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Covering the GoPro HERO and other small Point-Of-View video cameras.


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Old February 6th, 2011, 03:06 AM   #1
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POV cam for cave use?

I want to record some footage from a caving trip using a helmet mounted POV camera.

Requirements:

- it must be able to tolerate some abuse, as it will come in contact with rock, sand and water.

- it must have wide angle and close focus, as the tunnels can be very ... claustrophobic

- it must be able to expose correctly. Lighting is from headlamps. I guess it might pose a challenge for auto exposure.

Should I get a GoPro HD or a Contour HD? Which one would you recommed? Are there any alternatives (roughly in the same price group)? I like the form factor of the Contour, but I'm not sure if it works well in those lighting conditions.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 08:32 AM   #2
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Drift Innovation HD170 Stealth Camera that's coming out sounds interesting. I know nothing about it other than what little I've read about it. It has a night mode and some other interesting specs. Would be interesting to hear from somebody who has some experience with them.

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Old February 6th, 2011, 10:38 AM   #3
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they all like light...the more the better. I was curious after seeing your post about how well my Gopro would work adjacent a decent light source, so I went to the basement and shot some video with the gopro shooting an area illuminated by the Fenix PD-20 that I have in my pocket all the time ( single cell CR123 battery light, 190 lumens).
Outside of the light cone, nothing.... zip...nada. noisy blackness. Inside the light cone, actually pretty good image. Better quality when the target of the shot was within 8-10 feet, but it works.
I have no experience with other POV systems other than the gopro, but I've been continuousy impressed with this little camera in terms of ruggedness. It's also pretty inexpensive to replace the entire housing if you bang it up too much, which is something a lot of the other systems don't allow for.
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Old February 6th, 2011, 11:36 AM   #4
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I threw the attached clip up on Youtube so you could see first hand what the go pro will do with a single flashlight for source lighting
YouTube - gopro flashlight test
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:12 AM   #5
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I agree with Wayne. This GoPro is an amazing little camera in terms of the stuff it will survive. It should survive a spelunking no problem. I have tried other systems, but the replaceablity is great for the Hero.
As far as night stuff goes, it needs as much light as it can get (all cameras with a lens/sensor that small, need light to perform well.) and the blacks come out grainy.
I would go GoPro and be safe in the caves!
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Old February 7th, 2011, 10:44 AM   #6
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This review helmetcamreview.com/HdCamShootout.htm that I found today,

would suggest that the Contour would handle low light better and have an easier to operate rec button. The lens could also be rotated. Better mounts. A tough decision.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 11:12 PM   #7
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I've taken gopros into caves. Bring your own light... LOTS of lightl They are terrible in low light.
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Old February 8th, 2011, 04:07 AM   #8
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I'm one of the co-founders of camarush.com and have a lot of experience with all 3 of the cameras mentioned in this thread. Like Wayne and others have said, you really need a ton of light, and something with a large swath to make these cameras see anything, they are not great at all in low-light. We are working with a bike light company right now to rent out high-output, wide arc lights that are, ahem... light in weight.

As far as recommendations for cameras, all of the cameras have an auto-iris feature. However, the Drift HD170 actually has a little extra control in this regard in that you can adjust the iris +1 or +2 extra stops to what the auto normally sets to. The other positive thing about the Drift is that it has an LCD built in so you can check out your shots right there to make sure they are coming out, and lined up with your light source.

Feel free to ask me any other questions regarding these 3 cams as I use them every day.
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Old February 8th, 2011, 10:39 AM   #9
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Oh, an LCD back for GoPro HD
Oh, affordable waterproof 3D for GoPro HD

I would have bought the Contour for dry caves, but the GoPro with an optional LCD back might be more versatile in the long run.
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Old February 8th, 2011, 05:03 PM   #10
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My LCD back just arrived this afternoon, but I sense this added "extra" will be a game changer for me, in terms of the way I use the Gopro, and how frequently.

This addition will make my ongoing "experiments" with kite mounting much easier...now, if the weather would warm up a little so I could test some things without risk of freezing to death....
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Old February 9th, 2011, 09:58 PM   #11
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That Go Pro "test" footage that Wayne is not bad at all when you think about the camera and the conditions.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 07:59 AM   #12
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you're right, Kevin. Assuming that you're using some decent lights for caving ( which I'm sure you are) the camera does all right. The little flashlight I was using in that video is a powerful little beast, but doesn't have a particularily wide beam pattern. I am going to try to shoot some additional video with a couple of different lights for comparison. I have a larger flashlight that has a controllable beam pattern and puts out 300 lumens...it may be a workable combination. Results will be posted!
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Old February 15th, 2011, 03:21 PM   #13
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I tested the GoPro HD while ice diving.

Result: In low light, just 30 ft below the ice, image (if any) quality is poor. I can only see the greenish (actually, not) light beams. Sure it looks exciting, but I'm not making a horror movie here. The camera is utterly incapable of recording any low ambient light. It really needs lots of light. I cannot really comment on focusing or color accuracy (guess why). An obvious alternative would be a video capable dSLR, but their underwater housings are hideously expensive and for dry cave usage they are too large.

Just below the ice, where daylight still penetrates the water, some barely usable footage could be got. Entry and exit were nicely recorded, and on the surface, the footage was good.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 02:03 AM   #14
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Re: POV cam for cave use?

Close to the surface, on a bright day, with a flat lens and lcd back pack, in 1080p mode, the GoPro produces wonderfull results though. Will see later how it performs underground...
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Old April 2nd, 2011, 11:07 PM   #15
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Re: POV cam for cave use?

The GoPro is optimized firmware wise for bright sunny conditions so will perform poorly in bad light along with all the other cameras mentioned above. However, Light light light and you will be fine. The white balance does funny things too when the light gets low ( highlights appear red )

Also use the PAL 25fps recording which is the lowest frame rate on the camera and will be the brightest noise free mode in a set condition. We have tested all modes for low light.
For caving, GoPro is the toughest, most waterproof and the one you will come home with in one piece. Drift would be last on my list. (I'm not biased, i don't sell Cameras)

As the cam will be helmet mounted, LCD viewer would be useless. You need the wide angle for video stability on head mounts. Shoot close ups as much as possible, the GoPro is fixed focus from 12 inches to infinity in any light (no aperture to affect depth of field)

Cheers
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