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  1. #1
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    hemet/bike cams -- nubie looking for opinions and thoughts

    I have been inspired to install a helmet or bike cam -- still have not decided where to mount the device -- for several reasons.

    1. to serve as evidence in case of some weirdo event
    2. it would be cool to share some ride videos
    3. it would be useful for online cue sheets


    Other than what I learned over the weekend, I really know little about this. So I'm interested in other opinions and experiences with these action cameras. If you have not seen these incidents, the video has proven helpful in some collisions or near collisions ...

    http://tinyurl.com/3yrnfxj

    http://tinyurl.com/3x7lnl

    I plan on starting with either a helmet or front mounted cam and potentially springing for a rear mounted camera. After a weekend of reading a few reviews, checking out some youtube videos, and looking at company websites, I'm thinking that picking up one of the following:

    Tachyon XC Micro ... http://tinyurl.com/yk6bd7q

    Drift X170 ... http://tinyurl.com/256a8v6

    From what I gather, both are
    1. reasonably waterproof
    2. small and lightweight
    3. have memory capacity for several hours of video
    4. run on commercially replaceable batteries
    5. available through Amazon
    6. shockproof
    7. take decent video; although not HD


    Some of the differences ...
    1. Tachyon uses AAA batteries while the Drift uses AA
    2. the Drift comes with an assortment of mounts
    3. the Drift has an LCD screen
    4. the Tachyon and Drift have 90 and 170 degree lenses respectively
    5. the Tachyon is $30 cheaper ($129 and 159)


    Presumably, even though their reported weights are about the same, with the AAA batteries the Tachyon will be lighter than the Drift. I have not determined whether having a wider view with some distortion at the edges is better or worse. I believe both will work with Macs; but if anyone determines otherwise please let me know. The LCD screen is nice not only for reviewing video but checking to see whether the placement is appropriate.

    As an aside, Jeff (bikesafer) the cyclist almost hit by the snow plow in the second link, uses older (and much cheaper) ATC2k cameras which are now less than $60. Looking at his video, however, the picture quality is bad enough such that picking out license plates and other fine details appears just about impossible.

    Thanks for reading and (potentially) sharing thoughts and ideas.

  2. #2
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Whoops ... just saw the other thread below. ... I saw the reference regarding HD inside the thread. But I'm not sure whether the extra picture quality is worth it.

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Whoops ... just saw the other thread below. ... I saw the reference regarding HD inside the thread. But I'm not sure whether the extra picture quality is worth it.
    You might not need HD, but it's getting harder to find cameras that don't have HD (you can always choose to shoot at a lower resolution). Image stabilization is extremely important. I tried a Kodak Playsport but wasn't happy with image stabilization. (Mine also had several defects so I returned it.) I now have an Olympus Stylus Tough and am impressed with its dual image stabilization; it's both mechanical and via software in the camera. It's eliminated camera shake. I've got mine mounted on the handlebars with a Velbon quick release system on the bike and camera that makes it easier to get the camera off the bike to shoot stills or hand held videos. We aren't have great weather for shooting videos or stills (the weather is stuck in perpetual rain and cold--no summer for us yet in the NW). I like this camera, it's not bad for a rugged point and shoot and I'm finally getting videos from bike rides without camera shake. Here's a sample video and a couple of photos (one in macro and one a landscape). Remember, these were all shot on very overcast, rainy days.



    This was shot using the regular macro mode; there's a super macro mode that I've not played with yet.



    This one was shot right as rains were moving in, hence all the clouds. (I really wish we'd see sun and warm temps. This weather pattern we're stuck in is depressing. It's also hard to get any decent photos because it's remaining very overcast.)

    Last edited by nwmtnbkr; 06-07-10 at 06:38 PM.

  4. #4
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    You want to see plates, but you don't think an HD is important... you might want to reconsider that notion.



    Your standard res 640x480 cams and even 512x384 are even smaller than that.


  5. #5
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies!

    NWMTNBKR ... Would you typically get lots of shake on that ride?

    CYCIUMX ... I can conceptualize the difference in data. But the pictures are helpful. Does looking at a still photo instead of a series of photos -- i.e., a movie -- make the picture appear better, worse, or no difference? As a layperson, I recall most still photos -- on pause -- on a vcr, dvd, etc., looking worse than the movie in motion. For a road cyclist, is it the case that it would make that much of a difference? I'm just basing it on some youtube videos ... so I'll look some more to see video with urban details.

    Again, thanks for the comments.

  6. #6
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
    I now have an Olympus Stylus Tough and am impressed with its dual image stabilization; it's both mechanical and via software in the camera. It's eliminated camera shake. I've got mine mounted on the handlebars with a Velbon quick release system on the bike and camera that makes it easier to get the camera off the bike to shoot stills or hand held videos.
    How do you mount the camera? Do you have a picture of it?

  7. #7
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    Now that is 720p, but its been compressed twice. Once in the intial editing and to downsize the filesize for uploading and then once uploaded, but it will give you a good clue as to how much detail is lost from the smaller standard res cam.




    Those are screen grabs from the original uncompressed video.

    To answer your question - yes you can see more accumulated data from a moving picture, but in this case of 720p it would help, but in a lower res... there still would not be sufficient data to read a plate. No matter how hard you tried. I only run 720p for the 60 fps aspect... I could easily run 1080p and from my early diagram posted... its easy to see how much more surface area there is PLUS - and this is important. The 1080p option has less of a viewing angle. That means whatever is on screen isn't sharing space with a larger viewing area. Basically means even more detail than just upping the screen size.
    Last edited by CyciumX; 06-08-10 at 12:35 AM.

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    Board is downsizing the image - just open in a new window to get the full size.

  9. #9
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    How do you mount the camera? Do you have a picture of it?
    I ride quite a few gravel and dirt forest roads and sometimes don't want to take my more expensive camera with me when going to really rugged areas. That's why finding a reasonably priced, rugged point and shoot camera that has good image stabilization and can shoot HD video was a better option for me. Having this camera allows me to leave my more expensive camera at home and use this one for both videos and stills. (It's water proof and shock proof.) If having a multi-purpose camera isn't important to you, then you can ignore still picture quality (most camcorders take still photos these days).

    I had camera shake with my DV camcorder and the Kodak Playsport on paved roads, including the one in this video, and gravel roads. The Olympus is the first one that doesn't have camera shake, but then it's got dual image stabilization. I use a 1/2" P clamp on the handlebars that has a long 1/4" bolt (standard size for camera mounts). The Velbon base plate screws on the bolt and the plate on the camera attaches securely when inserted into the base plate. I'll get a photo for you tomorrow. For now, here's a photo of showing the Velbon base plate that the camera clamps into (circled in red so you can't miss it).
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    CyciumX, what camera are you using? My equipment is what people would call, doo-doo.
    And I would like to upgrade in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post


    Now that is 720p, but its been compressed twice. Once in the intial editing and to downsize the filesize for uploading and then once uploaded, but it will give you a good clue as to how much detail is lost from the smaller standard res cam.




    Those are screen grabs from the original uncompressed video.

    To answer your question - yes you can see more accumulated data from a moving picture, but in this case of 720p it would help, but in a lower res... there still would not be sufficient data to read a plate. No matter how hard you tried. I only run 720p for the 60 fps aspect... I could easily run 1080p and from my early diagram posted... its easy to see how much more surface area there is PLUS - and this is important. The 1080p option has less of a viewing angle. That means whatever is on screen isn't sharing space with a larger viewing area. Basically means even more detail than just upping the screen size.

  11. #11
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    GoPro HD Motosports edition: Listed @ 299, but add to cart to get, $227.88 Total once added to cart since shipping is free.

    http://www.cycleprotectionproducts.c...441b479c21d41c

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post
    To answer your question - yes you can see more accumulated data from a moving picture, but in this case of 720p it would help, but in a lower res... there still would not be sufficient data to read a plate. No matter how hard you tried. I only run 720p for the 60 fps aspect... I could easily run 1080p and from my early diagram posted... its easy to see how much more surface area there is PLUS - and this is important. The 1080p option has less of a viewing angle. That means whatever is on screen isn't sharing space with a larger viewing area. Basically means even more detail than just upping the screen size.
    Hmmmm ...

    First, thank you for taking the time to demonstrate and explain.

    Second, with regards to the Go Pro HD camera ....

    1. What do you do about battery life? The specs report 2.5 hours. Do you carry a second battery?
    2. From what I gather, the Motorsports, Helmet, and Naked editions differ simply by the mounts included. The price is the same. True? If so, why did you pick the Motorsports version?
    3. Is it really the case that the camera, battery, and case weigh approximately 150-160 grams? That is surprising. Potentially it will be mounted on a helmet. Since I hurt my neck, extra weight on the helmet is somewhat of a concern.**
    4. The battery looks similar to what is in our regular digital camera. So it is a standard commercially available battery?


    Anyway, you have me seriously considering the HD option.

    ** Just to motivate the point, I hurt my neck last year and picked up a recumbent to let it heal. But the bike has under-seat steering so there are not a lot of mounting locations. Since I bike commute throughout the year, I also have a light on my helmet. Anyway, I never noticed an issue with the two helmet mounted lights (forward and rear) so I suspect that an additional camera will probably not be a big deal. Nonetheless, I'd rather think about it prior to purchasing than after.

  13. #13
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
    I ride quite a few gravel and dirt forest roads and sometimes don't want to take my more expensive camera with me when going to really rugged areas. That's why finding a reasonably priced, rugged point and shoot camera that has good image stabilization and can shoot HD video was a better option for me. Having this camera allows me to leave my more expensive camera at home and use this one for both videos and stills. (It's water proof and shock proof.) If having a multi-purpose camera isn't important to you, then you can ignore still picture quality (most camcorders take still photos these days).

    I had camera shake with my DV camcorder and the Kodak Playsport on paved roads, including the one in this video, and gravel roads. The Olympus is the first one that doesn't have camera shake, but then it's got dual image stabilization. I use a 1/2" P clamp on the handlebars that has a long 1/4" bolt (standard size for camera mounts). The Velbon base plate screws on the bolt and the plate on the camera attaches securely when inserted into the base plate. I'll get a photo for you tomorrow. For now, here's a photo of showing the Velbon base plate that the camera clamps into (circled in red so you can't miss it).
    I see. That brings up a complaint in a comparison between the Drift and Go Pro. From memory, they mention that the Go Pro lacks a standard tripod mount that prevents it from being compatible with (1) tripods and (2) lots of other mounts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZqXldNcfp4

  14. #14
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Here are two photos showing the P-clamp on the handlebar and the camera latched into the Velbon QR. (I went with the Velbon QR because I already had it. You wouldn't need QR.)
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Thanks! Looks interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post
    GoPro HD Motosports edition: Listed @ 299, but add to cart to get, $227.88 Total once added to cart since shipping is free.

    http://www.cycleprotectionproducts.c...441b479c21d41c

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    Any helmet cams with non-wide angle lens OR video capable digital cams with +2hr run?

    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post
    ... sufficient data to read a plate. ...
    One disadvantage of the dedicated helmet cams mentioned in this thread is that they all come with very wide-angle lenses. That means when a motor vehicle license plate is close enough to have an image size & resolution that is legible, it is moving rapidly across the camera's field of view.

    A not so wide to perhaps slightly telephoto lens could get images of the plate at a greater distance when the image was not moving across the camera's filed of view so rapidly. There would be trade-offs of lens speed (longer lens tends to be smaller, slower aperture), rate of change of license plate image (telephoto better), and road vibration effects (telephoto worse and depends upon how rough the road is vs. image stabilization hardware+software and type of camera mount).

    One reason an Olympus Stylus Tough or similar camera might be preferable if license plate imaging is a priority is that they provide an optical zoom that could be set for whatever is optimal for your cycling situation in terms of available light, relative motor vehicle speeds, road vibration, and camera mount. I only wish these cameras had at least 2 hours of video recording per battery charge.

    Anyone know of a reasonably priced helmet camera capable of HD video with a non-wide angle lens? Or alternatively, an HD video capable weatherproof digital camera with at least 2 hours video recording on one battery charge?

  17. #17
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giro View Post
    Anyone know of a reasonably priced helmet camera capable of HD video with a non-wide angle lens? Or alternatively, an HD video capable weatherproof digital camera with at least 2 hours video recording on one battery charge?
    Doesn't the GoPro HD satisfy this standard?

  18. #18
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    BTW, CyciumX discusses his setup below in more detail. There are some more comments there too.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ike-cam-advice

  19. #19
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    As I stated before. the 1080p mode is actually @ 127 degree angle and not 170 as is the other modes... which would satisfy your request.

    To quote myself from earlier in this thread:
    PLUS - and this is important. The 1080p option has less of a viewing angle. That means whatever is on screen isn't sharing space with a larger viewing area. Basically means even more detail than just upping the screen size.
    Cam Mount...:
    http://www.amazon.com/GoPro-Tripod-M.../dp/B002RCLYXG

    Thats the GoPro tripod mount to be used with the universal standard. Its 8 bucks.

    Extra Battery...:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._1100mAh_.html

    20 bucks. 4 hours of 1080p video - do you really need more? You'd have to invest in a $100 dollar memory card. The battery also is the fastest to charge of any rechargeable HD cam on the market.

    The GoPro HD is the same for any edition which you are correct is just marketing different mounts for different types of primary uses. The Motorsports package has the best variety of included mounts and the most amount of mounts. I would go with that and then buy anything special you would need. It would be very pricey to buy the "naked" version and then buy all the mounts you want.

    One last thing. Remember, the GoPro HD also takes 5MP stills that are higher res than 1080p. So ask yourself - do you want a digital camera that can take decent 720p video (@max 30fps) or a dedicated 1080p Video camera that can still take a decent high res picture... which also allows you to adjust the intervals and of course... the sound the GoPro is better than any other camera or cam out there

  20. #20
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post
    As I stated before. the 1080p mode is actually @ 127 degree angle and not 170 as is the other modes... which would satisfy your request.

    To quote myself from earlier in this thread:


    Cam Mount...:
    http://www.amazon.com/GoPro-Tripod-M.../dp/B002RCLYXG

    Thats the GoPro tripod mount to be used with the universal standard. Its 8 bucks.

    Extra Battery...:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._1100mAh_.html

    20 bucks. 4 hours of 1080p video - do you really need more? You'd have to invest in a $100 dollar memory card. The battery also is the fastest to charge of any rechargeable HD cam on the market.

    The GoPro HD is the same for any edition which you are correct is just marketing different mounts for different types of primary uses. The Motorsports package has the best variety of included mounts and the most amount of mounts. I would go with that and then buy anything special you would need. It would be very pricey to buy the "naked" version and then buy all the mounts you want.

    One last thing. Remember, the GoPro HD also takes 5MP stills that are higher res than 1080p. So ask yourself - do you want a digital camera that can take decent 720p video (@max 30fps) or a dedicated 1080p Video camera that can still take a decent high res picture... which also allows you to adjust the intervals and of course... the sound the GoPro is better than any other camera or cam out there
    I looked at the GOPro briefly but decided against it since I really wanted a rugged camera capable of both decent still photos and HD video to take with me when I didn't want to risk ruining my good digital camera. Given that the GoPro has no LCD screen (you have to buy an LCD display separately) it's functionality as a still camera is limited. The other thing that bothered me were the negative reviews. One issue that may be at the heart of reported crashes and video taping limitations (at least when in 720p, 6fps) seems to be SDHC card compatibility. Maybe you should advise others what SDHC cards you've found compatible with your GOPro.

  21. #21
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Well, I have some stuff to brood over.

    If anyone is interested, here is a comparison between the Go Pro HD and Drift x170 ...

    http://www.webbikeworld.com/r4/gopro-hd/
    http://www.webbikeworld.com/r4/drift-x170/

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    The negative reviews are all nitpicking...and they are all outdated. No current GoPro has the 30 minute limitation which was set to comply with export protocols that limit video length or be taxed extra (EU). That is why current GoPro units can't be exported by a reputable dealer. They had the limitation lifted for domestic use.

    I use an 8gig Kingston micro sd card with an sd adapter. Lowest of the low for the size... works a charm. Lack of a view finder is actually not that large a hindrance... if at all. I've never taken a video or pic out of field.

    So how many still photos can your traditional point and shoot camera take while you have both hands occupied? How much 1080p video can it shoot? How long does the battery last when shooting video?

    Believe me... I take a real camera too for pics of places and events - while stopped....

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    Lets say you mount the cam to your helmet... how on gods green earth do you know what angle your helmet will be at when you do set the camera angle by the time its actually on your head and moving around? Its nice that the x170 has a screen, but real world use has its limitations to how important that function is. Once you have the GoPro mounted correctly... its easy to snap off and on in the exact same position. That x170 looks like more of a brick than the GoPro. Thats saying something.

    /Fan boy

  24. #24
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyciumX View Post
    The negative reviews are all nitpicking...and they are all outdated. No current GoPro has the 30 minute limitation which was set to comply with export protocols that limit video length or be taxed extra (EU). That is why current GoPro units can't be exported by a reputable dealer. They had the limitation lifted for domestic use.

    I use an 8gig Kingston micro sd card with an sd adapter. Lowest of the low for the size... works a charm. Lack of a view finder is actually not that large a hindrance... if at all. I've never taken a video or pic out of field.

    So how many still photos can your traditional point and shoot camera take while you have both hands occupied? How much 1080p video can it shoot? How long does the battery last when shooting video?

    Believe me... I take a real camera too for pics of places and events - while stopped....
    Actually, I get off my bike a lot when riding deep in the forest that I live in and take photos. I also will use the Stylus Tough when hiking, canoing and other outdoor activities where I don't want to run the risk of ruining my expensive digital camera. Again, you really can't take stills without an optical viewfinder or LCD screen.

  25. #25
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    It appears that the Drift HD170 just came out ...

    http://www.driftinnovation.com/hd170-action-camera.php

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