Helmet cams for the rest of us?

8:30 a.m. on April 6, 2010 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Helmet cams for the rest of us?"

Helmet cam videos can be exciting to watch. Just check out the one above of basejumper Neil Amonson  in Norway. However, while I enjoy the view from the top of a mountain, I will never huck myself off the edge of one, and when on skis I do not willingly spend time in terrain parks, let alone doing backflips, prime subjects for helmet cams. Most of my outdoor activity is fairly steady and met...

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/blog/2010/04/06/helmet-cams.html

12:45 p.m. on April 6, 2010 (EDT)
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A few years ago at the OR Show, I won a GoPro (first primitive edition - low res stills only, wrist mount). A couple years later, I won an upgraded version helmet cam, with "standard resolution" video. Having seen the exciting videos at the GoPro booth, I mounted it to my bike helmet and went out for an hour-long ride (my version is limited to an hour for the video), and included a steep, winding downhill section. When I got home, I eagerly played it back for Barb on the Big Screen TV (well, as big as we had at the time, a monster 27 inch CRT that weighed 105 pounds). Talk about booorrrrrriinnngg!. Even though I hit 52 mph (on the more or less residential streets of the local hills), it had none of the excitement and thrills of the mountain bikers in the OR Show displays (which were also shown on something like a 60-inch plasma).

Last summer, GoPro brought out their HD version. I was tempted enough to put my business card in the hat (3 of the cards to boost my odds). Well, no prize this time, so no HD version.

I have shot a few videos while skiing (I looked like even more of a nerd than I normally do, and people looked at me like they were wondering what this uncoordinated novice wannabe telemarker was doing with a helmet cam was doing). Same thing - since I don't jump cliffs or cornices (at least not intentionally) or do the spins, flips, etc, even hitting 40 or 50 mph (according to the GPS receiver) is really dull. Going through the trees is a bit more interesting.

Video shot while climbing is more interesting, though it showed me that I do a lot of apparent searching for holds. And, even more than the typical home videos and movies, you really have to work hard to avoid the rapid lots of panning and tilting (at least there is no zoom on the GoPro, so there is none of the typical rapid zoom in zoom out zoom in zoom out pan while zooming in and out that makes your audience dizzy and nauseous.

I did some video while skiing down a run behind Barb - that's a lot more interesting than solo skiing on a groomed run - at least there is some action in the scene.

The fact that the GoPro is in its waterproof box is good. I have intended to take it when snorkeling, but have done no snorkeling since I got the movie version. It looks to be potentially useful to make point of view videos for the Climbing Instructor course, where I can show from the belayer's POV how to run through the releasable rappel rescue routine. And it might be useful to use for reviewing skills. It is small and light, but the battery life is severely limited.

Well, the price was right (free) for the two I have. I don't think (for me, at least) that the HD version is worth it (unless I can win another one). The original has pretty much gathered dust in the box that has lots of other unused gear. Editing of videos to get rid of the boring long segments where nothing interesting is happening requires more training, skill, and patience than I have (I can deal with the long, tedious darkroom work to get a good still image - PhotoShop, these days, but not the editing plus insertion of dissolves, wipes, etc that a video requires).

Oh, yes, the sound! The sound on the video version that I have is, to say the least, awful (the mike is, of course, on the camera, inside the waterproof box, hence sealed off from the outside world). The HD version does have an external mike with WiFi or Bluetooth (I forget which), so the quality should be higher (and was in the videos at the OR Show).

4:05 p.m. on April 6, 2010 (EDT)
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A friend of mine in jackson Hole has a helmetcam. he has made lots of videos

12:40 a.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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I think it would be cool to put helmet cams on a bunch of hikers as a research project (without telling them why). It would be interesting to see what percentage of them were alert and kept up with their surroundings and location, and what percentage of them were professional boot heel observers and root identifiers.

Not that I ever did any boot heel observing.

11:08 a.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't have the video editing down too well yet but I've already used my new GoPro HD quite a bit. The best use so far has been in a MTB race this past weekend (first lap video below). But to the point in the post about the camera gathering dust & other uses for it, the GoPro has a feature that will take stills every X seconds. Makes it easy to make time lapse videos. Made one of my last attempt cleaning up the garage below:

This site didn't let me embed the video, but the BlipSnip website is great for "tagging" or bookmarking points in a video, check out the race video here: http://blipsnips.com/129



12:41 p.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing those, Jasper9. It seems like mountain biking videos have a lot of potential and come out well (maybe I need a new mountain bike to go with a new GoPro!). Good job cleaning your garage too!

I'm leaning toward getting one. I doubt I'd take it along on most outings, but it would be fun to occasionally take some videos of skiing and biking and who knows what else. Since it's waterproof I wouldn't be scared to take it in the canoe or kayak either. It wouldn't become my prime camera, but I think there could be some fun applications.

It's quite probable that I'll take some videos and think, hmmm, that doesn't look nearly as exciting as it felt (just like Bill said), but I can work on that.

Trout, your idea sounds like a woodsy Candid Camera episode.

2:02 p.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Someone above mentioned they have an external mic for it - none of the "add on accessories" are out yet for what it is worth. There is a plug on the back of the camera that looks like it would fit an ipod cable that will be used for a number of accessories like a screen to show video live, external battery etc. The built in mic is horrible to say the least, i mute it on all my videos so far. The current released firmware on the camera is a bit finicky on memory card compatibility, the next version should be better from what I hear. That's about all the tips i know off the top of my head!

7:47 p.m. on April 7, 2010 (EDT)
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The built-in mike is passable if you have the camera out of the waterproof box. As for the wireless mike, I saw it demonstrated at the OR Show, where they said it was available and shipping (yet another case of vaporware? Or maybe showing a beta version that turned out to have too many problems?)

11:49 a.m. on April 9, 2010 (EDT)
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... There is a plug on the back of the camera that looks like it would fit an ipod cable that will be used for a number of accessories like a screen to show video live, external battery etc. ...

Actually, that socket is a mini-USB socket. It has been on the GoPro models since the first one. I have one of the first, which was a wrist-mount, still photo only, as well as my later version which shoots "standard definition" video and does accept an SD card (not the SDHC that the current version accepts, though). The USB port was the only way to download the images, since the first versions did not accept memory cards.

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