Zoom Q4

Video recorder with stereo microphone

Item #: 851ZQ4

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Zoom Q4

The Zoom Q4 combines high-definition video and audio in one camera.

Sound as good as you look

For everyday applications, built-in condenser microphones — the type most commonly found in camcorders — will get the job done. When you're recording a musical performance, however, you're likely to want better sound options. The Zoom Q4 is designed to give you plenty of creative tools, so you can shoot concert footage with high-definition video and audio. If you don't need to see yourself during the show, the 2" video screen can be detached to extend battery life. The retractable X/Y stereo pair records professional-quality sound to an optional SDXC memory card, so you and your bandmates can sound as good as you look when you record a live gig.


A gain switch on the right side of the Q4 allows you to choose Auto — where the camera takes control — or Manual gain mode. In Manual mode, you can choose whether you need low-, medium- or high-gain boost based on what you can hear in the room. Getting a little low-end rumble? The low-cut switch is your first line of defense, and the included windscreen can be called into action to limit noise when needed.

Lights, camera, action!

A lot of variables can pop up during a live recording. If you're not an experienced videographer, you may not know how to compensate for the lighting conditions at your show. The Q4 provides three lighting modes: "Concert" for situations with bright stage lights, "Night" for dark clubs and other low-light setups, or "Auto" for those times when you aren't quite sure what might come up.

There's a built-in speaker and a headphone output with adjustable volume control for live monitoring. Transfer video to your computer or large screen TV via mini USB, HDMI or directly from the memory card, so you can edit, upload or just watch and enjoy after the show is over.

Product Highlights:

  • built-in stereo X/Y microphone
  • removable 2" full-color tilting LCD screen
  • records directly to optional SDXC cards
  • f/2.8 wide-angle lens lets you select viewing angles
  • included hairy windscreen helps reduce low-frequency noise
Video Features:
  • supports WVGA and HD video formats up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, with frame rates up to 60 fps
  • three imaging preset options (Auto/Concert/Night) for use in all lighting environments
  • compatible with Skype® and other live-streaming applications
Audio Features:
  • supports AAC and WAV audio formats up to 24-bit/96k
  • three-position mic gain switch with Auto-Gain control (Concert/Meeting/Solo) and Peak LED
  • low-cut filter for the elimination of low-frequency noise and rumble
  • 1/8" mic/line-level input for connection to external microphones, portable recorders and personal music players
  • 1/8" line-level/headphone output with dedicated volume control
  • mini-HDMI output for connection to HDTVs, selectable between NTSC and PAL
  • mini-USB for live streaming and data transfer to and from computer editing software (cable included)
  • Recorder (microphone closed): 1-1/4"W x 2-1/4"H x 4-1/8"D
    • weight: 5.9 oz.
  • LCD screen (detached): 1-5/8"W x 1-15/16"H x 3-7/16"D
    • weight: 1.8 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year parts and labor
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Shoot videos for posterity — or posting online

From birthday parties to YouTube™ antics, camcorders let you capture moments you can share with friends and family, or the world at large. Most newer camcorders save your videos to built-in digital memory or a removable memory card. Some models come with a built-in hard disk drive that gives you much more storage. For maximum portability, check out our smaller cams that fit into a pocket or purse. For high-def videos that look awesome on your HDTV, go for a slightly larger model with a better lens and image sensor.

Hands-on research

What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Audio/video recorder
  • LCD unit
  • BT-02 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (3.7V 1050mAh 3.89Wh)
  • Hairy windscreen
  • Windscreen attachment screw
  • 58" USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Mini-B 2.0 USB on other end)
  • User Guide
  • Zoom Warranty Registration

Product Research


Overview: The Zoom Q4 Handy Video Recorder is a high-definition video and high-resolution audio recorder, designed with musicians in mind. This tiny device can record Full HD 1080p video, with hi-res audio up to 24-bit/96kHz PCM. It has a removable LCD screen, and a built-in X/Y microphone system.

Video Recording: The Q4 is equipped with a wide-angle lens with a 130° field of view. You can record high-definition and standard-definition video in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 (MOV) format in several different settings:

Recording Setting
(Video Resolution)
Frame Rate Best Application
HD 1920 x 1080 30 fps Playback on HDTVs
HD 1280 x 720 60 fps Recording fast movement in HD
HD 1280 x 720 30 fps Playback on HDTVs and computers
WVGA 848 x 480 60 fps Saving SD card space and recording fast movement.
WVGA 848 x 480 30 fps Saving SD card space

Audio Recording: Audio can be recorded in uncompressed WAV format or AAC compression. WAV format should be used for recording the best possible audio quality, and if you are not concerned about the file size. If memory card space is limited, you should record in AAC format. The following audio settings can be selected:

  • WAV: 96kHz/24-bit, 96kHz/16-bit, 48kHz/24-bit, 48kHz/16-bit, 44.1kHz/24-bit, 44.1kHz/16-bit
  • AAC: 320 kbps, 256 kbps, 192 kbps, 128 kbps, 64 kbps

SD Card Slot: Video and audio are recorded onto SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards up to 128 GB. An LED indicator is provided to show the amount of memory remaining in the inserted SD card. You should use SD cards with a Class 4 speed rating or higher, as well as format the card in the unit, for best results. A list of tested and confirmed SD cards is available on the Zoom website.

Lens/Image Sensor: The Q4 features a 22mm fixed focal length lens (35mm equivalent) with an aperture of F2.8. It can provide clear images from 21.6" to infinity. The Q4 also has a 1/3" 3 Megapixel CMOS sensor for producing the high-definition video images. The Q4 does not take still images.

Scene: In the menu, you can change the Scene setting depending upon the lighting conditions.

  • Auto: camera adjusts to lighting conditions automatically
  • Concert Lighting: best setting for live shows, concerts, and other situations with bright lights
  • Night: best setting for night and other dark situations

Upside Down: The Q4 can be mounted to a standard tripod, or a 3-pronged action camera mount, to give you a wide variety of interesting angles and perspectives. It can even be mounted upside down. When video is recorded while the unit is upside down, you can invert the video 180° by selecting "Upside Down" in the menu.

X/Y Microphone: The Q4 Handy Video Recorder has two matched unidirectional microphones mounted in an X/Y stereo configuration on a pop-up boom. This format provides a wide 120° pickup pattern while clearly capturing sound sources in the center. A "hairy" windscreen is included to significantly reduce wind noise when the recorder is used outside. You can engage a low-cut filter to eliminate low-frequency noise, if needed.

Auto Gain Settings: You can choose one of three levels for the automatic gain:

  • Concert: for band performances, concerts, and other loud situations
  • Solo: for solo performances, and other quiet sounds
  • Meeting: for meetings and field recordings

Removable LCD Screen: The recorder has a flip-out, 2" LCD screen for framing your subjects during recording, and to play back your videos. The screen can flip out 90° and rotate 270°, allowing you to view yourself during self-recordings. The entire LCD screen can be removed, if desired, making the camera more portable, or to save battery life. Before removing the LCD during operation, you should select "Remove LCD" in the menu to avoid damaging the unit.

Battery: The Q4 is powered by the BT-02 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (3.7V 1050mAh 3.89Wh). The battery can charged in the Q4 when it is connected to a computer via USB (charging time: about 3 hours), or when connected to the optional Zoom AD-17 AC adapter (charging time: about 2 hours 15 minutes). Estimated battery life is about 3 hours (recording 720p/30fps video with LCD unit detached). Two battery LEDs are provided to indicate the remaining battery life and the charging status.

Controls/Indicators: The top and right side panels of the Q4 contain several controls and indicators:

  • Power: Top-mounted power button
  • Record: Top-mounted recording button
  • Input Level LED: Glows red during peaks
  • Headphone Volume: + and - buttons
  • Gain Control Switch: Auto/Manual (Hi/Med/Lo switch for manual)
  • Low-cut Filter Switch: On/Off
  • SD card Memory LED: Green: 50% or more, Orange: 20-50%, Red: 20% or less, Blinking Red: 0%
  • Remaining Battery LED: Green: 50% or more remaining battery charge, Orange: 20-50%, Red: 20% or less, Blinking Red: 0%
  • Battery Charging Status LED: Red: charging, Unlit: charging complete

Inputs and Outputs: The rear panel contains connections for other devices:

  • HDMI Output: A Micro HDMI (Type D) connection is provided for connecting the Q4 to an HDTV. In the menu, you can set the output format to NTSC or PAL.
  • USB: A Mini-B USB 2.0 port is provided for connecting the unit to a computer to charge the battery and to download recordings. Through this connection, the Q4 can be used as a memory card reader, a USB microphone, or a web camera for live video streaming.
  • Microphone Input: You can connect an external microphone to the unit via a 3.5mm mini jack. When an external mic is connected, the built-in X/Y mic is disabled. In the menu, you can turn on Plug-In Power for those mics that require it.
  • Headphone Output: A 3.5mm stereo headphone output is provided for connecting headphones or other audio equipment for monitoring the audio.

Optional Mounts: Because of the versatility of the Q4, unique mounts have been made available. The GHM-1 Guitar Headstock Mount lets you clamp the camera to the head of a guitar to give you an "on stage" experience. The MS-1 Mic Stand mount lets you mount the Q4 to a microphone stand for recording live performances on stage or in the studio. The RJQ-4 Rain Jacket is a water-resistant silicon case and a water-resistant hair windscreen that lets you record in rain, snow, or water spray. It has an IPX3 water-resistance rating, meaning it protects against spraying water, but not total submersion. These optional mounts are available directly from the manufacturer.

Our Product Research Team

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Zoom Q4 Reviews

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Small Camera - Big Features

Written By HScruggs, Palmyra, VA on Saturday, March 22, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

I was looking for a small camera that would be a "step-up" from Zoom's Q3 - which I already own. The Q4 was just what I was looking for. It has better mics and the foldout view screen is nice for getting shots at different angles.

Pros: Great sound and pictures at a reasonable price.

Cons: No "true" zooming capabilities.

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