small, personal video cameras looked and acted the same. Hold the camera like a smartphone, push the record button and away you go. At first glance the Olympus LS-20M looks like just another Flip camera, but dig a little deeper and you find a very different video camera with some interesting features.
The Olympus LS-20M Believes People Should be Seen…and Heard
The Olympus LS-20M is a relatively small, brick sized, High Definition (HD) video camera that can record 1080p at 30 FPS (frames per second). On that level the LS-20M is just like a Flip style camera, however when you pick up and start to record, you immediately see the differences. In fact, if you try to record like you would with a Flip style camera you will get a beautiful video of your ceiling!
Let’s take a quick look at our video review of the Olympus LS-20M, which will make things much more clear…
A Video Camera With Audio? No, An Audio Recorder With HD Video
As the video shows, the big feature on the Olympus LS-20M is the focus on audio. For most video cameras, sound and audio seems like an afterthought, but Olympus has put it front and center on the LS-20M…literally. The two mics (for full stereo sound) are located right on the front of the camera, with the lens in the middle. In addition, there is a Mic In jack if you wish to plug in an external mic. To top things off the camera has a switchable low cut filter if you need to block out some background noise.
For those who like technical mumo jumbo, the LS-20M – can record 24 bit/96 KHz Linear PCM stereo sound. Of course part of getting a good audio recording is adjusting the audio levels for the best sound quality. The smaller LCD screen on the LS-20M shows you audio levels and allows you to manually adjust levels. In addition, there is a headphone jack so you can monitor the sounds and a peak light, so you can see if the audio levels are too high.
On Some Days, Kids Are Better Heard Than Seen
As a Dad I tend to do video of numerous events involving my kids. Some of the events are very visual (such as sports events), but many others are more focused on the audio (music recitals, concerts, musicals, etc.). I found the LS-20M was very impressive when I needed to record a recital or concert. The audio quality is absolutely amazing and blows away any other video camera on the market. In truth, if I am recording my son’s concert I care more about getting good audio than video. That being said, the LS-20M does record a fine HD video as well.
The Form Factor and Price Can Be A Deal Breaker For Some
The LS-20M records incredible stereo audio when shooting videos. The video quality is on par or even slightly better than other HD style Flip cameras. As a bonus, you can use the LS-20M as a dedicated audio recorder and make MP3 audio files. With all these positives, there are a few negatives that will really throw some parents.
Let’s talk first about the elephant in the room – the form factor of the LS-20M. You need to hold the camera parallel to the ground and that can cause problems in some situations. You need to look at the LCD screen to frame your shot while still pointing the camera in the right direction and this can be difficult. To compound things, the screen is only 2 inches, so it can be hard to see what you are recording. You can end up with some weird angles when trying to shoot your video.
The other issue for some parents will be the price. The Olympus LS-20M retails for $299 so it is a bit pricey for a flip style camera. With more and more smartphones offering HD video recording options, some might wonder if paying $299 for the LS-20M is necessary.
Conclusion: The Olympus LS-20M is A Strange Little Camera That We Greatly Enjoyed
I think it is safe to say that the LS-20M is not the perfect camera for all situations and all people. If audio quality is not important to you, there would be little reason to go with the LS-20M over less expensive HD video cameras. On the other hand, if the idea of having high quality audio to go along with your HD video is appealing to you, there is no better sub $300 video camera on the market than the Olympus LS-20M.
Yes, we would love a larger LCD screen and the ability to tilt the screen, but we did not have major problems with the form factor. As our test video showed, in a real world setting of a recital, with me sitting in the audience, the Olympus LS-20M outperformed the Flip style camera. Throw in the ability to monitor audio levels and plug in an external mic and you have a HD video camera that believes your kids are not only cute, but also have beautiful voices that everyone should hear!
Visit the Olympus Site for More Information on the LS-20M HD Video Camera
Purchase the LS-20M at Amazon.Com