Since the inception of helmet cams, I have almost tried them all. GoPro’s have been and remain my cam of choice. But, I do still use a few others for various reasons below.
Contour Action Camera
I own the first Contour made, the original Roam. I actually used this camera for it’s intended purposes while I was working with my dogs with my trainer. It was beneficial to record the sessions for later review. Back in those days, I actually wore a helmet cam ON a helmet. How things change. The cylinder shape of the Contour allowed side mounting and seemed more ergonomic to me at the time versus the GoPros which were awkward on the helmet. The quality was good and it worked well for my purposes.
I now have a Contour+2 and use it for its GPS tracking capability. I use software that overlays a picture of the dogs path as well as other performance data like MPH and distance travelled, all in real-time with the video as the dog is moving. Additionally this camera is controllable and viewable on a SmartPhone through Bluetooth which is unlike most other cameras that use WiFi. I prefer Bluetooth over WiFi because WiFi direct access to a SmartPhone often interferes with data connections and hinders live posting to social media from the field. Another good side of this camera is that, like it’s predecessor, it is cylindrical. This format allows for different mounting options over the GoPro. The downside of this camera is that the included case is cumbersome. Without the case, the camera is a bit delicate, and is not even splash proof.
WooFDriver Free Ranging with a Countour2 mounted on a Polaris EV ATV
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JVC Addixxion Action Camera
This camera has a few valuable features. It is tripod mountable on the side or the bottom. This is great for flexibility in mounting. No case is required for full waterproof operation. This means you can get a clear sound from the microphone. Helmet cams in cases have extremely poor audio when inside the case. Additionally this cam has a built-in lcd screen– It is very small, but sufficient to aim shots and adjusting options in the menu. Despite this screen, the battery life is comparable to other cameras, lasting about an hour on 720p. Batteries are field replaceable.
The down sides is that the video quality is not as good as my other helmet cams. It is sufficient, none the same, and can still be useful. Although this camera does have WiFi control, I have found it cumbersome and rarely use it. This camera also has UStream live webcasting capability but I found it unreliable and rarely use this feature, too.
WooFDriver Free Ranging with a JVC camera attached to a dog
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MiniMax Action Camera
This is a very inexpensive camera that is now out of production. I purchased this camera for mounting on dog collars strictly because of it’s extremely small size. It’s small size is about all it has going for it. The video is only standard definition. It’s operation is cumbersome because it only has buttons and lights with no display to give feedback.
WooFDriver Free Ranging with a MiniMax attached to a dog
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This unusual camera is one of my favorites despite it’s limitations. It is very simple to operate. No menus, just a simple start and stop and one other control. The cool thing about this camera is that it is actually two cameras in one. Both cameras are recorded into the same video feed with options of placing the views next to each other or one on top the other. The secondary control on the camera changes this option. Each camera also swivels 180 degrees on a single axis. One camera swivels side to side, the other up and down. This allows for some very interesting synced dual camera views. Another good feature of this camera is that it has both standard tripod attachment point and specially mounting brackets that allows for great flexibility. It is also splash proof without a case, and optional waterproof cases are available.
The video quality is a bit below average, even though it is classified as 720p. The video is usable, and I am willing to live with the poorer quality because of its other features. The white balance is also poor, the two cameras often have different white balance with no way to adjust. This difference is very noticeable when seen side by side, which is the main purpose of this camera. There is no screen or WiFi access, so there is some difficulty in aiming the cameras. The last deficiency is especially worrisome in the field. It uses a micro-sd rather than full size, and the ejecting of the card is very cumbersome.
You could accomplish the same result as this camera by using two other separate helmet cams. But this requires more work in the field and when editing in post production in order to maintain sync. So, despite this cameras deficiencies, I often use it for its simplicity in getting unique dual camera angles and saving time in editing.
Two Chameleons mounted on a Polaris EV ATV
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Drift Action Cam
This was an earlier version in the Drift line, HD170, and is one of my first helmet cams. This waterproof camera does not require a case. It has decent quality video and has a built-in lcd for preview in the field. The biggest plus is that the lens rotates on the housing, giving more flexibility in mounting. This also has a standard tripod attachment. Another nice feature is the included remote for starting and stopping recording that can be worn on your wrist or attached to any piece of clothing.
Drift Camera mounted on a gator bar looking back at bike
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Sony POV Action Cam
My intention for this camera was to replace the GoPros. Unlike all other action cams with remote monitoring, this system uses a wrist watch-like LCD that can control up to 6 cameras. To do this, it does not need Bluetooth or WiFi. I can keep an eye on all my cams and not tie up bandwidth or my other devices. This would enable me to limit my recording to only when I wanted a particular shot. With non monitored helmet cams, I tend to just record everything, leaving me with tens of hours of footage to sort through at times. The operation of this system is much easier than the SmartPhone systems in the field. It is often too cumbersome to operate those apps for multiple cameras. These cameras are always attached, no joining networks or Bluetooth paring. No lost connections. Just total control when you need it. This results in less missed shots.
The biggest problem with this system is that they all start and stop at once. So to capture a shot on one camera, one must record all the cameras. This is still an improvement to running all the cameras, all the time. I am hopeful that later firmware upgrades will allow for independent control of each camera.
Video quality is as good as the best of the helmet cams. Splash proof body and waterproof housing gives multiple options for mounting. And both camera and housing are amongst the smallest of the helmet cams. But, the emphasis on small and light seems to me to be at the expense of ruggedness. The cam itself seem more delicate than most of the others, and the waterproof housing is definitely thinner than the rest. I would be more concerned to use this system in some of my extreme environments. The battery is field replaceable, and is of comparable length to other cams, except when using remote control, then life is greatly diminished. This cam has GPS embedding too, so I can use the similar software features listed above under the Contour. The sound quality, while in the case, is much better than other case mounted helmet cams as a result of a waterproof membrane at each microphone.
Sony Action Camera mounted on a Polaris EV ATV while dogs free range
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