‘Helmet’ cams are an increasingly popular cycling accessory (although we acknowledge that you don’t all attach them to a helmet). Recording your rides gives you the ability to edit, chop and create great films so you can show friends and family what you’ve been up to – and it also gives you ammunition should you have to prove your version of events in the case of a collision.
Cyclists like choice. Though the sports action camera market is far from saturated, there are a lot of options out there to choose from.
Here’s a look at some of the best:
GoPro lead the market in sports cameras, and they make some amazing quality equipment. With a recent decision to leave the entry level market, GoPro will be focusing on high end action cameras going forward, so should be a reliable option for a high spec camera going forward.
There are a few options, the newest and cheapest being the Hero4 Session, at £157. This is the smallest GoPro yet and is waterproof, making it perfect for using around London. There are sacrifices to be made for the small size however. The still pictures are only 8MP, not bad and certainly capable, but not the highest resolution out there.
There are two models above the session, should you need higher quality, professional level video footage. The Hero4 Black records 4K Ultra footage and will set you back a cool £320. This is a good option if you are intending to use the camera outside of commutes for things such as holidays or any profession content.
GoPro sponsor trials rider Danny MacAskill, and his video ‘Cascadia’ was filmed mostly on a GoPro Hero4 camera:
Contour cameras are another option. Contour promise good quality, and they get one over on the GoPro by being a more helmet friendly, narrow shape. They are about the size of a high powered bike light, meaning they will not stand out too much in city traffic.
The Contour Roam 3 is the newest offering, currently available for a pretty good price of £128.09 on Amazon.co.uk. The frame rate and quality is similar to the GoPro Session. The still image quality is a little lower at 5mp, good enough for snaps but not large prints.
We can share some of our own footage to show you what an older version is like – here’s a short video from my (first ever!) attempt at riding off road – please excuse my wobblyness (I’m a roadie), but hopefully you can see how clear the video is (the new one should be even better!):
The basic Garmin Virb is unique because it combines it’s 16 mega pixel video footage with all some other features you’d expect from Garmin -the power to use Ant+ pairing. This means you can connect a heart rate monitor, or you can connect it to one of Garmin’s GPS units to have a remote control.
The Virb HD sets itself apart from the GoPro or Contour by having 16MP stills capability, along with a colour screen for instant playback. It is a little larger than the others but the screen makes selecting options easier and it is still waterproof enough for cycling around town (an extra case is required should you wish to dive with it). Available on Amazon.co.uk for £99.95, its a good option if you are after an easy to use camera for cycling adventures and stills photography.
There is also a Virb X. It is more of a GoPro esq shape with pretty similar features. The photo quality is lower than the Virb HD but the unit is more waterproof and has integrated GPS and wifi. It is more expensive at £206.35, but a good option if you want to do some serious cycling adventuring.
Dinky and fun looking, the Cube if you just want a camera for occasional use then this one would be a great option. Aimed squarely at the lifestyle and/or family user, it would still work for use to document commutes or urban adventures in London. The battery does not last quite as long as the others, you get 90 mins at best, but is long enough for most commutes. The image quality is the same as the others, but we have not tested the lens quality.
It is splash proof but not waterproof on its own, but you can get a case for it, much like older GoPros. It you don’t cycle in bad weather, splash proof should be good enough. It has a built in magnet, making mounting easy. At £89.99 it is the cheapest option as well as the smallest. This think is seriously small, and if you don’t pick the pink one, pretty stealth.
Of course, all the cameras above need things to go with them.
If you wish to attach the camera to your bike, there are various bike mounts for the GoPro, Contour or Garmin. If you want to be able to continue filming when you are off the bike, then you can mount the cameras to your body or your helmet.
Depending on the camera, you can also get various filters and editing softwares to take your movie making to the next level. These little cameras end up being somewhat addictive, and once you have started using one, you may end up recording most things you do in life – whether your friends and family wish to watch footage of your every move is up to you!
Do you use a camera to record your rides? What did you go for?
P.S. This video from Vimeo will make you chuckle!
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.