Camera Equipment

Looking to get into shooting ride video? The setup you choose will make your experience enjoyable or flat out frustrating. I have listed 3 camcorder setups below. I have used them and as you read my opinion of each, you can decide what works for you.

  • Helmet Cams: These are small cylindrical cameras mounted to the helmet or bike. They are either tethered to a camcorder with AV in capabilities or to a DVR such as the Archos. These are low resolution cameras work well for web streams or viewing on portable media players. Try and burn your video to a DVD and watch on your TV and you will be very disappointed.  Using the camera during a ride is very cumbersome. The unit turns itself off after a certain amount of time. Although adjustable, you really don't want it on too long as it will deplete the battery. When you want to use it again you have to power it in by holding down the power button. Then you have to navigate through the menu system and select camcorder mode. Doing this while riding takes your concentration off the road and puts it on the camera gear. Not a safe way to go. After a few rides I decided this was unsafe and the video quality was too poor for me. Helmet Cam $125.00 and Archos 504 recorder $250.00.
    Archos Helmet Cam
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  • HD Camcorders: such as the new JVC's. These are great for high resolution, 16:9 widescreen and have hard drives that make uploading the video files a snap. Problem with this type is vibration from the road or even RPM acceleration from the motor will cause the device to go into protect mode. I tried mounting mine to the bars with rubber isolators. The camera still went into protect mode. Very disappointing considering the ST1300 is very smooth. You might get away with somehow mounting it on top a tank bag or something as the tank bag might provide some isolation and the fact that there is less vibration through the tank. Still, I believe this combination is a crap shoot as some of my video files were corrupt due to vibration. JVC $650.00
    JVC.com

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  • Mini DVC Camcorders: Mini DVC on the other hand, work great. The recording is not degraded or corrupt by vibration from the road and engine. I purchased a refurbished JVC GR-D350U from www.overstock.com for $217.00. This is probably the least expensive way to get quality 520 lines resolution (DVD quality) in a small package that delivers 16:9 wide screen format.  First thing I noticed when using this camera was the ease of use. Another great feature over the helmet cam is you have the ability to zoom in. This allows you to film the riders in front of you as if you were just feet behind them when in fact you are a safe distance behind. After using this camera on several rides I found the low cost, ease of use, long battery life and high video quality make this camcorder hard to beat. JVC $217.00 - $300.00
    Overstock.com

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  • SONY a100:  For those of you who are looking for the best bang for your buck in the semi-pro class of digital SLR's, look no  further then the SONY a100. Actually, look all over. I did, in fact, in fact I spend several weeks talking to the pro at Kits Camera and over 15 hours of internet research. I kept coming back to the a100 which is the camera the pro at Kits Camera recommended. The a100 is a 10 Megapixel digital SLR with the anti shake built into the camera body. This means that any lens you put on the body makes use of the anti shake mechanism. For those of you who are unfamiliar with SONY's reputation, most the HD television programming is shot with SONY camera equipment. SONY went one further and purchased Minolta. This means that all lenses designed for use with the Minolta SLR's and Digital SLR's will fit the SONY a100 body. I purchased the 75-300mm zoom lens and a camera case and the cost was just over $1050.00. All this is great but the main thing is that the a100 is very easy to use and shoots professional looking photos. I'm not just talking about shooting in auto mode. I'm talking about using custom settings like adjusting shutter speed for low light or trick photography effects lick streams looking like flowing white cotton candy. My buddy spent much more on the Canon in the same class. We spent a day up at MT. Rainier shooting streams using slow shutter speeds. It took us quite some time to figure out how to adjust the Canon. The a100 took me about 10 minutes after I had it in my hand without referring to the owners manual. What can I say, its a guy thing.
    SONY

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Tacoma, Washington - United States (USA)
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