REVIEW: GoPro In-car camera
- 5th October 2009, 9:51am
I clicked on the ad and had a look. Three different types of camera, ranging from a 3mb standard ($259.00) to a 5mb wide angle ($349.00).
Truth be known, a week before I had been at a club Khanacross and seen one of these cameras mounted in a car. I asked the driver (who I knew well) about the camera and he showed me and explained how it worked. The camera was tiny! Lightweight, compact and encased in a water proof mounting case.
Two days after placing the order online, the camera was in my hands. Opening the box revealed the tiny wide-angle lense camera, clear mounting case and a range of different mounts and brackets. All that was needed was an SD card and some AAA batteries.
Reading through the instructions proved fairly easy to understand and the camera was supplied with a sturdy suction cup mounting as well as double sided tape mounts as well. "Double sided tape?" I thought, I don't think that will hold on in a rally car. With the minute weight of the camera, the double sided tape mounts proved that they stick like, well, you know, the proverbial to a blanket.
Before the rally we performed some camera tests on a road car and various places on the rally car to get the best set up. We found the suction cup holds very well on clean glass, however a dirty side window on the WRX saw some inadvertent impact testing of the Go-Pro on the bitumen highway at 100km/h.
Surprisingly, the Go-Pro captured the whole thing without dropping a single frame or distorting sound. The clear plastic mounting case only had a minor scuff after finishing its stunt action and the footage makes for entertaining viewing!
After surviving the tarmac at 100km/h, I was very impressed with the Go-Pro and realised the potential of a whole new world of motorsport footage. We decided that external mounting may be a problem with over hanging shrubs, etc., and also mud may obscure the lense.
It didn't take long for my team mates Kiel Douglas (V8 Commodore) and Geoff Leatt-Hayter (Ford Escort MKII) to order Go-Pro cameras for their own cars for the upcoming rally.
We all bought 2x 2GB SD cards and several of the recommended Energiser Lithium batteries. I mounted my camera to the WRX's roll cage just behind the seats. I made up a small bracket to attach the double sided tape camera mount to. I have now discovered that Go-Pro also make a separate roll cage mounting kit.
We mounted Geoff's camera on the dash of the Escort and Kiel's camera upside down from the intercom in the Commodore, both using the double sided tape mounts. Incidentally, the Go-Pro has a setting to provide footage the right way up when the camera is mounted upside down. There's also a swag of other settings on the Go-Pro for different applications, including still photos.
During the rally, we simply had to remember to push the record button at the start of the stage and the same again after the flying finish. At each service, one of our dedicated crew quickly jumped in each car, removed the camera from its quick release mounting case and swapped the SD cards over.
As the 2GB SD card is rated to hold approx 1 hour of footage and the batteries would last about 2 hours, changing the cards at every service ensured the capture of every second of the action. We changed the batteries at the half way service, just to be on the safe side.
With a laptop standing by in the service area, we could download the footage straight from the SD cards after each service and the crew could watch the previous stageâ€™s in-car footage back in real time. The cameras also come with a USB/RCA leads to allow download direct to a computer or output from the camera straight to TV.
Before we get to the quality of footage, I'll touch on some advantages of using the Go-Pro.
- No wiring of any kind, the whole unit is self contained for power and recording.
- No moving parts, the Go-Pro is totally unaffected by shock or vibration.
- Quick release mounting case. The camera can be removed and re-installed without affecting the angle or position of mountings.
- Light weight.- the whole set up weighs around 15g.
We were all keen to see our in-car action, especially as two of the three of us had top ten finishes. Over a few beers we all huddled around the laptop to look at the footage. We were all impressed. The tiny cameras had produced some amazing footage, especially for the size and cost of the units.
Geoff's footage from his dash position was certainly the best to see the roads. Kiel's camera was mounted much higher than Geoff's and further back in the big Commodore. The result was a great view of the in car. My camera, mounted just behind the seats, yielded the best combination of road and interior, however all three views were good.
The only down fall we found with the Go-Pro was the night footage. The cameras are more designed for daylight or bright light use, however Geoff's night footage is watchable from the dash mounting. Looking at my footage, the Go-Pro seemed to pick up the map reading light in the car and the focus outside was not so sharp in the darkness.
Still, with all the other advantages of the Go-Pro and the price, who cares?!
I would definitely recommend the Go-Pro Hero for any form of motorsport and with water resistance to 30 metres, itâ€™s great for snorkelling and diving too. Some of the guys are also talking about mountain and trail bike mountings for the Go-Pro.
To get your own Go-Pro Hero click here. View our short in-car video clip below.
- Karl Drummond
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