What To Look For When Buying A Helmet Cam

Helmet Cams have become very popular in the extreme sport scene. There are so many to choose from now that you have to do a lot of research to find which one fits your needs and budget. They range from very inexpensive and poor quality for the newbie, to somewhat expensive and HD for the weekend warrior or videographer.

Depending on what you’re looking to spend, there are many different qualities a helmet camera can have. The main specs you want to keep in mind are: image quality, sound quality, size, mounting units, and durability. I’ll let you in on some other quirks these “first person” cameras have, but the more and better options you want out of a cam, the more it’s going to cost you.

Definition?

No, we’re not finding the meaning of words here (you can leave that to English class). Definition in the video world refers to the video resolution, or image quality. So the higher the definition, the clearer and better looking the video image will be. There is standard definition and high-definition. There is quite a difference when comparing the two, so if you are wanting an HD helmet cam there will be a jump in price. Full HD helmet cameras, such as the ContourHD, come with 720p and 1080p, as well as 960p on the GoPro HD.

Wind Is The Enemy

For years, camera companies have been trying to figure out what it takes to get rid of/minimize the sound of wind blowing by the mic. While most cameras are muffled up to “dull” the sound of wind, it makes the entire audio sound like trash. If you’re riding a dirt bike, hearing the exhaust is important for most riders, especially when it’s a two-stroke being ringed. Finding a camera with good sound quality can be difficult, and you may end up having to buy top-of-the-line if it’s a must. Helmet cameras aren’t bank-breaking expensive like studio-quality camcorders, so don’t worry too much.

How Big Is Too Big?


I Think It's A Little On The Big Side...

The size of a helmet cam is crucial; at least in my mind. I ride trails, so I don’t want this giant camera bolted to my helmet that’s going to get caught on all the trees/branches hanging over the trail. Not only is the size of the camera important, but I also believe the shape is too, in some cases. The two common shapes are a square and a cylinder-shaped camera. Obviously the cylinder is going to have better aerodynamics for high speeds and mounts up tighter to the helmet. Although, the square box can be mounted in different locations (more on that later). Basically, the smaller the better, but if you’re doing high-speed footage such as drag racing, you may want a more aerodynamic camera.

It’s More Than Just A HELMET Cam!

Most helmet cams have other mounts that you can buy separately. They usually are for your chest, a handlebar, seat post, forks, or anywhere else you can stick one on. They can be a little expensive for what they are, but there aren’t really other options if you want a good and sturdy mount. For motocross and riding bikes, the best mounts will be for your helmet and chest. Any other places are usually too shaky and don’t show as much of what’s going on.

The reason I’m saying this is because not all helmets have mounts for whatever location you want to put them. Take the GoPro for example; it’s a small, rectangular-like box. It can mount on the top of your helmet, on the side, under the visor, and you can get a nice chest mount for it. But, it may not have the features you want out of a helmet cam. Its rival, the VHoldR Contour, may have some better features, but can only mount of the side of your helmet (goggles), and under the visor with some work. Take this into consideration when researching helmet cameras, because you don’t want to buy the perfect camera with all the right specs, only to find out it can’t mount up where you want it to.

What If I Crash With A Helmet Cam?

Let’s face it, everyone is going to crash sooner or later, some (much) more than others. Having a durable camera is important if you are mounting it in a location susceptible to impact. A regular digital camera mounted to your helmet is probably going to get destroyed the first time it hits the ground. Fortunately, helmet cams are made more durable, but not all are same. Some have a protective housing surrounding it, making it withstand almost any crash. Others that are made on the cheap side may not last as long. So, if you know you are going to fall a lot or the camera is open to branches and other objects, you’ll want to add this to the list of features to research.

Helmet cameras are perfect for capturing those moments or close-calls, or wipe-outs in first-person. Good luck on your research for finding the right camera, and don’t forget to check out my review for the VHoldr Contour HD!

-Tom Stark

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