Meade and I have failed to record so many things that we thought we were catching because of this limitation. There's a button that you push to begin recording, but it's the same button you push to end a recording. If you lose track or if you fail to push it hard enough at some point, you may be turning it off when you think you are turning it on or turning it on when you think you are turning it off.
For example, yesterday, Meade went down to the Capitol Square to see what the singalong was like this week (the day after the special prosecutor announced that no one would be charged in the Wisconsin Supreme Court "chokehold" incident). He came home with a lot of video in the Flip camera, but he was especially interested in one clip.
An angry man, recognizing Meade, rushed up and demanded "What are you doing here?" He called Meade a "son of a bitch." He told Meade he didn't belong there and he should leave. Meade asked "Isn't this a public space? Doesn't it belong to all of us?" and the man answered "Yes, it belongs to us." Another man, seeing Meade, yelled at him and called him "a fucking tea bagger." He also called out: "Death to Republicans!"
But — wouldn't you know? — that is the clip that didn't record!
Now, by paying enough attention to the LED screen on the back of the camera, you can ensure that you are really recording. But when you're shooting a lot of video and things are happening quickly — especially out of doors when it's hardest to see the screen and especially when you need to be looking out for attackers and camera snatchers — you can't check accurately every time.