Buying Guide for Helmet Cameras
In today’s world, any action sports enthusiast worth their grain will tell you that helmet cameras are a welcome piece of technology. To be able to record your every move while you shred is a awesome. Record those epic lines or show the world what it’s like to go airborne from your point-of-view. The best part? You can use helmet cameras for ANY sport or even non-sports related activities. What a great excuse to feed to your snow addiction further aye? So which camera is right for you? Well, only you can determine that. But fear not, snowboards.com is here to help you find the right one for your needs.
The form of the helmet camera is actually a pretty big deal for a lot of people. Have you seen people at your local hill with funky gray blocks sticking out above their helmets? Are you willing to look like that and ride with it? Well, what you are seeing is a GoPro HD Hero or HD Hero 2. While the GoPro might be bulky, the form lends itself to durability. The GoPro HD Hero comes in a shock-resistant and waterproof casing. This casing also protects the lens which is a crucial feature. The form of the GoPro also allows for add-on peripherals. The downside of the GoPro’s form is that it can get quite bulky.
There are sleeker cameras on the market as well such as the Contour HD line of products. The Contour HD series has a sleek, cylindrical aluminum design and is a great option for those that want a low-profile side-mount. Contour’s design lends itself well for a side-mounted angle which gives viewers a point-of-view very similar to yours. Contour HD cameras are shock resistant, but are water resistant rather than waterproof like the GoPro.
One of the most important features of helmet cameras is the mounting options. Both the GoPro and Contour have a plethora of possible mounting accessories. You can buy just about any mount that you need for both cameras. The decision to make here, for the budget conscious is, to look at what mounts are included.
The Contour HD line of products comes with flat and profile mounts. The Contour+ model comes with 2 of the flat surface mounts. The GoPro series of cameras come with a variety of mounting options. GoPro has different packages such as the Surf Hero and Outdoor editions that come with a set of mounts specific to the namesake.
The functionality of the various helmet cameras should be the biggest factor in your purchasing decision. Most cameras now come with 1080p @30fps video now. If you do a lot of slow motion editing, look for a camera that has a 720p @60fps mode. Otherwise, you’re likely not going to see the difference between 30 and 60fps. All cameras will give you the option to take still photos. The thing to look for here is the megapixels. As an example, the GoPro maxes out at 11mp, but also has lower mp modes. The Contour HD has 5mp. But again, unless you have a keen eye, you’re likely not going to see the difference here. Megapixels do matter if you’re planning on enlarging the picture or cropping. More megapixels also help to reduce motion blur in action shots. Keep an eye out for field-of-view angles as well. Most helmet cameras have a 170degree FOV which gives you a wide-angle practically ensuring that you don’t miss the action.
Another thing to consider is the camera’s features. Contour HD has two models with GPS to track your movement. This is a cool feature to have as you can include a map of your run alongside the video of the run you hit. It’s also handy for tracking your speed. The Contour+ has both GPS and WiFi/Bluetooth. WiFi and Bluetooth are phenomenal features to have. You can use your smartphone as a viewfinder to make sure you get the perfect angle and use the WiFi to stream your video. However, you are going to pay a premium for the Contour+ so you need to decide whether or not this is important to have.
The GoPro has many accessories that can be added on to the back of your camera. You can purchase extra batteries, an LCD screen, and a WiFi add-on. The benefit of having extra features available as add-ons is that you can pick and choose which ones you want rather than purchasing a camera that’s all-inclusive for just one feature you want out of many. Say for example you only want the WiFi functionality and don’t need the GPS or Bluetooth that’s in the Contour HD cameras; you end up paying less after all is said and done with the GoPro. The major downside is that you end up with a bulkier camera.
Finally, you should take into consideration the picture quality. You might be thinking to yourself, “of course I want the best picture quality”. Hold on though; think about the features you want as well. Do you absolutely want the best picture even though you hate the form of the camera or if it lacks features that you want? For a lot consumers, form and features matter most so long as the picture quality is “good enough”. A simple YouTube search like “GoPro2 vs Contour HD” will net you many videos comparing footage from both cameras.
Can Your Computer Handle It?
This is probably the most overlooked aspect of helmet cameras. High Definition cameras require computers that can process the videos. This means you need an HD capable graphics card, lots of ram, and at least a dual-core processor to handle the workload. Ideally, you would want an HD capable monitor as well so you can view the videos at optimum resolution during editing. Without the above, your videos will be choppy and your computer won’t be able to handle tasks like editing. Well, at least without causing you to pull your hair out.
Get Out and Record!
Now that you are familiarized with helmet cameras, make the choice and start recording the action. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have the next viral YouTube video!