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June 2017 Giveaway

Zoom Q4 Reviews

3.5 stars based on 23 customer reviews
  • solojim.com
    from Michigan October 23, 2015Music Background:
    solo keyboard entertainer

    Q4 editung

    Great little camera. I record from monitor outs to the Zoom rca in and get fantastic results (sound wise). I also use Windows Movie Maker and convert to an MP4 from their drop down menu - a breeze. I previously had the Q3 and the upgrade was well worth it.

  • Customer
    from December 7, 2014

    Silk Yellow Les Paul Gibson

    Excellent service! I love my new guitar!!

    from Tracy, CA September 22, 2014

    Awesome !!!!

    I love the wide angle lens. It has terrific recording features that give you a great sound. It work fabulous for what it was intended to be used for music..i highly recommend this product

  • Jayson Angove
    from Roseville, CA USA July 15, 2014Music Background:
    Professional Musician

    Excellent live and home recording Camera

    Absolutely blown away by the video and sound quality of this guy. I use for both recording rehearsals as well as live shows. I carry it everywhere I go because it fits in my messenger bag.

  • Greg
    from Orange County, CA. January 21, 2015Music Background:
    Vintage analog synthesizers and musical equipment

    Zoom Q4

    Fantastic Unit. Ran the external audio input straight from my ART Headamp Pro which was monitoring two Behringer Euroracks 1202's. The feed came out clean and the unit had plenty of headroom. Video is clean although I prefered the 720P setting for my application. Build quality is on the cheap side so take care using it. Very Happy!

  • Randman
    from Clearwater Florida June 16, 2014Music Background:

    Great sound

    Great sound and easy to set up and use. You just have to make sure you have enough room to keep the camera back as the fish eye view looks funny if you get to close. So far the is a good deal and the sound is great!!

  • Rommel
    from Shindand AB April 24, 2014

    Better than my Q2HD

    I bought the Q2HD last year and its perfect for my budget home studio. Then I bought the Q4. For me, the sound and video (130 degree wide angle) quality is better than the Q2HD. I'm thinking of selling my Q2HD and buy another Q4.

  • David Biegler
    from texas March 31, 2014Music Background:
    pro dj

    zoom 4

    liked the recording very high quality what i liked about it was you could record live while mixing on my Numark Ns7 after recording i plugged camera in to my auxiliary in my car it sounded better than my satellite radio that was a plus for the price of unit but there was 1 little problem when i first purchased it the unit wouldn't stayed charged i had to keep it plugged in the whole time recording but this was a easy fix the coustomer service was amazing through SWEET WATER MUSIC & PRO AUDIO as they deserve 5 stars as they took care of everything ….

  • michael
    from phoenix, AZ March 15, 2014Music Background:

    Zoom Q4

    A very nice compact video recorder. Fantastic HD video and sound quality for the price. The only draw back on this device is there is no remote input... So If your recording a show or video there is no way to start or stop the device from a distance hands free. Over all I'm very pleased with the Zoom Q4

  • Fred Ginsburg CAS PhD
    from Los Angeles CA USA February 9, 2014Music Background:
    Soundmixer for film/video; educator/consultant

    Better solution than the GoPro

    The Q4 was the hot topic during the 2014 NAMM Winter show in Anaheim. I ordered one right away, and am extremely impressed. As you can see from the sales materials, the Q4 is smaller than your palm. The removable flip out viewfinder makes the camera very convenient and easy to see. And the fact that you can slide the viewfinder off of the body to reduce size and weight is a great feature. The lens is wide angle, but you can touch a button to cut to a 4X narrower angle of view: so it is like having two prime lenses. The specs imply that you cannot focus closer than 22 inches, but I had no problem shooting objects only a couple inches away. There is a menu selection that will rotate the video & viewfinder so you can suspend the camera upside down (handy, since the 1/4-20 tripod mount is on the bottom). Headphone volume is fully variable via a rocker switch. Input gain, however, is limited to three auto or three manual choices. I did not find this to be a problem, as I could always tweak the output from my mix panel to achieve a precise ref level. Video levels offer you a choice of normal auto, backlight (Concert), and high gain (Night). The sensor does recognize IR light, but is not overly sensitive to it, so it does not make a good surveillance or night-shot camera. I tried it with an IR array that I use with another camera, but I could not "see in the dark". The video files that you shoot are easily replayed from the viewfinder buttons, so you do not need to menu into the File commands all the time. I connected the Q4 to my computer via the supplied USB cable (which doubles as a charging cable) and had not problem playing back any files that were in the camcorder. It was also a breeze to drag and drop files from the Q4 onto my hard drive. You can even delete files on the Q4 via your computer. The Q4 requires but does not include an HDMI to Micro D video cable for output to a monitor, so add that to your shopping list. I am also searching for a spare battery (not yet listed by Zoom). Hopefully, the battery is common to other devices, and I will find one on the internet. Overall, I highly recommend this camcorder!

  • Bruce Checca
    from Tavernier FL USA June 17, 2014Music Background:
    Vocal Hobbyist

    Zoom Q4 - Great piece of gear!

    This is an easy to use, feature packed little unit! Great sound! Love the compact design and the crossed speakers!

    If there is one thing that is a little "disappointing" it's the lack of a real zoom ability. The wide angle of the normal view is great, but only having one zoom level requires you to be really close to get any kind of detailed shoot. I would much rather see a slightly larger product with a full zoom ability. Of course, what I originally bought this for (large choral group) didn't require that capability, but it would be nice in retrospect... being able to zoom in on individuals would have been a real plus.

    I added the largest SD card I could, and even at the best quality can still record about 16 hours! ... and get over 60 hours at minimal quality! WOW!

  • Bentley Radcliff
    from West Palm Beach, Florida April 15, 2014Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer

    Great little camera

    This is a great little camera. I was surprised how small it is. It has a lot of nice features but missing a couple that I wish they would add. Such as a remote control. But the Streaming works very well and the hdmi port works well with a monitor. Overall I give it a Great. I have bought three of them.

    Sound quality is amazing! Plus having the ability to add a mic is also great.

    Highly recommend

  • Fred Ginsburg CAS PhD
    from Los Angeles CA USA March 9, 2014Music Background:
    Film/Video Production Sound Engineer, Educator/Consultant

    Importing Zoom Q4 files into Adobe Premiere CS5

    In the previous article, I reviewed the new Zoom Q4 camcorder. Since the time that was written, I have installed Adobe Premiere CS5 editing software and discovered, to my dismay, that it would not function with the new codec that is used by the Zoom. However, I came up with a working solution.
    Not only did my version of Adobe Premiere CS5 not work with the Zoom Q4 movie files (MOV, as an H.264 MPEG-4 variant) -- neither did my copy of Pinnacle Studio 16. Apparently, Zoom is using a very new codec that does not play well with older children (older editing software).
    In Premiere, the file appeared to import fine, but when I played it back on the timeline -- the audio would only stutter and the video appeared jerky. I tried it on my laptop as well as a more powerful desktop, with the same results. And yes, I made sure that the sequence settings matched the file specs (you drag the clip file to the NEW icon in the project window, and it will automatically create a new sequence with matching specs).
    Quicktime 7 had no problem opening and playing back the files. (I would assume, therefore, that Final Cut would not have any issues with the Zoom Q4 codec -- but not being a Mac person, I had no way of testing it.)
    The solution to the Zoom Q4 codec problem is to upgrade your free copy of Quicktime 7 Player to the Pro version (only $30 and it charges online to your Apple I-tunes account). Then, open your Q4 movie file in Quicktime, and use the EXPORT feature (only available in the Pro version) to create a new H.264 file. When you export the file, take the time to open the settings and size buttons to select the proper video format for your project (you can select up to 1920 x 1080 HD) and save it as a new file.
    When you import the new file into Adobe Premiere CS5 -- it will work just fine.
    By the way, when you look at your choices under SIZE, you may be confused (as I was) that many of the choices are offered twice. There is an upper group, and then a lower group that sound like the same thing. If you read carefully, though, you will see that the upper group are high quality, but the lower group are full resolution. So if you need the maximum quality, go with the bottom group. But for most projects, the first group will suffice. And if it is just for web presentation, you can go with even smaller choices. You can also opt to use single pass encoding instead of the default multi-pass if you need to save time and can live with a pixel error here and there.
    Nor do you have to use H.264 as your file format. QuickTime offers you a large selection, based on the type of project you need to create.
    That does mean you have to go through a time consuming transcode process to "launder" your Q4 files, but at least it solves the problem!
    Apparently, Adobe has no plans to offer recent codec updates to the older Premiere platforms. They want us all to move up to their new monthly subscription program if we want to remain current. That works for professional editors who are on their systems continuously, but is not a viable solution for those of us who only edit now and then (and rarely earn a paycheck from it).

  • Fred Ginsburg CAS PhD
    from Los Angeles CA USA March 5, 2014Music Background:
    Film/Video Production Sound Engineer, Educator/Consultant

    Zoom Q4: Second Look

    The new product that had everybody excited at the 2014 Winter NAMM tradeshow in Anaheim was the Zoom Q4 camcorder, intended to compete in the “head-cam, personal POV, miniature camera” market.

    The Q4 is small and lightweight. It will fit within the palm of your hand (or in your shirt pocket). List price is $374, but most dealers offer it for the MAP of only $299.

    A couple of the features that caught everyone’s eye was the more traditional ergonomics of the unit, along with the ability to record 1080/30HD video MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV)) along with professional grade audio up to 24bit/96k!

    Of course you can choose to record video and audio at a wide variety of lesser settings and smaller file sizes:

    HD 1080p/30fps, HD 720p/60fps, HD 720p/30fps, WVGA 60fps, WVGA 30fps.

    WAV (16/24-bit quantization, 44.1/48/96kHz sampling frequency , AAC (64 – 320kbps bit rate, 48kHz sampling frequency).

    The Q4 handles like a traditional camcorder, not a flat pocket still camera. It has a flip out viewfinder that rotates front to back. The viewfinder module slides off of the camera body entirely if you need to conserve size, mass, or power. The Q4 menu allows you to invert the video, so that you can operate the camera suspended upside down, which is handy if you hang the camera from its ¼-20 tripod socket (on the bottom of the Q4).

    The lens is a fixed wide angle. However, a touch of the button instantly cuts to a 4X narrower view. So, in effect, you can alternate (live) between two angles of view. The specs lead one to believe that minimum focus is 55 cm (22 inches), but I had no problem shooting objects just a couple inches away from the lens.

    Exposure and white balance are auto. There are 3 exposure settings available: normal auto; Concert (backlight); and Night (high gain).

    I tried a test using a (nightvision) IR illumination array that I use with my surveillance camera. The Q4 did see the IR led’s glowing brightly, but was not sensitive enough in that spectrum to see anything “lit” by the array.

    Q4 slant L 1 smLet’s look at the audio. The Q4 features a flip-up X-Y stereo microphone, which is far superior to the typical “on-board” camcorder mikes.

    On the back of the camera is a stereo mini headphone jack, with volume variably controlled by a rocker switch on the side. That jack can also serve as a line level output instead.

    Also on the rear of the camera is a stereo mini input jack, for mic or line level external input. A menu selection can activate a volt or two of “mic powering” for consumer electret units. (Do not confuse this for professional Phantom powering.)

    Input level options include auto gain or manual gain. In the Auto mode, there are choices for Concert (loud), Solo performance (not so loud), or Meeting (normal). The manual gain switch also only provides for three choices, but is selectable on the side of the camera rather than via the menu. The viewfinder meters accurate audio levels in dB.

    Although I would have preferred completely variable input levels, at least the 3 settings get me close enough that I can make more precise ref level adjustments from my mixing panel.

    I ran some tests and discovered that Zoom's definition of LINE LEVEL INPUT is questionable, in practice. Technically, they are correct. I sent a -10dB test tone into the Q4 (set to manual audio) and it landed (on the lowest sensitivity setting) at -6dB. It cleared it, but not by much! When I selected a +4dB tone output, the signal blew off the Q4 meter scale.

    Next, I pumped the tone generator into my Mackie 1402 panel, and set my output to zero on the Mackie meters. Normally, when I output the Mackie to a digital recorder, I adjust Mackie zero to -20dB on the recorder. Zero out of the Mackie, into the Q4, blew off the scale. If I depressed the built-in attenuator switch on the back of the 1402, which knocks around -35dB off of the main outputs (Mackie calls it a mic/line button), then of course I had no problem going in to the Q4.

    I tried using my XLR-PRO adapter box (similar to a BeachTek) and of course that had no problem converting a hot line signal down to a Q4 acceptable mic level input. But the Q4 does not require a full -50dB line to mic conversion; simply using an inline attenuator pad that could knock off -20 to -30dB is fine.

    What sets the Q4 apart is the ability to record audio in professional formats, such as 24bit/96k or the more commonly used 24bit/48k. Of course, you can also choose 16bit, or 44.1k -- or even lower bit rates (though I cannot imagine why).

    Using the Q4 is easy. Files can be immediately played back by pressing a button from the home screen. Alternately, you can menu thru to the Files area and select files for playback or deletion.

    Connect to your computer via the (supplied) USB cable. The Q4 does not come with an external battery charger, but charges within the camera via USB. You can purchase a separate USB power supply if you prefer not to tie up your computer.

    With the USB connected, the Q4 acts as a guest drive (card reader), and you can access the files just as you would with a still camera. You can play the files thru the USB connection and view them on your computer screen, or you can copy them directly to your hard drive. They show up as MOV files, which sometimes play in QuickTime or may require a different media player, depending on your computer configuration. (Even though I have QT on my laptop, the Windows 8.1 requires a different media player.) Just as with a still camera, you can edit the SD card of the Q4 through your computer access.

    To output the video files from the Q4 directly to a monitor or projector, you need to purchase an HDMI to Micro type D output cable (which seem to run around $10-30 around town). I have discovered that when you output audio via the HDMI, you need to make sure that the headphone output is not set too high, or else you will hear hiss on the soundtrack.

    Oh, and in case your are wondering --- I actually went out and purchased my Q4 with my own money. Although I had spoken to Zoom about the possibility of them sending me a unit to review, I never heard back from them and decided not to wait. This camcorder was perfect for my needs!

    It fits into my pocket, so I can carry it around while hiking, sightseeing, or at events. When I teach college classes or workshops, the camera allows me to show close-up detail on a large monitor. Often, during my courses or workshops, we record production sound direct to video from a mixing panel so that the class can review the playbacks. In the past, I have utilized bulky 3-chip camcorders. But the Q4 affords me the same technique, but with one less heavy case to ship.

    Zoom did not offer any spare batteries for the Q4. They do, however, offer an AC powered USB charger that allows you to recharge the camera battery inside of the camera, without having to connect to a computer host.

    But there is a better solution. Turns out that the Zoom Q4 uses a Samsung SLB-10 (SLAB-10a) style lithium battery. So if you run an internet search for that battery, you will find spare batteries in the $10 to $20 range. I just purchased one and it ran me $12 for the battery. I was also able to purchase an external battery charger (AC or 12v CIG) for another $18 -- which is more convenient than having to use the camera as a charger!

    A note regarding use of SD cards. Most SD cards work just fine for 30p settings. However, to record at 720/60p -- you must have a high speed card or else the camera will drop out of RECORD mode within a second or two. At first, that was driving me crazy, until I swapped out SD cards with my still camera. Then the dropped recording problem went away. Slower SD cards are way cheaper, so you might consider owning a larger capacity card for "normal" video, and maybe a smaller capacity high speed card for when you need 60p (if you do not do a lot of 60p videography). Or, just invest one time in a high speed large capacity card!

    The Q4, at under $300, might also serve as an excellent introductory camera for basic filmmaking. Not having a zoom lens forces the students to be more cognizant of camera placement and setups. I still remember back to when I was a student and our first film assignments were done with fixed lenses, lest we fall victim to zoom-fluenza.

  • Fred Greenhalgh
    from Portland, ME USA May 26, 2014Music Background:
    Field recordist

    Not quite Awesome

    I am big fan of ZOOM's devices (own almost everything they've ever made) and I really, REALLY wanted to love this one.

    I am an audio producer (record actors on location) so what I want is something for 'quick and dirty' behind the scenes footage, with decent audio so it doesn't sound like s*$!@(t when I put it on YouTube. I have a nicer DSLR rig for more pro video, but I want something I can keep on my person and have handy.

    Well, these meets 'handy' but there are some bizarre design choices (why are the mics located in seemingly the wrong location, and aimed in a completely bizarre direction unless you pop them up?) and poor video quality really holds it back. I could live with zoom lens, but what's more aggravating is that the video quality is pretty terrible inside unless you have high-gain added. Unlike adjusting audio gain, getting to video gain is through a menu system, so it is really difficult to adjust on the fly. A hardware button to adjust video gain settings (low med high) would have been a serious improvement.

    It's a clever gadget and they have made a lot of progress since my original Zoom Q3. But it is still not a killer device and honestly given the choice I will reach for my iPhone instead of this because the latter is more portable and not that much worse in quality overall.

  • Stephen
    from California October 26, 2015Music Background:
    Jazz, Classical, Klezmer, Vocal, Instrumental

    Zoom Q4 versus GoPro Hero Black

    I purchased a Zoom Q4 and a GoPro Hero Black at the same time. I knew I wanted high quality stereo sound (Q4) for recording gigs and I knew I wanted to do some dive videography (GoPro). What blew me away is the quality difference between the two videos. The GoPro at a gig produces such superior video it's kind of crazy. I've got them both set to 1080 / 30 fps and the resolution on the GoPro is a world away from the Q4.

    The sound on the GoPro is excellent, but it's only mono. So you can use it for reference recording, but it's not stereophonic, so it sounds flat. The Q4 is almost always better on sound, but at closer ranges and higher volumes the GoPro is smoother sound, in that the Q4 adjusts its volume levels in a more jerky manner, so it is really quite obvious that it's making adjustments.

    I've been using both of these cameras side-by-side on gigs from large combo, to big band jazz, to a theater production. In ALL cases, the Q4 video is noticeably less pleasing. In some cases the Q4 audio is significantly better.

    So if you want to shoot video and have the ability to dub sound with a video editing platform, I'd suggest getting a better audio recorder than the Q4 and use a GoPro 4 Black for your video.

  • Rik
    from Chicago Ridge Il. November 18, 2014Music Background:
    Drummer, Sound Tech


    Great vid....great sound....many adjustment parameters.
    The ONLY negative is NO ZOOM!

  • Henry
    from United States October 20, 2014Music Background:

    Q4 video is much better than the old Q3 HD

    It has some improvement in the video quality as compared the Q4.
    However, I wish it has more option to control the input gain instead of having only 3: High, Medium and Low especially for drumming recording.

  • Gary Baer
    from Salisbury, PA March 23, 2014Music Background:
    Guitar and Vocals in local band

    Zoom Q4 - Good camara but some tech problems

    Received my Zoom Q4 camera and thought I was ready to do some recording. Recording was fine but couldn't transfer videos to my computer. I had contacted Sweetwater before ordering and described my two computers and that I was using Windows XP. After having the problem transferring I contacted Sweetwater again. They said they would contact Zoom and get back to me. After a few days I had a local Tech check things out and found the camera was not compatible with XP. After he did an update so XP could support exFAT files everything worked fine.
    I was somewhat disappointed Sweetwater or Zoom did not know what seemed to be a simple fix for the problem.
    I have been using the camera for a while now and really like the results I have been getting.

  • Eddie Eicher
    from Caledonia, MI October 7, 2015

    Compact, good audio, poor video quality

    Bought this to record gigs. Good audio quality, in large part because it allows manual level control which is a big advantage over most camcorders which don't let you override the automatic level control with those nasty compression effects. Very small (truly pocket-sized) so easy to bring to gigs. Wide camera angle so you can place it relatively close to the musicians/stage (for best audio) and still fit the entire band on screen. The one big disappointment is the video quality. Technically it records in 1080 but the image quality is very fuzzy by HD standards. Not surprising since Zoom's expertise is audio, not video. My GoPro does much better (but of course it doesn't record good audio so I need to record audio separately and take the time to sync them up in post-production -- a pain). Admittedly most of my recordings are done in low light (typical stage lighting) so maybe the Q4 does better in full light and outdoors. In any event, I just bought the Sony HDR-MV1 from Sweetwater, hoping it'll do better -- we'll see. But if the audio is more important to you than the video quality, and you want a decent finished product right out of the gate without any post-production work, the Q4 acquits itself pretty well.

  • Dave Lambert
    from Mpls, MN October 11, 2014Music Background:
    performer, recording artist, songwriter and publisher.

    Zoom Q4

    For the money I think other cameras in the same price range offer better attributes. I am personally disappointed in the zoom capabilities of this camera. Great for setting on a stand and getting shots with audio,

  • Customer
    from May 8, 2014

    Beware Q4 Does NOT come with a SD Card

    I thought I would be able to to open the box, install the battery, install the SD and start shooting....But No! The Q4 does not come standard with any type of starter SD card.

  • Customer
    from December 7, 2015

    No Zoom for You!

    Funny, a Video camera from Zoom that has no zoom feature? What year is it? No zoom?? Is this a video camera from 1975? I bought this looking to record my bands gigs and with complete trust in Zoom, without even testing the camera first (I know, my mistake), I left my Sony HD camcorder at home and too my newly purchased Q4.

    So I set up my trio pod at a good location to be out of the way of the audience and get a good mix of the live sound. Turned on the camera and tried to zoom into a good frame of the stage. But look as I might, could not find the zoom button, just one that switched for wide angle to wider angle view. Are you kidding me???? Really, no zoom?? 300 dollars does not get you a telephoto zoom, not even a 4x??? So you mean I have to move the camera around until a get a good framing of the stage?? How about right in the middle of the audience? Oh, but that will hurt the sound recording with all the noise of audience members talking??? Humm, I guess the Zoom engineers never thought of that.

    Oh, and how about the "feature" of a removable LCD? Why would you want that, you ask? Well if you keep the LCD on while recording you'll get about 1 hour of battery time. Again, really Mr. Zoom Engineer??? So you'd prefer that we have a power cable running across a dark rooms floor just to be able to keep my LCS screen attached to the camera??

    Zoom, what were you thinking?? And I was ready to pay 300 dollars this this stink bomb. They did just lower the price to 200 this December, which I assume the product is on it's way to discontinuation.

    And the best part of my experience with the Q4 was the horrible HD video quality of a typical bar room setting, I haven't seen video quality this bad since my VCR days.

    So let's review the great features of this camera:

    1. No Zoom
    2. LCD = less than 1 hour battery life
    3. Terrible video quality in low light setting

    Do not buy this unless you have some very unusual requirement in your video taking needs. I am mystified by any positive review of this device, unless they happen to be Zoom employees.

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