RAQ – Photos from a Flip Camera?

I’ve gotten something of a reputation as a Flip video camera booster (you might even say it’s the official video blogging camera of SMUG), and today a friend copied me on an e-mail about an offer for a free Flip that included a question for me and led to some others. In keeping with our Recently Asked Questions feature, I’m sharing both the link to the free Flip offer and the subsequent dialogue.

I just thought I’d forward this information on to you in case any of you might want to take advantage of this offer. The only thing you need to do is sign up for a Discover Card and then when you receive it, make a purchase with it to validate it and your FREE Flip Video Camera will be sent out.

I’ll give you a bit of background on my purchase. I waited on sharing the information in case I was signing up for some sort of a scam and I’m very pleased to say that I didn’t. I signed up for the offer on 7.28.08 and received it in the mail on 8.4.08 (very quickly). I made my first purchase with it on 8.7.08 and received an email saying that I should receive my FREE Flip Video Camera sometime within the next 10 weeks. That would have been a long wait, but I received another email on Monday saying it has shipped. It came yesterday and within 20 minutes of opening the box, I was videotaping (and I’m by no means technically savvy!!).

I was able to view the little bit of video I made on my TV this morning and I couldn’t believe how clear it was and how easy it was. The only issue I might say with it, is that the volume seems quite low – Lee am I missing a setting on this?

Anyway, if you decide to take advantage of this offer, I hope you have as much luck with it as I did – I’m very pleased with it, and of course, you just can’t beat the price!!!

My response:

Thanks for sharing this.

You are correct that there is no audio setting on the Flip. As you are playing it back on your computer or TV, you can adjust the volume on those devices.

The built-in microphone actually picks up sound fairly well within 10 feet or so, if people speak at a reasonable level. The only real problem is that you get all of the background noise too, so it’s best if you can record in a quieter environment.

Of course, the beauty of the Flip is you can always have it with you in your pocket or purse, so for instance when we welcomed our new grandchild we had the camera right with us and could record and upload to YouTube.

If you click the “watch in high quality” link it’s even better.

Her response, which led to this post:

Would you recommend getting the tripod for it? I plan on using it a lot for taping my daughter to share with out-of-town family, really just doing activities – reading, drawing, playing games, etc. I’m thinking the tripod might be useful for that sort of thing – what do you think?

Thanks again for your suggestions – and for the information on youtube, etc. I’ll have to get signed up for that now too. That reminds me of another question – I think it says that you can take still pics from the video – does that work well and is it also easy to do?


I definitely recommend getting a tripod. You don’t need to get the one Pure Digital sells; any standard tripod will do. A tripod is particularly important if you are uploading to YouTube or Facebook, and will greatly reduce the pixellation you can sometimes see with Flash video players. We will probably get into a series on videoblogging later, at which time we’ll have more detail on Flip video do’s and don’ts.

That said, sometimes you’ll have experiences like the birth of a grandchild when you won’t want to carry the tripod along. But when you’re at home (or if you can get a really small tripod that is convenient to carry), you’ll be glad you used it.

As for getting still images from a Flip, that’s certainly possible, but with limits.

First, the screen resolution of a Flip is 640 x 480, which is about 0.3 megapixels. That’s the resolution of a standard definition TV (and of most miniDV cameras), but it’s not great for producing color prints on paper for a scrapbook.

But it’s just fine for use on a computer screen. So if you want to capture a frame from your Flip video and upload it to Flickr, Facebook, or your blog, you’ll probably be really happy with the results.

For instance, this picture of my son John came from a Flip screen grab:

So if you want super-high megapixel photos because you are taking a group picture or a scenic vista (not Vista the computer operating system! I hear that’s anything but beautiful!), a dedicated still camera would be a better choice. But there are some advantages to the lower resolution and greater frequency, particularly for individual close-ups. At 30 frames per second, you’re going to find one in which the smile is natural and the eyes aren’t closed.

Steps to Getting a Flip Still Photo:

  1. Shoot your video, and get reasonably close to the subject.
  2. Transfer the video to your computer, and open it in QuickTime Pro or Windows Media Player.
  3. View the video at Actual size, and select the frame that’s just right.
  4. On the Mac, use the key combination shift-command-4, which will turn your cursor into a crosshair. Then you can select a portion of the screen to save as a picture file. Once you have the photo file, you can upload it to Facebook or another photo-sharing site like Flickr. See the screencast demonstration below.
  5. For Windows (not my mother tongue) see this link on how to create picture files from your screen. Then you should be able to open those files and crop them to the desired size.

Here’s a quick screencast showing you how to get still photos from a Flip using a Mac with QuickTime Pro, and then how to upload a photo to a Facebook group.


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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

0 thoughts on “RAQ – Photos from a Flip Camera?”

  1. Ok, Lee….I got the Discover card for the Flip camera offer. I’ll hold your feet to the fire (metaphorically speaking, of course) if its a scam. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. Thanks for commenting and time-stamping these events, Toby. Please let us know when the camera arrives.

    I’ve heard Dell is giving away Flip’s with some purchase, too. But this Discover offer seems to be a better deal. Since it worked for my other friend, it should for you also…and will be nice to document as it happens.

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