Hey everybody, I am back! Whew, been really busy and haven’t had time to really jump on anything new lately. It’s not like there are really any new updates in the Helmet Cam world.
The only big news is maybe Cisco cashing out $590 million in stock to acquire Pure Digital, maker of the pint-sized Flip Video line of cameras, a favorite among the YouTube crowd. Not a helmet camera but interesting news.
So lets go back to the helmet camera
I have not really tested any product or bought anything new. But I have been monitoring boards, forums and reviews. So I noticed that Go-Pro has a wide-angle option now and since I ranked them in my last review “The Big seven of wireless helmet cams” second, I figured I needed to do some research to see if they could possibly move up in the rankings. I was waiting for a new release or major update to any of the Big 5 helmet cam manufacturers to write another review. But due to the overwhelming amounts of emails I have received about the Go-Pro wide I figured I would write a bit.
Click the pic to see the review
I was so excited to see a wide screen helmet cam hit the market at 170 degrees field of view. When I first read the specs page on GoPros website I was ready to pull out the credit card and buy on the spot. But then I hesitated for a minute, 170-degree field of view? Isn’t that wider than the average human peripheral vision? Will that not distort the outer edges of the video?
“The normal human visual field extends to approximately 60 degrees nasally (toward the nose, or inward) in each eye, to 100 degrees temporally (away from the nose, or outwards), and approximately 60 degrees above and 75 below the horizontal meridian.” Wikipedia
One other problem I noticed on the Go-Pro spec sheet was their 512×384 video resolution, OUCH…compression, compression, compression. Stretching the rez so far out will for sure compress the video. And with only allowing a 2GB card (for the time being the 4GB upgrade is on the way) the video is already weaker than competitors that offer larger SD cards. Now like I always say, I am no scientist, tech geek or mathematician but it seems to my like the pixel ratio must be pretty weak in the 170 compared to everyone else’s normal 50 degree field of vision, of course it is. (Email me if you have answers) It’s not a true widescreen, its almost like a door pinhole or a fishbowl view. I really does bother my experience as a viewer; I think the videos look like alien navigators viewing the spaceship screen. .
I was so excited at the wide angle opportunity, I mean look at the website. The riders and videos on the page are insane, are you kidding me, John John Florence. I’ve been following him since he was a wee little grom ripping north shore out of the womb. The Yamaha video, it would be insane if the FOV wasn’t so forced out, ok there are some pretty awesome shots in that teaser, the tail whip by the Yamaha rider about 75% through. The base-jumping video made me a little queasy. On the highlight video the bmx guys helmet is huge with a wee little bike below him. You can really tell on this photo below the “fishbowl” distortion.
Here are a couple of quotes I pulled off a few review sites and forums echoing my frustration.
“GoPro Hero Wide: 170 degrees sounds great, right? If your subject is really close maybe. But man, if you are pointing at something a bit further away it’s like looking through the wrong end of binoculars. 70 of those degrees are pure distortion.”
“The wide angle lens looks like a fishbowl. And it takes away from the quality.”
“The wide however is really wide. The subject can disappear very quickly. It is great for close quarters and to show speed and the surroundings, but this 170 degree wide is a bit too wide. I consider a wide in the 120 degree range….. In my perfect world, the GoPro standard would be about 90 degrees and the “wide” about 120 degrees. Currently, if you have even a question, I’d go with the wide.”
Here is a You Tube video that shows a side by side comparison of the wide vs regular, the guy didn’t upload his video in HD or HQ so it is quite pixilated but it does give you a pretty good idea.
I echo the last quote that I pulled from Helmetcamreview.com 90-120 degrees would be perfect for the helmet cam world. You really don’t need any more, any wider the 90 I feel will lose pixels on the edges and become distorted. Anyways that is my daily, weekly, actually monthly rant. The second somebody releases something new, I will save up or get a sample to so some more video reviews.
I have noticed that GoPro is now calling itself the number one selling helmet cam in the world. I pulled that straight form one of there ads. Call it marketing, call it advertising, whatever, it just kind of bothered me. Oregon Scientific has been on the market for ages! The ATC2K I believe has sold millions of cams. Interesting, that I seem to see a really large number of ATC and Tachyon XC videos from all over the world, but only a few international GoPro videos? Hmmmmmmmmm….
Am I being harsh, ok maybe a little but I expect big things from whoever claims to be the #1 Selling Helmet Cam in the world. C’mon GoPro, seriously it’s a fish eye. Will someone please release a wide screen in the helmet camera market that is a real widescreen? I am waiting. Send me your thoughts. I might be slow to answer, but I eventually will. And if anyone from Go-Pro reads prove us that you are the #1 selling helmet camera in the world, email me, because the readers and I want to know..