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I'm looking for recommendations for a good, water-proof (or at least weather-resistant) video camera that meets the needs of recording general commuting rides. Some desirable attributes are:

  • Several hour battery life.
  • Ease of video download and erasure.
  • Ease of basic operation; the ability to turn on and off with gloved hands without looking, for example.
  • Inconspicuous and light when mounted; something that could go pretty much unnoticed on the side of a helmet.

I know there are quite a few new products in this category, but am having trouble coming by experiences of actual riders.

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5  
Inconspicuous and helmet-mounted are mutually exclusive in my mind. –  kmm Mar 23 '12 at 0:21
2  
Why would you want a helmet cam to be inconspicuous? I find that, when I have my helmet light on (which people frequently mistake for a camera), drivers give me significantly more room. When drivers think they're on camera, they behave better. –  Neil Fein Aug 15 '12 at 23:55

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are asking for a lot.

A camera which has a several hour battery life, by definition needs size to carry the battery.

The smallest self contained cameras I am aware of are the Epic Stealth and the Tachyon XC Micro. There is a good review and comparison here.

These are both older models compared below. The newer models on the websites linked have better specs, and better resolution.

Microcam Comparison

Edit:

In response to (now deleted) comments below.

The Contour HD is a good camera, with fairly short (sub 2 hour) battery life. It does have the pretty cool geotagging feature as well. I would recommend the GoPro cameras, but it would be best if you bar mount those, and they aren't as small. Not huge, but not tiny.

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I bought a DOGCAM Bullet HD Wide camera, on the basis of a decent camera at a good price. The Contour HD is a nice camera but too expensive for me.

The DOGCAM Bullet is compact unit, 80mm long and 22mm diameter. Waterproof so strapped to my helmet for kayaking, on the bike I tend to strap it to the bars. It'll last a couple of hours on a battery charge, it's an internal battery which is charged via the mini USB port in the back of the camera. Plugging in via the USB it just appears as a removable flash drive on the computer to copy the video's.

My only real gripe with it is the on/off switch, there's very little tactile feedback to know if I've pressed the button. It does have a small LED at the front to indicate when it's recording or the memory card is full but in daylight conditions it's not the easiest thing to spot. When it's on my bars I really have to lean forward and squint to see the LED.

There is a fair review and example video on Cycleseven

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For inconspicuousness, it looks a lot like a regular front bike light, if that's an acceptable disguise. –  drfrogsplat Aug 16 '12 at 6:10
    
I use one of these and I agree with everything you say including the gripe. (Although I believe there is an upmarket version which will shine a laser for 10 seconds to let you know its come on.) Mine cost around GBP100 a year ago - I mention this because only a few weeks ago I bought my daughter a cam from Amazon which looks exactly like the dogcam bullet, still offers HD recording, but was half the price. Have yet to see quality... –  PeteH Aug 17 '12 at 14:57
    
however, dogCam battery life 90 mins tops –  PeteH Aug 17 '12 at 14:58

Install any sort of helmet cam, then cover it with a small stuffed toy.

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I'd wait for Liquid Image's Ego to be released this June. $149, 1080p HD, small, waterproof, rechargeable, built-in wifi so you can monitor and control from your iPhone or Android. Buy a black one, and maybe you can embed it into a bicycle helmet without compromising the integrity too much. This camera was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show this January, 2012.

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It looks to be a good piece of kit, if it ever actually comes out. –  zenbike Mar 25 '12 at 9:51
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Now that this has been released, would you be willing to update this with more current information? –  Neil Fein Aug 15 '12 at 23:58

Must it be helmet mounted? I own a set of 720P Sunglasses shown here:

720P Sunglasses

After I fried a my first pair from water getting in by the buttons and USB port, I put black electrical tape over the buttons and seam, and they are now effectively waterproof. The battery life is 2.5-3 hours, and they record to my 16GB MicroSD card, which can then be put right into my computer. The two buttons are easy to find and press (even under the tape).

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I originally bought a pair of Lorex sunglasses for this purpose but found them to be very uncomfortable. There is a built in light that can be seen out of the side vision so all of the components are already set up for a helmet. Looks easy enough to strip the components out of them and embed them in and behind the lining around the corners of my helmet so that the little pin cam can be looking out through the wind visor above my forehead. Probably not a solution but it is an experience to share.

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