Extreme Video | B&H Photo Video Pro Audio
Home < Photography< B&H Email Newsletter

Extreme Video

By Allan Weitz

As anyone who has pushed the limits of sane outdoor activities can tell you, there's nothing like the thrill of 'being there'. And for those who'd rather 'be there' from the cushy comforts of a La-Z-Boy, we bring you a selection of helmet cams, dive cams, bike cams, and clamp-anywhere cams designed to enable those who 'go there' the ability to show the rest of us what it's like to 'be there' from the comfort and safety of our personal home theaters.

For starters, we have the Elmo SUV-Cam II Micro Video Camera System with 2.6' Cable, which is a lightweight (130g), ultra-compact (84.4 x 20mm) camera/recorder that's waterproof down to 132'. The Elmo  SUV-Cam II features interchangeable lenses (includes a 3.8mm (36.5mm equivalent) lens), die-cast aluminum construction, hands-free operation, one-touch start/stop recording in Live View mode, easy play-back, and a 2.2" TFT LCD.

The SUV-Cam II records MPEG4-format video onto SD/SDHC memory cards and video can be played back at normal speed, half-speed, or frame-by-frame for critical viewing. Along with Auto White Balance, the SUV-Cam II also features a one-touch Fixed White Balance function that automatically corrects for extreme environmental color balancing. Other features found on the Elmo SUV-Cam II include an input for an external mic, an AV output/Earphone terminal, a USB terminal, and an AC adapter terminal.

Depending on the size of the memory card, the image size, and recording speed, you can record continuous video from 2.5 to 24 hours. And if a 2.6' cable isn't long enough for your needs, the Elmo SUV-Cam II Micro Video Camera System with 5' cable offers all of the same features with a cable that's just shy of twice the length.  Both systems can be quick release-mounted onto helmets, cars, motorcycles, and just about anyplace else you can think of.

Elmo SUV-Cam II (with 2.6' or 5' Cable)
GoPro Helmet HERO Wide Elmo SUV-Cam II   (with 2.6' or 5' Cable)

GoPro is a company that's into extreme video big-time, and they've got waterproof/shockproof camcorders and camcorder kits designed to satisfy the needs of reality show aspirants everywhere. One of GoPro's basic units is the GoPro Motorsports HERO, which according to the folks at GoPro are the world's smallest (1.75 x 2.30 x 1.25" / 4.45 x 5.84 x 3.18cm) wireless, attach-to-anything video cameras currently available. Like all of the HERO-series camcorders from GoPro, the Motorsports HERO is waterproof down to a depth of 100' (30 m), and features a 5Mp CMOS sensor, a fixed focal-length, f/2.8  'normal' lens (54 AOV). There's also a built-in mic (mono) with adjustable recording input levels, and it can capture video ( 512x384 @ 30fps MPEG) as well as stills (2592x1944 JPEG)

Despite its internal combustible-ish name, the Motorsports HERO can be attached to bikes, kayaks, skis, snowboards, cars, helmets (vented or unvented), or simply strapped to your head for those who prefer shooting commando-style.

Included with each camera are 5 quick-release adhesive mounts (paint safe) and an 'industrial strength' suction cup that according to GoPro is strong enough to pull dents out of a car door. The GoPro Motorsports HERO contains 16MB of internal memory and can record up to 56 minute of video (with sound) or up to 1954 stills onto a 2-gig SD memory card (optional), or double the amount onto a 4-gig SD card (also optional) via free software download from the GoPro website. Though the Motorsports HERO is compatible with (2) AAA batteries, GoPro strongly recommends using NiMH batteries (up to 2 hours of shooting time) or lithium-ion batteries (up to 3 hours of shooting time). The GoPro Motorsports HERO weighs 4.9 oz (139 g) and is Mac and Windows compatible.

For those seeking a bit more depth and drama in their videos, the GoPro Motorsports HERO Wide  performs the same tricks as the standard Motorsports HERO, but from the perspective of an ultra-wide-angle lens (170 AOV).

GoPro Wide HEROThe GoPro Wide HERO is another lightweight GoPro camcorder featuring a wide, 170 AOV lens and a 5Mp CMOS sensor for video and still capture. The Wide HERO includes shockproof/waterproof quick-release housing, a headlamp-style head strap, a vented helmet strap, 2 curved adhesive mounts, 2 flat adhesive mounts, a 3-way pivoting side-arm assembly, 2 quick-release buckles, and a USB/RCA combo cable.

The GoPro Wide HERO is also available in a choice of kits. The  Basic Kit, which along with the camcorder and  standard accessories, also includes an 8GB SDHC memory card and an Onyx 1000 shoulder bag.  The GoPro Wide HERO  Advanced Kit includes all of the abovementioned along with a lens cleaning kit and a 2-Year Sagemax Replacement Plan.

For the wetsuit crowd, GoPro offers the Surf HERO Wide , which along with a 170 AOV wide-angle lens and 5Mp CMOS sensor, includes 2 surfboard-mounting options. The first is an adhesive 'stick-on' base plate that requires a couple of minutes of easy set up time. The second option is more permanent, and involves screw-mounting an FCS-compatible plug-mounting system into the deck of the surfboard. Both options allow for easy on-off attachment. Video clips captured from the tips of surfboards facing back towards the rider are simply amazing to watch.

GoPro RC HERO GoPro Surf HERO Wide

And if you'd like to know what it's like to be behind the wheel of a remote control car, boat, or airplane, sneak a peek at the GoPro RC HERO. Small and light enough to be mounted behind the wheel, under the wings, or anywhere else you can attach an adhesive mount, the RC Hero is thoroughly waterproof down to 100'/30 m and shockproof, and is designed to capture extremely unique video and stills, including 1 still-shot per second continuous sequences for up to 3 hours (or until the battery poops out). The RC HERO also features an 'upside-down' mode, that automatically rights images captured upside down, which can come in handy when shooting from the underbelly of an RC airplane (or if you 'know somebody who knows somebody', maybe even a Predator Drone).

For those who prefer video files with a bit more meat on the bone, GoPro also produces a parallel line of mini-cams that capture 1080/960/720p HD video. Included among these hi-def minis are the GoPro HD Helmet HERO  and the GoPro HD Surf HERO .  The HD versions of theses camcorders capture video at 30 or 60 fps (60fps in 720p) and accept SD/SDHC memory cards in capacities up to 32GB for longer, uninterrupted shooting times. These cameras can also shoot 5, 10, 20-second time lapse stills as well as single-shot, triple-shot, and self-timer modes.

V.I.O. is another company that manufactures a rugged line of mini camcorders. The V.I.O. POV.1.5 Digital Helmet Camera System is a modular, integrated, helmet/vehicle-mountable mini-cam that is waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. Compatible with SD/SDHC memory cards up to 8GB, the POV 1.5 can record 720 x 480 MPEG4 video @ 30fps single-handedly or completely hands-free. Video can also be recorded at 720 x 400, 640 x 480, or 360 x 240 @ 25fps, 24fps, or 15fps. Video can be reviewed using the POV 1.5's 2" LCD, which is located on the tethered control unit.

The POV 1.5 contains a CMOS sensor with and electronic global shutter, a truly-fast 2.97mm/f2 lens that takes in a wide 110 field-of-view, and an omni-directional, cable-mounted mic. Included with each POV 1.5 mini-cam system is a mountable camera head, a 4GB SDHC card, a USB cable, Analog A/V cable, LVDS Cable, Quick Start Guide, a carrying case, double-hook and loop mount,, Star mount, wireless remote and software. Also included area V.I.O. POV Pouch, a V.I.O. POV mount kit,POV Chest Harness, Goggle Mount, and an Exposure Control upgrade. The V.I.O. POV 1.5 powers off of 4-AA batteries, which are also included.

Also available from V.I.O. is the V.I.O. POV.1.5M Moto Kit, which includes all of the features of the POV 1.5 along with the POV Power accessory, which allows you the option of powering the camera using a car or motorcycle battery or similar 12V power source.

The Sony HXR-MC1 Digital HD video camcorder consists of a tiny camcorder tethered to a control/viewing device by a 110" (2.8 m) cable. The camera can be mounted to helmets, dashboards, bikes, and most anyplace else you can clamp or adhere it to, and yes, it's splash proof (IEC60529 IPX2) and quite suitable for outdoor use. The HXR-MC1 contains a 1/5"-type Sony EXMOR CMOS sensor and features a Carl Zeiss-designed 10x optical zoom (43-507mm equivalent), a 2.7" LCD, and records 1080p HD video onto Memory Stick PRO Duo or PRO-HG Duo cards.

The camera is quite small (1 1/2 x 1 11/16 x 3 ½", 37 x 42.5 x 86.5 mm) and the camera and cable together weigh in at 1lb, 1 oz. Power is courtesy of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

The Sony HXR-MC1 also allows for multiple shooting options in terms of frame rate and resolution and it can also record JPEG stills up to 4 megapixels in size (2034 x 1728) and as small as 0.3 megapixels (640 x 480).

The VholdR ContourHD is yet another very cool helmet-mounted camcorder that records 1280x720p HD video of anything you can think of doing while wearing a helmet. Light enough to wear on a pair of goggles (4.3 ounces), the ContourHD features a 5Mp CMOS sensor and a rotating, dual laser-aligned, ultra-wide angle lens (135 AOV), and a choice of two frame-rates. The camera is constructed of anodized aluminum, is waterproof, shockproof, snow-proof, and mud-proof, and can record up to 16GB of HD video onto removable MicroSD memory cards.

And if you're looking for even more bang for your bucks, the VholdR ContourHD 1080p Full HD Helmet Camera ups the ante by capturing full 1920 x 1080p video along with all of the other neat features found on the ContourHD. Operating either camera is a one-finger affair, even when wearing gloves, and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery enables up to 3 hours of shooting and editing time. Both the ContourHD and ContourHD 1080p are Windows and Mac compatible.

The folks at Vievu hits heavily on the law enforcement community and other security-conscious professionals who need to document everything going on in front of them for insurance and liability purposes, but that doesn't mean you can't use them for any number of out-of-the-box applications.

The Vievu PVR-PRO Wearable Camcorder (1GB internal memory, 1-hour recording time) and Vievu PVR-PRO 2 Wearable Camcorder(4GB internal memory, 4-hour recording time) are small (2x3x.75") ID tag-like camcorders designed primarily for clipping onto one's lapel or wearing around one's neck to record video (with sound) of anything and everything going on before you.

The Vievu PVR-PRO and PVR-PRO 2 incorporate a 'tri-clip' design that allows you to attach it most anywhere on your person. They're also splash and rainproof for indoor and outdoor use. Both units capture 640 x 480 color video with sound @ 30fps, and feature LED indicators that let you know when you're running low on power and/or memory. Video can be downloaded via USB, and both units are Windows (2000, XP, and Vista) and Mac OS-X compatible.

Please email feedback on this article, or suggestions for future topics, to emailfeedback@bhphoto.com