Friday, January 4, 2013

Bicycle helmet cam experiences

I typed this up for BikeForums, figured I’d toss it up here as well.  This is regarding helmet cams for use on bicycles, in particular for commuting, video to be used as evidence in case of traffic incidents.
808 #16 keychain camera – OK video quality, honestly not much worse than many cameras that cost much more. However, battery life is almost nonexistant so you have to build something yourself, and that’s not reliable in my experience. Also no waterproofing, so it’s not a real solution.
Contour ROAM – Video quality about average. One switch turn on is nice. Problems: No replaceable battery, so you have to take it somewhere to charge every day or two. You have to connect it to a computer to switch modes. It has no circular recording so you have to connect to a computer every few days to clear the memory card (this is a ridiculous lack of features – it’s hard to find any other cam, even a $30 keychain cam, that doesn’t have this feature).
Chinese “ExtremeCam” – BIG. Apart from that, quite good. You can do everything on the cam, it has an LCD screen, it’s waterproof without an extra case, the video quality is good, it has removeable batteries and uses a common Fuji digital camera battery that are cheap and easy to find, it has every feature I’ve ever heard of on any similar cam. If only it weren’t so ridiculously large.
Sony ActionCam – pretty nice really, but the image quality really isn’t good. Video quality was only so-so, better than the keychain cams but probably worse than all the other cams I’ve tried. The still image quality looks like the photos came out of a camera that was found in the bottom of a cracker jack box. They’re embarassingly bad, very very VERY noisy.
GoPro Hero3 Silver – What I’m currently using. I have no complaints except that it’s not a Black edition. I will be buying one of those in the next few months, at which point the Silver will become my rear facing cam.  UPDATE May 29 2013 - I have since found a few problems with the GoPro.  It has a circular recording feature, but it's broken.  It's supposed to erase the oldest file when it runs out of space, but if you power it up in 1-button mode and it's full, it just says "out of space" and stops.  GoPro initially claimed that it must be because I'm using cheap memory cards, but it has since done it repeatedly with a genuine Sandisk Ultra UHS class 1.  Also, the GoPro is the worst device of any kind that I've ever encountered as far as card compatibility goes.  I have about 12 MicroSDHC cards, and only 2 of them work properly in the GoPro.  Moreover, once formatted in the GoPro, which uses a fairly non-standard format, only one reader that I own is able to read them, and I have to format them multiple times in my PC before I can then use them in anything else again.  I will NOT be buying another GoPro, and in fact I'm replacing it with another cheap Chinese camera (review to follow).

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