Shoot from the Hip (pocket) — Flip Mino HD Review

Post by blogger | August 27, 2009      
Flip Mino HD Review

Tech Review

We’ve all heard the lies. Heck, we’ve all told them. You should have been there:

“It was neck deep.”

“Double overhead.”

“Perfectly buff.”


No, really, it was that good; but where’s the proof? I know that more often than not I don’t properly document the evidence of my backcountry adventures. I have one of three excuses:

  • I didn’t have room in my pack for a camcorder/camera.
  • I packed the camcorder/camera but didn’t feel like digging it out.
  • I forgot the camcorder/camera.

The Flip Mino HD camcorder solves the first two excuses. Now, you can ALWAYS prove how sick it was (unless your story sounds better without images).

The Flip Mino HD is best used for non-POV (point of view) video from a relatively close distance from the subject.


The Flip Mino (defunct link removed 2015) is the video equivalent of a point-and-shoot digital camera. It is virtually the same size as my cell phone. I tested the Flip Mino on a few mountain bike rides here in Colorado around Carbondale, and had no issues keeping the tiny camera in my shorts pocket. Suddenly I have instant access to record any and everything I deem fit.

The Flip Mino HD is about 1/8 inch larger than my cell phone.

The Flip Mino HD is about 1/8 inch larger than my cell phone.

Simplicity is the key to Flip Mino’s size. It has a non-user-replaceable Lithium-Ion battery that holds and approximately two hour charge with capacity for one hour of HD video. You get a small amount of digital zoom, but no moving lens. Controls are primarily Power, Record, Play and Stop buttons. The only real “extra” features to speak of are the tripod mount and flip-out USB connector.


The Flip line fills a small niche in the camcorder market; between helmet cams and more traditional HD camcorders. Helmet (and chest) cams with their wider angle lenses and lower profile bodies capture “rider’s eye” video that can be better for everything from ski touring to mountain running. But they aren’t easy to deploy then accurately frame a shot at moments notice. More traditional HD camcorders have better zoom options, white balance and exposure controls, and longer record times. But they can be bulky in a pant or jacket pocket (if they even fit), or when placed in a backpack that you don’t feel like digging through. Due to this, trad cams are often left at home, or remain in the bag. Flip models lack the wide angle and zoom options and have a limited video capacity, but take all when it comes to quick access.

Sample Videos:

Works great when the ride is steady…

…but not so well when things get rough. Both video above and below shot with Flip mounted to the bike frame.

Bouncing Bike POV from dave downing on Vimeo.

This should work, but watch out for low branches and wisecracking friends.

This should work, but watch out for low branches and wisecracking friends.

The zoom angle is a little too narrow for great POV, and accentuates every bump of the trail. A helmet or body mount (you’ll have to mod that yourself) would probably smooth the video out, but will be much more exposed than a normal helmet cam.

I’m looking forward to trying the Flip for skiing. So long as it holds up to the cold, I think it will make a great case for all my epic days…as long as I don’t forget it at home. And on those not so epic days? I can always say the batteries ran out — even if, yeah, it was neck deep blower best day of my life.

(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing and his wife Jessica live in Carbondale, Colorado, where Dave is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave continues to hold the household Wii Ski Jump record.)


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15 Responses to “Shoot from the Hip (pocket) — Flip Mino HD Review”

  1. Mike Carr August 27th, 2009 10:01 am

    Have you seen the veho Muvi? Tiny, cheap, and appears to have good quality video. Search youtube for some info and videos.

  2. Tim M. August 27th, 2009 12:00 pm

    The USB port is handy and it’s tiny and light, but I can’t figure out what this thing was made for. Odd vertical orientation makes it decidedly unsteady from the outset and the tiny postage stamp sized screen compounds the issue. As evidenced from your POV videos, it is not well suited there either. Try doing an “interview” style shot with it and you end up inches from the person’s face… Not bad for a freebie but my regular camera (G10) shoots better video, is steadier to hold (brickish and sideways vs. bookmarkish and upright) and doesn’t need to encroach nose hairs for a talking head type of shot.

  3. Dave Field August 27th, 2009 12:33 pm

    Hey Mike Carr!
    Marleen and I say hi from Calgary Alberta. Hope you and Tom are still living the life in Colorado. my email is dfield”at”eba”dot”ca. Come up and ski with us sometime!

    Regarding the small POV video cameras, I have a non-HD Vholdr that takes some decent footage and has great battery life and cold weather performance. Put it in a pocket when not shooting to keep the batteries warm.

  4. dave downing August 27th, 2009 1:08 pm

    @Tim, I didn’t feel that the orientation of the camera caused unsteady shots so much as the lightness of it. I think the orientation plays into it’s target market of people who want to be able to just grab it out of their pocket and shoot as quickly as possible. I was easily able to ride with the Mino in my pocket, it was too big, and was quick for that usage. I think for winter ski footage, it might work really well, just keep it in your pocket for quick shots without loosing out on freshies b/c you’re putting 2 gloves back on and repacking a larger camcorder…IMO.

  5. Kevin August 27th, 2009 1:26 pm

    I have used the FLIP briefly, my 13 year old nephew loves it, but for short videos why not just use the video function that most digital camera now have? My canon sd700 shoots video that seems fine for the occasional ski video.

  6. ScottP August 27th, 2009 4:31 pm

    A lot of phone have the video capability on them these days, and they seem to be on par with that. If my phone didn’t have the camera/video I’d consider it, but it’s pretty much what’s already built in to my phone (Samsung Gleam) and many others.

    As to the niche, I would say this is more handy for mountain biking rather than skiing. Regular digital cameras shoot better movies, but I don’t take any cameras with me mountain biking because they’re either too big to fit in a rear jersey pocket or I’m afraid of breaking them. I like something the size of a cell phone because it fits in the pocket nicely and is low-profile so I’m not afraid of wrecking it if I happen to fall on it. When skiing a digital camera isn’t such a liability.

  7. Lou August 27th, 2009 4:38 pm

    I just got a Canon Powershot SD 780, shoots HD video, amazing camera but it doesn’t have manual mode so use is limited. It fits in my pocket and you don’t even know it’s there. Amazing.

  8. Doglotion August 27th, 2009 8:36 pm

    Hero GoPro is coming out with an HD cam, with tonnes of mounts for skis, helmets, boards, whatever. Waterproof too. Hoping to get our hands on one.

  9. JW August 27th, 2009 8:46 pm

    Taking still photos on the way up helped hook me on backcountry skiing. the trip up can be so awesome. That said, I’ve never had the desire to shoot video on the way up or down. Will have to try that this season. As others have mentioned, many p&s digicams now give you the ability to shoot short bursts of video. I think I might enjoy shooting a little footage of others sliding down; not sure about the helmet cam thing tho. What the heck, I’ll try it this winter. :cheerful:

  10. dave downing August 28th, 2009 12:57 am

    Maybe my digicams are just getting too old…but none of them fit in my pocket as well AND shoot as good of video. Most seem to be thicker which is my main complaint. And I really have had issues with my camcorder in a pocket or backpack. In the end, this camcorder is either perfect for you, or not at all. Pretty black and white.

  11. Lou August 28th, 2009 7:07 am

    One has to remember that digital video is simply a bunch of still images strung together, usually 30 a second. No reason most any digicam can’t do that. By the same token, every video cam can shoot a still if the software allows it. Problem is that video cam sensors are usually too small to yield a good high definition still, but video cams with an HD sensors yield better stills, though most still don’t have enough pixels to make very big paper prints.

    Point being, if you’re serious about shooting both still and video when weight of your gear is an issue, rather than carrying two cameras consider using a still digicam with video capability. But if you just want video, tiny cameras like the Flip are the ticket as they probably yield better quality video since they’re optimized for it instead of stills.

    My Powershot SD780 really does need a manual mode so exposure can be locked in for vid shooting, am hoping the firmware hackers come out with something that’ll do that. Meanwhile, I’m still finding it useful for grab shots both video and still. Review coming eventually.

  12. nick August 28th, 2009 8:58 am

    Dave- I forgot about that day we were filming. Did you get any footage of my wreck? I’d love to see it. Nice editing on the Prince Creek film too btw.

  13. bart August 28th, 2009 10:06 am

    This looks like a nice cam! One trick that I see in DH biking world to give me videos is to mount the camera on your chest. There’s fancy elastic “bras” that you can buy, but I’ve also seen folks make their own too. Mounting the camera on you chest stabilizes the image nicely and I think, gives a more realistic account! Try it out!

  14. dave downing August 28th, 2009 11:05 am

    @nick, the crash was out of site b/c the lens angle was a little to narrow.

    @bart, I’d heard that before, sounds like a good idea i’ll need to try.

  15. ScottP August 28th, 2009 3:09 pm

    I’ve actually seen the “bra-mount” video cameras in XC races as well. It’s fairly easy to rig into the straps of a hydration pack.

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