Helmet Cam Options... What's the Best?

Roland C

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#1
Hey All,

I'm in the market for a helmet cam :) and was wondering what your experience has been. I've got a Canon miniDV camcorder that takes an A/V input and I'm looking for a good helmet cam that will give me (hopefully) DVD quality video. The problem is that the specs all look so similar between all the brands that it's hard to make a decision. I've searched the threads :nod: , but I could use a little more info. I'm not interested in the low-to-medium quality options (Oregon Scientific ATC-2000, Mustek, etc). I know FruDaddy has had experience with Bulletcam and Okie likes the one from helmetcamera. Here are the ones I've been looking at (click on the links to see each one):

VioSport
Hoyt Technologies
JonesCAM
Twenty20
Bullet Cam
Sportzshot
Xtreme Recall
Skullcamz
Helmetcamera

It seems that most of them use the Sony 1/3" CCD (with the exception of Twenty20, which uses a new CMOS) and run 480 horizontal lines of resolution and up. The question is would I even be able to tell the difference between 480, 520, and 580 resolution without running an HDTV? I've found some comparison tests here and it appears that there certainly is a difference in picture quality between the helmet cams, but they only review a few of the options. I was kind of thinking Twenty20 because they are supposed to be available from the local dealer (I wanted to try it out with my camcorder before I bought it) and they seem to be pretty popular among dirtbikers, but the dealers here don't stock them because of a "lack of demand". If anyone has had experience with any of the listed companies or has any other advice it would be most appreciated. Thanks! :cool:
 
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scooter1130

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#2
If you're not in a real big hurry, I can send you a DVD-R of the Damn yankees on a Paragon ride, made from mine from helmetcamera.com, also using a canon miniDV. The helmet cam is 480 lines of res. If you want, send me a pm or an email with where to send it.
 
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#3
I see that you have already read my previous posts on bulletcam. I would also assume that you have been to their website and noted that they have a 480 line model which is most likely what you would want if you chose to go with them (digital tv is typically 480p, 720p, or 1080i). Mini DV is apparently limited to 520.
Source (http://hometheater.about.com/cs/television/a/aavideoresa.htm)

Here are a few notes about the bulletcam product that may be of interest to your final decision. When I first recieved my cam, I eagerly opened the packaging and was dissapointed with what I saw. The componentry appears to be home-built. I now see this as a good thing. The cable that runs from the helmet cam to the wiring harness appear to be a standard 2-pair telephone wire. The battery pack, which takes 8AA batteries can be purchased fro Radio shack, and the microphone is little more than a circuit board wrapped in shrink tubing. All of this actually means that if these components are damaged, it will not be difficult to repair or replace them. The battery pack also allows you to use rechargeable or standard batteries, which can be sourced virtually anywhere. The biggest problem that I have experienced has been the fact that the velcro they supply to mount the unit is extremely diffucult to find (it is not the standard hook and loop).

Another option that I have seen in the mountain bike world is a custom mount to carry the actual camera on the helmet. http://www.sirbikesalot.com/entry.php?fid=42
 

Roland C

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#4
Scooter - PM sent.

FruDaddy - thank you for the heads up on the Bullet Cam setup. Also, thank you for the link about video resolution. That was very informative. It looks like if I'm going to be burning DVDs I don't necessarily need a 520 or 580 res helmet cam; a 480 would probably suffice. Have you burned any DVDs with your setup? How does the video look on your TV? Would you say it is close to DVD quality?

What have your experiences been regarding durability? Does it seem like everything holds up well with all the bouncing around? Anyone else have experience with any of these other brands? Thanks again for your input!
 

scooter1130

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#5
I've had mine from helmetcamera.com for 2 years now, and no problems. And the battery pack and microphone on this are similar to what frudaddy was saying, and would be easily replacable if needed.
 
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#6
I have burned to the MPEG2 format with good results, although most of my footage is for the web, I don't burn DVDs but I do the occasional SVCD which basically uses the same format. I feel that the quality is near DVD, and definitley as good as anything else that that I heve ever pulled off of my MiniDV camera, and the only reason that you would really need more resolution is if you think that you might try zooming in on the footage while editing. Of course, I do have the lower resolution helmet cam. If you want, I can probably scrounge up a short clip in MPG2 and email it to you.
 

scooter1130

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#7
FruDaddy said:
The biggest problem that I have experienced has been the fact that the velcro they supply to mount the unit is extremely diffucult to find (it is not the standard hook and loop).
Radio shack sells the velcro you are referring to, I have used that stuff for different things for the past 10 years, it is much stronger than velcro, but doesn't hold up as long if you frequently take them apart, but when they are together, they will hold anything. Click here
I actually buy it in 20 ft rolls from one of my suppliers at work.
 

sick 96 250

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#9
I as well have the Bullet-cam one with 480 lines of RES. I think it really looks great for what it is and the price. Here is a quick clip of it when I first got it, I was a little off on the angle position of the cam itself and this clip is also compressed so the it lost some quality.
http://media.putfile.com/Banshee-Bullet-Cam-test

This was on my Banshee as well so its a little bumpy
 

Roland C

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#10
Thanks for all the responses so far guys. It sounds like you're all pretty happy with what you got. FruDaddy, I'll shoot you a PM with my email. I'd like to check out your footage. Thanks again guys.
 

scooter1130

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#11
What camcorders are you guys using, I need a new one and am having trouble finding one with AV inputs thats reasonable priced ($300 range). I dont want to spend a fortune to take it out and abuse it. Most have outputs, but no inputs :bang:
 
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#12
Canon ZR100A, bought it as a closeout at Crutchfield.com pretty cheap (the last one they had). For some reason the addition of AV input seems to throw the price way up.
 

scooter1130

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#13
Yeah, I just found a canon ZR700 at a local dealer online, and its discontinued so I better go get to the store first thing tomorrow. It's one of the few cheap models left with AV input.
Heres the list I just got from canon of all their current models with AV input. they list the ZR 600, but all the web sites including their own say it doesnt, and all the others are over $1000
1. HV10

2. HV20

3. ZR700

4. ZR600

5. XL2

6. XL H1

7. XH A1

8. XH G1
 

bsmith

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#14
Mini DV is apparently limited to 520.
Canon says that the HV 20 can record in HD?
"The HV20 is the HD camcorder to go along with everything else in your HD world. It captures true 1080 High Definition resolution video in 16:9 format, using MiniDV cassette tapes. The HV20's true 16:9 widescreen HD image is made for your new HD widescreen TV. High Definition and widescreen are the future. Be sure you invest in that future with Canon's HV20."

It appears, I' in the market for a new MinDV. I beleive, in a rush to leave a soccer game our Camcorder, was lost in the shuffle! So, interested in what this thread has to offer~!
 

sick 96 250

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#15
i'm using the canon elura 100, i also got the best buy coverage so if anything happens at all to the camcorder it will be replaced no questions asked. Quality is great for a lower end camcorder.