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Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/5/10 12:52 p.m.

So, I'm looking to get (another) video camera. I'd been flirting with the idea of going to a Chase Cam, but I think that's going to have to wait. So I'm down to the consumer grade stuff.

I have a real rollbar camera mount, so a Flip is not going to be suitable. I've already got a Hero. What I want is just a normal camcorder to replace my shaken-apart Canon DV, with similar performance in terms of picture and sound quality. I picked up a super-cheap Polaroid but the sound levels inside the car overwhelm the microphone instantly and all I get is distortion.

I'd like something completely solid-state for robustness and battery life, with a good picture, good wide angle (for use in a car), image stabilization and a mic that can deal with typical in-car levels. Battery life is important as well, so I don't have to worry about the camera dying partway through a track day. On my old Canon, I had a wide angle adapter that gave me a wider view, that was really good for in-car. I don't need external inputs. I'm not going to build my own out of spare parts

Any specific suggestions for models that have been shown to work well?

car39
car39 Reader
3/5/10 2:26 p.m.

Aiptek: Upside: cheap light weight, small, decent battery life, no mike input so poor sound quailty, thought you can still hear yourself curse on video Downside: narrow field of vision, don't have to worry about "Gone With the Wind" quality.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim HalfDork
3/5/10 2:33 p.m.

@Keith, If you liked the Canon you had, why not pick up another slightly used one on ebay?

Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/5/10 3:08 p.m.

Because transferring the video from tape to the computer was a fairly long process, and the mechanics didn't survive well in the harsh environment - although it was the zoom mechanism that finally failed on me.

CivicSiRacer
CivicSiRacer Reader
3/9/10 10:15 p.m.

I loved my Sony TRV280 camera but it was tape and as you said a pain to download and edit. I have the GoPro Wide and it's ok for what you pay for. I took off the rubber seal of the case to get better sound (according to the tech from GoPro). I've been looking at the Contour HD now as it's quick and easy to setup and the sound I hear and see is much better than the GoPro; also picture quality even in 720 mode is much better than my GoPro.

If you don't want a camera that shakes apart your only choices are flash memory cameras. My Canon ZR600 fell apart after a year of autocrossing. great picture quality, great sound, but of course have moving parts.

Anyone want to buy my 4 month old GoPro? :)

Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/9/10 11:50 p.m.

Yes, I agree it has to be flash memory. And I've got a GoPro as well, it just drives me nuts

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
3/10/10 8:05 a.m.

Why won't a Flip work for you? Not trying to convince you otherwise, just curious about its limitations.

Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/10/10 9:23 a.m.

Thanks for asking the question, as it made me start to interrogate a coworker who has one. I didn't think they had a tripod mount, but it turns out they do. My biggest concern with them is going to be if the fixed lens is wide angle enough and if the microphone can keep up with the noise levels in a car. There's also no image stabilization as far as I know. I was worried about recording time - once the on-board memory is full, it's full - but 120 minutes should be enough.

But he's going to bring his in, and I'll stick it in a car for a dyno run to see how it deals with high sound levels. I'll also see if you can pull minimally-compressed video off one to use for broadcast and not just internet video.

The main contender I'd been considering is a "Canon VIXIA HF200" (yeesh, what a mouthful) that looks promising in terms of optics and image quality, and I might be able to use my fisheye adapter on it. But it's a lot more expensive than a Flip, halfway to a Chase Cam.

P71
P71 SuperDork
3/10/10 9:41 a.m.

Why does the GoPro not work for you? I'm not the tech-savviest person and I love my HD version.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 Reader
3/10/10 10:01 a.m.

Here are a couple of useful links for you with a focus on the Aiptek and other similar cameras: http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1036795 http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1333334

pigeon
pigeon HalfDork
3/10/10 10:04 a.m.
Keith wrote: The main contender I'd been considering is a "Canon VIXIA HF200" (yeesh, what a mouthful) that looks promising in terms of optics and image quality, and I might be able to use my fisheye adapter on it. But it's a lot more expensive than a Flip, halfway to a Chase Cam.

I picked one of those up a couple weeks ago when Dell had a smoking coupon deal, about $400 to my door. So far I've been extremely happy with its performance - it shoots HD to SD cards, the auto focus is very quick and the image quality is quite high even in adverse light conditions. It has optical image stabilization but I don't know how well that will do in a car environment. Also not sure how the stereo mics would do in a car on track. You will want a backup battery and large SD card - the standard battery on mine says it'll go about 90 minutes on a full charge. My point of comparison is a cheap ($200) DXG HD camcorder from WallyWorld that went Tango Uniform after a short drop, but the focus always was slow and hunted a lot on that camera anyway, and the digital image stabilization was a bit lacking. the face detection is neat too but wouldn't add anything to your track usage. If you can get a decent price on the Canon I'd go for it.

aeronca65t
aeronca65t HalfDork
3/10/10 11:14 a.m.

First, I'd say buy the Flip HD. I've seen race videos made by my friends and these things are great. I have an old (non-HD) Flip and I've been very happy with it.

I have a (non-HD) GoPro too. Great mount but the actual camera is annoying to use. I never use it anymore.

Making a mount for the Flip is easy. Mine took 10 minutes and cost $5.

But if you insist (and I can understand the desire to buy a camera with removeable flash memory), then I'd look at the new Sanyo or Sony solid state camcorder. The Sony is said to be pretty good. No info on the Sanyo yet but price looks good and they make pretty decent stuff.

~Sony~

~Sanyo~

Just for fun, here's a recent ~Sample Video~ from my regular Flip.

Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/10/10 11:28 a.m.

My biggest complaint about the GoPro is the battery life. Great mounting system though.

Since the Flip HD has a tripod mount on the bottom, I don't need to worry about making a mount. I can use my existing I/O Port rollbar mount. Hopefully it won't sit too tall in the car, but experimentation will tell. I'm going to check out my coworker's. I think I just have trouble thinking of them as anything but toys, and I've been burned with an inexpensive HD camera once already. The best thing about that particular failure is that it has motion sensing, so you can use it to figure out which of the cats is peeing on the dryer at night...

pigeon, is there any way you could check that thing in a high-noise environment? Even just driving down the road with the windows down might tell enough, especially if it's in a car other than the 750 :) I think I can use my high-capacity battery from the old Canon DV camera on it, which would be a nice bonus.

turboswede
turboswede SuperDork
3/10/10 11:33 a.m.

Is there a way to plug the GoPro, etc into an external power source? That way the battery could be a backup in case the external source fails. I've only used the GoPro once (and not successfully, the UI is not intuitive during a 24-hour race)

I'd still like to find a way to record 24 hours straight instead of changing out the damned cards all the time.

Josh
Josh Dork
3/10/10 12:14 p.m.

Honestly, it sounds like what you need is a Gopro HD. They basically fixed all the problems (sound, resolution, battery life). I really like mine, the mounts are great, the battery lasts around 4 hours and can be charged via USB (not while filming, but it only takes 20 minutes or so to get a full charge).

Here's some sample video I took at a Rallycross last month, these are my friend's runs, I never edited mine. Video from the GoPro and edited in iMovie. It looks MUCH better in full res on my laptop.

http://vimeo.com/9467176

I just got a 16gb card for it, I think I can get around 4 hours at 120fps/HD on one card.

pigeon
pigeon HalfDork
3/10/10 12:24 p.m.
Keith wrote: pigeon, is there any way you could check that thing in a high-noise environment? Even just driving down the road with the windows down might tell enough, especially if it's in a car other than the 750 :) I think I can use my high-capacity battery from the old Canon DV camera on it, which would be a nice bonus.

Keith,

I'll do some experimenting when I get home from work tonight and let you know. I'll see if I can post up the video when I do it. Unfortunately the other choice is an XC90, also pretty quiet, but I can put the windows down on the 750 and run it up to speed - with everything open there's still not a lot of engine noise but the wind noise can get up there. I'll just have to figure out how to mount it for this experiment - I may put it on the tripod and bungee that into the car, or sandwich it into the headrest.

Scott

White_and_Nerdy
White_and_Nerdy Reader
3/10/10 2:16 p.m.

Here's a sample autocross vid I shot with my Flip (there's Miata content, too! ) I have a pair of RAM mounts I use, one with a magnetic base (for steel), one suction (for glass, plastic, etc.) This was using my magnetic base stuck just above the Miata's windshield. This is my favorite angle for autocross, I think (we call it Otter Cam ). The camera is completely exposed to wind, but you can still hear the engine and tire noises pretty well - at least until I throw excessively dramatic car chase music on top of it.

I have the basic Flip Ultra, not the HD. I imagine the HD will have better image quality (duh) and a similar field of vision. As you can see, image stabilization is not an issue on mine.

Brotus7
Brotus7 New Reader
3/10/10 3:24 p.m.

Keith

I have an Aiptek GVS. It has an external mic input and image stabilization. It also has a charger that can be made to work with a car, so you can charge while you drive and you'll never have to worry about the battery dying on you.

There are 2 main problems. First, I reinforced my mount by putting a side support on it, and then I used zip-ties to secure it the vertical support (just to take some of the load off the tripod mount). The other limitation is that it doesn't have a wide field of view. This can be solved with a wide angle lens taped to the camera lens. It's a good camera for the price though.

Oh, and it's all solid state, flash card technology.

pigeon
pigeon HalfDork
3/10/10 7:43 p.m.

OK video is done, where do I post it up? There isn't too much wind noise and the picture is great

Apexcarver
Apexcarver SuperDork
3/10/10 8:27 p.m.

I have found in a few instances that covering the microphone in tape cuts wind noise significantly if your having an issue there.

1slowcrx
1slowcrx Reader
3/11/10 12:56 a.m.

Waiting for the dyno run with the flip.... Curious if It's going to work for me also!

car39
car39 Reader
3/11/10 7:40 a.m.
Apexcarver wrote: I have found in a few instances that covering the microphone in tape cuts wind noise significantly if your having an issue there.

I use cut down Radio Shack microphone windblockers velcroed to the mike opening. You cut a hole to fit the mike in a square of velcro, stick in on top of the camera, and the windblocker sticks to it.

Link to some videos http://www.cartct.com/pocono_north.shtml

Keith
Keith SuperDork
3/11/10 12:48 p.m.

I'll be dynoing a car on Tuesday, I'll try the Flip then and see how it works out.

The problem I've experienced with noise levels wasn't a wind noise problem, it was simply the mic getting overwhelmed and distorting. It was in a closed car. I tried insulating the mic but to no avail. This was a super-cheap camcorder, but it's made me leery of the lower end of the market. Adding wind noise was just about the only way I could think of to make a 750 loud :)

Pigeon, if you can upload to YouTube, cool. But if you say the camera didn't have trouble with the noise I'm willing to take your word for it.

pigeon
pigeon HalfDork
3/11/10 1:21 p.m.
Keith wrote: I'll be dynoing a car on Tuesday, I'll try the Flip then and see how it works out. The problem I've experienced with noise levels wasn't a wind noise problem, it was simply the mic getting overwhelmed and distorting. It was in a closed car. I tried insulating the mic but to no avail. This was a super-cheap camcorder, but it's made me leery of the lower end of the market. Adding wind noise was just about the only way I could think of to make a 750 loud :) Pigeon, if you can upload to YouTube, cool. But if you say the camera didn't have trouble with the noise I'm willing to take your word for it.

I will get it uploaded on YouTube tonight. The mic definitely wasn't overloaded with noise, and between the windows being down and the snow tires still being on there was some noise to contend with.

CivicSiRacer
CivicSiRacer Reader
3/16/10 11:15 p.m.
aeronca65t wrote: Just for fun, here's a recent ~Sample Video~ from my regular Flip.

Cool video to watch but the frame rate might be too high as you can see the video is not smooth.

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