A First Look at the Zoom Q3HD

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Most of my video work consists of “look at me” videos I post on YouTube, shots of my slack key guitar playing. The audio is at least as important as the video, and a couple of my camcorders, the Sanyo Xacti HD2000 and the Kodak Zi8, were chosen because they had some sort of audio input and some degree of control over that input. In both cases, though, I’ve never been really happy with the audio I was able to record with these cams, even when I used an external source. Both these cameras, and others I’ve tried, have some kind of processing on the audio that attempts to maintain a constant level. And, of course, the audio circuitry gets a pretty small share of the development and manufacturing budget. The combination of these factors results in noisy distorted audio unless every detail is exactly right, a rare thing indeed.

Another thing missing on both these cams and many others below the professional ($2000 and way up) level is the lack of metering and monitoring. There’s not a way to tell if the audio is being recorded well until playing back the clip, when it’s too late to make any corrections. Even when I’ve done multiple test shots I’ve always considered myself very fortunate if I manage to capture some useful audio with this kind of gear.

The Q3HD Arrives

A couple of years ago, Zoom introduced the Q3, a pocket video recorder that emphasized the audio quality. It included stereo directional mics in an X-Y configuration and didn’t inflict excess processing on the audio. Unfortunately, they released this SD format camera just when HD video took off. YouTube switched to HD format, Flip put out the MinoHD, HD video recording began to appear in phones, HD was everywhere except in the Q3. But earlier this year Zoom announced the new Q3HD, which addressed the format issue, offered improved low light performance, added special settings for difficult lighting conditions like concerts, and added a Line Input for stereo audio. In the past, new products from Zoom have arrived long after their planned date, so I was expecting to see the Q3HD sometime in 2011, but happily the first shipments have arrived in the US and are available from a number of retailers. I bought one from BSW and it arrived the day after Thanksgiving.

My initial impressions are really positive. The build quality seems a bit better than my venerable H2, and it’s noticeably more solid feeling than the Kodak Zi8. The menu system is easy to manage, there’s audio metering and monitoring during recording, it even comes with a 2 GB memory card and a set of AA batteries.

Three Way Comparison

I mentioned the other cams that I purchased because they had audio input and some degree of manual control. It seemed reasonable to use them in a comparison with the Q3HD. So I setup in Digital Duck studio (also known as the spare room upstairs) and shot some video, first using camera mics then external mics.

I chose 720p for the video format for all three cams. The Zi8 and Sanyo don’t offer control over the audio format, but on the Zoom I selected CD quality PCM (44.1 khz and 16 bit word length).

For the external mic shots I connected an Audio Technica AT822 to the Zi8, a Rode NT4 to the Xacti HD2000, and a pair of Shure KSM141s through an M-Audio DMP3 to the Q3HD. Here’s the video that resulted:

When I listen to the clips on my “junk reference” computer speakers, the difference in audio quality isn’t that great, but as soon as I put on headphones or turn on the good monitors, the audio from the older cams sounds dreadful in comparison to the Q3HD. My Zi8 sounds worse than I remember, so perhaps it’s dying, but even the HD2000 features burbling noises in the quiet moments and an odd tonal balance. I also feel that the video quality of the Q3HD was noticeably better than that of the Zi8. Looks like the Kodak is going in the drawer.

My First YouTube Clip from the Q3HD

The Q3HD has minimal built-in editing, just “Divide” and “Trim” – minimal but sufficient to create a clip for YouTube, so I figured I should put up something straight from the camera. I chose the Rode NT4 stereo mic just to simplify the setup, and fed the mic into the M-Audio DMP3 preamp. From there an adapter chain converted two 1/4″ outputs to a single stereo cable ending in a 1/8″ stereo plug, which went into the Q3HD Line In jack. I took advantage of the meters on the Q3HD to check my levels, aiming for average levels around -20 dBFS and peaks around -6 to -8 dBFS.

With that set I chose the highest resolution video, 1080p format. I chose PCM (uncompressed WAV) audio, but stayed with the basic 44.1 Khz sample rate and 16 bit word length. After a few test shots to get the framing right I recorded a few takes of an old R. Alex Anderson song, Haole Hula. With a little scrolling around in the playback, I was able to trim the clip down to the performance I chose.

Based on my experience with other camera software, I didn’t load the Handyshare package that comes with the Q3HD. I simply removed the memory card, stuck it in my card reader, and copied it to my hard disk. From there I uploaded to my YouTube account. Here’s the result:

Since I was determined to use only in-camera editing, my clip has no title, no fades, no credits, but I feel that it presents the song in fine fashion anyway.

Framing Changes with Format

One thing I stumbled on while shooting my clip – changing the video format also changes the framing of the shot. I framed the image then decided to switch from 720p to 1080p. I made the format change and shot a clip, and when I played it back my head was gone! Here are a couple of snapshots that illustrate the difference:

Sample of Framing at 1080p

Framing at 1080p

Example of framing at 720p resolution

Framing at 720p

As you can see, the change is pretty dramatic. So be sure you check your framing whenever you change the video format, or you might lose your head.

Not Quite Perfect, But Pretty Darned Good

On the frown side, I’m a bit annoyed that I have to buy the AC adapter separately. My brief attempts to shoot in lower light were not a big success. And while I was really pleased when I learned that Zoom added a Line In jack on this new camera, I’m already wishing it had a 1/8″ stereo mic input as well. With that extra feature the NT4 and the Q3HD would make a fantastic package for portable recording. As it is, I’m shopping for a battery powered two channel preamp with P48 phantom power that won’t bust the budget … and I’m not having a lot of luck.

On the smile side, I expect to have a lot of fun with this little camcorder. The video quality is reasonable in good light and the audio sets a new standard for a consumer cam. It’s nicely made, easy to use, an all around fun toy.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 28th, 2010 at 12:43 am and is filed under Comparisons, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    123 Responses to ' A First Look at the Zoom Q3HD '

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    1. Ray Stroud said in post # 1,

      on November 28th, 2010 at 11:25 am

      I love your style, passion and method. Thanks for posting this. I surfed in here from your AGF article (Raystrack).

      I love my H2 and will search for one of these now. I like the result on the Zi8 as well but the Sanyo is awful incomparison. There again, even back in the 70s I found that the Sanyo brand was poor against Panasonic and Sony in any range.

      Best wishes – I’m going to investigate slack tuning and tunes as well – I could listen to that all day :-)


    2. Fran Guidry said in post # 2,

      on November 28th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

      Ray, thanks a lot for stopping by and commenting. You’re the second person to post a negative comment about the Sanyo clip, which kind of surprised me because I felt it had noticeably superior video compared to the other two. Perhaps the accurate white balance is not as attractive to the eye as the warmer, but less accurate, rendering of the other two cams? Looking at the original clips here on my monitor, the stairstep effect on the strings, the funny colors at the edges of objects, and the dancing effect on the pattern in my plaid shirt all looked much better on the Xacti, the Q3HD was in the middle, and the Zi8 was way behind.

      I don’t know about Sanyo in the 70s, but I’ve been very happy with my HD2000(s) and I have to restrain myself from buying another one now that they’ve been discontinued and are dropping in price. I don’t know what will become of Sanyo now that they’ve been bought out by Panasonic.


    3. Stephen Clapp said in post # 3,

      on November 29th, 2010 at 2:49 am

      Hi Fran, Thanks for the review.

      I am looking at getting the Q3HD and want to use with an external wireless mic plugged directly into the line-in. Could you confirm if the audio line-in is mixed with the input from stereo directional mics.

      New to this so may have the terminology wrong.

    4. Fran Guidry said in post # 4,

      on November 29th, 2010 at 8:59 am

      Stephen, I can confirm that the Line In is _not_ mixed with the audio from the mics. When a plug is inserted into the Line In jack the onboard mics are disabled.

      In addition, your wireless mic setup will need a preamp to work with the Line In jack.


    5. Ary said in post # 5,

      on November 29th, 2010 at 10:18 am

      Dear Fran, thank you for such a detailed review and nice videos. Always a pleasure.

      How would you say the Line-in compares to other portable recorders (such as zoom h4n, sony pcm, edirol, etc.) when using external mics? Is it only auto gain? No manual when using Line In?

      It is really a great product, and for musicians it is unmatched. Only thing really lacking is the feature to stream via USB (as a webcam) or through HDMI or TV outputs, that would make it even good for sharing recitals in real time really easy.


    6. Jenn Martin said in post # 6,

      on November 30th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      My friend Fran,
      You’re amazing! Thanks for this. Very revealing!

    7. Fran Guidry said in post # 7,

      on November 30th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

      Jenn, you’re a little over-generous with your comment. But thanks anyway, and thanks a lot for visiting the blog and commenting.


    8. Jason Knight said in post # 8,

      on December 4th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

      We just got our Q3HD and recorded a show we performed last night. We got it about an hour before gig time, so we didn’t have much time to go over the manual to get familiar enough with SD card size limits. At 720p – 60 frames with the audio quality cranked up, we got about 18 minutes of video before the supplied 2GB card filled up. Suck… I don’t want to sacrifice quality, so I had already purchased a 32GB class 10 Patriot card to use with it. It will NOT format the card!!! I get a “format error”. I’ve tried formatting on the computer, different filesystems (FAT32, NTFS, can’t use FAT because of the size). I’ve tried removing the partition to let the Q3HD do all the work, and still nothing… They have a computability list for other Zoom products, but none that I see for the Q3 or Q3HD. Very limited support it looks like as well. Guess I’m just going to have to stab at SDHC cards until I find one that works?

      On the bright side, the video/audio we got from the show last night was unparalleled. Very good HD recording, but just not enough time. I also agree, this thing should have definitely came with an AC adapter. We got ours from Best Buy, and it came with no software either. Fortunately, I was able to download the HandyShare software from the site. One other thing is that the firmware is still version 1.00. Wonder when they will release an update? I hate being told it will work with a 32GB card, and no mention of a compatibility matrix.

    9. Fran Guidry said in post # 9,

      on December 4th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

      Man, my sympathies with the SDHC card problem. I’m using a Patriot LX Series 16 GB Class 10 card and it’s worked great. I just pulled out a 32 GB Integral Class 4 and it formatted and shot as well.

      Glad to hear you got good video, I’ll be taking mine out tomorrow evening for an acoustic show, but the Q will probably get “audience shot” duty since I’ll have several cams along. Hmmmmmm, maybe I should hook it up to the mixer instead of the H2 and use the Q to catch the audio along with the audience shot.


    10. Kris said in post # 10,

      on December 7th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Fran,

      I am looking into getting the Zoom Q3HD for my husband, he is a vocal performer and I was wondering if this would be appropriate for recording at-home practice, live shows, and rehearsals? Would an external mic be needed or recommended? Your guitar sounds wonderful and I’m hoping vocals will sound just as nice. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

    11. Fran Guidry said in post # 11,

      on December 7th, 2010 at 4:41 pm

      Kris, there’s just no way to say if an external mic would be needed. It depends on his vocal performance, the sound in the room, the framing distance, and your expectations. But I would expect a vocal to be louder than my guitar, and that would make it have a better signal to noise ratio than my guitar recordings.

      Depending on your goals, a less expensive camera (the Flip or Kodak) might do the job for you. For instance, is the main purpose self-feedback, or posting performance videos? For self evaluation the quality is not as critical, I would think.

      Hope this help,

    12. Kris said in post # 12,

      on December 7th, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you so much for the fast feedback-I appreciate it. =)

    13. Ric Short said in post # 13,

      on December 7th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      I just received, and have toyed with my ZOOM Q3HD. Overall, the sound is great.
      The VIDEO is not as good as the cam I already have (with lower specs): Canon SD980 PowerShot IS.
      I agree with this review completely:

      Do you feel this review is accurate and matches your experiences? If not, please share where and why.

    14. Fran Guidry said in post # 14,

      on December 7th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

      I would expect a decent point & shoot with real glass lens to deliver better video quality than the Zoom. But your SD980 is limited to 10 minutes of video per shot, while the Q3HD on AC power can fill a 32 GB memory card, 4 hours plus.

      I haven’t shot any concert video, my interest is very specifically my own “look at me play guitar” videos, where I have a lot of control over the light and setting. I didn’t compare to my Flip UltraHD, I’ll have to take a look at that.


    15. Solo said in post # 15,

      on December 10th, 2010 at 6:59 am

      Because of you:i am gonna get one! thanks

    16. Dick van Nieuwkoop said in post # 16,

      on December 10th, 2010 at 11:31 pm


      “I’m shopping for a battery powered two channel preamp with P48 phantom power that won’t bust the budget … and I’m not having a lot of luck.”

      You can use a protools M-box first generation as a stand alone two channel preamp with P48 phantom power. powered by USB

    17. Rick Ballard said in post # 17,

      on January 3rd, 2011 at 8:38 am

      Fran, you sound great. Expert, confident, with an easy to listen to voice and a happy face. The information presented was done in a uniquely professional way, and as a product reviewer you come across as unbiased, independent and highly reliable.

      I suggest this is your calling in life. Maybe you could use this blog to audition yourself to some of the gadget sites: Engadget, Gizmodo, Crunch, Slashgear, Wired, Switched, Dvice, etc. They are always looking for reviewers, and you could give them content they don’t always have, (no not maturity, though… I mean, HD audio).

      Good luck, keep those product reviews coming!

    18. Fran Guidry said in post # 18,

      on January 3rd, 2011 at 11:53 am

      Rick, thanks for the kind words, and thanks also for the idea. My wife might tease me a bit less about my gadget blog (and buying all the gadgets) if my techie obsession generated a bit of income.

      And believe me, if someone were buying maturity I’d be willing to sell all I have (grin).


    19. Tom said in post # 19,

      on January 7th, 2011 at 3:52 am


      I really like your blog. I found it last night after trying to research my new Q3HD. I am an acoustic performer and I have high school athletes. So, mine will be used for music and family recording.

      I bought the Q3HD because it is marketed as being a good match to upload to youtube. In fact, the box has the youtube logo on it. I bought it from my local music store (I try to support it in the era of Best Buy and Guitar Center). There are no returns on these types of products. Before I found this site, via your comments on the AG forum, I wished I’d bought it from a box store so I could return it.

      I have problems uploading Handyshare edited videos and Zoom support has been weak. Zoom told me to upload directly to the computer and then upload to Youtube. I am going to try that over the weekend. I like the reverb and compression features of Handyshare so I am dissapointed that the company is telling me to bypass the software. Do you know if there are there ways to edit sound on Windows 7? Do I unnderstand you neither used nor uploaded Handysharen (your videos sound great)? I am a big fan of an unclutterd computer.

      Even without the Handyshare, the sound is great. The picture, okay. I think I will enjoy the porduct more if I can figure out how to upload the videos.

      Thanks for this site. I really like your videos too!

    20. Fran Guidry said in post # 20,

      on January 7th, 2011 at 11:23 am

      Sorry to hear that you’re experiencing frustration with your uploads. I use the same technique recommended by Zoom support – I transfer the files to my computer then upload to YouTube from there. If I have a simple video, I do my trimming inside the Q3HD, if it’s more complex I edit in either REAPER or Edius Neo.

      If your main need is to trim clips and tweak audio, you can do both in REAPER. It’s a very low cost, very powerful digital audio workstation that also handles simple video tasks. I did a blog post demonstrating the use of REAPER for synchronizing audio and video, it’s even simpler to use it to boost volume, adjust EQ, etc.

      It’s also possible to use free tools like FFMPEG to trim, separate the audio, then reunite the video and audio after operating on the audio. Possible, but a bit tweaky.

      There are many other relatively low cost tools for video editing. Edius Neo is one of the higher priced consumer tools, there are others from Adobe, Corel, and Sony Vegas. But I haven’t used those products myself so I can’t recommend one over the other.


    21. Gavin Stewart said in post # 21,

      on January 9th, 2011 at 6:33 am

      Thank you for all this information. I now have the Q3HD and so far I am happy with it–particularly the sound quality, which is primarily why I purchased it.

      The only problem thus far is with the provided software. The big frustration was uploading to YouTube after simply trimming front and end of my video in the Handyshare software. The sync problems after uploading were significant and rendered the video useless. Yet all looked fine on my computer prior to uploading. I had to edit in the camera and then upload. Took me a while to figure out exactly what the issue was too. A big waste of time. I think it is really odd that Zoom promotes this as the ultimate YouTube friendly camera and then provides useless software. I sent them an email and have not yet received a reply, but I think it would be appropriate for them to debug the software and provide to customers.

      Fran, keep up the good work. Really enjoyed your playing!


    22. Fran Guidry said in post # 22,

      on January 9th, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Gavin, I agree that it’s a shame the Handyshare software has so many issues, but this is very much the norm for software provided with low cost video cams, and even some that cost much more.


    23. Gavin Stewart said in post # 23,

      on January 9th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Fran. Yes, my first videos uploaded to YouTube videos were done with a super inexpensive cam, the RCA Small Wonder, and sure enough the software that came with that camera was rather useless (literally!). However, the RCA videos edited fine with windows moviemaker which I already had. Apparently the windows program won’t work with the MOV files in Q3HD. Do you know if REAPER will definitely work with the type of files found in the q3hd? I did stop by the REAPER website and it looked like a pretty cool program, however, I was unable to readily find whether REAPER and q3hd would be an easy or appropiate match.

    24. Fran Guidry said in post # 24,

      on January 9th, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      Gavin, I have edited Q3HD files with REAPER 32 bit after downloading and installing the ffmpeg libraries. No titles, no fades, no color adjustment or other editing, but good trimming, syncing of external audio, and treatment of the audio from the camera.

      And, of course, it’s a free fully functional demo download.


    25. joe manning said in post # 25,

      on January 11th, 2011 at 7:56 am

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! HQ sound with synchronized video has long been a nightmare- even before you start tweaking with software. This camera is a godsend for accomplished musicians with novice video skill. And thanks in advance for any other ‘sound to camera’ tips you might show us. joe

    26. Tina said in post # 26,

      on January 12th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

      Hi Fran:

      Thank you for your wealth of information. The videos are a fabulous comparison and your ease in front of a camera is amazing – great musician as well.

      I will be recording a rock band with my Q3hd. I read somewhere that the SD card should be a #6-10. Will that make a difference in the visual quality? I have a #4 8G which I recorded on and the video was pretty grainy and the audio & video did not sinc. I’m hoping a different card will make a difference. What type of SD card was your video shot with? Thanks, Tina

    27. Fran Guidry said in post # 27,

      on January 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Hi, Tina,

      The speed of the card doesn’t affect the quality at all. The card speed only tells you if the card can handle the data stream, and if it can’t you’ll get an error message and the recording will fail.

      The grainy quality is often the result of insufficient light. The Q3HD needs _plenty_ of light to do a good job.

      If the audio/video sync issue occurs with YouTube uploads, I would guess that you’re using the included Handyshare software. This problem has been reported by a number of people. The solution is to do any trimming in the camera, then transfer the file to the computer and upload to YouTube using normal browser tools.


    28. Cee said in post # 28,

      on January 14th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Hoping you have a solution! We just bought one, and even though I should have checked more thoroughly, I am REALLY disappointed that I cant use this to stream live with! Is there anyway to rig this so I can? I am really frustrated by this, I figured it was so common place that I NEGLECTED to research this. :-(

    29. Fran Guidry said in post # 29,

      on January 14th, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      Cee, I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating situation.

      I haven’t experimented much with streaming, although it seems like a natural next step. I did manage to get my Sanyo Xacti HD2000 working as a webcam, but there’s no way I know to use the Q3HD as a source for streaming video.

      I hope you’re able to return the Q without too much hassle.


    30. Tom said in post # 30,

      on January 15th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      I am still having a hard time uploading anything, regardless of how it is edited. Any thoughts from anyone as to whether it might be a wireless router issue? I am using a fairly new computer. I do like the way the reorder captures sound.

    31. Fran Guidry said in post # 31,

      on January 15th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Tom, it’s not clear from your description what your current problem might be. Can you be more specific? Can you download (view) clips on YouTube? If so, you should be able to upload.

      Please provide more detail on your editing workflow, you upload method, and your problem description.


    32. Tom said in post # 32,

      on January 15th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks Fran! I have tried the upload feature on Handyshare. That doesn’t work. I tried saving files to the desktop – then uploading to youtube viw youtube’s uploader. I also tried the Windows Movie program’s uploader.

      I have been able to put up a few. If they are under 30 seconds they load. I put one up today via the windows live movie maker and it didn’t have sound.

      I have an old Qwest supplied modem and use that for wireless for the laptop I am using. I wonder if I am losing the connection while longer videos load? I may go with a line to the modem in the morning. Thanks.

    33. Fran Guidry said in post # 33,

      on January 15th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Tom, I recommend the YouTube Advanced uploader: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=185316

      You’ll need to install Java, but once you do that the advanced uploader allows you to resume interrupted uploads.


    34. Tom said in post # 34,

      on January 16th, 2011 at 8:38 am


      I tried that. Not much success. I can only upload short videos from my wireless laptop. However, I did have success with sports vids on my six year old PC that runs slowly but has a direct wire line to the modem. I may try a new router. Thanks for your help. I really like the slack key stuff!


    35. Kat's Dad said in post # 35,

      on January 31st, 2011 at 11:22 pm

      I ordered a Q3HD and DMP3 a day before I found out you went that route. The Kodak served its purpose for a year I guess. Great minds think alike, eh? Got two AT2035 mics (vocal and guitar) running thru the DMP3, into a mixer, and into the Q3HD line-in. Goodbye Zi8. Q3HD sample… http://youtu.be/YWY4KuHChhM … great sound… but this particular clip was de-synced by YouTube. Arggh… sync is the the whole point of a single A/V device. You know what Rosanne Rosanna Danna said…

    36. Trent said in post # 36,

      on February 5th, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Hey Fran:

      Thanks for all the information on the Q3HD. This seems to be ground zero for information on it.

      I saw your video on using the H2 as a powered mic, and above you use the M-Audio as a pre-amp. I’ve heard conflicting reviews on whether the Q3HD will work with something like an AT831CW, which is a powered lav. My usage of this is going to be vastly different than yours (using it to record spoken word interviews in loud rooms), and sometimes, I need to get a mic on someone to isolate the audio.

      Just wondering if you had any experience using just a powered mic, or if you did have to go through a pre-amp? I was hoping to use this as something light and simple for field recording, so the fewer boxes/cables/etc.

      It’s also been suggested that using an impedance adaptor might work, too, but again, looking to see if anyone had done any testing and had specific suggestions on how to set something up.


    37. Fran Guidry said in post # 37,

      on February 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Trent, I checked the specs on the AT831CW. It is “less power module; includes clothing clip and windscreen only; 55″ (1.4 m) cable terminated with locking 4-pin connector for A-T UniPak® wireless systems” according to this page: http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/wired_mics/29cddd9d16f8a17a/index.html

      So, without a powering module, the AT831CW will produce no signal at all.

      But even with power supplied, it will be mic level. I can assure you that the input jack on the Q3HD is line level (probably consumer line level) and is not sensitive enough for a mic level signal. The Q input is also stereo, while this mic is mono.

      I’m often wrong, and perhaps someone can demonstrate that this combination will work, but I’ll be surprised.


    38. Trent said in post # 38,

      on February 6th, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      Hey Fran:

      Thanks. I wasn’t holding out much hope. Right now I’m experimenting with a friend’s h2, which is working as advertised, but it isn’t exactly something you could clip to a lapel.

      And if I’m breaking out the H2 anyway, why not just use it to record audio separate and sync later? Other than I was hoping to not have to sync. But the goal is to start shooting with my 7D more, so I guess I’m going to have to sync audio anyway.

      Oh well. I’ll keep the Q3HD around, because it will do fine in the right settings, but I’m a little disappointed about that line in thing, especially since on the website it says “Use the Line In to record sound from an external mic”.

    39. Emmanuel Danan said in post # 39,

      on February 7th, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Thank you for your review… it has helped me make sense of the options, especially since I have just been looking at the Zi8 too.

      I have 2 questions about the audio on the Q3HD.
      1) Have you tried it with high pitched wind instruments (flute/oboe)? do they give a faithful rendition of the original? I know those are instruments that are really hard to record properly with such portable recorders, so I wonder how good the Q3 is….
      2)It sounds to me that the sound on the Q3HD is a bit on the bass side… am I right?

      Thanks for your time…

    40. Fran Guidry said in post # 40,

      on February 7th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Emmanuel, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I have no idea how the Q will work with a flute or oboe. I’m curious why you feel they are harder to record than other instruments, and why portable recorders have a harder time than other methods.

      I would say the Q3HD is a pretty flat response recorder, especially compared to the mic inputs on other video cameras which definitely have attenuation of the bass. By comparison, this might make the Q seem bassy.


    41. Lincoln_Phil said in post # 41,

      on February 13th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Fran/others.

      I’ve been using an Alesis VideoTrack to record my band. This seems a very similar device to the Q3 but without the level of functionality HD etc. It does have the stereo mike set up similar to the Q3.

      The main problem with the Alesis is that the Video and Sound become slowly out of sync. If I record a 45 minute live set, buy the end of the 45 minutes, the picture is nearly a second out of sync with the audio. This is really frustrating as i use the video’s to review performaces for self improvement. As far as I can see, the problem is with the camera as it’s apparent on playback on the camera even before i’ve transferred the file to the PC for viewing.

      Am I likely to encounter the same problem with the Q3 for longer recordings or indeed other cameras that record video/audio to built in memory or cards ? I’ve also been considering getting the Sanyo HD2000 but am worried I may encounter the same problem.

      many thanks

    42. Fran Guidry said in post # 42,

      on February 14th, 2011 at 1:42 am

      Phil, thankfully I’ve never experienced the problem you describe on any of my cameras. In the Xacti, the Q3HD, the various Panasonic Lumix cams, the Flip, the Zi8, none of these have had a problem with audio sync.

      Sorry to hear you’ve run into this, but at least you know there are better possibilities.


    43. Dave Johnson said in post # 43,

      on February 24th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Hey Fran, I tried a 16GB Patriot LX card and the Q3HD will not format it. Zoom does have a compatibility chart on their website now, but no Patriot cards are on there. I just bought it ’cause you said that you had success with it and the size and speed for the money was good. Oh well, I hope MicroCenter takes it back

    44. Fran Guidry said in post # 44,

      on February 24th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Man, I hate it when that happens. Did you try formatting it on your computer? I looked at the Patriot site and didn’t find any kind of utility there that might help.

      Sorry to hear the card was a dud.


    45. Dave Johnson said in post # 45,

      on February 24th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Well I didn’t try formatting it until you just asked. I forgot I had a card reader and also someone else on this page tried to format a 32GB Patriot LX on their computer to no avail. It didn’t work for me either.

      I just ordered a Transcend 16GB class 6, which is on Zoom’s compatibility chart. A lot of the cards on their page are of slower speeds… a lot of class 2 & 4’s. Also they say that manufacturers may change some of their internal parts on their cards and that it may depend on the production period of the card. Crap shoot anyone? A couple of questions for you:

      What’s better, 720p @ 60 frames, or 1080P @30? What are the differences? Also with a class 6 card that I’m getting, will it perform better at lower resolutions?

      Well this camera has turned into a movie itself. I waited over a month because it was on back order and I’m still waiting for the accessory pack. And what was a $300 HD recorder add on:
      $40- accessory pack
      $30-sdhc card
      $20-Rechargable NiMH batteries & charger

      The sound quality is pretty bad-ass though. I’m hoping that once I get it in a well lit room that I’ll have better video results. Ok I’m done now

    46. Fran Guidry said in post # 46,

      on February 24th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      SDHC cards do seem to be a bit of a crapshoot. As soon as I read a recommendation for one card (like the Transcend Class 6) I find a bunch of people reporting early failure and loss of data (17% of reporting users at Newegg give 1 egg). I just ordered a cheapo from them that at least didn’t have any negative reports … but then it’s probably too new. And remember, speed class specifies read speed, not write speed, so there’s no guarantee that you can stream data to a Class 6 card any faster than to a Class 4 card.

      I agree that the Q3HD accessory pack is a bit painful. I didn’t buy one. I got the AC adapter separately, and am using the wind muff from my Zoom H2.

      720/60 vs 1080/30 – it’s a taste thing, there is no “better” as far as I’m concerned. Use 720/60 for motion, 1080/30 for detail and for post production tricks. Try them both to see if one works better in low light, or if they balance color differently, or if there’s any other reason you prefer one over the other? Perhaps one is easier to edit on your computer?

      I don’t know if you’ve checked my slack key videos, but I used the Q3HD for the audio on my latest clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwyDhCZWIwg

      I was really quite impressed with the audio capture, and I used a bit of the video from the Zoom as well.

      Good luck with your videos.


    47. Dave Johnson said in post # 47,

      on February 27th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

      Nice video man… sounds fantastic! I will add you as a friend on youtube. I think the Transcend/6 is coming monday, so I’ll have to cross my fingers. If not, back to the drawing board.
      I guess I’ll just have to experiment with the resolutions. Do you have any lighting tips while indoors… like say a poorly lit apt? What types of lights to use and where to place them?
      A couple of things I noticed where Zoom cheesed out was the tripod mounting threads on the bottom are plastic and should be metal. If you’re not careful, you could easily strip those threads. Also the circular navigational button seems a bit loose. I bought it from Sweetwater and they have a 2 year warranty on most things they sell. After 2 years it’s probably time to buy a new camera anyways the way technology is today. Many thanks for all your help Fran. Cheers.

    48. Reney Karamoy said in post # 48,

      on May 9th, 2011 at 7:54 am

      Hello Fran, im just amazed for what you’ve done with your guitar. anyway theres something i’d like to ask you. i got my cable (Stereo RCA connector canare F12 and neutrik NP3X) plugged into Zoom Q3HD line in. but the problem came out. the sound it produced only from the left. can you tell me whats the right cable to plug into the line in of my Q3HD? Thanks.

    49. Fran Guidry said in post # 49,

      on May 9th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Hi, Reney,

      I can’t tell the correct cable because I don’t know what’s on the other end of your connection. Can you give me more information, please?


    50. Blue Weaver said in post # 50,

      on May 26th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      Thanks for a very informative site and great guitar. Here’s a video I made for my friends with the Zoom Q3HD just handheld using the internal mikes, 2 passes (1 for the close-ups) live no sync so had to slow or speed to keep sync on close-ups when editing using just iMovie. http://youtu.be/gQdvyQwZOUc I think this is a reasonable example of the sound and video quality you can expect without any extras or preparation.

    51. Fuzz McGrath said in post # 51,

      on May 29th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Fran,

      I’ve been recording various musicians/bands with the Q3HD. Just wondering if you have any advice on the best audio settings to use (PCM vs AAC/sample rates and bit lengths) to get the very best sound? Would you change the audio setting depending on whether it was acoustic/quiet or louder stuff? I have more experience with video and some of this audio stuff goes over my head!

    52. Fran Guidry said in post # 52,

      on May 29th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      Fuzz, PCM is uncompressed and therefore preferable to AAC. I’m happy with 44.1/16, but it can’t hurt to go higher except in terms of taking up more space and taking more horsepower to edit.

      The only change I would make to audio settings is to go to low gain when the source was very loud. I would only do this if I experienced clipping with the high gain setting.


    53. Fuzz McGrath said in post # 53,

      on June 1st, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      OK Fran, cheers for that!! Space isn’t really an issue for me so I’ll leave it on the higher setting, thanks a lot!

    54. JBedford said in post # 54,

      on June 1st, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Just FYI – I’ve just purchased a Q3HD, and separately purchased one of the SDHC cards on their compatibility list (Sandisk Extreme 16 GB – Model # SDSDX3-016G-A31), and am running into the same issue where the Q3HD does not recognized the card and cannot format it. Oh well.

      Whatever card you decide to buy, make sure you’ll be able to return it!


    55. Jim said in post # 55,

      on June 7th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Too bad, having the same issue here with the Sandisk Extreme card. While searching for a solution I found this website with your problem. Guess I’ll be returning my Sandisk card as well. Already sent an e-mail to Zoom for explanation, see if their customer service is aware of this problem (if they read their mail anyway). Hopefully I’ll find another compatible card for the Zoom, otherwise I’ll be returning the Zoom itself while I still can.

    56. Danny said in post # 56,

      on July 5th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Ok, so i just recordered a show that was 1 hour and 11 minutes in length. On the camera it show the whole show, when i transfer it to pc the file gets cut to a little over 53 Minutes… Any ideas???

    57. Fran Guidry said in post # 57,

      on July 5th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      Danny, how did you transfer the files? Are you using Handyshare? Drag and drop from the attached Q3HD? Or taking out the card and using a card reader. And what kind of computer are you using?

      The Q automatically splits when it hits a 4 gb file size (or maybe it’s 2 gb but anyway) so when you’re moving videos to the computer you have to be sure you got all the files.


    58. Danny said in post # 58,

      on July 6th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

      Fran, You are a Genius! It was splitting the file. Im a dork.
      Thank you!

    59. Fran Guidry said in post # 59,

      on July 6th, 2011 at 9:14 pm

      Danny, I’m sure glad I was able to help. I can really identify with the heated up combination of new gadget and simple glitch. Honestly, I expect at least two or three things to go wrong every time I shoot video.


    60. Doris said in post # 60,

      on July 27th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Fran,
      I just brought Q3HD yesterday. After brief testing, I have 2 questions for this product.
      (1) Can I directly connect it to any wireless microphone using the line in? I tape instructions for the students. My speaking need very clear and no background noise.
      (2) I use Vegas 9 to edit my video but the audio can’t be played in Vegas. Do you know how to resolve the issue?
      Thanks for your help.

    61. Fran Guidry said in post # 61,

      on July 27th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      The input to the Q3HD is line level, so you’ll need some sort of system that delivers line level to it. If your wireless mic receiver puts out a high enough level, it will work great. If it puts out normal mic level, it will not work. In that case, you’ll need a preamp in between the wireless mic receiver and the Q3HD line in.

      I don’t use Vegas, but other people have used it successfully I believe. Try changing the audio format in the Q, you can use either compressed or PCM, so whatever you’re trying now, try the other one. There are lots of other possibilities, I’m afraid, but that should get you started.


    62. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 62,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 12:57 am

      Thank you for this very helpful blog. I’m wondering if you could advise me on something. Last night I used the Q3HD line-in to record three singers (with one Shure mic each) and a backing track while they were performing a gig by connecting the camera to our sound mixer. In the gig venue, the sound was balanced; but on the recording, I can hardly hear the backing track, while the voices are audible, if a bit quiet, clear and natural sounding. Also, although I used the cable supplied with the accessory kit, it only recorded mono (the R track didn’t kick in at all). It may be my fault for not connecting it, but I just wondered if you had any advice. I’m rather new to the world of sound–but the group can’t afford to pay a pro! Thanks.

    63. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 63,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 12:58 am

      correctIon: that should read, “connecting it correctly”–I did connect it!

    64. Fran Guidry said in post # 64,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 7:19 am

      Thanks for stopping by. Let’s see if I can come up with any ideas.

      First, was the backing track playing through the PA along with the vocals? Or was it delivered by some other system.

      The cable provided in the accessory kit is for connecting the Q3HD to a TV. It’s not designed for connecting a mixer to the Q3HD. The cable you need is something like this: http://www.amazon.com/Hosa-CMR206-Stereo-Inch-Dual/dp/B000068O33 Two RCA males connected to a stereo miniplug. You can order one online or perhaps find it at Radio Shack, or build one from adapters you can find at Radio Shack.

      I have had issues with overly sensitive inputs on the Q3HD and for that I use an attenuator like this: http://www.electronicplus.com/prodSearch.asp?prod_search=10-105&Submit=Search

      I hope this helps.


    65. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 65,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 10:19 am

      Thanks very much for your swift and helpful reply. To answer your questions: The backing track was plugged into the mixer (iTunes music played on a MacBook Pro computer); the kit I bought does have a cable that looks like the one in the picture–mini-plug one end; red and white cables on the other, and that was the one I used. I plugged it into the mixer sockets labeled ‘Tape Line Out’ (one red/one white socket); I only got the L one to record. I checked the plugs when I saw that only one channel was recording, but nothing changed. I see this morning that below those ‘Tape Line Out’ sockets there is a button with ‘Phantom Power’ written under it–that was off last night. Not sure what that means–which will show you how little I know!!–should I have had that on? The attenuator looks promising–I’ll get one and try it out. Thanks again for your help.

    66. Fran Guidry said in post # 66,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Please confirm that the cable has only two RCAs, red and white, and not 3 RCAs, red, white, and yellow. When I look up the Zoom Q3HD accessory kit I see the latter.

      Phantom power is needed for most condenser microphones, it has no relationship to tape out connectors.

      If you’re not clipping (getting distorted audio) with your configuration, you don’t need the attenuator.


    67. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 67,

      on July 30th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      Ah! Yes, it has three–red, white and yellow. I see what you mean. So I’ll get one of the adapters you recommend and try again. Thanks so much for explaining
      the problem! I’m most grateful.

    68. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 68,

      on July 31st, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Hey there–hope you are well. Thanks again for your advice. Here’s the update: I got the correct cable and tried it at a gig today (we are in the UK, by the way, in case you’re wondering who has a gig that early!). It recorded in stereo with the balance of channels pretty much as it goes through the mixer, so using the right cable did solve all of those problems. However, the sound is muffled–like someone threw a blanket over the camera and/or singers–and the lower registers get a bit buzzy in places. Is this what you mean by ‘clipping’ and a problem that can be fixed with an attenuator? NB: I had the camera sound level switch set to ‘auto’. Sorry to bombard you with questions, but I’m almost there! Many thanks for any advice you might have.

    69. Fran Guidry said in post # 69,

      on July 31st, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Sounds like it could be clipping. One way to find out is to pull the clip into some tool that shows the audio wave form. A clipped signal will have the tops flattened off – like they’ve been clipped off with scissors.

      Setting the camera audio sensitivity doesn’t make any difference at all on the Line Input, which is how you’re connecting. One thing to try – if your mixer has a headphone out or any other output that has a level control (aux or monitor or ??) you could come up with the cables or adapters needed to connect there.

      If you’ll be connecting to different mixers at different venues, then the attenuator is probably a good purchase.


    70. Kamilla Elliott said in post # 70,

      on July 31st, 2011 at 10:29 am

      Great. Thanks. I’ll keep on plugging (no pun intended).

    71. Thomas said in post # 71,

      on September 1st, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks for the reviews

    72. Mario Liani said in post # 72,

      on September 11th, 2011 at 9:28 am


      Excuse my poor english, but I am fluent in spanish (I write from Venezuela).

      I read about the issues concerning the different SD/SDHC card brands and before purchase a Zoom q3hd, I wish to know what is the brand and model card works well.

      I ask you this, because I live very far away from USA and if purchase a card and it dont work, will be very difficult for me to make the devolution of the card.

      Can you help me?

      Thanks a lot!



    73. Fran Guidry said in post # 73,

      on September 11th, 2011 at 11:53 am

      I can offer two bits of information – the Zoom approved card list: http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/q3hd/Q3HD_compatible_cards_E.pdf

      and the card I’m currently using: it’s a Wintec Filemat Pro class 10 http://www.wintecind.com/features/FileMate/FlashMemoryCards/Professional_SDHC.html which I bought at NewEgg http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820161396

      Good luck with your purchases.


    74. tbone said in post # 74,

      on October 25th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

      I just got a new Q3 HD, I also purchased a patriot 32 class 10 SD card. When I installed it in the Q3 I receive a message format error, format SD card? yes and then it wants to format the internal memory and the SD card icon on the top goes away. I returned the SD card and returned it for a 16GB one that was on the compatibility list and still the same issue. I called zoom support and since the 2gb card that came with the system works they say its the card, even though it works fine in a computer system. To me this seems like a firm ware bug. Any ideas?

    75. Fran Guidry said in post # 75,

      on October 25th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

      I’m sorry, I really don’t have any ideas. The one rule I understand about SD cards – if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’ve read that the technology that goes into the cards is constantly evolving, so even finding a card on the approved list is only a recommendation and not a guarantee.


    76. Larry said in post # 76,

      on October 31st, 2011 at 8:01 am

      Hey Fran – really great info. I have had my Q for about 8 months and LOVE it. Have used it for all sorts of things as well as my music. I was trying to find info tonight about live streaming, and while dissapointed…at least I can stop banging my head against a wall trying!

      I just wanted to say TY for such a great deal of info!


    77. Bruno said in post # 77,

      on November 3rd, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Hi there!! Found your blog while searching for Q3HD FAQ. Nice blog and videos, very interesting. Got a question to make, if I may.

      I’ve been playing with the Q3HD for a while now but never had to use the built in memory. Yesterday recording a gig ran out of space in my SD card and not to loose the momentum recorded a take on the built in memory. Now there is no way of finding it for transfer into the computer (using Windows 7). have you faced this problem? Any suggestions?

    78. Fran Guidry said in post # 78,

      on November 4th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Hi, Bruno, I did some testing and determined that I have the same problem you do, any video I record on the internal card cannot be transferred to the computer. I then dug into the documentation for the Q and sure enough, on page 11 of the docs it says that the video can only be viewed on the unit.

      Sorry, I don’t have any suggestion for you.


    79. James Fry said in post # 79,

      on November 22nd, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Hi all, I’ve got one of these, and a number of cards that don’t work with the Q3HD, including some that are on that list of supported cards! Every single one works fine with the Zoom H4n though. Quite annoying!

      I’m going to try returning the Q3HD, as in my opinion it is faulty and doesn’t meet the marketing claims or the claims on the box. Maybe a future firmware update will solve the problems, but in its current form it isn’t suitable for me. A shame, because the audio is excellent and the video is better than many of the cheaper camcorders I’ve seen!

    80. Fran Guidry said in post # 80,

      on November 22nd, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      James, I’m sorry to hear about your frustration. Other users have also reported problems with cards on the approved list.

      If you read the Zoom approved list, though, you’ll note that they qualify the info in the list to state that the internal details of these cards change without notice and operation can’t be guaranteed.

      I’m sure you understand that a comparison between the H4n and the Q3HD is quite unfair in terms of the rate of the data being written to the card. The Q must transfer both PCM audio plus the much larger video stream, so a card that can handle the data rate of the H4n is not at all certain to be able to handle the data from the Q3HD.


    81. Peter said in post # 81,

      on December 1st, 2011 at 3:15 am

      Thanks for such a useful blog on the Q3HD. I have just started using mine, purchased via Amazon, and the left channel is rarely coming on. The level line appears if there is a sudden sound level change, or if I gently scrape the housing, but I get no sound being recorded on the Left channel. Has anyone else reported this ? Or is there some setting I need to try ? Very dissapointing ! Thanks for any help. Peter

    82. Fran Guidry said in post # 82,

      on December 1st, 2011 at 9:18 am

      Peter, this is definitely not normal. Sounds like you need to return the unit.


    83. Tudor said in post # 83,

      on January 24th, 2012 at 2:57 am

      Hi guys,
      I see a lot of people using the Q3HD.I have an issue with this maybe someone managed to overcome it.
      How do you shoot videos larger then 40minutes? 40minutes at 1080p is aprox 4Gb.
      If your memory card is FAT32 formated ,files over 4Gb are not recognized.
      If you format a 16Gb card for example in NTFS mode then the Q3HD will not recognize the card.
      Anyone has a solution for this?
      Thank you!

    84. Fran Guidry said in post # 84,

      on January 24th, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Have you tried it? It’s common in these devices (flash storage audio and video devices) to create a new file when the FAT32 limit is reached. I don’t recall specifically testing this on the Q3HD but it works on the Zoom H2, the Sanyo HD2000, and the Lumix GH1.


    85. Harry Maes said in post # 85,

      on February 13th, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Hi Fran,

      Thanks a lot for your nice video’s covering the Zoom Q3HD.

      I’m using the Zoom Q3HD for my demo’s on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/harmamusic) and I like the Line INPUT a lot because I can record my guitar signal straight from my audio card. This saves me from a lot of hassle aligning audio and video.

      I don’t really like the video quality (yet) and I have troubles getting good lighting. I have a few concrete questions:

      – In my video’s I place guitar pedals closer to the Q3HD and I stand behind the pedal (distance varies). The Q3HD somehow has problems to record a clear and crisp video signal for the pedal that’s closer. IMO the image further back (>2-3mtr) is a lot better.
      – I’ve tried to place some lighting close to the pedal but I somehow can’t get it any clearer;
      – In daylight it records pretty reasonable but in lower light I would like to use additional lighting to improve the quality. What kind of lighting would improve the quality? Daylight lamps?
      – I’m considering buying something like a Canon EOS 550D. These kinda camera’s don’t have a line input but the video quality is a lot better IMO. Are there any comparable camera’s in that price range that have a line input? Could I use the MIC input from the 550D with low output from my soundcard?

      Thanks in advance for your reply!

      Best regards,


    86. Becky said in post # 86,

      on February 14th, 2012 at 9:12 am

      H Have the Zoom Q3HD and I seen where it will use up to a 32 GB SD memory card , so I thought I was buying the best for this recorder – SanDisk 32gb , Class 10 , 95mb’s , bought it new and recorder also new , the recorder does not read the card at all . I would like to know are they anything I can do to get this working . Many Thanks ..

    87. Fran Guidry said in post # 87,

      on February 14th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Harry, I certainly have to start by saying that your playing and tone are gorgeous. I’m sure you’re frustrated that you can’t get your images to match the quality of your music.

      I’d say what you’re trying to do is very difficult and will take a high end camera and a fair amount of experimentation. The issue you’re dealing with is depth of field, which is a pretty complicated topic in photography, having to do with lens and sensor sizes and configurations. My inclination might be to use two cameras, one for the player and one for the pedal, and the render them to a combined clip.

      As far as kind of light, I think the auto white balance on the Q3HD is pretty decent, and this is the characteristic that determines what sort of lighting will work. With good auto white balance, the camera will basically deal with any color temperature. I generally choose “warm” light bulbs, with about 2700K color temperature, but with the Q3HD I don’t see much difference. It’s certainly true that _lots_ of light makes for better images. It will also assist in expanding the depth of field (or it would in a more traditional camera, I can’t really say for sure how it will work in the Q).

      I don’t know of any high quality camera with clean line input until you get up over $2000 or so. For this reason, parallel recording is the usual approach to get better audio. In your case the Q3HD will capture the audio while the 550D or similar gets the video, then the audio on the 550D becomes a guide track for syncing in post. Since you’re doing the overlays you apparently have some kind of functional video editor. I’ve posted here about syncing, the basic trick is to make a sharp noise that is heard by both the camera and the audio recorder (or the two cameras in the scenario I describe), then this sharp sound (a handclap works well) gives you an easy reference point for lining up the tracks.

      Hope these ideas help,

    88. Fran Guidry said in post # 88,

      on February 14th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Becky, I certainly would like to help. First, does the card that came with the camera work? This will confirm that the camera is not broken. Second, can you format the card in any other device or card reader? This will confirm that the card is working. Some folks have reported success with difficult cards by formatting FAT32 in Windows using a card reader before using the card in the Q3HD.

      Hopefully you can return the card if these efforts don’t succeed.


    89. Kirill Filatov said in post # 89,

      on February 18th, 2012 at 1:50 am

      Had the same problem with SD Card… No solution… PC reads it but Q3HD doesn’t… :(

    90. Christopher said in post # 90,

      on February 20th, 2012 at 10:14 am

      I have used 3 different brand of Class 4 SD cards with no problem, but just bought a 16 GB Scandisk that was Class 6 and it would not work with the Q3hd. Could only record like a few seconds and it would give a card full notice.
      Tried Formatting without a better result.
      Returning the card to the Sam’s Club where the salesman said that the Class 6 was faster.
      This was not good since I bought the card for a special event I was going to that night and came up short on digital storage space.
      Rule #1 . Try it in the Q3hd in the store before leaving. Returning today to get two 8 GB cards class 4 for the same price as one 16 GB that won’t work. Going to test those in store before leaving this time. :-)

    91. Fran Guidry said in post # 91,

      on February 20th, 2012 at 10:54 am

      Note the disclaimer on the Zoom “Operations Confirmed” card list:

      The internal components of SD/SDHC cards are subject to change depending on their production period. In this case, we do not warrant their compatibility with
      the Q3HD.

      It’s unfortunate that the underlying details of SDHC cards are so variable, but that does seem to be the case. Even the cards on the Zoom approved card list can fail to work, because the “same” card may very well have a different internal construction in a more recent version.

      So we are obliged to test every card we buy, and buy only what we can return, if we want to avoid getting stuck with a card that doesn’t work.


    92. Mimi said in post # 92,

      on April 23rd, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Fran,
      Do you think the removable battery section of this product would be sufficient to power a lapel mic?
      Or would it only produce “mic quality” and not the “line quality” you mentioned in earlier posts?
      One sales guy said it would be good to use, and another said I didn’t even need to power the mic as the Zoom has the power, you just need to change the settings on the camera (which I could not work out how to do…I’m not sure the guy really knew the zoom q3hd that well?).

      What do you think? Or any similar small/portable options for preamps you recommend?

      Many thanks!

    93. Fran Guidry said in post # 93,

      on April 24th, 2012 at 12:23 am

      I would expect that battery box to result in “mic level” rather than “line level.” It’s not a matter of quality but of signal level.

      The Zoom Q3HD does not have a mic input. The salesperson who told you a mic would work is wrong. Also, the mic in the link is mono, the Q3HD input is stereo, so even if it worked it would only have sound on one side.

      I haven’t investigated small portable battery powered preamps, there are many available but I don’t know anything about them. My solution has been to use a field recorder like the Zoom H2 or H2n and connect the headphone output to the Q3HD line input.

      Whatever your solution, remember to deal with the issue of two channels on the Q3HD.


    94. Mimi said in post # 94,

      on May 1st, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Hi, thanks for your reply! What did you mean – the issue of 2 channels on the q3hd?

      many thanks!

    95. Fran Guidry said in post # 95,

      on May 1st, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      The Q3HD records in stereo. When you use the mics the two mics take care of things, but when you feed an external mic through an external preamp, you have to use an adapter or custom cable to split the signal and feed both channels of the Q3HD. If you don’t, you only have sound on one side of the stereo pair.


    96. Russ Kendall said in post # 96,

      on June 16th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      I just bought a Zoom Q3 Hd and was wondering what video editing software you recomend, I have many short clips I would like to make one movie out of.

      Russ Kendall

    97. Fran Guidry said in post # 97,

      on June 16th, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Hi, Russ,

      There are lots of video editors out there. On the Mac I hear great things about iMovie. On Windows you can download and try Windows Live Movie Maker (or whatever they’re calling it lately) for free. For simple cuts, especially if music is involved, I love to work with REAPER, a powerful audio editor that has been enhanced to do simple video editing.

      For my more elaborate projects I’ve been using Edius Neo. I haven’t tried any other commercial products in a long time, but they all have free preview versions you can download and try. An enjoyable HD video editing experience really requires a powerful computer, though, so if your machine is lack horsepower you might be in for some frustration.


    98. Shap said in post # 98,

      on July 9th, 2012 at 9:08 am

      I just got my new Q3HD and put a brand new SanDisk 32GB Extreme Pro, and I met the “Format Error” message too. I replaced it with an old 8GB Extreme and it worked and even played back the videos from my GoPro, but the 32GB just doesn’t work.
      This is quite frustrating because it wasn’t cheap at all and I bought it especially for the Q3HD.
      Has anyone found the solution for this issue yet?
      The firmware is 1.15

    99. Fran Guidry said in post # 99,

      on July 9th, 2012 at 10:12 am

      There’s a new firmware update, 1.3, that addresses this issue. Be sure to use an SD card, not an SDHC card, for the update process.



    100. Shap said in post # 100,

      on July 9th, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Awesome! Thanks for the quick reply, I haven’t done my RTFM yet so you really saved me some headache.

      I installed the current version and inserted the 32GB card and – woop ti doo! After the “format error” screen it allowed me to actually format the card and now it works!

      I’ll test it out and update if it works with heavy details and large files.

      Fran – you is the shizzle! Thanks so much!!!

    101. Hans said in post # 101,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Hello Fran,

      I’ve just been reading your review of the Zoom Q3HD – wonderful stuff, thanks! I think it just might be what I am looking for since I have discovered that I am in no way a recording engineer and if the setup gets too complicated it takes the fun away for me. I have one question for you regarding the Zoom Q3HD: Is it possible to connect a mic or two (I have both a Shure SM81 and a AT2020) through the mini jack in the Zoom Q3HD using a converter cable or something like that? Perhaps one of those in this link:http://www.dvshop.ca/cables/minijack.html

      If that is possible that setup would be perfect for me, I think. I just need it to make Youtube videos likes the ones on my website, http://www.hhrasmussen.dk/music (the ones on there were recorded using both mics and my M-Audio FastTrack Ultra but like I said I’m no recording wiz :) ).

      I hope you can help me out.

      Thanks and kind regards,

    102. Fran Guidry said in post # 102,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      The input on the Q3HD is a somewhat too sensitive line level, so you won’t get a useable signal by connecting one or more mics into that input. Instead, you must use a mic preamp or mixer to provide one stage of amplification. For instance, you could connect the headphone output of your Fast Track interface to the line input of the Q3HD and carefully adjust the gain to avoid overloading the signal.

      I’m not sure how you’re syncing your audio and video now – are you capturing your video using a webcam? Or a camcorder? Regardless, the basic issues of recording (mic placement and level setting) are the same whether you use the Q3HD or some other capture device.

      Does that help?


    103. Hans said in post # 103,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks for the fast reply. I’m using a camcorder and syncing the video with the audio afterwards the old clap tree way.

      If I connect the mics to the Fast Track and then the Fast Track to the Q3HD would it sync the audio and video automaticly? Otherwise I’d probably be as well off with the old setup – and like I said I want it as easy as possible.

      But the Q3HD might also work well enough without mics for me, I’ve just tried using only the camcorder (a Canon Legria FS307) and the audio is not too bad for my uses, a little better and I would be there. I assume the Q3HD would probably provide quite a bit better audio, right?


    104. Fran Guidry said in post # 104,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

      The Q3HD audio seems better than the camcorders I’ve compared, it has flat frequency response and the auto gain control can be turned off. But if you’re already syncing you’re getting better audio than the Q3HD will deliver with its built-in mics, just because the camera must be placed across the room to frame the shot.

      My recommendation would be to continue to pursue your current path, spend a bit of time trying different mic positions, and just generally experiment with recording. That will do more to improve your sound than changing your gear approach.


    105. Hans said in post # 105,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Yes, well I’m happy enough with the sound I’m getting with the mics, it’s just too much work :) – so I thought the Q3HD would make it easier while still providing decent sound. Would the Q3HD with mics through my Fast Track need syncing as well or is it automatic?


    106. Fran Guidry said in post # 106,

      on August 11th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Yes, the audio recorded in the Q3HD will not require syncing. The audio will be printed right along with the video.

      My reason for not recommending the Q is the video quality. It’s basically a nice cell phone camera, nothing more. Save up just a bit more than the purchase price of the Q3HD and you can finance a camera with HD, better resolution, and better lens. Of course this higher priced video camera will still have sucky audio .


    107. Hans said in post # 107,

      on August 12th, 2012 at 3:18 am

      Ok, great. If it is both easier than my current setup and providing better sound than a camcorder, it might still be right for me. I’ll see if I can find one to try out before I buy. Do you know if there is anything else on the market like the Zoom Q3HD but in which you can just plug in a mic or mics directly?

      Thanks again,

    108. Fran Guidry said in post # 108,

      on August 12th, 2012 at 8:11 am

      The Q3HD is the only one I know that accepts a line input. The Olympus LS20M has a mic input but as I understand it that is designed for low end “plugin power” mics rather than high quality mics like the ones you use, so you’d still need a mic preamp plus heavy attenuation.


    109. Hans said in post # 109,

      on August 12th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Ok – maybe I’ll have to wait until they make a model that is just right.

      Thank you very much for the great advice!


    110. Vincent said in post # 110,

      on September 6th, 2012 at 7:38 am

      hello Fran,

      First, thx you for your blog, it’s really helpfull and complete.
      Here’s my question if you can , please, give me an advice (i’m from france, i hope to be understand ;o)

      i would like to post videos on u tube, just like u, playing guitar ( classical and folk).
      But i ve got a limited budget, around 250-300 dollars.

      i’ve got a mic, the “shure sm57”, and i m looking for a camera. do the “nokia zi8” ll be great with the ‘shure’ to do this? Do i have to buy a preamp with this configuration to have a better sound?

      Or should i to take the “Q3hd” who seems to solution of my questions?. it looks like great to do this work.

      if i ll don’t have the “shure sm57” , i ‘m pretty sure that i ll choose the “zoom Q3hd”.
      but it ll be a shame to not use it.

      thx u



    111. Fran Guidry said in post # 111,

      on September 6th, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Hi, Vincent. I’m unable to find the “Nokia Zi8” you mention. Are you referring to the Kodak Zi8?

      There’s a lot to understand here, I hope I can convey the issues successfully.

      The Zi8 is out of production, so there is no support for that product. And the audio quality of that camera is not wonderful. But it does include a mic preamp which the Q3HD does not.

      But both of these units are stereo, while the SM57 is mono. So to use the SM57 you’ll need to use adapters or a special cable to convert the single channel from the SM57 into two channels for the camera input.

      Since the Q3HD external input is a line input rather than a mic input, an external preamp is required when using an external mic with the Q3HD.

      When using the internal mics of the Q3HD, I find it difficult to position the camera in a way that optimizes both video and audio. If I want to see myself from the waist to the head with the whole guitar, I must place the camera over 1 meter away from myself. And at that distance the internal mics of the Q3HD hear too much of the room and not enough of my guitar, making for a weak and unappealing sound.

      I’ve done two posts that address the issue of positioning the camera for better audio.



      Given all these issues, it’s difficult to get good quality audio and video with your $300 budget, and trying to include the SM57 in the chain actually makes it more difficult rather than less. Do you have a mixer or preamp for the SM57? Are you handy with a computer? Are you doing any audio-only recording at the present time? I’ve found that for the best combination of audio and video I must record the audio separately from the video, then combine them to create my final clip. The least expensive way I’ve found to do this is using REAPER recording software.


      I hope these ideas have been helpful, please let me know if I can answer other questions.


    112. Vincent said in post # 112,

      on September 6th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      hi fran,

      Thx u to answer so fast.
      yes its the kodak and no the nokia…. my bad ;o

      I dont have a mixer or preamp, i just have an “aer compact 60 and the “shure ms57” (bought in 2002) to play sometimes in pubs , café etc….I usualy play unplugged like in a church or else ( places who dont need microphones etc..)
      I’m really a novice in computer , i just have a macbook (old one.) And never recording myself….
      So many works with me, i should take lessons with you ;o

      well i m now interristing in recording myself and i guess , with my budget,and your advices, that the Q3 will be find at the momment. With the wide angle lense it could be interristing.
      But if you have an other advice for me, i take it .
      Thx a lot to answered me.


    113. Fran Guidry said in post # 113,

      on September 6th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      If it’s available in the EU, the new Zoom Q2HD is pretty interesting. It is less expensive than the Q3HD, but it has no audio inputs. Audio can only be captured using the built-in mics. But it has other features, such as the ability to connect to your computer for recording or use as a webcam. I haven’t used one so I can’t say for sure how well it works, but it’s getting good reviews.

      Another piece of advice I always give is to use whatever you have to get started. Do you have a cell phone that captures video, for instance? Or your Macbook which probably has a mic built-in. And it has a mic input port as well. So with free software like Audacity (or Garageband) you could begin recording. I believe many Macbooks have a built-in camera as well, and iMovie is a fine tool for editing video. I don’t use Macs, so I may be incorrect about how yours is configured. But if you have these tools, you can learn a lot by experimenting with them. For instance, the most important thing to get good video is plenty of light. It’s more important than the camera.

    114. Vincent said in post # 114,

      on September 7th, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Dear Fran,

      thanx you again for your advices, it really hlep me ;o
      i hope to be as good as you with all that interristing stuff.


    115. Jim Love said in post # 115,

      on January 7th, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Hi Fran thanks for the very informative blog. I was wondering if you had heard about about problems with the q3hd jumping out of record randomly. I have tried to record several gigs but the unit just keeps cutting out sometimes after 15min sometimes less. It’s always unpredictable. I have tried various sample rates etc but still no soloution. Also the unit gets quite hot. Any idea’s are greatly appreceated.

    116. Fran Guidry said in post # 116,

      on January 7th, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Jim, I have indeed heard of this issue. In fact a poster on a guitar forum just returned a unit that was shutting off randomly. I haven’t experienced the problem myself but I have heard of others with this issue.


    117. Joachim Schneider said in post # 117,

      on January 8th, 2013 at 2:39 am

      Great backprop! What is that black cloth that you are using here as a background?
      Is this molton? What would you recommend as a performance background?
      I sing my own songs in a fool costume

      I have used the q2 but was not able to upoad this video via handyshare. I uploaded the .mov file via youtube regularly.


    118. Jim Love said in post # 118,

      on January 8th, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Many thanks Fran after your reply I came across the guitar forum I think you are referring to. After reading the posters comments I have decided to return the unit.

    119. Fran Guidry said in post # 119,

      on January 8th, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Joachim, the black backdrop is from this location: http://www.backdropoutlet.com/products.asp?dept=1246 I don’t have a lot of experience with background choices, but this one does work nicely.

      I have never used Handyshare, I always upload the file to YouTube using a web browser.

      Thanks for visiting,

    120. Joe Moceri said in post # 120,

      on March 16th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      Is the zoom Q3 hd compatible with imovie?

    121. Nima K said in post # 121,

      on May 29th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I recently ordered this recorder off ebay new. The sounds quality is very good but it is so quiet. I have to put the recorder as close as possible and crank up the guitar to get a decent volume, but even that is quiet. I keep it on high gain setting. are there any tips or settings to help this? can it be a defect?


    122. Fran Guidry said in post # 122,

      on May 30th, 2013 at 9:18 am

      You’re experiencing the single most common problem of home recording – if you compare your own recording to a commercial track your recording is much quieter. Commercial recordings are processed very heavily to be louder, they start off just as quiet as yours but then get compressed to reduce dynamic range and increase volume.

      You can do similar processing using free tools, although it requires a bit of patience. Check out this post http://www.homebrewedmusic.com/2012/11/27/free-tools-to-tweak-q3hd-audio/ for details.


    123. Nisar said in post # 123,

      on July 1st, 2013 at 1:41 am

      Merci pour les tests
      cela m’a permis de choisir le ZOOM Q3 HD

    Leave a reply

    About the Blog

      Howdy, my name is Fran Guidry and this is my Homebrewed Music blog.

      I play Hawaiian slack key guitar and recorded my solo acoustic CD at home. Most of the recording information I find on the internet seems focused on bands, drums, multitracking, and so on but my main focus is recording solo acoustic guitar. Lately I’ve been enjoying video recording along with audio, so that shows up in the blog as well.

      I’m also a guitar nut. I love big ones and little ones, handmades and factory guitars, cheap ones and expensive ones. So I’ll be sharing the fun of exploring guitars as well, along with the challenges of amplifying acoustic guitars for live performance.



      My recording philosophy is pragmatic, skeptical, not super critical. After all, the performance is by far the most important component of a track, and every aspect of any recording is a matter of taste.

      But I do like to know “about stuff.” Back in hifi days I learned about double blind testing. I learned that we humans can easily hear differences that don’t really exist. The more I’ve learned about our human auditory system, the more I’m skeptical of what people say they hear, especially if they claim that a particular microphone or preamp or cable has some magical property.

      I’ve only been recording since 2001, and when I started I found the usual places on the internet. I sought advice and accepted it, thought I would improve my recordings by using more expensive equipment. It didn’t work.

      Two things that did seem to lead to better recordings were experience and room treatment. Getting an appealing sound is the combination of many small details, and learning those details only comes from experience. Amd the sound of the recording space is obviously a big factor.

      I’ve only recorded seriously using digital technology, but I remember trying to record rehearsals and gigs back in analog days. I don’t have any nostalgia for analog recording and playback systems at all. I think even low end digital systems can capture marvelous recordings. So when I look at gear, I look for good specs: low noise, broad flat frequency response, wide dynamic range, low distortion. I’m not interested in colorful components, mics and preamps with a sound, I want the sound to be the sound of my guitar.

      But the last word is that I’m just learning and I hope you find something useful in my posts.