Helmet cameras

What is a good helmet camera? Pro and cons?

The only “con” I know is that a helmet
mounted camera is vulnerable to low hanging rhodedendrons, and to rocks if you have to roll.

only experience with Go Pro

– Last Updated: May-07-13 5:41 PM EST –

I like that it's modular with easy to replace parts. For example I broke a mount with a shallow water roll but the main camera was okay and the mount cheap to replace. You have to figure something will break but as long as you don't have to replace everything it's not so bad. Also there are lots of other options for mounting to just about anything.

One thing I'm not as crazy about is that it's only wide angle. That's great for many uses but if you take shots of your buddies at play they seem small and far.

side mount
you can also mount a Contour or Gopro on the side of your helmet and avoid the teletubby look.

The new gopro has a wrist remote which works OK but has battery life issues.

review in California Kayaker Magazine
Getting a little dated now, as GoPro are now 2 versions newer than the one reviewed, but there was a comparison review in California Kayaker Magazine’s Issue #7 comparing the GoPro HD (version 1) to the Oregon Scientific ATC-9K. Can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html.

some cons, and pros
a “good” helmet cam (I assume you mean action cam that is not just specific to helmets) is often touted as limiting for kayaking if used in the conventional way: shooting subjects that are relatively far away from the camera.

Most helmet cams are intended as point of view where the subject is about max 10 feet away or it suddenly becomes too small to see.

Kayakers in a group will appear very distant unless they are very close to the photographer.

In saying that some helmet cams offer narrower field of view but I find that operating them without a viewing screen (something that is not standard on most cams) is a hit and miss; there is a reason that most helmet cams use wide angles: no need to focus and no need for viewfinder (cheaper and more compact to manufacture).

If however you understand the limitations that most helmet cams have and embrace an aggressive “in your face” style of filming than helmet cams are excellent for water sports as they offer incredible waterproofness and ruggedness.

Sample of “aggressive” style of filming with cam close to the subject: http://youtu.be/6oT2uUJADg8

A “good” helmet cam is the very popular GoPro; there are others but GoPro seems to have more mounting options for kayaking and is seriously waterproof (not just water resistant) as salt water kills anything that is not super solid.

Love my Gopro!
Incredibly versatile, very waterproof. As long as you understand that it’s NOT your family camera - it’s a personal sports videocam - and use it for what it’s designed to do, you won’t be disappointed.

I don’t use it on a helmet, though it’s perfect for that. I have used headmount, suction mount on my kayak deck, DIY mounts, etc. Only limited by your ingenuity.

I’ve got version 1.0 and it is versatile. I like the idea of a remote control and hope to upgrade soon. I’ve got all kinds of attachment possibilities, even an adapter for a standard camera mount.

I have HD 1 too, but wifi remote
isn’t perfect. That wrist mounted wifi remote does work with the Gopro HD (first version) as advertised. It’s a bit difficult at times to hook up the software initially. ONce the software is synced properly, then it works.

At times it takes a while for it to sync out on the water, even if I had it synced when I started paddling. Sometimes it won’t sync to re-start or to stop. Not sure why it’s touchy. Just be aware that it is not perfect.

Also, you have to make sure that all the batteries are fully charged right before you set off to paddle. If one or more are weak, it may fail, and the wifi bacpac does drain the main camera battery if it needs power.

Having said all that, when it works it’s fun to have with me, and that permits using it at more than arm’s length mountings away from the cockpit too, if you’re so inclined.

I haven’t used the cellphone app, because that takes the model 2 or 3 Gopro, which I don’t have access to. That extra app makes viewing what the camera sees while controlling it even better. So if you’re buying up, I’d suggest getting the model 3 with the wifi built right into it, as it’s barely more expensive on open market than the 2 these days, even used.