Vibration and picture quality
I don't have a GoPro or Contour, just a "sports" model (shock, cold and water resistant) digital pocket camera with HD video capability with image stabilization. I bought a handlebar mount for it, but on all but the smoothest of roads the vibration is very unacceptable. I even tried it on my high volume tire 700x40mm trail bike on smooth pavement and still got a lot of shake. I see a lot of videos shot using mounts to the handlebars and other rigid parts of bikes with a lot less vibration despite rough roads. I'm beginning to wonder if it is the mount itself which seems to be a bit less than sturdy and sticks up a couple inches above the bar. To the naked eye it appears that it might actually be amplifying the frame vibration.
Does anyone else shoot video with a non GoPro/Contour camera with reasonably good results? Do you use a handlebar mount or a chest or helmet mount? I'm not big on helmet mounts because I don't like the vantage point and protrusions from the helmet could be an issue if I happened to crash. I'd rather have a lower vantage point like chest or handlebar. Can anyone recommend a good handlebar mount that dampens vibration or at least doesn't amplify it?
Could it be motion blur caused by a low frame-per-second rate of the camera combined with a low resolution specification? Please check the specs or post the make and model of camera.
The effect (or at least a large part of it) you're probably seeing is called rolling shutter.
As for how to fix it, you're probably right about your mount amplifying the vibration. Something that connects the camera more directly to the bars or the frame would likely work better. Getting it off your bars and onto the frame will help considerably, but of course most bikes don't have any good places to put it and have it facing forwards.
Putting it on your helmet would remove the problem as well (as your body would damp out the vibration) but then replace it with your head turning all over the place -- which might actually be a good thing.
Don't worry too much about a crash. If you crash and your helmet hits the ground hard, the fact that your camera was probably destroyed will be the least of your worries. And it probably won't affect the impact much, as it's likely to be broken off before it affects the impact much.
If you're aiming something backwards, I've found that mounting a camera to your seat post tends to make for a pretty good, solid connection that vibrates as little as possible. But some vibration is unavoidable (unless the camera is on you, of course.)
I have a ATC2K I tried mounting on a bike. Every time I hit a bump, it looked like I was filming a landscape made of jello.:lol:
Digital video cameras aren't all that different from digital still cameras. They just string a series of still shots in sequence.
Used to be a pretty common aproach to use a minimum shutter speed of 1/60 sec for still studio work to eliminate decernable motion blur with an 85mm lens. Wide angle lenses could get away with maybe 1/15 sec, but we're talking minimum motion in the subject material.
If the subject matter moves to any serious extent, even at 1/15 sec a wide angle lens will show it in a single frame. And a movie taken at 15 fps is just a sequence repeating that problem, regardless of the kind of shutter used to record it. Last time I checked, the latest GoPros are up to 60fps.
If you complicate that further with an autofocus feature that tries to refocus everytime anything in the frame moves - good luck getting anything worth looking at at all.
When you put your camera to the mount make it tight as you can.
When you attach the mount to the bars make it as tight as you can,
I add strips from an inner tube to make it even more stable, be careful
you don't end up covering some important buttons. This will help but
not completely eliminate shakes from big/multiple bumps.
Fujifilm XP50 pocket camera mounted with a Fotopro on the bars and
2 inner tube strips:
ConoturGPS mounted on the bars with just stips of an old tube:
HOMEMADE CONTOUR MOUNT1 by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
I use a Contour mounted to my helmet because I ride different bikes and don't want to continually move it around. I think the picture and mic are pretty good for a relatively inexpensive camera, but the wide angle does give a different perspective and I wonder how helpful it would actually be in an argument over fault. Things that were very innocuous look more exciting with the camera and I don't think it's view gives a great idea about actual space and distance.
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