Dollar for dollar .. what is the best helmet camera?
Dollar for dollar .. what is the best helmet camera?
Totally depends on what you want/need. If you only need standard def and not waterproof, DealExtreme has several for $20 or $30, and they work totally fine and the output is as good as anything < $150 or so. I personally would want HD these days, and for that, the best deal as well as the best cam right now is the GoPro HD Hero for about $230 from Amazon.
There are a lot of variables; waterproof or not, good sound or doesn't matter, HD or standard def, AAA batteries or rechargable, etc, etc. You need to define what your needs are to get a valid recommendation.
Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.
I found this site that has reviews for different cameras: http://helmetcameracentral.com/reviews
I started out looking at the Tachyon XC Micro at $129. Essentially I'm looking for decent quality video and audio (HD is not necessary - nice but not necessary), waterproof, and several hours of recording time (32GB). But the battery situation ruled this one out very quickly. Apparently it can't use rechargeable batteries!?
I then looked at the GoPro HD and the Contour HD as suggested. The tube shaped Contour looks nicer that the blocky looking GoPro. Both seem very capable and have comparable specifications - and they both work on rechargable lithium batteries.
The only substantial technical difference is the GoPro HD has a 170 degree lens (but 127 in HD mode) while the Contour has a 135 in HD. I'm not sure if this is something significant or not.
The GoPro HD is a little less expensive and even more so when one considers the Contour HD doesn't ship with a vented helmet mount ( Its an extra $20). Subsequently the GoPro HD (with an additional battery and recharger) is $60 less than the Contour HD as the battery for the Contour HD is a bit more expensive.
I have to sleep on this one. The numbers and specs would indicate the GoPro is a better bargain (for now). But the GoPro is fugly...
Anyway .. thanks for the responses and pointing me in the right direction
I'm primarily using the camera to film my rides.
Last edited by radshark; 05-28-10 at 10:03 PM.
I'd suggest you also consider water-proof, rugged point-and-shoot cameras, most of which also now shoot HD video. I recently bought an Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 (I had tried out the Kodak Playsport HD pocket camcorder, but I had a bad unit and returned it). It was a lot cheaper than the bike-specific cameras. I like the fact that the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 and 8010 have dual image stabilization, mechanical and via the in camera software. I've finally been able to eliminate camera shake. Now I just need to see if there's a video editing package that will render HD video using a single core processor. I suspect not. Here's a recent video that I shot with the Stylus Tough 6020 mounted to the handlebars. (Although the raw footage out of the camera was HD and very crisp, I had to render it in lower resolution when editing. I've been thinking it's about time to get a new computer and may do so this summer.) I've just repositioned the camera mount so that it will point the camera a bit higher on future rides.
If you aren't thinking of going HD then don't spend more than 30 for one of those DealExtreme type of cams, but if you saw the difference in quality you would know that spending $130 more for HD is worth it... and as you say - dollar for dollar - not cheapest.
When you run the HD GoPro @ 480p its clearer than the regular GoPro @ that resolution.
...But seriously read those two posts. Especially the latter, where I post the difference between two HD cams and not where they compare the HD to a Standard Res....
GoPro VS EVERY OTHER HD CAM
-Waterproof housing included
-Best Sound (that doesn't require you to crack it open to mod it and claim that, that is a superior choice)
-More Mounts included except for the Surf version
-LCD to change options on-road
-Takes 5MP pictures (2592x1944)
...and in my personal experience - folks that care, think its cool looking while in use anyways so the coolness factor is a moot point If you have it on while riding - people will ask about it not make fun of it.
...and I'd go with the other suggestion of Amazon. GoPro HD Helmet Hero for 227 shipped
The Tachyon XC seems to be a good one.. http://www.tachyoninc.com/ The was an video article about a Canadian Cycle commuter on CNN a few days ago and they showed clips of his near misses. The quality was quite good!
Last edited by Sirrus Rider; 05-29-10 at 12:00 AM. Reason: clarity of meaning
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Wow .. that is a good deal. I'm off to check it out. Thanks.
Oh and the tachyon xc suffers from a battery issue IMO - it can't use rechargeables. I saw the video too and the quality is pretty good for a 129 unit. But the battery situation makes them very expensive going forward.
Here's a short spoof I shot with a handle bar mounted Powershot 960. 640 x 480 mode.
This site claims the maximum continuous video recording time for the 6020 is 29 minutes (1740 seconds /60); I could not confirm this reading the Olympus manual (unless I missed it). What I can not find anywhere so far is some estimate of video recording time on one battery charge; it would be particularly helpful if approximate times were categorized as no image stabilization or autofocus (if autofocus works in video), image stabilization only, autofocus only, and with both image stabilization and autofocus (all at highest video resolution). This seems to be a difficult number to find out for video recording "still" cameras, particularly from the manufacturer, and makes it difficult to determine if these are an alternative to GoPro etc. primarily video cameras.
In most EU Country┤s PHOTO camera┤s with video capability┤s have a max continuous recording time of 29 minutes. This because anything over 30 min of recording time is considered a VIDEO camera, which results in extra TAX.
As for the GoPro, do a Google search and read various forum responses from owners who are having issues with the GoPro HD. The price, combined with end user unhappiness about delays in getting firmware fixes for bugs with the camera lead me to look for alternatives. I also like being able to see what I'm shooting out in the "field" and not have to wait to get back to a computer.
What sort of video recording time do you get in HD on one battery with just image stabilization turned on? I just may go this same route to video recording.
Thanks again in advance.
I've done some 45 minute rides with the Olympus and haven't run out of battery power. Yesterday, I rode for 45 minutes with both image stabilization on and video resolution set to fine rather than normal. The battery wasn't completely drained but it was down to about 1/3rd capacity. Hopefully, you'll find retailers there in the EU who are selling non-OEM batteries at a reasonable price. The ones I'm going to order have gotten 5 star ratings on Amazon so I think they'll be fine. It seems that most cameras these days are using fairly small LiIon batteries so you're almost forced to carry 2-3 for backup if you want to shoot for extended periods of time. I guess it's the price we pay for a small form factor. Good luck.
I have been using a GoPro HD since last December and am very pleased with the video quality, durability, and available mounting options. Two relatively minor quibbles are the on/off button ergonomics (hard to figure out when the video is on or off) and that it looks like a brick when mounted on the helmet (not a problem for me now as I have the GoPro's mounted on the handlebar or seatpost). GoPro is also slow to come out with the firmware update for the HD... this happened too with the GoPro Hero Wide. However, the only feature I am looking forward to with regards to the firmware update is the ability to flip the video in-camera in case you have the camera mounted upside down (like I do in the drops). Any decent software will allow you to flip the image 180 degrees though but in some of them you have to "render" the video first in order to get a smooth preview playback of the flipped video.
EDIT: I have taken footage with my GoPro HD in sub-zero temps (up to -20 C), in the rain, above 30 C temps with no problems. Batteries are not affected by the cold temps and I am able to record anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours on one charge with the camera recording at 720p resolution.
Last edited by cyclocommuter; 05-31-10 at 09:37 PM.
used the GoPro HD for the first time today.
chest mount.. didnt know the camelbak would get in there as this is my first run with the camera.
i have a helmet and handlebar mount but i dont feel like it gives the sense of being on the bike because all you see is the road.
i like the video quality and choice of resolutions and pretty good sound.
i dont like the confused white balance. you can see it turn yellow sometimes and especially at the end.