A Guide To Helmet Cameras

Helmet cameras are becoming popular with cyclists. For evidential purposes and down to videos of cyclists just having fun. With the increase in users and more people watching the videos, i get asked regularly about my set up and what cameras i recommend. It’s time for me to create a detailed list of what cameras are out there and which camera to buy.

There are lots of things to think about when buying a camera, the most important being how much you want to spend. But lets not forget about; video quality, size, weight, waterproofness, battery life, battery replacement and the list goes on.

Something which is often overlooked but very important is storage and editing of footage. If you choose to go with a HD camera, then you will want to make sure your computer is up to scratch with editing the footage. The company that make the cameras should be able to supply you with the information you require on minimum system specifications for their camera. Look at how much storage space you will require if you want to keep some of your videos. HD recordings will take up a lot of space.

My top 5 list of helmet cameras to buy.

  1. Veho Muvi
  2. ContourHD
  3. GoPro HD Hero
  4. Drift HD170
  5. VIO POV 1.5

Veho Muvi
The camera which came out a little over a year ago which has made helmet camera’s popular and affordable is the Veho Muvi. It can be picked up for around £60. You are limited to about 1h30m max on the battery and due to the size of the camera it can be very discreet. The camera it’s self isn’t waterproof, but a special case or good positioning can sort this issue out.

A copy of the muvi is the MD80, and can be picked up at a fraction of the price without losing much quality.
There are a few copies of the muvi, a few are good but most are bad. Look out for the switches on the side of the camera, if they are buttons then avoid the camera!

I have to put the Muvi at number one because of the sheer amount of cyclists that use it and its cheap price for great quality.

ContourHD
The ContourHD is my camera of choice, i have the old 720p model and a 1080p model. Both very much worth the money and hopefully my reasons for choosing it will be outlined below.

The ContourHD pretty much covers every base with what you need from your camera. Superb quality, good variety of mounts for all situations, water-resistant, replaceable battery, rotateable lens, two lasers to line up the perfect angle and a button configuration that is very easy to use without looking at the camera and using gloves.

Things to know about behind the scenes with the camera and the company, vholdr have set up a community where you can upload your videos and a decent forum where questions are answered by other users. Differently worth checking out. There is some software which is available to edit and upload your videos, and change the quality and various light settings.

A key thing for me, was how the camera looked when mounted on the helmet. The contourHD appears to be bullet like and fairly flat, with a red recording light that is visible from the front and the side. This was a big factor for me when choosing it over the gopro HD Hero.

GoPro HD Hero
This is definitely the best camera from a picture point of view. The features and accessories are similar to the ContourHD, in fact there isn’t much difference between the GoPro HD Hero and the ContourHD. They are both amazing cameras, offer great options, deliver great video and are easy to use.
The two downside’s for me with the GoPro are the shape of it and you’re not able to rotate the lens. It’s square and looks ridiculous when you put it on top of a helmet. Rotating the lens means that you can still get the perfect angle when recording but having the ability to mount the camera in strange positions and angles.

One way around this downside is to mount the camera somewhere on the bike, where other oddly shaped things are mounted. MrOrigamist on youtube has done just this, mounted on his stem i believe, it gives a really interesting perspective that no one else currently uses and it looks great. So it’s only downside may not be relevant if you’re not actually going to mount on your helmet.

Drift HD170
Another HD camera here with some different attributes. Similar to the ContourHD the HD170 lets you rotate the lens so that you can get the perfect angle where ever you are mounting it. But where it lacks in laser pointers, it makes up for it with a screen which you can use to watch playback and check your angle. It also comes with a little remote clicker which you can use to start and stop recording.

If I’m honest i think the screen and remote are gimmicky. In day-to-day use I wouldn’t use either of them. A big problem for me is the buttons and their spacing. Due to their close nature and quite small size, it would be hard to operate the camera whilst it is on your helmet with gloves on. This was the main decider for me no to get a Drift HD170.
Apart from that the camera is just as good as the ContourHD and GoPro HD.

Vio POV 1.5
The Vio POV is an expensive option for a helmet camera, but it’s a damn good one. I doubt it’s the camera for most people anyway. It’s a 2 piece unit, a camera and a recording unit (DVR) these are connected via a cable. You will need to find a place to store the DVR whilst you are cycling, this is easy if you have a back pack. The DVR has all the buttons you need and a screen to go with it. On the screen you can watch recordings or the live feed. This gives you an easy way to check the recording angle without taking the camera off or going back to your PC.

The VIO makes it onto my list due to the technology it uses, the better lens and CCD recording chip means the image quality (whilst not HD) is truly amazing. The camera will also be much better in low light when compared to the cameras listed above.
The ability to upgrade the camera or DVR separately is also something that is attractive, especially if one breaks.

Conclusion
The muvi is the best value for money and one of the most widely used cameras among commuters (including clones). The HD cameras in my opinion are the best way to go. The quality they provide means that number plates and actions of cars are clearly visible. But the price jump between the Muvi and the HD cameras is huge, and if you don’t want to spend that money but want better quality then don’t disapear, as there is a gap that the companies have filled.
GoPro, Drift and several other companies have cameras that are in the non-HD range and are of still good quality with good features. If you want one of these, then i will suggest checking out the footage of that camera on youtube or similar.

This is just a list of my top 5 cameras i would recommend. I will do a detailed list of all helmet cameras i know about.

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5 thoughts on “A Guide To Helmet Cameras

  1. I have a GoPro and love it. People who are stoked on what they own tend to chime in and back it when they see reasons to – at least I do 😀

    vs. the Contour, the GoPro records much superior audio (the Contour 720 and 1080 models both get blown out audio with relatively low wind – GoPro has auto gain control and electronic wind filtration). GoPro takes 5mp photos – even can do it automatically with user selectable intervals. This is another feature the Contours mentioned in this article do not offer. I prefer GoPro’s 170 degree FOV (field of view) as opposed to the narrower FOV Contour shoots, which makes many Contour biking videos seem to bounce around more / make me wish the camera had been aimed further up while watching / or even give me a little vertigo due to narrower FOV. The wider FOV that GoPro offers greatly reduces those three issues.

    All these cameras are good cameras – besides maybe the first one mentioned (it has a great price, but probably not great performance or mounting options when compared to the others). I dig the GoPro for many reasons, some mentioned above, also because it’s waterproof to about 200′, very protected in its included housing, and has tons of mounting options (the GoPro Chest mount wasn’t mentioned, but is great for mountain biking, etc), but mostly I like it most because I and the majority of reviewers find that it produces the best video quality results.

    • I have to agree with you on what you say about the GoPro, The picture quality is deffinetly miles better than anything else on the market. But it looks so out of place on the helmet. A massive square block. And thats my reasoning for prefering the ContourHD over it for a helmet camera.

  2. Hi Gaz,

    You say the ContourHD is water-resistant but there’s a waterproof case on the market for it. Could you give us some idea what the camera can withstand without the extra protection? Do you ride with it in heavy rain?

    Thanks,

    • It will deal with light rain and splashes etc.. but in heavy rain you will want to use the waterproof case. Water gets in between the main case and the lens cover, it can then get into the electronics behind.

  3. Just realized my muvi-clone is on your “avoid” list as it has buttons 😉 Still it’s only be assigned to rear-ward recording duty!
    What settings do you use for your ContourHD on the helmet? I’m going with 720p (comes up as ContourHD in the dropdown) and then bumping the quality up to “Normal”. Have a 16Gb card so space isn’t an issue but think 1080p maybe a little OTT 🙂

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