Archives For Video 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.

Cyclists are pack animals

October 8, 2011 — 12 Comments

At least that is what labyonnette of youtube thinks. He posted the following comment on my Why are cyclists using video cameras video.

Most of these incidents reflect a very sensitive individual who is over reacting to quite normal road occurences. Listen to the aggressive yelling, its typical of of you low IQ, low education, gay, self opinionated, paranoid prima donnas who think they own the road. You have absolutey NO tolerance of morists and you are pack animals often gathering together to intimidate motorists. Well boys you dont frighten me, I’ll cut you up at every opportunity. Give blood, run over cyclist every day

What a charming individual, with some incredible opinions about cyclists and those that choose to record what happens to them on the road. The road conditions and drivers are only normal to him, because that is the way he drives.

Cyclists across the globe have to deal with inconsiderate drivers that don’t understand our needs or that we are allowed to use the road. Many of us have taken to using cameras, a cyclist in Boston recently posted a video of a driver who was very impatient as he cycled down a busy road with lots of hazards, the driver could have easily changed lanes to pass the cyclists but instead choose to sound his horn and pass him with only inches to spare.

As always, the driver shortly stopped in traffic and got out of his car asking the cyclist if he wanted a fight. Quite rightly the cyclist didn’t want to get into a fight with someone who was more than likely several times the size of him.
When the cyclist went to the Police they where not interested in what happened, even when the cyclist stated that he had the whole incident on video. I’m sure most of us have experienced problems like this, lets just hope it changes as the grow of camera use in cyclists increases.

Remonstrating with drivers

September 12, 2011 — 15 Comments

Is it really worth remonstrating with drivers that put us in danger?

I’ve done my fair share of remonstrating, some would say that I go to far, it’s hard to control what you say when you have adrenaline pumping through your arteries. The adrenaline is usually a result of a near collision experience, a collision which could have resulted in death or serious injury.

Most people don’t like to be criticised by strangers and I think that is fair enough. But some people go to extreme lengths when they have been. Just watch the video below, the driver passes the cyclist far too close and is shortly stuck in traffic. The cyclist remonstrates with the driver about their actions only a few meters behind them and the driver clearly doesn’t like it as they shortly brake test the cyclist and then tailgate them.
They part ways but the driver, unknown to the cyclist, turns around and follows them as they stop at a petrol station, the driver continues past but pulls up on the other side of the road. As the cyclist approaches where the driver is parked, the driver pulls away and quite clearly drives towards the cyclist as they take a side road.

And another example below, where a video camera cyclist confronts a driver that didn’t stop at a zebra crossing, a rather minor driving error in the bigger picture but worth highlighting it, but doing so in person? Not so sure, this driver clearly doesn’t like being told how to drive by someone else and when a note about where to see the offending video is thrown in the vehicle and the driver is then cut up on the roundabout. The driver takes it back on the cyclist by cutting him up. It really isn’t worth remonstrating with drivers, even if these 2 are only 1 in a 100.

I stopped talking to drivers* about their bad driving quite some time ago, I find it’s best just to take a deep breath and get on with it. I have it on video and will report them to the police if need be.

* Well starting conversations, I can’t help it if people get out of their vehicle and confront me.

There has been a boom of cyclists that have started to take to the roads with video cameras. As one of them, I try to come up with and promote ways that we as a group can make our videos better. One thing that is missing from the videos is speed, and with wide-angle lenses it can often be very difficult to judge from a video just how fast a cyclist is actually traveling.

I’ve made a few videos where I have digital read outs on the video and I often get questions asking about these when I make them.

A cyclists who goes by the name VeryMadMart has made a java application that takes the files recorded by a ContourHD and the TCX files recorded by a Garmin GPS unit and puts the data on the video frame by frame with some nice graphics.

Essentially the application just needs a .mov file and a GPX file to make the overlay, so you don’t have to use a ContourHD and Garmin device.

The hardest part of doing this is trimming the video and editing the TCX XML file to match. Essentially most of the time the video and data will be slightly out of sync. I have found the best way is to use the latitude and longitude found in the XML and search that on google maps, it gives me an idea of where I’m looking at and I usually cut the start of the video to a side road or similar where I can easily match it up ‘exactly’ on the google maps. This minimises the delay from video to data to within a second in most cases.

This isn’t the only way cyclists can do this. Vholdr, the owners of the Contour brand, have released a version of their camera with GPS inbuilt to it. This makes for another way to get some information about your ride and match it up to your camera. How this works with a site like youtube I don’t know. But upload the footage on to the Contour website and it looks like the whole thing is automatic and a nice map and data is displayed next to the video.

Digital overlays and speed readouts isn’t just a gimmick, in the case of a collision the information will be vital. GPS positioning will back up what your camera says and gives you an accurate speed just before impact! No more ‘I was doing about 15mph officer’
How many motorists can do this? I bet less than 1% can!

For more detailed information on the steps involved and to download a copy of the java file, please visit VeryMadMarts website.