Day 236: GoPro HD Helmet camera: worth the money?

27 08 2010

I’ve seen and read a lot about the GoPro HD Helmet cameras. I’ve been saving my money to buy one at some point, but I’m not terribly familiar with video cameras (other than the Flip). Before I do buy, I have several questions. It seems that lots of you cycling peeps use them, so I thought I’d post my questions here in case any of you can help answer them. I did find answers to some of my questions on GoPro’s website or doing Google searches, but other things I can’t seem to find:

Helmet mount – Does it make the viewer dizzy if I mount the camera on my helmet? (I may turn my head a lot when I ride).

Chest mount – I understand there is a chest strap that can be used for mounting the camera. Videos I’ve seen with this particular mounting method show a perspective with the rider’s handlebars/hands in the frame. Is the chest mount reliable? Comfortable? I assume the chest mount would make it easier to access the camera controls?

Ease of use – Is it easy to start recording while riding? Or do you typically start recording at the beginning of the ride?

Storage capacity – How long will the camera record? Expansion SD cards are available (I have several of these that I use with my digital SLR camera), but I’m not sure how many minutes/hours of video the cards will hold in the HD format. I don’t see this information on GoPro’s website.

Battery life – On average, how long to batteries last when filming video? Are rechargeable batteries an option or does it only take regular batteries?

Downloading – Is downloading data simple? Does it use its own software? One thing I like about the Flip video is the simple software that comes with the camera. Unfortunately, my handlebar mount I made for my Flip doesn’t keep the camera very secure on a ride, so I’m afraid I’ll end up damaging it.

Embedding videos – can videos still be uploaded to YouTube (which WordPress supports), or Vimeo?

Helmet installation – is the camera easy to install on my helmet? Is the mount sturdy?

Any feedback or advice you can provide on the GoPro HD Hero camera will be greatly appreciated.

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat english muffin = 1 point
— 1 Tbsp Nutella = 5 points

Lunch:
— Jimmy John’s Slim Turkey sandwich = 8 points
— Iced tea (sweet) = 1 point

Dinner:
Black bean quesadilla (restaurant):
— 1/2 cup black beans = 2 points
— Spinach tortilla = 2 points
— Cheese = 6 points
— Iced tea (sweet) = 2 points

I’m 7 points over my WW allowance today. (Nutella is a high-point way to start my day. Of course I didn’t look up the points before I ate it.)

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

          _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.

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One response

28 08 2010
Dave Morse

Helmet Mounts: Yes it will make the viewer dizzy. I get car-sick watching my own videos. To make anything worth watching, you have to focus on keeping your head steady.

Rack Mount: We put a camera on the rear rack of a bike, facing back. The video quality was much, much better than a rear-mounted helmet cam, because it was so much steadier. Downsides? The mic picked up all the internal vibration of the bicycle, esp brakes, and translated that to noise – the audio channel was suitable for enhanced interrogation techniques only.

Storage capacity: see your own link – search for the “Storage” heading. 🙂
Battery Life: ditto. 🙂

Downloading: Our Helmet Hero 3s have two data download methods:
1) Pop out the SD card, and put it in a card reader.
2) Use the supplied USB-cable to plug in the camera as a USB-mass storage device.
Both are simple and work on all operating systems.

Embedding: Why guess? Download one of their sample videos and see what you can do with it. You should also check that the video works with the video editor of your choice. Our cameras appeared to at first, but once we waded in a big incompatiblity became evident! 😦 This model uses a different file format and codec though, and you certainly don’t use the same software I do.

Helmet Mounts: These look identical to the mounts on our HH3s. They’re good mounts, but expect to spend For-freakin-ever getting everything all lined up right. Not only can you aim it too-high/low, you can aim it too-left/right, and you can mount it twisted to boot. Since there’s no LCD, every minor adjustment is a trip to the computer to see how it turned out. This is my #1 complaint with this system!

Also, I worry a bit that in a crash, the mass and snaggy-ness of the helmet mount would make for added complications for my noggin. For that reason (and balance), I mounted it on top, not on the side. Still, it’s an issue.

One of these days I intend to mount a HH3 on the front rack of my touring bike, and see how that looks.

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