Replacing a Zoom Q4n?

January 8, 2021, 4:53 PM · So my beloved Q4n camera is broken; it's no longer reliably talking to my Mac, and Zoom thinks it's a hardware issue that requires replacing the camera.

The Q4n is discontinued. Zoom will give me a discount on the purchase Q8 if I return the Q4n to them, even though it's out of warranty. The problem is that I'm not sure I want a Q8. It's a lot bigger and heavier than the Q4n, which was small enough to tuck into my case, it lacks the lighting presets, etc.

I'm not sure how I feel about the Q2n-4k either. The Q4n is superior to the Q2n, but I'm not sure how the Q2n-4k compares to the Q4n in audio quality or feature sets. I'm going to use the camera both standalone and as a tripod-mounted webcam. Any thoughts?

Though if anyone has a Q4n in good condition that they don't want, I'd be happy to take it off your hands for a reasonable sum of money. :-)

Replies (37)

Edited: January 8, 2021, 7:09 PM · Buy it, try it, and return it if it's no good.

In my experience these connection problems come in two flavors: One is hardware and that's usually right in the connector. One of the USB-C ports on my laptop stopped working and our "computer guy" blew it out with one of those compressed-air-in-a-can things and "Bob's your uncle." My Yamaha stage piano developed an intermittent failure in the power connection. Turns out the connector sits on a PC board that's about two inches square, and there must have been some trauma (which I ascribed to a colleague tripping over my power cord at a gig) that sheared the leads off of the board. For $75 I purchased *two* new power-connector boards from Yamaha, installed one, and I have the other as a spare. I had to take out about 16 screws to get that keyboard open.

The other type of connection problem is software. Is there possibly some firmware in the Zoom that needs updating so that it will converse properly with your Mac? (I suspect you have thought of this one already.)

Finally there is eBay.

January 8, 2021, 7:08 PM · Well, it all failed basically overnight. Just in case, I then updated the firmware, updated the drivers, replaced the cables, and tried plugging it into a different USB port.
January 8, 2021, 9:43 PM · What is your main goal for using it?
January 9, 2021, 8:12 AM · I do two things with it: I use it as a webcam for lessons et.al., and I use it to record performance videos, auditions, and so forth.

January 9, 2021, 8:16 AM · The audio for the Q8 is good, but if you care at all about the video quality, it's pretty bad. The fisheye effect is annoying and hard to get rid of even with editing or zooming. There is firmware for different lighting settings, but the video quality is still weak.

This video by a string bass player compares results from a Q2N4K, Q8, and other options:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH3R0DYLfrU

January 9, 2021, 9:57 AM · What makes me hesitant about the Q2n, with its better video, is that I'm not sure if the audio is as good as the Q8 (or as good as the Q4n), and the fact it runs on batteries rather than having a charger.
January 9, 2021, 10:41 AM · I am sorry to hear about your zoom 4qn. You have spoken very highly of it.

If you really like it, looking for a used one seems like a good option.

The video quality on the zoom q8 looks quite poor. If you do not mind, then it is an option.

Can’t the q2n be plugged in with a usb charger?

Have you considered a camera or camcorder? The Canon m50 has much better video than the zooms, although it’s audio is worse.

Would two devices be too much? One for audio and one for video.

January 9, 2021, 11:21 AM · The Q2n doesn't have an internal battery pack, as far as I know. It runs off two AA batteries and apparently consumes those pretty quickly.

I would much prefer a single-device solution because it's often awkward to place a recording device in performance venues and not having to place both a camera and a mic is important.

January 9, 2021, 11:27 AM · The good news is that I am fairly confident that the zoom q2n can run off of usb power. The manual is online and seems to indicate this.

Another all in one is the canon m800 camcorder. Worse audio but better video.

With these low end devices much depends on the mics and lenses. Upgrading the mic on the canon can help.

Edited: January 9, 2021, 12:31 PM · You can attach an external microphone on top of some of the cameras or camcorders, so that you will need only one tripod. It's not all-in-one, but it's a way to get better audio and better video. The built-in mics on most of those cameras are inferior to Zoom's. Look for a camera that has an external microphone port, AC power adapter (may have to buy this separately), and a clean HDMI out for webcam use. I am not sure, but I think the Canon M50 (Mark II) that Michael refers to might have all of these, but it's more expensive than the Zoom cameras and you'll have to buy a separate mic.
January 9, 2021, 1:00 PM · Yes the M50 can take a 3.5 mic input and can stream. It is approximately 500 dollars.

The r800 is a camcorder. It is only about 250. It still has much better video than the zooms. It does not have usb streaming, so you would need a hdmi to usb convertor for your machine. It’s mic input is also not powered.

January 9, 2021, 5:10 PM · I think what I'm going to do is to purchase a Q2n-4k, which is less expensive. It will do fine for my current purposes, which is to serve as an all-in-one webcam with decent video and excellent audio.

I'm hoping that by the time that I need a standalone cam for performances again, there will be other options in the market that might combine the superior video of the Q2n-4k with the higher audio quality of the Q8.

January 9, 2021, 5:18 PM · But it occurs to me I should try one more thing: I normally connect via the USB cable. I should try the HDMI output instead, which unfortunately requires buying both an HDMI cable as well as an HDMI/Thunderbolt adapter for my MAc.
Edited: January 9, 2021, 7:23 PM · I anticipate seeing fewer specialty video devices in the coming years rather than more. High-end cell phones and "computational photography" have nearly killed the market for small cameras, and traditional camera manufacturers are not doing well. I understand how attractive a good point-and-shoot solution with good audio is for musicians. But 4K video quality in recent phones is good enough already (and continuously improving) that it's become a barrier to entry for new specialty devices. In the end, I think you'll need two devices, e.g. a separate Zoom audio recorder, then either sync audio to video as part of postprocessing, or directly connect to your phone or camera.

That said, I keep wondering how good the audio is with the new Sony ZV-1, "for content creators and vloggers". Not cheap, but I bet the video quality is good; no clue about sound quality for live music for demanding listeners though.

January 9, 2021, 10:55 PM · The Tascam TM-2X is an add-on stereo mic that is said to have the same capsules as the DR-40 recorder. The ECM-XYST1M is Sony's take on such a device, which is natively compatible to Sony cameras via the hot shoe, and also compatible to other cameras that have a 3.5 mm mic input.

You could get one of those devices and make your own combination of mic + camera to compete with the Zoom video cameras for portability and perhaps quality.

GoPro's are obvious competitors and model for the Zoom Q2N; perhaps with an add-on mic (and adapter) one could also compete in terms of audio quality, or at least not look as much like Daleks.

January 10, 2021, 2:25 AM · If you already have your computer, then there is no need for recorder functionality. Your computer can function as a recorder. It is then only a matter of outfitting the computer with adequate audio and visual equipment.

On the low end there are webcams. From there the sky is the limit. The canon m50 would certainly be adequate for your video needs.

For audio there is anything from usb mics, all the way up.

If I wanted to do this on the cheap I would start with a good webcam. It would not have the barrel distortion that the zoom has. If the audio from the cam is not good enough, then I would add a mic, or even an audio interface such as the Scarlett and a mic of your choice.

January 10, 2021, 7:51 AM · Seems like the Q8n would give you the most seamless change. Isn't the video quality improved?
At a discount, seems less expensive than other options being offered....
Lighting can always be addressed, you can get use to adjusting levels yourself or taking along LED panels....
Just thoughts, we bought a Q4n on your rec, can't have ours.:) OTW eBay......
Edited: January 10, 2021, 8:58 PM · "which unfortunately requires buying both an HDMI cable as well as an HDMI/Thunderbolt adapter for my MAc"

I'm reminded of a story (could be urban legend) -- in which Martha Stewart (prior to her imprisonment) was invited to give a plenary speech at COMDEX. She brought in a tote bag of cables and adapters, dumped it out into a huge pile on a table in front of her, looked out at the audience, and said, "Guys, do something about this."

For a while I thought USB might solve some of those problems, but I was gravely mistaken. And then there is the principle of "Apple Exceptionalism" to contend with.

By the way, for the laptop user, a wonderful thing that I discovered is called a Plugable Port Replicator. I have one in my office. I just plug in my power cable and ONE USB cable into my computer, and instantly my LAN, printer, scanner, stereo speakers, keyboard, mouse, external monitor, and external hard drive are all ready to go.

January 10, 2021, 11:06 PM · There is no Zoom Q8n camera yet, as far as I can tell.
January 11, 2021, 7:32 AM · sorry guess I meant Q8?
January 11, 2021, 9:41 AM · I have a zoom h4n, audio only, and it died recently. I did some searches and found some vids about replacing the on/off switch. While I was waiting for the part to come, I sprayed some contact cleaner in the switch, and it's been working fine ever since. Maybe try some diy on it, or ask a friend who's good with it to a look over. unlike a lot of little gadgets, they have some parts in them that can be cleaned out or replaced. I assume Zoom wants yours back to refurb, if you go that route.
January 12, 2021, 7:17 PM · I'm actually quite puzzled by what's wrong with the camera and initially assumed it was a software issue rather than a hardware issue. It works fine with Photo Booth, but Facetime and Zoom either don't see the camera as existing, or when I try to switch over, it hangs the app.
January 12, 2021, 10:45 PM · Could still be a software issue, but not in the camera.
January 15, 2021, 9:36 AM · Zoom told me they felt the issue was hardware, not software.
January 17, 2021, 10:20 PM · Sadly, using the HDMI interface results in a complete failure to recognize the camera in any way.

New device it is.

January 18, 2021, 5:12 PM · It sounds like a software issue from your description. It works with photo booth, which suggests the hardware works. It could be an intermittent hardware issue, but if it consistently works with photo booth then that is unlikely.

Have you updated ANY software between the time it last worked properly and the time it stopped working properly? This includes system updates etc.

I would reinstall the driver. Try the device with other free software, obs or some such thing.

January 19, 2021, 2:13 PM · zoom would know! they eventually have the same issues arise in different models and hear about them in large numbers.
January 19, 2021, 11:18 PM · No changes were made to the system. After the camera failed, I reinstalled the drivers as well as updated the firmware. Failure was also intermittent and inconsistent in its nature. The total inability to talk via HDMI suggests that it's a hardware issue, as well. When Photo Booth, Zoom, Facetime, etc. all fail to recognize the camera and the Mac itself often can't see the camera, Zoom is probably correct that it's a hardware issue and not a software one.

I tried connecting a different webcam with the same set of cables, and that works fine.

In any event, I've ordered a Q8, along with a ring light to see if I can counter some of the issues with brightness of the video image that's notable in some of the YouTube video reviews.

January 20, 2021, 1:26 AM · Terribly sorry your Q4n has passed on. Do let us know how the Q8 performs. It piqued my interest, but I wasn't sure about buying it based on some samples I've seen on YouTube. The video quality didn't seem all that great, but the ring light will likely improve it quite a bit.
January 20, 2021, 9:54 AM · Lydia, buy a can of contact cleaner- CRC is a good brand- and spray in the openings where cables go and the on/off switch, etc. Wait an hour or two and repeat. While waiting, push the cable in and out a few times every so often, and work the switches back and forth a little. Just as an experiment....
January 20, 2021, 8:15 PM · I bought brand-new cables, just in case. No dice. Changing the ports being plugged into, etc. also not helpful.
January 20, 2021, 8:20 PM · I agree with Lydia that it's probably dead. But I appreciate the top from Tom on CRC contact cleaner. :)
January 21, 2021, 10:28 AM · been building diy electronics for a long time; contact cleaner is always the place to start when troubleshooting. Doesn't have to make sense, it just is... Worked on my zoom h4n, even though it didn't seem logical.
January 21, 2021, 10:31 AM · Tom I agree. Contact cleaner used to be called "TV cleaner" back in the days when TVs had knobs that you turn. But the most likely use for contact cleaner is probably guitar amps.
January 21, 2021, 6:45 PM · I've used the WD-40 contact cleaner when I was building electronics. I no longer keep any around, though I'll try to remember the CRC brand in the future...
January 21, 2021, 7:09 PM · WD-40 is not a contact cleaner...it's a water displacer. Used to dry things out. Was very handy when cars had distributors and they got damp/wet inside! Deoxit is another brand.
January 21, 2021, 7:16 PM · No, there is a WD-40 brand contact cleaner. I’ve learned to avoid disputing things Lydia says. She most always knows what she’s talking about.


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