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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
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

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)

OK, I have some more testing observations.
Firstly, my 808 #11 camera arrived in an envelope and plastic bag, exactly like yours, earlier this afternoon. After evaluating a few test scenes, he first serious test I did was to plug in a known-fast 8 GB microSD card and make sure the camera would film over the original 20 minute limit. It did that very well. I then flashed your latest (4 gig filesize) firmware and left it filming (while on a charger) for just over an hour. The camera failed to extend the 4 gig file, and stopped filming at that (53 minute) mark. So I have now flashed the "Date off" firmware, which also failed to extend (at the 20 minute mark). I tested the "Date off" firmware again, after having reformatted the SD card this time, and it again failed to open the second file at the 20 minute mark. I have found with other cameras that the FAT decoding software they use in these small Chinese cameras is happiest if cards are reformatted after they have filled up a bit with erased files, so I am trying a different (4GB) card... It is always possible that my camera initially had a later version of firmware, and, if so, I will ask the vendor about getting a copy of that :)

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

Hmm.. it seems that when I plug in USB power, the camera will not open another file when the 20 minute (or 4GB) limit is reached with the "Date on" (or the other two) firmware versions. That seems strange... I just managed to run the camera on the battery alone (no power cord plugged in) until the battery went flat, getting two 20 minute segments on the 8GB card. A recovery utility found another file, which was presumably not closed properly when the battery went flat, as you have reported... Have you played with unit much while it was plugged into the charger? Did you see anything like this?

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

There is a lot of info there ... And I'm not quite sure I followed it all. You are aware though that the power wiring on the USB plug is propriety and the only way that it can be powered to continue recording past the 4GB Mark until the card is full is by using the supplied car adaptor. No other USB cable is designed to power the camera. The other USB cable included with the camera is only for Data transfer, not powering it.

Not sure if this addresses your issues.

April 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

You are 100% correct. Sorry that I took up so much of your blog. There is something very special about the wiring of their car adaptor. I thought I knew "all about" USB power adaptors. Sigh... If you use a standard USB cable, and plug it in as you did in your review video (after starting the recording), the camera will record only one segment onto the card. But if you use the special car-adaptor which came with the camera everything works as expected, and the recorder continues until the card is full (I tested it with an 8GB card). I found about 6 seconds were lost between segments with the original software, and haven't evaluated how the latest software works in that regard. I will look into that tomorrow. Thanks for putting these firmware updates on line -- they worked perfectly, and 'as advertised'.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

@Trevor... You aren't taking up space - your opinions and findings are very useful and will help other people.

Despite the length of my video review there were a lot of things that I couldn't cover in the time or that I never thought about. Your long-term testing is likely to highlight new things that my short term testing didn't so please keep reporting back if you find out anything interesting.

April 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Using Techmoan's latest software, I measured the time between when the first 4GB file closes and the second one opens by filming an alarm clock with sweep second hand. There was a gap of 10 seconds with a fast Class 6 Transcend 8GB card and of 8 seconds with a (faster) Class 10 Wintec 32GB SDHC card nearly full of files, which I consider a worst-case scenario for FAT. It appears that the gap in the video is proportional to the speed of the card more than the total capacity of the card, or the number of other files on it.

The special car-charger puts out 4.3 volts, and there is presumably a diode-drop within the 808, as the battery discharges to about 50% as a recording progresses. Initially the 808 pulls its power from the 808 battery, and as the battery discharges the current drawn from the 'car-charger' increases steadily, eventually reaching the point where all power is being supplied from the car-adapter, with the 808 battery essentially floating at a partial discharge point. I am still analyzing how their USB plug power works... I have two more 808 #11 on order, and will be able to see whether that 4.3 volts level is important or not...

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

Oh - the car-adaptor feeds its +4.3V power down pin 4 of the mini-USB plug, which is reserved for "ID" and is typically GND or NC.

http://www.zytrax.com/tech/pc/serial.html

It is not a good idea to connect this power adaptor to other mini-USB equipment :(

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLvPP2YcBtE

Mine arrived the other day and I had a chance to test it out on my bike today. I'm fairly impressed with it so far, but I need to see if I can do something about the terrible audio. The easiest way round it will probably just end up being a seperate device for audio.

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter$%$%$

I just got the hd version and it's great. One question...Where do you get the original firmware in cast the new one doesn't work?

April 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermafutha

@Mafutha. The original firmware is also contained within the "Time Stamp Removal Firmware" zip file on my Drivers & Files page

April 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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