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After a few near misses by cars and two mates actually being hit I want to start using a camera for taping video footage.

These are my requirements:

  1. Long battery life (3h+)
  2. Inconspicuous (absolutely no fancy GoPro-stuff on top of my helmet)
  3. Small & lightweight
  4. Reasonably priced (< 200AUS / 150EUR / 200US)
  5. Reasonable easy to use (with gloves, in the rain, ...)
  6. Good enough quality / angle for footage, but no further HD++ requirements
  7. Stylish

I'm aware of these questions (Recommendations for inconspicuous helmet-mounted video camera, What is a good camera arrangement for city riding?) from 2010 & 2012, but with camera technology advancing rapidly, most recommendations and discussions are outdated as of 2014. I thought about adding to them, but think starting from a clean slate it beneficial for everyone.


After a lot of internet research I think I boiled it down to a handlebar-based setup with one of following cameras (for people with a larger budget, this looks like an interesting comparison of mostly more expensive models):

Tachion MicroHD:

  • 1: 2.5h - 3: 96g - 4: 200US - 6: HD/125° - 7: :(

Liquid Image Ego:

  • 1: 2.0h - 3: 70g - 4: 200US - 6: HD/135° - 7: :/

DogCam HD2:

  • 1: 1.5h - 3: 62g - 4: 250AUS - 6: HD/135° - 7: :)

Contour Roam2:

  • 1: 2.5h - 3: 144g - 4: 275AUS - 6: HD/170° - 7: :)

Contour +2:

  • 1: ???h - 3: 155g - 4: 450AUS - 6: HD/170° - 7: :)

Polaroid XS 100 (identical to cheaper Easypix xtasy?):

  • 1: 3.0h - 3: 136g - 4: 170AUS - 6: HD/170° - 7: :/

Kaiser Baas X80 Action Cam

  • 1: 2.5h - 3: ???g - 4: 150AUS - 6: HD/???° - 7: :/

To finally come to my questions:

Does anyone

  • have experience in that problem domain / with one these models?
  • know about further alternatives?

Will try to update the question with further information...

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Just get the polaroid. –  hillsons Mar 2 at 0:35
1  
You might want to look at the fly6 which is a combination rear light and camera. I'm not sure if its available to the public yet, but here's their kickstarter page. –  Kibbee Mar 2 at 0:35
3  
This should be community wiki - there are lots of "right" answers, it's opinion based and really, it's shopping question. But I think it's worth while to have a list here and try to keep it updated. –  Mσᶎ Mar 2 at 1:11
    
If available where you are, check out the Kaiser Baas described in this answer. –  andy256 Mar 2 at 1:49
1  
@Moz - I'm all up for converting this into community wiki - just don't know how ;) –  jan groth Mar 2 at 2:16

4 Answers 4

A few years ago we bought a pile of the sub-$20 "mini dv" cams off ebay and they work fine as safety cams. Finding a waterproof enclosure is effectively impossible, so I used a plastic bag. At ~$10 each losing one is no the end of the world. Sample video: vimeo.com/15050277. If you're experimenting, buying a couple of those might be a worthwhile start to see how much hassle they are and how much use you get out of the camera. (I no longer bother, but then I ride to Cooks River cycleway every day and only ~5km of actual roads)

One thing that I've become more aware of/irritated by recently is the difference between 60fps and slower frame rates. For a safety cam 15fps is fine, but if you want to use the video for anything, 30fps is hard to watch. And a lot of the 1080p cameras don't even do 720p60. So if you're going to spend $200+ on an "HD" camera, try to get one that does a decent frame rate. That way when you start playing with the video you wan't get too grumpy. If you shoot at 1080p60 you can usually get software-stabilised 720p60 out of it, or you can pay a bit extra and get the stabilised Sony action cam instead.

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1  
30fps is hard to watch. Most videos are played back at 24 to 30 fps. Why is hard to watch? If you shoot at 1080p60... out of it. How is resolution and framerate related to the ability to stabilize something? –  Bart Arondson Mar 3 at 21:49
    
@BartArondson there are software video stabilisation programs that will either crop or rescale the video and move that cropped view around to stabilise the view. It's not as good as proper hardware stabilisation, but to get that I believe Sony is the only option. I find that bike-cam at 30fps is hard on the eyes, it seems more jittery and less flowing. That might just be me –  Mσᶎ Mar 3 at 23:34
    
60fps, absolutely, based on the consideration that if you're thinking about using the video evidence to submit footage or reports to the local police, or even just to name and shame on YouTube or Twitter, then 30fps (particularly if handlebar mounted) doesn't produce good still images. At 60fps (even if from a handlebar but definitely if helmet mounted) you stand a fighting chance of being able to produce legible images showing a good level of evidence of poor roadcraft. –  Unsliced Mar 4 at 8:06
    
As most imaging sensors use CMOS technology (and not CCD) the video quality suffers when rapid motions are involved. I am surprised that there are not a lot of cameras with integrated gyroscopes - those are cheap and there exist several papers on video stabilization and rolling shutter correction using gyro data. –  Vorac Mar 5 at 9:43

I use one of these for kayaking - I didn't want a gopro sticking out of the top of my helmet and snagging in trees, and I didn't want to spend a lot. It has a handlebar mount but I haven't tried it.

The battery life seems decent but it appears (and this may be an issue with more expensive models as well) to run down faster than I would like when switched "off".

Check that you get some form of quick release method unless you're taking the bike right in to a secure location - some of the good quality ones I've seen are fiddly to remove. Also check that it's simple to operate and flexible to get the data off - e.g. SD card rather than internal storage only.

It looks like there are more cheap options now than when I bought mine.

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I use a contour roam 2 & found the on/off button brilliant, can use with any gloves. As my commute involves off road/on road, I only record the road elements. So although the battery lasts about 2/2.5hours, I can record almost an entire week (10hours) of rides on 1 battery/memory card.

Good tip: At the end of each bit of recording, I record my hand with 1/2/3/4 fingers to show how many incidents are within that clip. If it's zero, then I make a simple fist so when I could to review the footage, I don't spend hours watching.

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Rideye is coming out with a camera specifically designed as a bicycle black box: http://www.rideye.com/

In your format:

1: 15hr - 3. No weight listed - 4. $149US - 6. 1080p/170° - 7: :)

It's not out yet, but at least spec-wise it seems like a winner. It's Kickstarted and a bit delayed, but I'm considering getting one when it's actually for sale.

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