Jing vs. Camtasia: Choosing the right screencasting tool

I got an email the other day from a colleague asking which was better — Jing or Camtasia?  Then later that day, a faculty member stopped by and wanted to talk  about whether she should upgrade from Jing to Camtasia. While I am more used to the question of Camtasia or Captivate,  I figured I should probably get my thoughts down on this whole  Jing vs. Camtasia question.

The fact that people are even asking this question shows how Jing has grown in popularity over the past year or two (see the Emerging Top 100 for how it has moved up over the past few years) and makes my heart warm. Why you ask? Well, I am a huge fan of Jing. Sure, I have been using Camtasia for years but I find myself the last year or two using Jing more day-to-day than Camtasia.  So you might think that I would recommend Jing over Camtasia. Not so fast.

While I think Jing is a must-have tool for any educator, in many ways I find that Jing is the gate-way drug that leads most serious users to eventually purchase Camtasia.  Why? Well there are certain things that Jing just can’t do that Camtasia can. But don’t get me wrong; the things Jing does, it does so well that often users like me (who have both) still find themselves using Jing more often than Camtasia. Let me explain.

Jing and Camtasia are two different applications from TechSmith. These two apps are typically used to create screencasts (though they each can be used for much more).  And while there are many other applications you could use to create screencasts, Jing and Camtasia are my two favorite applications.

Jing (+ screencast.com)
Jing is a cross-platform “free” application (though you can upgrade to a pro account for extra features) that you can download at www.jingproject.com. The free version enables you to record up to 5 minute long screencasts.  You can then save the screencasts to your computer or upload them to screencast.com to distribute. However, these screencasts (which are in a .flv format if you are using the free version) aren’t meant to be edited so you have to get it right the first time or re-record it.  You can upgrade to a pro version of Jing for about $15 a year.  With this, you essentially get three things:
1. A better video format (.mp4) that can be edited in an external application (though it is often easier to simply re-record than edit);
2. The ability to ftp your screencasts to your own server;
3. The ability to toggle back and forth to a Webcam during your screencasts.

So the bottom line is that if you are new to screencasting, or if your screencasts can be limited to 5 minutes, or if you don’t need to edit your screencasts then Jing might be all you need.  For instance, in my day-to-day job of supporting faculty, Jing is perfect to create individual “How-to” screencasts for individual faculty.  Jing is also perfect to do things like narrate mini-lectures (think less than 5 minute PowerPoint presentations).  But if you want a more polished screencast that is longer than 5 minutes that will give you the option to zoom in and add call outs then you might want to invest in Camtasia.

While less compelling, it is important to note that Jing is also great at taking screenshots and annotating them.

For more on how to use Jing, watch the following screencast:

Camtasia on the other hand is kind of like Jing on steroids but it comes at price ($300+). But for that price, you get the ability to create screencasts that are longer than 5 minutes.  You can also easily edit these screencasts (if you are using Camtasia Studio on a PC), add additional media, call outs, and effects, the ability to zoom in and out, and finally the ability to export the screencasts in a number of different formats. In addition, Camtasia integrates seamlessly with PowerPoint (to narrate PowerPoint presentations) as well as gives you the ability to add flash-based quizzes to your screencasts.

So where does this leave us? Well,  I believe based on my experience that it is less a question of either or but rather a question of when do you use each one.  I think most if not all Instructional Technologists need to have both tools in their toolbox. For day-to-day just-in-time support (whether for screen captures or for screencasts that can be less than 5 minutes long), Jing is quick, easy, and indispensable.  However, there often comes a time when one needs to create longer, more polished screencasts that need to incorporate various media, and be edited. For these times, Camtasia is a must!

Do you agree or disagree? Did I cover all the main points? What did I miss?

5 thoughts on “Jing vs. Camtasia: Choosing the right screencasting tool

  1. Dereck Celis

    Hi Patrick, fantastic post, I’ve used Camstudio (freeware) and did a recent vid on my blog for the best settings. But also now bought Camtasia, but will look into Jing after seeing this post.
    Great content. Thanks
    Dereck Celis

  2. admin Post author

    Thanks for the comment Dereck! I have heard good things about Camstudio. I should probably do a post on different options for screencasting because these days there are a number of different tools that can accomplish the task.

  3. Suzanne Clem-Wheeler

    Thank you so much for that awesome overview of Jing. I need to 1) create my own short webcasts, and then 2) teach others how to do it as a marketing tool. Now I know Jing is a great place to start and as I have the need to do more, I can upgrade to Camtasia. Your generosity is much appreciated.

  4. admin Post author

    There are other tools out there and a number of free one’s (some with more features than Jing) but I am fan of TechSmith’s tools and have been using them for years.

  5. Joseph S. Johnson

    Hi Patrick,
    Great analysis. Thank you. I am on an instructional design team and we have always used Captivate, but we are now going to buy one copy of Camtasia and also one Jing Pro account.


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