Holiday 2012: Ready, Shoot, Ski!
As the weather finally changes and snow begins to fall in the mountains, many of us are dusting off our skis and snowboards, pulling our winter clothes from the back of the closet, planning weekend trips to the mountains and checking the conditions at our local ski resorts. Skiing and snowboarding are sports best enjoyed with friends and family. You share in the anticipation of an approaching snowstorm. You drive to the mountain together. You spend all day skiing and riding in perfect conditions and then you return home and tell stories about your amazing weekend for the next week. Eventually, like all memories, these fade over time as well.
If you could document those memorable days, you wouldn’t have to hear your friends moan at the prospect of another potentially exaggerated story. Luckily, cameras today are small enough and durable enough to go with you just about anywhere and in any conditions. So, before you hit the slopes this winter, consider picking up a hands-free action camera and some accessories to take with you to the mountains. Now, you can share your best tricks and the deepest powder with everyone who wasn’t there. And these captured memories will last a long time.
Contour+ 2 and ContourROAM2
Contour is one of the most popular action camera manufacturers, and each year they release a couple of new action cameras with innovative features that make recording your winter sports adventures even easier. One such camera is the second-generation Contour+2. The Contour+2 is a compact and rugged action camera with an impact resistant aluminum shell. The camera also includes a waterproof housing that supports recording to a depth of 197 feet (60 m). The Contour+2 has an ultra-lightweight body and its array of available mounts makes it a great choice for skiing and snowboarding. It can capture 1080p, 720p and 480p video, as well as 5MP still images. For enhanced shot performance, the camera supports adjustable white balance, contrast, sharpness, exposure and metering. Plus, it features built-in Bluetooth so you can control the camera remotely.
Contour designed the camera with a wide-angle, 170° lens that, when twisted, rotates the image orientation 270° so that you can mount the camera at any angle. The camera has a standard tripod thread and an interface for the TRail mount system, which works with all of Contour's optional accessory mounts. There's also a high-precision laser level built right into the camera, which allows you to adjust the orientation of the lens and level out the horizon before you start recording. The Contour+2 works with the optional Connect View Card as well. The Connect View Card allows your iPhone or iPod touch to become a wireless viewfinder for your Contour+2 camera.
Together with the Contour Mobile App, Connect View allows you to see what your camera sees before you record, and change your settings on the fly. The card-and-app combo also lets you use your phone to line up shots and adjust settings. The camera is equipped with a GPS receiver as well, which captures speed, location, elevation and distance, so you can infuse a geographical narrative into your winter sports movies and photos. Other features include an external microphone jack, HMDI output, mini-USB port and 120 fps high-speed video capture for super-slow motion.
Another good option for documenting your afternoons on the slopes is Contour’s ContourROAM2, which is available in black, blue or red. The ContourROAM2 supports Full HD 1080p, HD 960p and 720p video capture, as well as 5MP still images. The camera is designed with a wide-angle, 170° lens that rotates 270° in the body for mounting the camera at any angle. And like the Contour+2, the ContourROAM2 features a high precision laser level. Other features include a lockable Instant On-Record switch and a durable aluminum shell that’s impact resistant and waterproof to a depth of 3.3 feet (1 m). The ContourROAM2 has an ultra-lightweight 5.1-oz body and its array of optional mounts makes it perfect for skiing, snowboarding and more. Winter enthusiasts looking for specific Contour mounts should consider the Headband Mount, the Snow Mounts or the Helmet Mounts. All of these mounts are compatible with all Contour cameras. You can also store your Contour camera in one of these durable and rugged Pelican Cases or in the Wambam Contour Cuvva Travel Case.
Sony HDR-AS15 Wi-Fi Action Cam
Skiers and boarders who also know Sony products should rejoice this holiday season, because Sony has finally released a totally compact, rugged Full HD action camcorder for point-of-view (POV) action sports recording. Sony’s HDR-AS15 Action Cam provides Wi-Fi capability. This means that Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones and tablets that are equipped with Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile app can pull optimized movies and photos from the HDR-AS15 without a cable. Then, once video is copied onto your mobile device, you can email movies to friends and family or upload your footage to social media sites.
The HDR-AS15 is ideal for skiing and snowboarding. It also works for most other outdoor adventure sports. The lightweight, rugged and wearable Action Cam weighs only 3.2 oz (90 g) and it supports up to Full HD 1920 x 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second. It also supports other shooting modes, including a 2x and a 4x Slow Motion Video Mode. The 4x Slow Motion Mode records 1280 x 720p HD resolution video at an amazing 120 fps, while the 2x Slow Motion Mode does 1280 x 720p at 60 fps. Having 120 fps to break down video frame by frame makes the 4x Slow Motion Mode a valuable tool for both movie making and review of your skiing or snowboarding tricks, line, form and technique.
Sony includes a waterproof housing with the HDR-AS15. The housing has a universal tripod mount and is waterproof to a depth of 197 feet (60 m). It is also dirt and dust resistant, which makes the camera nearly impervious to mud, snow, rain, sand and grime. The camera also comes with two adhesive mounts that attach securely to most flat and curved surfaces. With the waterproof housing, included mounts, different shooting modes and availability of several optional mounts, the HDR-AS15 will excel in virtually any environment when shooting any type of action sport. Skiers and boarders should consider the Headband Mount or the Waterproof Case Headband Mount. There’s also an optional Grip-Style LCD Unit available that provides a 2.7” LCD screen integrated into a durable case.
The HDR-AS15 is equipped with a 170-degree, wide-angle Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens and back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensors, which support superb low-light performance. In order to shoot POV action for extreme sports, Sony outfitted this model with their SteadyShot Image Stabilization with Active Mode, which uses an innovative 3-way shake-canceling function to minimize the effects of camera shake.
Other convenient features include “Press-n-Go” recording, HDMI connectivity and a built-in stereo microphone for capturing high-quality audio. The “Press-n-Go” recording function allows you to press a large Start/Stop button just once to begin recording, and the HDMI output lets you play back your footage on a large HDTV screen in 1080p Full HD resolution. The camera is also outfitted with a Memory Stick Micro and microSD/SDHC memory card slot for recording directly onto a memory card, which you can remove and insert into your computer for editing and sharing movies on the Internet.
GoPro HERO3 and Accessories
GoPro is among the most popular makers of action sports cameras today. They sponsor several professional skiers and snowboarders and they are heavily invested in expanding their winter sports market. This year, they released the GoPro HERO3, which is available in two models: the flagship HERO3: Black Edition and the midrange HERO3: Silver Edition. The GoPro HERO3: Black Edition features a 12MP image sensor, a 6 element wide angle aspherical lens and Wi-Fi. Best of all, the camera can capture 4K resolution video at up to 15 fps, 2.7K at 30 fps, and 1440p at 48 fps. It can also record 1080p-, 960p-, 720p- and 480p-resolution video. High speed frame rates top out at 240 fps with 848 x 480 resolution. Among other accessories, the HERO3: Black Edition comes with a waterproof housing that can protect it to a depth of 197-ft (60 m), a Wi-Fi Remote and two adhesive mounts.
The HERO3: Silver Edition is also Wi-Fi enabled and features an 11MP image sensor and a wide angle aspherical lens. The HERO3: Silver Edition captures up to Full HD 1920 x 1080p video at 30 fps, but it also supports several other recording resolutions and frame rates. It’s capable of capturing up to 11MP still images as well. Like the Black Edition, the HERO3: Silver Edition also features video looping, Protune capabilities, manual white balance, burst shooting at 10 fps and time-lapse recording. The built-in Wi-Fi enables remote control via the Wi-Fi Remote (sold separately). It also supports live video preview and remote control from your smartphone or tablet with the free GoPro app.
The ports and interfaces are the same on both cameras and—with the exception of the Wi-Fi Remote—both models include the same accessories and are compatible with all current GoPro mounts and accessories. Plus, the GoPro Tripod Mount supports connectivity with various tripods. The GoPro HEREO 3 is also compatible with the Chest Mount Harness, the Head HERO Head Strap Mount and the Ride HERO Mount, which are all ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Wambam also make a series of travel cases for the GoPro cameras. Plus, Pelican makes a durable IM2050 Storm Case for the GoPro camera as well.
JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION Action Camera
Like Sony, JVC has also finally released an action camera this year. The JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION action camera and the optional mounts support hands-free recording for several different sports including skiing and snowboarding. JVC has coined the term “Quad Proof” to describe the ADIXXION. That’s because this camera is waterproof to 16.4 feet, shockproof from falls of up to 6.5 feet, dust proof and freeze proof down to 14°F. The ADIXXION is one of the most durable cameras available in the action-sports category and it does all this without any extra housings or bulky cases.
The GC-XA1 ADIXXION features a 5MP CMOS sensor and a wide-angle 170° fixed lens. It supports Full HD 1920 x 1080p video at 30 fps and HD 1280 x 720p video at 60 fps. The ADIXXION has an integrated 1.5-inch color LCD screen, too. JVC equipped the ADIXXION with built-in Wi-Fi for smartphone linking, live streaming and remote control of the camera. It also features a 5x digital zoom, a Digital Image Stabilizer (DIS) for reducing the effects of camera shake, and an HDMI output for playing footage back on your HDTV in Full HD.
The ADIXXION supports SDHC and SDXC memory cards, with a maximum recording time of 47 hours and 20 minutes when using a 64GB SDXC card. The camera includes a Goggle Mount for skiing and snowboarding, a Flexible Mount multi-sport mount, two lens protectors that keep your lens scratch and smudge free and an LCD protection film to keep the LCD screen scratch and smudge free. Several additional mounts are also available. At only 4.4 oz (126 g), the ADIXXION action camera is so light that you’ll barely notice it when it’s mounted on your helmet while you tear down the mountain.
Liquid Image Summit Series and XSC Ego Action Cameras
Liquid Image has designed maybe the most ideal skiing and snowboarding action camera. They’ve incorporated an action camera directly into a pair goggles specifically designed for winter sports. The Liquid Image Summit Series Snow Goggle with Full HD Camera combines a pair of winter sports goggles and a Full HD 1080p video camera. These goggles are perfect for snowboarders, skiers and snowmobilers looking to capture that first-person perspective of rushing down the mountain or spinning and flipping through the air. It’s also great for parents that want to follow and record their children enjoying themselves on the slopes.
The integrated camera captures Full HD video at 30 fps and 720p HD video at 60 fps for high-speed action. The camera is centrally located on the goggle frame and features a 136° wide-angle lens and a 5MP, 1/3.2-inch CMOS image sensor. A microSD/SDHC slot supports up to a 32GB memory card. For still images, the camera can capture up to 12MP interpolated digital pictures with 4000 x 3000 pixel resolution. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 1.5 hours, and the USB 2.0 port allows users to transfer footage to their computer. The goggles come with two anti-fog treated Lexan lenses, a 4GB microSDHC card, USB cable, rechargeable lithium battery and a microfiber pouch. Liquid Image also offers a line of interchangeable goggle lenses, which ensures that you’ll be able to use them in any lighting conditions. You can choose from clear, rose, yellow, gold or polarized lenses.
Liquid Image also makes a mountable HD action camera that’s similar to the popular GoPro and Contour models. The Wi-Fi enabled XSC Ego Mountable Sports Camera is a hands-free action camera that’s available in blue, white, yellow, black, and red. The camera includes a tripod mount, a multi-directional flat mount, three adhesive pads and a protective face plate. All these accessories ensure that you'll be able to get just the right shot from just the right angle—no matter what your sport of choice. The camera is capable of shooting Full HD 1920 x 1080p video at 30 fps and 1280 x 720p video at 60 fps for high-speed recording. Plus, the Ego can take 12MP interpolated 4000 x 3000 still images as well.
Like the Summit Series, the XSC Ego features Line of Sight lens technology, which affords a 136-degree wide-angle field of view. The camera’s Wi-Fi capabilities allow users to control the camera’s recording functions on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. You can also use your smartphone to change the camera settings, or as a display for live view and instant playback of your footage. The camera also supports up to a 32GB microSD/SDHC card. Plus, after you're done shooting, the included USB cable makes it easy to upload your movie clips to the Web. You can also eject the memory card and place it directly into your computer's card reader for fast transferring and uploading to popular social media sites.
Other Accessories for the Slopes
If you don’t want to invest in a new action camera this winter, but you still want to shoot some footage while out on the slopes, then consider using your iPhone. If you do decide to use your iPhone to shoot video and photos while skiing or snowboarding, you’ll need a durable and rugged case. The Otter Box Defender Case is available for both the iPhone 4/4S and the iPhone 5. It features three layers of protection that include a built-in screen protector, a polycarbonate inner shell and a rubber outer slipcover. The case also features a two-piece plastic snap closure, rubber plugs for all ports, a rotating belt clip and total access to ports, buttons and camera.
If you’re planning to be out playing in the mountains all day long, you may want to consider an iPhone case with some built-in power like the Mophie Juice Pack Plus or Juice Pack Air. However, if you already have a durable case for your iPhone and you just need a little extra power to carry around with you, the Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation features an advanced 4000 mAh capacity battery that’s small enough to slip into your pocket. It delivers a quick 2.1-Amp charge and features enough power to recharge your iPhone battery back to 100% capacity.
When you’re out skiing or boarding and you decide you want to snap a picture or shoot some video with your smartphone or iPhone, it would be an impossible task wearing traditional winter gloves. Luckily, there are a couple of manufacturers who make winter gloves designed specifically to help you quickly operate your mobile device’s touch-screen interface. The Freehands Men's Stretch Thinsulate Gloves are one option. They feature waterproof and windproof construction, as well as a full digital palm grip and removable thumb and index fingertips so you can easily operate your touch screen without completely removing your gloves. The Moshi Digits Touchscreen Gloves are another good option.
If you’re looking for more winter sports video or photography accessories, or want if you want to check out a complete list of all the available action cameras, be sure to visit the B&H website or stop by the B&H SuperStore in Manhattan.