Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Was Good To Me…

Actually it wasn’t Santa- it was Awesome Wife who gave it to me:

I don’t know that a helmet cam is going to help me watch the world wake up all that much more effectively, but it sure is a lot of fun. It’s the VholdR CountourHD, which was recommended to me by reader Joe in this post back in September. (Joe posted a review in a November follow-on comment to that same post.) Though I’m not ready to provide a review yet, my initial experience has been great. It was a cinch to set up, record and download video, and for a 4oz camera on top of a helmet, I’d say the video quality is pretty decent.

Helmetcam Mount1 It doesn’t come with a real helmet-mount; you have to order it separately. But I rigged up the gogglestrap-mount with a spare Velcro strap, and it works just fine*. The camera comes with a 2GB memory card, which is supposedly enough for ~1 hour of HD video; I picked up a 16GB card at BestBuy. I’ll have to play around with the sound; the mike seems to pick up little except for wind…

*Although there was a titch of play between mount and strap, which I took care of with a small piece of cardboard wedged in-between.

Helmetcam Mount2 Interestingly, video seems to make a ride appear faster than it seemed at the time. Keep in mind that in these videos I’m rolling on packed snow with regular mtb tires; I don’t think I topped maybe 18 MPH. But it sure looks like I’m moving. Can’t wait to try it out on fast, dry singletrack…

BTW, if you’re a non-Utah reader, this next video gives you a good idea of what a Salt Lake Valley inversion looks like. For most of the video I’m riding North along the Wasatch foothills at ~5,500 feet; you can see the haze filing the valley to my left. (Or just skip to 2:20, when I switchback from Southbound to Northbound, taking in a quick panorama of the valley.)

Thanks Joe for the recommendation and review. And yes, Colin, I will be bringing it along on our next Gooseberry trip. I figure it will sort of balance out the ukulele.

12 comments:

joe said...

hey Watcher - glad you're enjoying the camera. About the audio - I put a small piece of electrical tape over the microphone hole, and it seems to cut down on the wind noise greatly. Depending on the angle of the camera and how fast you're going, you'll still get wind noise, but not nearly as much and hardly ever the buffeting sound. The tape doesn't seem to get in the way of voices or normal audio.

The other advice I can give about using the camera is
1) experiment with your angles. Looks like you got it about right already, but I took lots of video where the camera was basically pointing down, right in front of me. It looks like on your bike helmet it's towards the back and almost looks like it's pointing up. When mounting to the side of my motorcycle and snowboard helmets, I was surprised at how steep of an upward angle I had to point it.
2) like I mentioned in my previous review, good lighting really helps. I can brighten the video up a bit in iMovie, but nice sunlight really helps.
3) It's not very good at landscape or long-distance recording because of the very wide-angle and the lack of zoom. Wide landscapes also mess with the white-balance, so if you're shooting off in the distance and you have an overcast, white/gray sky and a dark ground, the resulting picture won't be good. So it's best for just recording what's right in front of you.

I took mine snow boarding last week and it did pretty good, just had to keep the lens clear of snow and smudges.

KanyonKris said...

Cool toy! My moons will look better in HD video.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

You want to know another great Christmas gift that was made obvious by your video? Leashes for all those dogs. Seriously.

WheelDancer said...

Another toy I'll not likely see in my kit but I sure like it when others get them and I'll be looking forward to the video additions to your stories.

Watcher said...

Joe- Thanks for the advice. I’ll try the piece of tape over the mike. BTW, what editing software do you use- the EasyEdit program that comes with the camera, or another app?

SBJ- In fairness that trail is pretty much a local dog-walker’s path, and is probably the last place they'd expect to see a bike. It’s real short and just connects the mouth of Carrigan Canyon with Devonshire Drive. I only biked it because it’s always packed down and I was looking for something ride-able to shake up the view a bit.

joe said...

I use iMovie '09, but that only helps if you have a Mac. The Easy Edit software appears to only be good enough for basic trimming or edits, but no effects or special transitions or anything. After I export the HD video out of iMovie, I upload it to vimeo, and also import the edited video into Easy Edit so I can upload it to VholdR from there.

I'm starting a vimeo channel with all my helmetcam videos on it. Need to edit together some recent snowboarding trips
http://vimeo.com/channels/70873

KB said...

One way that the helmet cam might help you with 'watching the world wake up' is that you'll have a camera rolling right away when you see something interesting. The images won't be as beautiful as if you used a still camera but you'll have some evidence of the bear butt sprinting away from you if you don't have time to get the camera out!

Watcher said...

Joe- Thanks. I'm a PC user, so I'll poke around a bit.

KB- That's brilliant. That's exactly what I'll do. thanks!

Jube said...

Hey, was that your v-brakes I heard squeaking? I thought Santa was bringing you disc breaks. Just kidding.

gregclimbs said...

nice! did you get a 720 or 1080? I bought the 720 RIGHT before the 1080 came out :/ sucks to be me.

BTW, I much prefer bike mounting... having something in the foreground helps give it some perspective:

http://vimeo.com/6627806

(yeah, my shop/garage is a mess)

enjoy!

g

Watcher said...

Jube- Yeah the front V's were a-screechin'! They often do so during inversions (weird, huh?), so I don't worry about it or change pads till the inversion breaks and I see if they're still screaming...

Greg- The 720p, which is what I asked for and am just fine with- I'm not video-geek. (Well, not yet.) Thanks for the advice re:mounts. I'll probably order the bike-mount just to check it out, and may prefer it for the road, but KB made a great point (wildlife sightings) in favor of helmet-mount for mtb.

BTW, your garage looks better than mine.

Ted C. MacRae said...

That looks like fun!

I'd have loved to have had one of these when Frontenac's Officer Barron brake-checked me and then wrote me a ticket. I'd have done a lot more than just get the ticket dropped and write him a nasty letter!