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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%! 

            

 
« The Multi-Function Spy Cap | Main | The Cheapest 8" Android Tablet in the World? »
Sunday
Sep182011

The Crocolis HD Extreme Cam - Longest review ever.

This is very likely going to be the only video review I'll make for a £100+ Action Camera and that's because when you get a camera that does pretty-much everything you want, then there is no need to go looking for another. The alternatives from GoPro, Contour and Drift cost considerably more and don't offer me anything extra that I need. I was really just looking for excellent quality 1080p 30fps and smooth 720p 60fps video with a nice sharp fish-eye lens in a waterproof case and an LCD screen - and that's exactly what I got.

The only significant issue with this camera is the sound quality. Normally this wouldn't be a concern because virtually all Action Cam footage gets overdubbed in post production anyway. But the problem with this camera is that the quality of it's video is so good that I am tempted to carry it around with me like a normal camcorder - unfortunately the wasp-in-a-tin-can sound quality means that it's not really a suitable as a camcorder substitute.

I think this might be the best (and longest) video review I've done so far. It's took a lot of time and effort and I think I've managed to cover everything that I wanted to. The only bits of info that may have got lost in the mix somewhere are the video formats - it's AVC .MOV - which imports into iMovie extremely quickly. One hour of video at 720p 60fps used up 3.63 GB of storage, the bitrates are CBR rather than VBR, the battery lasts about 2.5 hours and you can of course charge and record at the same time (very useful for time-lapse photography).

I'll just try and pre-empt some of the more predictable (but silly) questions before they get asked.

Does it work as a Webcam or have motion/sound activation? - No. Why? - Because it's not a Spy Cam it's an Action Cam. It's the same reason why your washing machine doesn't make toast.

If anyone desperately wants to see some original .mov footage from the camera then I'd appreciate it if you could suggest a reliable & free online place where I can post them. One that doesn't delete files automatically after a while. I would upload some 1080p and 720p60 clips, because youtube doesn't do justice to the brilliant video quality - the youtube clips look considerably softer and less vibrant than the originals. I didn't put the review on youtube in 1080p because you need a powerful computer to play 1080p flash video smoothly. *** Update - Clips added, see below***

I have to thank the 'extreme' skateboarding lads in Manchester - I'd imagine that they were more than a little bit concerned about the creepy middle-aged bloke asking if he could film them. Hopefully their Tony Hawks-esque videographer remembered my youtube channel name - please leave a message chaps if you do see this.

I'll be having a bit of a break for a few weeks before any more updates - but I can confidently say that the next video, whatever it is, will be a lot shorter and simpler than this epic.

This camera can be purchased from the nice people at Chinavasion - Here is the link

*UPDATE* SAMPLE RAW VIDEO CLIPS

If you wanted to download some (unedited) sample clips to see the original quality of the video (before youtube has mangled it) you are in luck. Below are five clips, two are in 1080p30 and three are in 720p60. These are not the best framed/shot clips - but they are short enough to share.

If you are playing back these clips, you should download them first (right click) and then play them on your computer in Full Screen mode. I know that on my Macbook if I show the 720p60 stuff in a window then it only displays it at 720p30.

1080p30 Static

1080p30 Panning

720p60 Static

720p60 Panning

720p60 Skateboarders

 

UPDATE 26 September - Important extra info about sound quality.

I've discovered that the mic hole on the front bottom of the camera seems to do nothing at all. However opening the rear LCD screen door does effect things immensely. With the door shut tight, only the loudest sound gets through to the mic (like shouting into a pillow), however with the door open, sound gets recorded at an acceptable volume. It's still rather hissy and metallic sounding, but a infinitely preferable to the water-in-the-ears type sound you get with the door closed. To record sound the door doesn't need to be wide open - just left slightly ajar.

As a further experiment I also removed the dummy screw in the base of the camera but this had absolutely no positive effect on the muffled door-closed sound .

On the subject of sound I bought a small microphone with a 3.5mm plug and found out that the socket on the camera is actually 2.5mm (apologies for the factual error in the video). Luckily I have a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adaptor and have tested out the microphone and noticed no obvious difference between the hidden internal mic and my new mic. So some good news and some bad news - the sound is better than I thought, but seemingly cannot be improved upon (I suspect a low bitrate sound encoder). The sound test in the video when I'm talking into the camera is still an accurate demonstration as the door was open throughout. I may do a follow up video when my second test mic turns up in the post. 

Further Update 26 October

I've been informed (see the comments) that the Sound from an external mic is actually OK, it just needs to be seperated out from the sound from the internal mic which also gets recorded at the same time, messing it up. I haven't tried this out. 

Also that mystery screw in the base is a kind of heatsink (in screw form) - so leave it screwed in.

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Reader Comments (168)

@Maxlaam. Sorry to hear about the clamp..I never tried it out myself.

I tried charging mine again. I charged it for 6 hours and the light never went out...so I gave up in the end. It must be faulty.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Patrick. I knew it was Been Caught Stealing, it's the only Janes Addiction song I've ever heard of...but I was trying to sound nonchalant. So far, you're the only person who knew what I was taking about, so thanks for the comment.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Allium. Thanks for the info about the audio...When I get the chance, i'll try it again.

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I also thought that it was faulty but I had enough pacience to see if the blue light ever comes up. First I charged it for 6 hours => no blue light. I left it over night and I can't tell when exactly did the charging complete, but in the morning the led was blue.
Now, did anyone of you experienced weird behaviour like you start the camera and there's no start sound and, if you record something, you also have no sound? You have to shut it down and start it again in order to hear the sound again...

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterhangover

@GEW - Thanks for the link. The Blue camera looks like an interesting variation. I won't be looking for one (one action camera is enough for me). If you do find one, please let me know where you got it and if the sound is better.

November 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi there. Thanks for the review! I'm interested in mounting this on a road bike, and using the time lapse setting. If you set the screen to turn off quickly, and had the time lapse set to take a photograph every, say, 30 seconds, any idea what sort of battery life one could eek out of it?

November 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdocjaq

Hah; oops... *eke out of it.

November 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdocjaq

@docjaq. About 2.5hrs max.

November 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I like to thank you for what you are doing. You are the best by far.
Does this camera drops frames like the other avi cameras you had review?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAction Camera Freak

@Action camera freak. No dropped frames at all (in my tests).

November 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

As someone who does use cameras like this for "extreme" things, this camera interests me greatly.

Seeing the bitrate section made me wonder - how about something along a similar line: "Rolling shutter test".

If you are not familiar with rolling shutter artifacts, an excellent guide can be found here: http://www.dvxuser.com/jason/CMOS-CCD/

May I suggest something like a washing machine on spin cycle with the camera pointed at a metronome? Basically any way of having predictable, reproducible, varying movement filmed on a vibrating platform.

This is important in cameras like this as many handle it very differently. Higher framerates seem to help but the old ATC-2K I had was like watching the action through jelly, even @30FPS. Low quality circuitry / firmware in this regard will drastically impact performance especially at higher resolutions (Longer time between first line and last line shuttering) so this characteristic is very important when considering budget models over the likes of the gopro or contour.

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterevilC

Many thanks for the test!

I'd be curious to hear how you like it compared to the Gopro 2 or other POV cams.

November 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Hello,
Do you know if I would be able to stream HDMI with the Crocolis?

Thanks
Robin

PS : Great Review!!

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Grant

Hi,

Can anyone tell-me if the camera have image stabilizer and how good it is??

best regards, and by the way, GREAT REVIEW

November 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiago Oliveira

Yes you can stream to HDMI

December 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Great review, may I know what is the maximum recording time/size per video clip?

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

This review was so very helpful and much appreciated ! Thank you!

December 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjapanguy

Hello,

I've just reveived mine... 26.15€ tax to pay more :o :o :o

December 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarlito

Thanks for the info.
Can it take a still while doing video ?
Can it be set to record remotely ?

Regards,
- Ian

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIan

hi! awesome review. I very quickly bought one. One thing I've discovered - sorry if you mentioned it and I missed it - but in full HD mode at 1920x1080 it's 30fps, but if you switch to 1080P you can shoot 25fps (PAL) but the resolution drops to 1440x1080. Pity! otherwise it's still a very cool camera.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlmon

I'm having great fun with mine too. Waterproof to at least 2m and as sharp down below as it is in air. Not as good as the GoPro in air, but a cool 1/3rd of the price. Remember to format the card in camera. My first mistake was to grab a card from my DSLR, plug it in and start shooting. The Extreme cam would happily play back all the files (movies and stills) but no computer could access them - either using a card reader or connecting the cam USB direct.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Sorry. Can someone clarify what is meant by 'split the stereo track to mono and salvage the left(ext. mic. input) channel to ONLY get the external microphone recording@ ? Apologies if I am sounding like an idiot but I wasn't quite sure how to achieve that or to what exactly you are referrring. Perhaps a tutorial on that would be good ;)

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJP

Hi - cracking review, thanks for that. I purchased one from Ebay, it wasn't called the Crocolis - just Extreme HD Cam. It was in the UK and cost £137 with the postage - they are still available at the time of writing. I can confirm that it is terrible in low light - you can't use it on the car dash at night. But it is great during the day. I haven't tried it underwater as yet but will post back with the results when I do. All in all it is surprisingly good in the day and very well built - it feels solid and not plasticy. Thanks again for the review, most helpful.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPete

If you pull the cam's footage to your NLE timeline it's an easy job to look at the stereo audio track and simply keep the LH channel, then duplicate that to both channels and you then have a mono channel made from the original cam's LH stereo channel. Do the same with the RH channel and then make a final audio mix choosing the best audio from either channel.

The cam is excellent in low light in the stills mode. The rear screen may well be showing nothing, but the cam will choose ½ sec at f.3.6 using 400 ISO and the pictures are really excellent. My underwater footage proves it's completely watertight to a depth of at least 2 metres, though the low bitrate can mean you get blocky fast movement.

Here's some 'straight from camera' 720/60p footage - shot at the highest bitrate of 7.83mbps

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EiDeoSnTEU&list=UUFJ1qF3A_419LygNbb-Qy2g&index=1&feature=plcp

tom.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Nice review Tom, and looks like a good bit of kit for the price. Do you know if it's possible to turn off the date/time stamp?
PS You got your key cam #16 review out a day before mine! Some good test footage from it on my YouTube channel.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Moore

Apologies, you mentioned turning off the date stamp in your excellent review!

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Moore

After charging for 6.5 hours the led turned blue, so was full charged. It went on video shooting with full battery for 4 hours and 7 minutes with LCD on and 720p30 mode.
Can anyone tell me if the LCD can be turned off during video shooting? And how can I do this?

For best night video use the 25 fps modes "1080p25 and 720p25" and set "EV SETTING" on -2.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanmaddog

In the comprehensive menu (much better than GoPro's in my view) there's an LCD off option. 30 sec, 60 sec or off. The power drain seems so low with it on I'd never bother to have it auto-off though.
And in answer to an earlier post - yes it's true that in 1080/25p it shoots 1440 pixels wide as against the 'full HD' of 1920 wide, but the difference on screen is impossible to detect. And that's because the actual real-world resolution from this chip is1260 x 810. It appears to be even less when shooting in the 720p modes - it's 1050 x 670. Still respectable from such a cheap camera, and of course in the 720p mode you do get that wonderful wide-angle coverage.

tom.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

If I put LCD off option on 30 sec, the LCD turns off only in standby, not during shooting. It doesn’t matter witch option is selected, during shooting it does not turn off the LCD.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanmaddog

Great review once again! There is one thing that I would like to know, and that is how strong are those 3m pads provided? Thanks

January 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

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