By user12625760 on Aug 14, 2007
Living with or at least holidaying with a helmet camera.
On a whim, well on the recommendation of the Gadget show, I bought a Oregan Scientific helmet camera for use on my bike and so obviously it came on holiday with me.
I should point out that I have had a few versions of the camera due to early ones just powering down after a few minutes. Each time the shop replaced them but the symptom persisted until I started using 2700mAh metal hydride rechargeable batteries, since then the camera has behaved flawlessly.
With a 2Gb SD card in it it will record 1 hour 2 minutes at 30 frames a second and 1 hour 20 minutes at 15 frames a second (I still don't know why you don't get twice as much time when you half the frame rate, perhaps when I'm back on the Internet I'll find out). For commuting I use 15 frames so I can just start it and forget but on holiday that seems pointless.
For cycling long distances, like the journey not to the viaduct, it was not particularly useful. It is impossible to predict when you will want to record. So I just hit record at the top of the hills and tried to remember to stop recording at the bottom. Since hills in France are real hills this results in many minutes of content of the form of “cyclist's eye view of going down a hill”1.
The best videos have been when out with the family cycling. I now have video of all my children cycling all be it from the rear but it still shows those early rides.2
I also took the camera out on our canoe trip, where it had to be strapped to my head, partly to see how it would work, partly to see how waterproof it really is (alas my canoe stayed upright) and partly just to look ridiculous, something I do rather well.
Three things came out of this.
You need to take much more care of where the camera points. This seems obvious but as the camera has no view finder you need to get someone else to line it up. I failed to do this and have some videos where the shot is framed in the right of the shot and then the action all disappears stage right.
Not having a viewfinder allowed me to forget about the camera so, while I looked strange I was able to get on with having a laugh and then dealing with the footage later.
Lots of people seemed to think having a video camera was actually pretty cool, but most of those people looked like geeks, ie people who should be respected.
Not having a viewfinder is both a blessing and a curse. It prevents you from spending hours worrying about filming events rather than being part of events however it also means that if you have not set up the camera perfectly, something that is extremely difficult to do when you wear it on your head, you can end up with a lot of poor or useless footage.
I look forward to the time when a camera is built into your sun glasses and can record 8 hours of footage. However until then the helmet camera is an entertaining bit of kit.
1Literally it is the view from the handlebars but anyone who knows how I descend hills this is not that far from my view.
2When one of them wins the Tour de France (sans drugs obviously) I look forward to supplementing my retirement selling these films. I even have nail biting footage of the “mountain top” finish as they battled to be first home. However I think I will keep contributing to my other pension just in case.