I see quite a lot of questions on various forums about helmet cams so I thought I’d start to collate the information I have into one place to help other people out, so here goes.
I’ve used this set up for a variety of uses now, for mountain biking, for onboard motorbike footage and even for canoeing on an expedition in Canada a couple of years ago.
I wanted to use the video in lots of different ways and so plumped for recording onto a Mini DV camera. The advantages of this are it records in pretty high quality, the tapes are pretty cheap, the tapes can hold a lot of footage without changing them (this might be a faff with the camcorder burried deep in a pack) and archived footage doesn’t take up all your hard drive.
To use a Mini DV camcorder it needs to have AV in. That is an audio/video input option. Many camcorders don’t have as it puts them into a different tax bracket somehow so manufacturers don’t include it as standard on all models. If your trying to tell if your camcorder has AVin your looking for a small jack that is often coloured yellow.
Check your camcorder here- Camcorder compatability chart
Next your going to need your helmet cam. There are all sorts of specifications for these. I plumped for one of the kits from rfconcepts.co.uk. After much procrastination I went for kit 4. I decided that the extra light sensitivity might be useful seeing as mountain biking often takes place in the woods where the light is poor. I haven’t been able to compare it directly against another camera though so I have no idea how much difference it makes. Because PAL television resolution is 720 across by 576 down (the number of lines) this camera isn’t as high res as the camcorder so there is a loss in quality compared with the image through the camcorder lense. If I buy another I’ll get one of the 550 line cameras I think as there isn’t that much price difference.
In one of the kits you get most of the cables you’ll need to connect your bulletcam to the camcorder + a mic + a battery pack (the bulletcam and mic need an indepenadant power source to the camcorder). While your placing the order its worth considering a LANC lead at the same time, if your camcorder is compatible of course. A LANC lead allows you to turn your camcorder on and off remotely as well as start and stop recording. This means you once you’ve set up everything at the start of a ride you can pop your camcorder safely into the bottom of your backpack and control when you start and stop recording from the lead. This can save a whole load of faff and saved precious camcorder battery.
The only other bits you’ll need are the lead to connect the jacks that come off the bulletcam to the jacks for the audio/video jacks on your camcorder and any bits you’ll need to attach your bulletcam to whatever your going to mount it on. I’ve found heavy duty velcro the best and most adaptable for most uses.
Part 2 will be how I mount the bulletcam and carry the camcorder while mountain biking