Archives For Camera

Contour ROAM Review

January 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

Contour is well-known in the extreme sports camera market, and their latest camera is certainly something to consider.

It’s boasted as being an easy to use camera and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. With features taken from Contour’s top of the range + model, the ROAM builds on top of the solid base that Contour has built over the years with their various cameras. The ROAM takes it a step further by making it waterproof to 1 meter, having a single use power/record slider and auto adjusting exposure settings.

The ROAM keeps the same form figure as the other Contour cameras but it is slightly longer and slightly taller than the others. This is due to the battery being built-in and not removable. This does have its draw backs as the camera no longer fits in some of the mounts, such as the windshield mount.

The 270 degree rotational lens allows you to record at any rotation and the new single laser allows you to make sure your picture will be level. This new laser isn’t quite as powerful as the older style but is much better at making sure your picture is level. The lens is also flush in this version so it is much easier to clean and it doesn’t pick up dirt in the ridge.

The one slide power and record switch is great, no need to check that it is powered on first before you record and the button is slightly larger and protruding from the camera body, making it easy to turn on and off with a thick glove. Note that the on and off time is slightly longer than other cameras, meaning if you manually tag you videos by turning the camera off and on again, it does take a longer time.

The lens is taken from the Contour +, as previously stated this rotates 270 degrees allowing you to get the horizontal image from any angle. The 170 degree wide-angle lens is only available if you choose the 960p or 720p option, the 1080p option offers a slightly smaller 135 degrees which does look a little bit zoomed in comparison. My personal preference is the 960p mode to get all the information you require.

One of the biggest issues that people have noted is the lack of 60fps recording, the ROAM only offers 30fps in all of its modes and is something that can really sway people’s opinions on if it is the right camera for them. Add in the built-in battery which is not removable and some people have lost interest straight away, the battery can last for around 3 hours depending on the settings, anything longer than that and you will need to stop and charge it before doing any more filming.

The ROAM is the first Contour camera to include a 1/4 thread in the body, this allows the camera to be attached to camera accessories such as tripods and allows the use of 3rd party mounts from the likes of RAM. A welcome addition in my books and something I hope they continue in other iterations of all their line ups.

The camera has been waterproofed and is rated at up to 1 meter, this may not seem like much but it makes a huge difference if being used in the rain, previous cameras would require you to add the external case which reduced sound quality and was bulky! The waterproofing has affected the sound, as the camera comes in the box the sound quality is noticeably different to the previous Contour cameras but with Contours latest firmware update for the ROAM it has improved the sound levels and quality but quite a bit!

All in all the Contour is a great camera and fits nicely into their current range. It is a very easy camera to use and really is a point and shoot video camera. There are a few downsides which should be taken into consideration before you buy this camera, the lack of 60fps and an in-built battery will be big decision factors but so will the auto adjusting exposure settings which have really made the difference to my experience of using the Contour Camera.

Cycle Video Day

October 3, 2011 — 4 Comments

 

Cycle Video Day 10th of October 2011

Magnatom has recently announced an idea called Cycle Video Day.

The basic idea is to get as many Video Camera Cyclists to submit some footage that was taken on that day, showing what ever they wanted, them being cut up, left hooked or passing loads of standstill traffic as they go about their travels. The main idea is to show our numbers!

I know loads of people who know about my self or a few other guys that film their cycle journeys. But in reality there are loads, across the world I know of nearly 400 but there are hundreds more who I have yet to discover or who don’t post online.

I’m already having ideas about what I want to try to do. With plenty of Londoners using cameras, I would like to try to get a few of us together and all do a short ride with each other. It would be great to see each other from different perspectives.

Magnatom has asked for anyone to input in the general ideas pot. There is nothing set in stone about how this is going to work or where this is going to do. All that is set is the date. If you want to give some input, head over to his blog and comment on one of the Cycle Video Day posts.

You’re Looking for Trouble

September 22, 2011 — 9 Comments

I’m often told that I’m looking for trouble when I go out on my bicycle. After all, anyone that videos their bicycle ride is quite clearly acting up to the camera!

Comments range from

I ride a bike everyday and have never been aggressed in any way, so do thousands of others. The reason why is we aren’t looking for it.

to

it looks to me like you are looking for trouble and antagonising people for the benefit of the camera.

These comments come from all kinds of people, even from cyclists. They base this opinion around a few videos and presume that because I cycle in a position which they think is incorrect or because I did something different to what they would have done then I am acting up to the camera.

There are a few things to consider before making the assumption that I am looking for trouble. Distance, time, location, vehicle interactions and limited view.

Distance

My commute is 17 miles each way and I cycle to work and back again 5 days a week. Totalling my weekly mileage at 170 miles and that is not including the miles I do on the weekends. I miss a few days because of illness, holiday and occasionally bad weather. So my yearly mileage is normally around 7,000 miles. Much higher than the average cyclist.

Time

I work the 9 to 5, so the time I’m on the road is at rush hour, 170 miles a week at rush hour! Lots of traffic trying to get to work as quickly as possible and a few of them not thinking about anyone else but themselves.

Location

I commute from Croydon to central London. Whilst Croydon isn’t as big as central London, there is still a large quantity of traffic and I’m sure we are all aware of the traffic in central . I also follow some of the busiest routes in south London, with lots of different kinds of traffic all trying to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Vehicle Interactions

In a single day I will have nearly a thousand interactions with other vehicles, by that I mean them passing me or me passing them. So weekly it’s +5,000 interactions but I only upload maybe 10 videos a week. Why? Because I’m not looking for trouble and most people drive safely. There are a few videos where at the time I think it was bad but on reflection it doesn’t look so bad on the video, in this case I don’t bother to upload the video

Limited View

Most of my videos show bad drivers, so of course it might look like I’m out looking for them. I rarely post videos of good drivers, mainly because they don’t get many as many views and it’s hard to see how good a driver really is.

Conclusion

I bet it doesn’t look like I’m antagonizing drivers or looking for trouble 99% of the time, and that is because I’m not, the other 1% is just down to people’s perceptions of a minority of incidences where they think they would have done better.
Pedal 7,000 miles in my shoes, ride 170 miles a week on the same roads as me and see how you react.

Mark Schulze, a Director of Photography and ow...

Image via Wikipedia

The popularity of helmet cameras has exploded over the past few years, hundreds of cyclists across the world are using cameras to record and tell their stories. Thousands of road users are also doing the same.

So you are in the market for a helmet camera? But where to start? Follow this guide and hopefully you will be in a position to make a choice about which camera is best for you.

Budget!

Your budget will be the biggest factor in choosing which camera to go for. The general rule is that the more you spend the better quality camera you get. Be it HD, better mounts, better quality parts used and more features.

Quality?

The biggest decision is going to be quality. HD is a great thing to have but comes at a cost, greater than £100 for a good camera with a HD chip. HD isn’t everything, you can still get a good picture without HD by choosing a camera which uses a good quality sensor. HD does often give a clearly image and has a wider lens angle, all positives.

Lens Angle

The lens angle makes a huge difference to what is captured by the camera. A wider lens angle will pick up more footage but it has it’s downsides. Wide angle lenses often create a fish eye look and elements on the edge of the film will often be further away than they actually are (making close passes look further away than they really are). It also makes judging speed on film a little bit harder.
I use a 1080p camera but run it at 960p, why? Because the 1080p mode uses a smaller lens angle and zooms the image in. I would much rather have a wider lens angle and a taller image to get the most footage I can, it makes a huge difference.

Body Format

Helmet cameras come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from bullet to cubes. When choosing what you want it is wise to take into consideration where you are going to mount your camera (It doesn’t have to be on the helmet). Square cameras look a bit silly on a helmet when you compare them to bullet format cameras but the square cameras seem to look and fit better when fitted to the handle bars. Slimmer cameras, such as the veho muvi, can also fit into the vents of your helmet, making them a bit more discrete.

Mounting

It is a good idea to look at what mounting options there are with each camera you are considering. The more expensive cameras usually have more professional looking mounts and a wider selection. If there isn’t a specific helmet mount or if you choose to make your own then it is a good idea to take into consideration how secure it is going to be. The specific helmet mounts are designed with some sort of give in it, so if you are involved in a collision then the camera will come away from the helmet and not cause added damage to your head by causing the helmet to crush more than it should do. I would suggest not to zip tie your camera to your helmet.

If the camera comes with a 1/4″ screw thread then the possibilities for mounting are pretty much endless. RAM offer some amazing options which a few of us take advantage of and mount our cameras to various parts of our frames and handlebars.

What is in the box?

It’s a good idea to check what comes with the camera before you purchase it. The accessory that you want may be excluded or in the case of the Contour cameras the vented helmet mount is not included and i know this has caught a few buyers out. So it’s important that you check and factor any additional items in the total cost of the camera.

Memory Cards

Pretty much all cameras use some form of SD card, be that standard or Micro. Most cameras come with a memory card but often one small in size. You will probably need to get a bigger memory card, but how big depends on how long you want to ride between visits to a computer or a memory card swap.

Battery

Not all cameras have a removable battery, limiting your time on the road before you have to visit a computer or wall plug. Some of these can be modified to charge of a AA battery. Other units have removable batteries, so if you are on a long ride then you can swap out the battery when one dies and continue.

Features

Some models of cameras come with some added features which can be nice, from lasers and small screens to bluetooth and GPS. Some features can be handy to have where as others are just additions which you never use. Think about which ones you need and which ones you don’t as they do affect the cost of the cameras.

Reviews

It’s worth looking at reviews of the products and see what others thing about it. Just search the camera name + review in a search engine like google. Point Of View Cameras has reviews on all the major cameras and Magnatom has done a view of some cameras and compared them against each other. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Example Footage

Pretty much each camera type is already used by a cyclist online, so search for the camera on youtube and see if someone has some footage of it in use. This can make the difference in your choice. If you see another camera cyclist on youtube that has good footage, ask them what camera they use and they are more often that not happy to let you know what they use. Although it would be worthwhile looking on their channel and see if the information is displayed there or if someone else has already asked.

Where brands make good cameras?

  • Contour / Vholdr
  • GoPro
  • Veho
  • Drift Innovations
  • V.I.O POV

Where to buy cameras?

I remember when I first started recording my cycle journeys. At that time there where only a handful of cyclists that where regularly using and uploading footage onto the Internet. But look at it now and the users are in the hundreds. But why has it become popular?

As more and more videos of dangerous driving get uploaded onto the internet and more cyclists view it, the appeal to record and upload your own experiences becomes larger, especially if you have a few close shaves with motorised vehicles.

Factor in the new availability of cheaper cameras, the veho muvi camera has had a massive effect on the affordability of it. When I first started you where looking at least £100 for a system and even then it wasn’t great. Now you can get a camera for less than £20!

I’ve noticed the most growth has been in London. I have nothing to back this up but I think the growth came about shortly after the launch of roadsafe London. Cyclists jumped on this and I believe most of the reports are from cyclists. Roadsafe London changed the way that cyclists could report drivers. Before it was an impossible task and mostly taken as your word against theirs, even if you had video footage, it’s only worth the process to yourself, the police and the CPS if it is seriously bad. Roadsafe London has made it dead simple. Put the car details in, add a description, some notes about what happened, include your video URL (if you have one) and that’s it.

Now the popularity has increased, we are selling more and more media coverage of cyclists using cameras, earlier this year several cyclists appeared on BBC news in a piece about cyclists catching dangerous road users and only a few weeks ago was a driver caught punching a cyclists on someones helmet camera.

Unfortunately I see the main reason for cameras is because we are not listened to, we use them to back up what happened and to prove to people that the person that knocked us off is in the wrong. In some cases it’s a real fighting battle to be a cyclist as a lot of people just don’t want to listen to what we have to say.

Try and ignore us now, together we record our tales on the road.