Yet Another MiniDV Camera Thread- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Yet Another MiniDV Camera Thread

    MiniDV owners, I'm looking at minidv cams and need some advice from the Mtb (and skier) perspective...

    I'm looking for a compact model, with wired remote, and helmet cam compatibility. I want to be able to drop the cam in my backpack and control it via the remote (so I presume a wireless remote is not a good option). I've been looking at Sonys and Canons but the number of choices are overwhelming. Paralysis by analysis as usual....

    1) What make/model can you recommend that seems "rugged" enough for these sports?
    2) Is there anything new coming out that I should be looking for?
    3) Can anyone decipher in a nutshell what the major differences are for the Sony model series? (DCRHCxxx, DCRPCxxx, DCRTRVxxx)
    4) What do you recommend? What do you recommend to avoid?
    5) What helmetcam do you recommend? To avoid?

    Thanks.......

  2. #2
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    some factors

    I've been tempted to get one but haven't done it yet, but here's a couple of factors to keep in mind.

    1) Living in Europe, PAL is what you would get buying locally, NTSC if you buy from the US.
    Converting between the formats doesn't seem ideal. From some discussions on www.camcorderinfo.com, if generally you're always creating files for viewing on computers, PAL vs NTSC doesn't seem to matter. If generally you'll be creating video that will be played on TVs you're better off having the choice of system that matches the TVs that most of your viewers will be using.

    2) Many equivalent PAL minidv are not the same spec as the NTSC version in the US. For example often the cheapest NTSC version that has Video IN, does not have Video IN for the PAL version. But usually the higher end model will have video IN for the NTSC and PAL version. For example, Panasonic PV-GS120 PAL may not have Video IN while the NTSC version has it, and the PV-GS200 has Video IN in both PAL and NTSC versions.

    3) I've seen waterproof sports housing advertised in Europe for Sony camcorder models which could help while the camera is out in the snow

    4) The Panasonic 3ccd (gs-120 and gs-200) seem to have good reviews for color and quality, however while connected to a lipstick camera this is probably irrevelant.

    cheers,

  3. #3
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    Just do it

    I decided against a remote. (1) I don't want to be editing while riding. (2) I don't want to miss surprises or accidently turn it off (and miss a great scene). Where does one keep the remote? On a strap? Of course extra wires would be a hassle too.

    I checked out the work of Pete, Mountainbikebill, and Wherewolf. Picked an RF Concepts (from UK) lipstick camera - great resolution. For a case I use a Sterilite plastic case that holds everything nicely - with a bit of weather stripping foam. I cut a hole for the cables and added a grommet. The size of the camera allowed me to use it upright and have the A/V cable connect without a right-angle stress bend. The wireless sensor operates the camera through the plastic so it's turn on (see that it's recording) and put it away and ride recording everything, planned and unplanned.

    My camera is a Canon Optura 40, compared features online (2 megapixel sensor, etc.) and went wiith it.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    1) What make/model can you recommend that seems "rugged" enough for these sports?
    Pretty much all of the compact mindv cams will work just fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    3) Can anyone decipher in a nutshell what the major differences are for the Sony model series? (DCRHCxxx, DCRPCxxx, DCRTRVxxx)
    www.sony.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    4) What do you recommend? What do you recommend to avoid?
    Recommend: Minidv camera with a wide angle lens.
    Avoid: Lipstick cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    5) What helmetcam do you recommend? To avoid?
    See above.

  5. #5
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    thoughts

    i'll be going with NTSC as i can always find a better deal in the US than switz. i will be do this 95% for viewing on computer, so PAL not really a big factor. my TV here can play both anyways.

    i think the convenience (and safety) of a lipstick cam outweighs the quality of a straight minidv cam w/wide angle lens. this makes even more sense from ski/snowboard perspective. i can't imagine spending the day on the slopes with a full camera attached to my head. one faceplant and the camera's toast.

    i was thinking a lipstick cam with the minidv buried in my backpack (inside a rigid case). a wired remote would be helpful for this but it seems that most are wireless remotes, which wont work with the cam buried in the backpack. anyone know of a minidv with a wired remote? or as a separate option?

    no solid info on the sony site regarding the difference between DCRHCxxx, DCRPCxxx, DCRTRVxxx. it looks like the TRVs may be older models, replaced by the HCs. looks like (maybe) the PCs come with a docking station for hooking up to the computer. still no definitive info, just guessing.


    thanks for your input

  6. #6
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    Lanc remote

    I believe that most miniDV cameras can handle a lanc remote, which is a wired control. But I just start the video tape, start my watch, pack the camera, and let it go for an hour. Tape is cheap. Mounting the camera directly on the helmet will give a better image but it will weigh a lot more. I know I couldn't wear one for 8 hours straight. Some take two helmets and switch between them. You'll also have to buy a smaller, i.e. more expensive, camera and a wide angle lens if you are going to put it on the helmet. My video camera is really cheap but it's already lasted more than two years. And I fall on it a lot. Another reason I wouldn't mount one on the helmet!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    i can't imagine spending the day on the slopes with a full camera attached to my head. one faceplant and the camera's toast.
    That's incorrect, but you seem to be wedded to your assumptions, so good luck.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    MiniDV owners, I'm looking at minidv cams and need some advice from the Mtb (and skier) perspective...

    I'm looking for a compact model, with wired remote, and helmet cam compatibility. I want to be able to drop the cam in my backpack and control it via the remote (so I presume a wireless remote is not a good option). I've been looking at Sonys and Canons but the number of choices are overwhelming. Paralysis by analysis as usual....

    1) What make/model can you recommend that seems "rugged" enough for these sports?
    2) Is there anything new coming out that I should be looking for?
    3) Can anyone decipher in a nutshell what the major differences are for the Sony model series? (DCRHCxxx, DCRPCxxx, DCRTRVxxx)
    4) What do you recommend? What do you recommend to avoid?
    5) What helmetcam do you recommend? To avoid?

    Thanks.......

    I use a TRV320 -- it's cheap and it has the A/V input needed for the remote lens. It gets
    loaded into the CBack. I fabricated a box for it out of corrugated plastic (corplas) that adds
    a level of protection inside the CBack.

    I would recommend a smaller camera, as long as it has the needed A/V input.
    Once I have the camera and all related equipment loaded into my CBack, along with a
    full 100 oz of water and all my tools and spare parts, I'm hauling a 20 lb sack! OOOooF!

    I got my lens from helmetcamera.com

    I use a LANC remote -- I shoot too much video and create too many projects to waste
    time searching for the best 15 minutes of video in a 1 hour tape.
    -- Evil Patrick

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    That's incorrect, but you seem to be wedded to your assumptions, so good luck.
    not at all. i just know my snowboarding better than you do. trust me on this one.

    besides the security factor, the convenience alone makes the lipstick method far more practical for a full day on the mountain. there may be certain descents that i would want to do a helmet mount for the extra quality, but for a typical day's use, the lipstick cam is fine. i'll probably toy with a helmet mount later at some point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Patrick
    I use a LANC remote -- I shoot too much video and create too many projects to waste
    time searching for the best 15 minutes of video in a 1 hour tape.
    this is key. i spend 6-8 hours on the mountain, whether snowboarding or biking. i really don't want more than an hour of good footage per day. there is plenty of downtime that i don't need to be filming. i like the LANC remote option. will look into that.

    thanks

  10. #10
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    I went w/ a lipstick cam b/c I didn't buy a specific miniDV camera for mtn biking. Also the extra weight didn't appeal to me. I do prefer to quality to helmet mounted vids though, but it's a trade off and the lipstick quality is fine for the videos I shot. My main gripe w/ lipstick cams is the color flicker due to changes in light. A lipstick cam usually isn't as smooth as an actual miniDV cam mounted to your helmet w/ digital stabilization.

    I do wish my camera would support LANC, but it doesn't. I do have a concern w/ LANC though, is there a LED or something that shows that if it's recording or not. I'd imagine that I'd hit it accidently or be worried about it being hit. Also, just so you know that w/ the miniDV camera in a pack you'll need to be sure it doesn't get easily switched to off or the button get hit. I'd factor how hard it is to turn off from record mode into my decision (the more difficult the better).

    I bought my lipstick cam from rf concepts. I liked that fact that it was waterproof (key word "was"). Well there's some moisture in there and in colder weather it would condense on the plastic lens = crappy video. Remove the plastic protective lens and the problem is fixed, but you lose the protection and waterproof. So will a face plant in the snow ruin the lipstick cam if you de-waterproof it? I don't really know, I skied w/ mine but never face planted in powder, i usually just fall on my side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    not at all. i just know my snowboarding better than you do. trust me on this one.

    besides the security factor, the convenience alone makes the lipstick method far more practical for a full day on the mountain. there may be certain descents that i would want to do a helmet mount for the extra quality, but for a typical day's use, the lipstick cam is fine. i'll probably toy with a helmet mount later at some point.



    this is key. i spend 6-8 hours on the mountain, whether snowboarding or biking. i really don't want more than an hour of good footage per day. there is plenty of downtime that i don't need to be filming. i like the LANC remote option. will look into that.

    thanks

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    not at all. i just know my snowboarding better than you do. trust me on this one.
    My comment wasn't about your snowboarding or cycling, but about the durability of a minidv camera in a flakjacket.

    "one faceplant and its toast" is inaccurate.

  12. #12
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    Yes

    "I do wish my camera would support LANC, but it doesn't. I do have a concern w/ LANC though, is there a LED or something that shows that if it's recording or not. I'd imagine that I'd hit it accidently or be worried about it being hit. Also, just so you know that w/ the miniDV camera in a pack you'll need to be sure it doesn't get easily switched to off or the button get hit. I'd factor how hard it is to turn off from record mode into my decision (the more difficult the better)."

    The LANC remote button has 2 LEDs and these flash different colors at different rates
    to indicate the mode you have set your camera into. On/Off/Record/Pause

    I mount my LANC button to the chest strap on my CBack; where I can easily see it and
    reach it.

    I'd have to cRaSH pretty GnArLY to "accidently" bump it and turn off the camera. It'd
    take a face-plant/chest-plant!
    -- Evil Patrick

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    Just Bought One...First Impressions

    I just made the investment in the equipment and used it for the first time on a ride in Tahoe this weekend. I still have to edit the video, but I think the raw footage looks pretty nice.

    I decided that I didn't want the whole camera on my head, so I bought the 480-line lipstick camera from http://www.helmetcamera.com/. I think that Pete's videos have higher quality than ones I typically see that were taken with lipstick cameras, but the lighter lipstick camera won me over.

    For the MiniDV camera, I went with the Sony HC30, which seemed to be a good balance of price and quality (it has both an A/V in/out and a LANC control). The LANC remote is great. It's only one button, which I wore on my CamelBak's shoulder strap. Press it once to record, press it again to pause. If you get a newer model Sony camera like mine, make sure to get the remote that starts the camera in VCR mode when it turns the camera on from a powered-off state. It doesn't cost any more than the standard LANC remote, but you really need this with the lipstick camera. (The camera records from the A/V input in VCR mode only and the camera powers up in Camera mode.)

  14. #14
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    New question here. Firewire Question...

    I'm buying a Sony DCR-PC109. Is the Sony i.LINK the samething as IEEE1394 Firewire? If so, what's the purpose of the USB connection provided with this Sony Camcorder?

    Bear with me on the silly questions. My current old school Camcorder only connects to a VCR via RCA IN/OUT connectors.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cucucachu
    I'm buying a Sony DCR-PC109. Is the Sony i.LINK the samething as IEEE1394 Firewire? If so, what's the purpose of the USB connection provided with this Sony Camcorder?

    Bear with me on the silly questions. My current old school Camcorder only connects to a VCR via RCA IN/OUT connectors.
    Yes, iLINK is Sony's trade name for what Apple calls FireWire, officially IEEE1394. The USB can be used to transfer pictures taken on the Memory Stick to a computer, as well as some USB Streaming thing I haven't investigated.

  16. #16
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    Been using a setup for a year

    I am using a lipstick camera from Sportzshot.com with 480 lines res. The video taping is handled by a Canon Elura 40 MC. I utilize a LANC remote to minimize wasting tape.
    Here are some recommendations for when you get your system:

    -use extended play batteries for your MiniDV recorder
    -always bring an extra battery for your MiniDV recorder
    -set your sports watch or bike computer alarm to remind you when to change batteries or video tape.
    -put your recording mode on EP for 90 minutes of tape
    -always bring an extra helmet cam battery
    -always bring an extra tape
    -get a turbo charger and a car charger for your helmet cam battery and the MiniDV cam battery. This way road trips are never a problem.
    -get an extra helmet for when you use your helmet cam. Keep the camera attached so that you don't have to spend the time getting the angle right.
    -In cold weather, tape for 10 minutes to allow the helmet cam to warm up. Then remove the lense cover and wipe the condensation from the inside of the lense cover. You should be good to go.

    Good luck!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cucucachu
    I'm buying a Sony DCR-PC109. Is the Sony i.LINK the samething as IEEE1394 Firewire? If so, what's the purpose of the USB connection provided with this Sony Camcorder?

    Bear with me on the silly questions. My current old school Camcorder only connects to a VCR via RCA IN/OUT connectors.
    Most computers have USB, many don't have Firewire. Therefore, they provide a way to link the camera to the computer for those that don't want to buy an extra card for their puter.

    Kn,
    I used to be with it. Then, they changed what "it" is, and now what I'm with is no longer "it". And whatever "it" is, is strange and confusing.

  18. #18
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    Invest in the IEEE1394 wire to transfer your video from minidv to your comp it is a lot better quality than if you use the usb cable provided. I think it is a joke that camera companies dont supply the firewire but that is just the way it is o well

  19. #19
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    2nd That

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    My comment wasn't about your snowboarding or cycling, but about the durability of a minidv camera in a flakjacket.

    "one faceplant and its toast" is inaccurate.
    I'll second the durability of the camera in the flakjacket. I have done several uncontrolled and intensive "field tests" on this setup and found it to be quite solid

    Now one thing that I would be concerned with the flakjacket setup while snowboarding is same I would have about rain - water intrusion. Snow could get around/into the jacket fairly easily, melt and then seep into camera.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbbill
    I'll second the durability of the camera in the flakjacket. I have done several uncontrolled and intensive "field tests" on this setup and found it to be quite solid

    Now one thing that I would be concerned with the flakjacket setup while snowboarding is same I would have about rain - water intrusion. Snow could get around/into the jacket fairly easily, melt and then seep into camera.
    is a flakjacket a particular product? got link?

    snow/water intrusion - yeah, i already learned that the hard way. dropped my first digicam in knee deep powder, fished it out, powder snow got in every crack and crevice, melted near instantly, and fried my camera. good thing it was a cheapie. i don't want to chance that with a digicam.

    i've noticed in the operating manuals for sony and canon camerais that the operating temp range is 0-40C (32-104F). i will almost alway be snowboarding in the range of -20-0C (yes, it got down to -25C here a few times last season). anyone have experience with colder temps? any problems? i presume battery life will be shortened but is there anything functional that might break? tape jams?

    lastly, has anyone seen these setups? => http://www.skullcamz.com
    it uses an archos portable hard disk device instead of tape. not as good quality as minidv but if you are only viewing movies on the computer (like me), it might be a viable option. 20GB hard disk holds 40 hours of video. the only drawback (other than lesser quality video) is no remote option. but with 40 hours possible at a time, might not be a bad idea.

  21. #21
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    Archos video isn't very good

    I had one of those 20 GB archos devices and the video sucks. Consider that one hour of DV = 13 GB. How good could 40 hours be compressed to less than 20 GB? I think you'd have even more cold weather problems with the archos hard drive than a camcorder. I suspect if you put the camcorder in some foam, inside your pack, it would work at temperatures well below freezing since it generates its own heat. Perhaps run it a bit to warm it up before you go out. I know that digital SLR's aren't rated for very cold temperatures but plenty of people use them in the cold. For the very high price of that system you aren't going to get very good video.

  22. #22
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    update

    Here's what I ended up with getting and putting together:

    Sony HC40 - the smallest reasonably priced minidv cam i could find
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...photo&n=502394

    RFConcepts Helmet Camera
    http://www.sports-camera.com/helmet_cam_ntsc.htm

    A tupperware type storage container, packed with closed cell foam, a little duct tape, et viola! one helmetcam setup.....
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
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    Video please!

    It's been over six weeks since I've been on a trail. Please post a video soon. Put a bit of foam on the microphone and point it backwards. That will take away most of the wind noise.

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    Question for Stmpjmpr...

    The helmet camera you bought- Was it the 380 line or the 480 line. The 380 line helmet cameras I see are like $150 cheaper than the 480 line. I was going to go for the 480 line but wondered if it is worth the extra $150. Of course I would definitely rather have higher resolution but if you can't tell the difference I'd want to save the $150.

    Any thoughts on this?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLrider
    The helmet camera you bought- Was it the 380 line or the 480 line. The 380 line helmet cameras I see are like $150 cheaper than the 480 line. I was going to go for the 480 line but wondered if it is worth the extra $150. Of course I would definitely rather have higher resolution but if you can't tell the difference I'd want to save the $150.

    Any thoughts on this?
    It's hard to say. I got the 480, but never used the 380. The footage I'm getting seems to look better than a lot of what I see on the web, but since I don't see the raw footage (just compressed, shrunk web versions), I'm not sure.

    I'm working on editing some footage, and I'll post some when I get it done.

  26. #26
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    I have the 480 line RF Concepts

    I can tell the difference, even in videos on the web. I suspect you could really tell the difference on the TV or a DVD.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLrider
    The helmet camera you bought- Was it the 380 line or the 480 line. The 380 line helmet cameras I see are like $150 cheaper than the 480 line. I was going to go for the 480 line but wondered if it is worth the extra $150. Of course I would definitely rather have higher resolution but if you can't tell the difference I'd want to save the $150.

    Any thoughts on this?
    i got the 480. i figure i'll never be saying 'i wish i had the lesser model'.

    footage is forthcoming but a little late for bike porn, only snowboard porn for the next 6 months or so.....

  28. #28
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    Have you tested it out on the slopes yet? I always experienced fogging in teh cold weather until I removed the plastic protective lens, which kills the waterproof advantage of the lipstick cam.



    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot
    i got the 480. i figure i'll never be saying 'i wish i had the lesser model'.

    footage is forthcoming but a little late for bike porn, only snowboard porn for the next 6 months or so.....

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil.
    Have you tested it out on the slopes yet? I always experienced fogging in teh cold weather until I removed the plastic protective lens, which kills the waterproof advantage of the lipstick cam.
    i took the video camera this weekend but didn't take the helmetcam setup. it was a looong day on the mountain and i was already hauling a lot of gear so not the best time to experiment.

    with the camera only, i had no problem with fogging. it was pretty cold (-15 to -7C), sunny and dry so i wouldn't expect to have any problems. i think the main thing is to allow the camera to get acclimated before using it. when you make the transition from inside to outside, give it a little time to chill back down to the outside temp. and avoid going inside someplace where it is warm and humid.

    but i got some great video! i was very pleased with the quality of the sony.

  30. #30
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    I see you have already made your decision but I thought I would post some pictures of my helmet cam setup. Mine is pretty heavy duty and is not a great one for super long epic rides (which don't really exist here in Minnesota) but it is rock solid and I have crashed heavy with it and no problems yet.


    I currently have it setup with two seperate camera mounts (one facing forward the other facing backward). One that I bought from a company called https://www.boneheadcomposites.com/ It is on the spendy side, made from carbon fiber, has a great open close mechanism and sets up nicely. The other side i went to home Depot bought a plastic electical box and cover, used a dremel tool and made my own. Cost me 15 dollars and works just as well, just doesn't look as nice.

    I use a two lbs. weight and put it in whatever side the camera is not in. The whole thing weighs six pounds so you will have a strong neck after awhile.




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    Wow! That looks cumbersome. Nice custom setup though. I was ready to do that just to get some video until I found out about the lipstick ones. Gotta love technology!

    So many different setups that are possible like strapping it onto your headtube or the side of your fork. I'm going to go with the 480line version. Why not get the best and clearest image possible. Can't wait to get mine. Thanks for the help guys!

  32. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by LLrider
    I was ready to do that just to get some video until I found out about the lipstick ones. Gotta love technology!
    Uh, see below.

    Quote Originally Posted by LLrider
    I'm going to go with the 480line version. Why not get the best and clearest image possible. Can't wait to get mine. Thanks for the help guys!

    If you're interested in the best and clearest image possible, you would use a setup like berrywise's.

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    Right...

    But I'm still interested in being able to lift my head up after a ride and be able to maneuver on the trail. I don't want to shoot a movie to sell just one i can enjoy at home and remember how great the ride was.

    I agree that is a more serious setup but i guess i'm not that serious yet. Would love to see some video from it though. Good luck Berrywise!

  34. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by LLrider
    But I'm still interested in being able to lift my head up after a ride and be able to maneuver on the trail.
    That's not a problem with a setup like his.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Uh, see below.


    If you're interested in the best and clearest image possible, you would use a setup like berrywise's.
    Howdy Pete. I just went to your site, there's some great resources there...great job.
    the comparison link between lipstick and helmet was broken, I'd love to see that. I'm just jumping into the whole vid thing (my excuse to buy a cam is the new baby coming in march...heh) and I'm just starting the vid cam research now.
    good stuff.


    craig

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by cajonezzz
    Howdy Pete. I just went to your site, there's some great resources there...great job.
    the comparison link between lipstick and helmet was broken, I'd love to see that. I'm just jumping into the whole vid thing (my excuse to buy a cam is the new baby coming in march...heh) and I'm just starting the vid cam research now.
    good stuff.


    craig
    http://www.camcorderinfo.com/ I found this site to be pretty useful when comparing all the different brands and models out there.

  37. #37
    mtbr member
    Reputation: heatstroke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    Dont buy the pre made helmet cams as you can buy teh exact same 480 line sony ex_view bullet cam for about 100. The sony wire remote is about $34... Battery pack and cables is less than $10 and $15 gets you a line in level mic from one of the electronics stores.
    Total cost is well under 200.

  38. #38

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    Join Date
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    Whaaa??

    Heatstroke,

    Which helmet camera are you talking about? 480 line camera with a remote and everything for under $200?

    Which site is that on? Wow, if it's that cheap maybe I can buy myself a Xmas present.

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