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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

            

 
« Just a quick video about Bananas | Main | My review of the Sanyo VPC-CS1 pocket 1080p Camcorder »
Friday
Feb182011

(Finally) A Real HD Mini Keyring Spy Camera #11 808

After having my hopes raised and dashed in quick succession by a number of "HD" spy cams - I've finally managed to get hold of a real one. It's the latest version of my previous favourite, the DVK808 Keychain spy camera #3, and it's unofficially known as the #11 808 camera.

First a quick word about some of the (non) HD cameras I've received in the past. Some people are still surprised that there are dishonestly advertised Chinese products available. In comments left on my youtube videos, people can't believe that my HD spy pen wasn't really HD, and my 720p Car Recorder doesn't record in 720p - they naively suggest that I must have been using them incorrectly. Surely someone wouldn't sell a jittery SD product claiming it was HD, would they? Well normal trading rules don't seem to apply in China, and to me that's all part of the fun.

If I wanted to guarantee that I got a real HD helmet camera, I could always go and spend £200 on a GoPro or a Contour HD, but where is the fun in that? I give Amazon £200 and they send me exactly what I paid for..... sounds a bit dull to me. I'd much rather send some bloke in China £30 and see if what turns up in the mail a few weeks later. Finding out if  a product lives up to the grandiose claims in it's Ebay listing is a big part of the enjoyment. It's like a lucky dip, some you win, some you lose.

This time I won big..... this camera is the real thing. The video quality on this is astounding considering the size of the lens and the £26 cost. You'll need to watch the video to learn all about this amazing little camera - I will warn you that you may shed a tear at the end, I nearly did.

 

Where can you get one from?

At the time of writing the Ebay sellers who offer this camera are all based in Hong Kong. A few example names of sellers are below (I am not endorsing any of these, but they seem to sell the #11 camera).

 -----> My order from here only took 10 Days to get to the UK!

hxelepro360

power-gps

How can you make sure you are buying the right camera?

Look for the following info in their listings, H.264 .MOV file format, 1280x720, #11 HD car key camera (or words to that effect).

If you see a 1280x960 HD camera advertised don't buy one by mistake, they aren't HD and are only 640x480 upscaled.

How do you change the time?

Here is an example of the TXT file used to set the time. Download this, open it in a text editing program, type over the appropriate time and date, save it and copy it to the memory card in the camera.

Example Photos

It takes mediocre quality photos,  nothing that any modern camera phone couldn't beat. 

Below are some thumbnails which link to the original untouched photos taken by the camera in photo mode.

UPDATE - 21 FEB 2011 - It Lives!

After the video, I retrieved it from the bin and left it on a shelf for a couple of days. I thought I'd give it one last try and put the old firmware back on a Memory stick again. Plugged the camera into a wall charger and tried to switch it into webcam mode. To my surprise it came on and then re-flashed the old firmware. Pushing my luck, I decided to try flashing the date removal firmware again and it worked this time. I now have a time & date free camera. I may even upload the new firmware to the site now.....but don't come running to me if it all ends in tears.

Update 22 FEB 2011 - Firmware!

OK, I've relented. For those people who want to try and delete the Time & Date stamp - the firmware is uploaded on my Files & Drivers page or you can just Click Here to download it directly.  Just a couple of pointers, make sure the camera is fully charged. Put the firmware on a memory card  (preferably using a card reader). Just put the FW96630A.bin file in the root directory - not into any folder & also don't change the filename. Insert the card into your camera. Tap the On button and then wait a few secs - the orange light should flash, wait another couple of secs and then switch the camera off. Remove the card, put it back into your computer and delete the firmware file from the card (if you don't delete the firmware, the camera will just try to re-flash it every time you switch it on). I take no responsibility for anyone who kills their camera trying this....good luck.

(Too many people were reporting errors with these firmwares - so I've removed them)

Update 20 MAR 2011 - Video Editing Issues.

I've come across a strange problem with the .MOV files that this camera creates. iMovie sometimes wants nothing to do with the video files and refuses to import them. This only happens with the 20 minute files that the camera has closed off itself. If I start and stop the recording manually, then the resulting video clip imports fine. So for example if I were to record 30 mins of footage in one go with the camera, the first 20 min clip wouldn't import, but the last 10 min one would. This is weird, its as though the camera is corrupting it's own clips when it closes them. I've get the same results with both my cameras (one with the date stamp firmware and one without). The only way I could get my footage into iMovie was to transcode it first. I tried a few transcoding programs that refused to touch the video, erroring out with unrecognised/unsupported file type messages. Luckily I found that Handbrake was happy to transcode the file into an MP4 which I could then proceed to import and edit in iMovie. 

This might not be an issue to many people, and if the above paragraph means nothing to you then you are probably one of them. If all you want to do is capture video and then play it back through Quicktime or VLC then you are fine - but if you actually want to edit the footage you have shot, you should be aware that it is likely you will need to transcode it first.

Update – 25 March 2011 – New Continuous Recording Firmware

I have uploaded the ‘continuous recording’ firmware to the Files & Drivers page HERE. I have successfully installed and tested this on my second camera. 

This firmware fixes a number of problems. 
  1. It removes the time and date 
  2. When the battery dies, the current recording is now saved, rather than lost. 
  3. Rather than creating a new file every 20 mins, it now creates a new one every 4GB. 
  4. The video files created can be edited as normal - no transcoding required.

A 4GB file will be contain either 50 or 75 mins of video – dependent on the bitrate that your camera records at (there are two versions of the camera, one that records at 7000kbps and one at 10000kbps – the video quality is indistinguishable between them). As the battery life of this camera is approx 45 min, in normal use the camera will record one file until the battery dies. 

If you attach the camera to the supplied car charger, it will keep recording 4GB files until your memory card is full, however if you power it with a normal USB lead, it will only record one 4GB file and then stop recording. This is because of the non-standard way the camera USB power plug is wired. 

Installing the firmware is done in the same way as before – download and extract the zip file. Get the file called "FW96630A.BIN" and copy it to the root of your memory card. Put the card in the camera. Tap the On button and then wait for the yellow light to come on, this should take about 5 seconds. Turn it off again and remove the card from the camera and then delete the "FW96630A.BIN" file from the memory card. That’s it. 
If you ever want to reinstate the time and date – you could re-flash the original firmware – but due to the various drawbacks with the original firmware, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Reader Comments (266)

I have bought an an adapter for the 12v car charger, so that I can record many hours of footage onto a 32gb card. Can anyone confirm whether the red charging light should appear when the 12v charger is being used, because for me it's not on and I'm wondering if the mains to 12v adapter is not working?

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJon M

Turns out the adapter works fine - although there's an awful background sound on all the videos, which was there before I used the adapter but is much worse now. It's like an electronic buzzing sound. Very annoying.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJon M

@Jon M You will have seen that I suffered from buzzing in the car in my video. This also happens on my motorbike, it appears that these cameras are quite sensitive to electrical interference.

April 27, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Techmoan,

Thank you very much for your excellent review of the HD808 camera. I already owned a Veho Muvi, but when I stumbled upon your review of the HD808, I just had to order one. It will be on my helmet on my next mountainbike trip. (I just need to put together an external battery pack.)

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStan

Hi,

I also received my #11 yesterday. It's a Nice cam. not tooo good for indoors (to dark) but nice recordings outdoors.
The only draw back for me is the really low sound level. It is quite hard (almost impossible) to hear what somebody talks 2 yards in front ogf the cam. Anybody else has this low soundlevel? Any workarounds?

Thank you and sorry for my bad english.

regards from germany
Christian

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian

Anyone knows of a chinese seller with free worldwide shipping where I can buy this camera? I can't buy though Ebay.
Thanks in advance!

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStan

Hello,
looking for the 808 on the internet, i came across a 909 - where it says that its better than 808..?
on youtube, some clips of the 909 shows sharp images..

Do you have any experience with the 909...? which one to buy..

April 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHello

I have found windows driver to turn on 808 keychain in webcam mode but nothing on linux... Do you know anything about this?

May 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteross117

@oss117 No idea about Linux webcam drivers. I would suggest just buying a purpose built webcam....do you really want to stick this camera to your computer then reach over and press both the buttons to switch it on every time you want to use your webcam? It's a bit like buying a car and then putting it up on bricks in your garage and just using the radio in it.

May 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi, I have seen a new product, http://cgi.ebay.ph/HD-720P-Spy-Mini-Car-Key-Chain-Hidden-Video-Camera-sc14-/320687779936?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4aaa7b3060. It says it can last up to 5 hours.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAchmed

I just installed the "New Continuous Recording Firmware" on my new #11 camera.
I forgot to set the correct time before I did this. So movies and pictures were all dated in 2009.
First I thought I had to re-install the original firmware, set the date using the TIMESET.txt file, and finally upgrade again.
But I just tried it without downgrading and it worked!

So when you decide to use this "New Continuous Recording Firmware" you will still be able to adjust time and date using the TIMESET.txt trick.

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephan

I was about to throw out my camera, as the yellow light didn't light up, for the first two to three times. But now it is back in life successfully. Thanx alot for the updates and the reviews. And I too fell for the #3 camera at first. And finally after seeing your video, on the comparision of both of the cameras, I bought the #11 camera. And this camera is really helpful to me to get the aerial view on my RC Cessna 182.

May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Hi,

first I need to thank you and chucklohr for your work putting all these informations together and your video is one of the best private reviews I have seen for a long time. Actually your voice is superb.
I received my HD keycam today and first thing I did was flashing your firmware to get rid of the timestamp and having the large files.
What I have with mine is, exactly 40minutes of video in a close to 2GB file stated at 7000kb/s avc1 encoding.
The picture is ok, but you see encoding artifacts within some areas. As space is not an issue, but quality, does anybody did progress in rising the encoding quality?

Cheers,

Michael

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Hi Techmoan!!!! Thank you for all this greats tricks! You saved our lives!! I got a question. I updated the firmware of the camera for the "New Continuous Recording Firmware". I got some videos that I shoot "Before" the process and I compare them. I notice that this "New Continuous Recording Firmware" firmware creates a problem in indoor situations like shooting in "Low light situations". The frame rate its very low (Like 20 fps) instead of 30 like the origial firmware. What do you think about that?

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I haven't heard anything about a better bitrate firmware

May 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Eric I hadn't noticed that...but there is a new firmware on the RCgroups forum that improves the exposure flashing issue, you might want to try this...I'll be putting a copy on here when I get a few minutes free.

May 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi,

Thanks for your nice website and it's contents!

I own a #11 with 10000kbps (you mistyped in your message, it says 1000 (one thousand) kbps). It seems my camera isn't good in low light conditions where a 7000kbps #11 of someone else is a lot better. Do you know what might be the cause?
1) firmware
2) #11 version
3) camera module (independent of #11 version)

Best regards,

Quemo

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuemo

Thanks Techmoan!!!! I Find it !!! This is the new firmware that include the continuos recording and the exposure control at low light conditions! Thanks for your efford!

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

This is the link!! :

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=18142029&postcount=3399

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

@Eric:

This evening I tried three different firmware versions when it was dark with the same #11 cam:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZBEFFdUaiY

Top left: original firmware with date/time stamp and 20 min time limit per file
Top right: continuous recording without date/time stamp firmware
Bottom left: continuous recording without date/time stamp with (supposed) exposure control firmware

time-alignment @ 0:29

Notice any differences? Color tone of top right recording is somewhat cooler.

I was hoping for al more clear difference between the 'exposure control firmware' compared to the other two.
do you get better results with the exposure control firmware compared to the other two?

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuemo

hello techmoan. my key ring camera recordings and pictures are all of a sudden blurry. it is nowhere as clear as it once was. please help. thank you in advance.

May 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterballer

@baller
There are two main reasons why you've suddenly got blurry footage
1) You've got some muck on the tiny lens - hard to clean off, but try the corner of a glasses cleaner tissue.
2) (less likely) Your lens has unfocussed itself and you need to open the camera, attach it up as a webcam so you can view the live video and refocus it by screwing the lens in or out slightly.

May 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hello i am in the market for a discreet camera, i believe this will be perfect. I came across your review and i am indeed impressed.

My question is:
#1 can i put a 16gb (or larger?) card to increase recording?
#2 can i use a usb adapter to plug it in the wall, and record continuous until card is full?
#3 you mentioned after 4gb file it would not resume recording. I definitely need minimum of 2.5 to 3 hours ... any suggestions?
#4 i know it is said quality is depreciated on #12 due to smaller res, would this benefit me in getting more recording onto a card?

Thank you so much.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

I'm not Techmoan but I do have 3 answers:

#1 Yes. I own a 16GB HCSD card. I've not tested it but 32GB should also work.
#2 Only with the right cable! A normal USB charger will work but only one file so no coninuing the recording when the first file (20 min or 4GB file (50 or 80 minutes), depending on your firmware). If you use the profided car adaptor, you CAN record multiple files without pressing buttons. I combined a normal USB cable with the cable on the supplied car adaptor (I cut is off) to create a USB cable which I can use in any USB power supply (wall charger, laptop, car USB adaptor with USB port, etc). The trick is to move the +5 V wire from pin 1 to pin 4 (of 5). Yesterday I created the cable, today I tested is and it works.
#3 See point 2
#4 Sorry, no information about that. I'd like to know also!

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuemo

I have never cut or made any wires, so i dont believe this is a smart option for me. I basically need clear video/audio with moderate indoor lighting over a 2 to 3 hour period. More is better.

I need it to be a small cam like this, that i can easily stash.

Any ideas for me? Everything i find looks like it will be good, except the batteries only power it for about an hour.

Thanks again

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

No problem if you never cut or made any wires. There are simple solutions on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.nl/4GB-Car-keychain-HD-Driving-Recorder-Camera-Video-H-264-/150603487126?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2310aad796#ht_4370wt_1320

I don't know where you live and what kind of wall-plug you need but in the link is an example. For me it wouldn't work in the Netherlands because here we have a different kind of plug but I suppose those things are in many forms, so look for a '12V carplug-in-the-wall' kind of thingy.

About timings:

My 16GB card can hold much more than you request. At 7000 kbps my camera can shoot 1:20 hours (80 minutes) on 4 GB so that's (nearly) 4 times on a 16GB. 4 hours and 40 minutes at 7000 kbps shouldn't be a problem with 16GB. When shooting at 10000kbps a 16GB can hold about 3 hours of video.

In order to get 7000 kbps you need to format your card with particular settings (possible with standard windows standard formattingtool)

About moderate indoor lighting, How moderate is 'moderate'? And what purpose? That might depend.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuemo

@Richard

I can give you some pretty comprehensive answers here because I've got a good set-up going.

#1 Yes, you can put a 32gb card in. I used a Class 10 card.

#2 Yes, you can use an adapter, I used this one: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=110687406830#ht_939wt_1139

#3 Use the firmware update to remove the timestamp and allow for continuous recording. With this and the use of the above card and adapter I got 6 x 3.99GB files each lasting 53 minutes. That is 5.3 hours and I could have probably fit more on.

It's actually rather good in low light conditions, too.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJon M

@Jon M:

Try formatting your card differently. If you manage to get your camera to work at 7000 kbps, you can record over 9 hours on your 32GB card. Difference in quality isn't really noticable.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterQuemo

bought a #12 hd spycam from ebay! does it need a hi speed card?

May 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermike from oz

@Mike from Oz. Yes, as fast as possible. As far as I know the #12 drops a lot of frames and the video format is MJPEG avi so it creates big video files

May 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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