The Kodak zi8 is a small HD video camera that I bought for the 2010 Everest Trek. It won't be my only video camera on the trek (there will also be the 5DMkII and the Sony HC7 that I used to shoot the 2009 Everest Trek videos), but thanks to the size of the zi8, it has the best chances to always be within reach, just a pocket away.
But it's not wide enough. And it doesn't come with any accessories, no wide angle lens, nothing. The closest focus distance of the zi8 is too long to shoot video of myself talking while holding it at my outstretched arm. And I was planning to do that. My arm is too short, or the camera is just not designed to allow that.
Anyway, instead of whining I thought I'd better do something about it. I remembered a camera mod I saw a while ago where someone attached a wide angle extender to a camera like this and after some searching I found a magnetic one designed for point-and-shoot still cameras on eBay for EUR 9.99 - and decided to give it a go.
I was a bit surprised when it worked quite well. Okay, it's not actually movie quality and there's a bit of blur toward the corners now, but it effectively extends the field of view to almost twice the original amount for a relatively small visual price to pay. At least if the material isn't used at 1080 later on. And it reduces the focus distance too! Now my arm works just fine and I can record myself talking without having to carry any special accessories.
Attaching the metal ring to the camera that would then allow the magnetic lens to easily attach turned out to be a bit of a challenge. My initial attempt using hot glue wasn't very durable and it came off within a few days. I finally tried epoxy and now the magnet mount is rock solid, almost as if it was an original part of the camera. Maybe I'll color it black for it to better blend in. Maybe not.
My other two zi8 modifications were to put some black duct tape over the red recording light (it draws way too much attention) and to attach some audio foam in front of the microphone to make it less susceptible to wind noise. Works like a charm and now the camera is finally really ready to go on the trek.
Here's an early test:
And here is a link to a short video that I shot with the camera the next day (sorry, it's in German only)