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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)

More proof of the Extreme cam's water-tightness. Here's 3½ mins shot this week in a pool lit by underwater blue LEDs. This time I used 1440 x 1080/25p for the best low light performance, and set the EV at +1 stop because of shooting into the light. Slowed everything down by half. The pool is pretty shallow and on reflection it would have been better to shoot at 720/25p for the wider field of view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKlPBcCKkfQ&feature=youtu.be

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

beautiful review and useful comments
I would like to use this article on a motorcycle
I would like to know if you can rotate the picture 90 degrees?
I would like to fasten the side of the motorcycle rotated 90 degrees to the right
is possibile or should I rotate the video in post processing to the PC?
the video shows that opening the door is automatically rotates 180 degrees
someone is kind enough to try to shoot with the cam rotated by 90 degrees and solve my question?
the package contains information on the manufacturer to possibly update the firmware?
excuse the trouble and thanks for the answers
Federico

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFederico

Rotate the video any way you like on your editing pc. I often shoot with the camera upside down so that the flip-up rear screen is visible.

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

@batfalcon
I just received my camera, and indeed, the sound doesn't work in Pinnacle Studio 15, so I downloaded Xilisoft Vid converter standerd for free, but every time I convert a video, and I use the mpeg4 file, it stops at 3 minutes, so the converter only converted a part of 3 minutes long. Do I have to buy the full version now? Please respond!

Kind regards, Willem

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheWillempiej

@TheWillempiej

Well I have great news for you. Try to find a torrent to download the Corel Video Studio ProX4. It's easy to use. lighter than the Pinnacle for your system and works great with the files from your camera

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBatFalcon

TO ALL PINNACLE STUDIO USERS ( including me and @batfalcon):
The sound of the .MOV file doesn't work in PS, but I downloaded the "FoxTab Video Converter" and it's free, but it won't convert a .MOV file into a .mpeg4 file (wich is the one you need).
BUT I've found a way to make it work in Pinnacle: "You convert the video into an .MP3 file, wich means you only have the 'music/sound' of your video. Then, you place your .MOV file in Pinnacle, and the .MP3 file aswell, and: you have 2 files 'working together' and creating a well working sound-video file!"

I'm very happy that I found this sollution, and I wanted to share it with the other people who have the same problem! If you have any questions, feel free to ask @TheWillempiej!

Kind regards, Willem (Dutch 15 years old CarSpotter for YouTube. My CarChannel: www.youtube.com/TheWillempiej )

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheWillempiej

Hi there. I just wanted to stick my oar in here. Somewhere it was mentioned about finding Corel VideoStudio. I would just like to say you can buy the full version quite cheap on Amazon. I ordered the ultimate edition for just under 50 quid. But My friend ordered a slightly different version for just £20. The version I got came with 3D glasses and a link to the full version of WinZip. Sometimes those torrents can be dodgy for converting the files. I'm not in any way connected to Amazon but just like to point out a bargain.

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterquick-flick

Thanks for a great review - just bought one on the strength of it. I had been planning on a Contour HD, but this looks just as god at about half the price.
I am going river rafting on the Orange River next month and will not be able to charge for 5 days on the river. The unit has a removable battery - what is the part number etc and where can one buy spare batteries?
Is the one on the Chinavision page the right one?

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidR

Replacement 3.7v 1800mAh batteries are available for £4.99 at 7dayshop.com, delivered to your door, marked 'for Fuji NP-120'

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

hi im a driving instructor and a have a camera in my car. Its getting a little bit old now 6months lol now looking for a new one.i have already cought a few drivers lol. am looking for one with better pic quality. and maybe gps and screen. gps is a hard push. been looking at a 1080p dash cam. but i know there is a lot of fakes out there. any idea how to avoid them.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark norman

@Mark I've been caught it with a few fakes myself. The only way to be sure is to see what experience other users have had. My next video will touch on the subject of fakes/let-downs.

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Any link for extra batteries ???? I have search and search with no luck. Can someone share any link. Thx.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlitosLion

Anybody know whether a firmware update is available for this camera and if so where from?

Thanks

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterP1lts

I don't believe the plug-in microphone is working at all on this camera. If you place the camera (with its door open) near one sound source, and place the plug-in microphone near another, the only sound recorded is done so by the camera's internal mic. Isolate the camera's internal mic. well enough from any sound source, and there is no direct recording by the plug-in microphone.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Funnily enough I've revised my thoughts on the Ex cam's audio after doing some tests just yesterday. When held at arm's length the camera is practically mute with the door shut and far better with the door open. Then with the supplied tie-clip mic plugged in it sounds even better. But the big audio improvement comes on the timeline, when you can lose a lot of the hiss and mush by simply monoing the left and the right channel. One of the channels contains all the noise whereas the other channel contains all the signal.

Try it and see. I was really surprised at how good the audio is- using the tie-clip mic, having it pinned to your lapel and by removing the noisy channel altogether.

tom.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Thanks for the response Tom. In truth, I don't believe the plug-in microphone is working at all on my camera (..could it be just mine?) Tapping on the plug-in microphone with my finger should easily be heard, but it has no effect whatever on playback. It does not record the tapping. I believe the only reason I get better quality sound when using the tie-clip mic is because the camera's door is open at the time!

Steve

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Yes, it sounds as if either you have a faulty mic (easily tested on another piece of kit, though you night need a 2.5 to 3.5mm adapter) or more likely a faulty camera socket pcb. Does your Ex cam work plugged straight into a TV using HDMI or the TV out socket and cable supplied? Mine doesn't - both these sockets simply light the three red LEDs on the rear door and the camera waits in this mode until you unplug those cables. It 'don't bother me none', but it would be nice to use my 46'' LCD as a huge viewfinder.

tom.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

HDMI cable works fine on mine, Tom - and I have to say, the quality of picture is superb (much better than anything I've been able to upload onto YouTube etc). I'm amazed that the camera can playback smooth HD quality video like this, when my computer can't do it without stuttering!

TV OUT cable shows nothing on my TV, but if I plug my desk-top speakers into this socket and turn up the volume I do get decent sound from it, so it's doing something!

I've tried a couple of different external microphones on the camera (using a 2,5 > 3.5 adapter) and yet still it records nothing externally. A shame really, 'cause I'd like to put the mic in my jacket and out of the wind when riding my motorbike!

Steve

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Gello,

I've bought a second crocolis cam, and it seems the firmware is not the same (in fact the naming of the firmwae is totally different) do you have info about firmwares and way to find and update them?

Regards

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlito

I used the Extreme cam under water again this week. I wanted the best low light performance (the pool's hardly bright) and the widest field of view (the pool's hardly deep), so I set the camera to 720/25p. The resulting footage (action swimmer) is horribly staccato, but a plus point is that every frame is sharp so stills are easily lifted from the timeline. To restore fluidity to the finished film I simply imported the cam's footage into a 1280x720/50i timeline and let the computer invent the in-between frames.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Did you by any chance compared this cam with the Eagle Eye HD119?
Both seem to pretty much have the same specs, although different design.
I prefer the Eagle Eye design, but quality comes first.
Thanks for your review!

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Carlito, could you give us the exact version of the firmware of your 2nd crocolis plz?

Thanks

April 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterzsound

Thank you very much for the review. It helps to clear many of my questions.
Well done and keep going.

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Sound is good! Check out my video here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSaB1tqhE0o
You just have to open the screen!
Only we drove another Ferrari through a tunnel, flatout, and the mic knd of freaked out! When I watch it back, all I hear is a very loud beep!
So it works fine!

May 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTheWillempiej

Well I have been in contact with the manufacturers and they confirm that there is no firmware update available for this camera. howvere there is a new version of the camera available with a slightly different case and the camera now has motion detection but otherwise it's the same device.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterP1lts

I saw a picture of the 'alternative Crocolis' and the design sort of integrates the lens so that I wouldn't be able to use my push-on WD40 lens hood.

May 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertom hardwick

Hi Techmoan and all other Extremecam users!
First of all: Thanks for the excellent videos on your site Techmoan! Very informative and each well done!
In the past I used the "Actioncam ATC2000" for video shot of my sailing actions, but it sank at the last regatta while trying to change the SD-Card. While looking for a new one I found your report about the Extremecam and lately I ordered one from Chinavasion. It cost me 150 Euro (appr. 120 Pounds) postage and fee included, and it takes only three days by DHL to Germany.
And now here the actual reason for my post: I read about the sound problems with the external microphone and tried to get it work. What I have found out is that the camera seems to record "stereo". The right and left channel (2.5 mm plug tip and ring) of the enclosed microphone are shorted. So if this microphone is ok, you will hear a good mono sound. By using an other external microphone with only the tip of the 2.5 mm plug connected, I get good sound on the right channel and the bad internal sound on the left side (tested on the computer with VLC-Player). AND by checking the sound on the TV (via the standard Video Output) I heard ONLY the bad sound of the internal microphone. I changed the left and right channel (red and white RCA plug) but didn't hear the external microphone sound at all! After that I shorted the ring and tip of the 2.5 mm plug and get the good external sound on booth sides on the Computer and the TV too! I don't know the reason for that behave, but at least it's the solution for my camera. All of you that didn't get sound from the external microphone: Use an other microphone as the provided one (may be broken) and connect it via a "mono adaptor".
For getting good sound and still have a water tight camera I did the following "modification": I bought a very cheap electret microphone capsule (2 Euro) and a 2.5 mm plug. If the plug is connected you are not able to close the back of the camera, so I shortened the plug on the solder side as much as possible, until it is less than a millimeter! I used a lathe for that but you can surely file that down. Then I dismantled an old headphone cable for 30 mm so only the enamel-insulated wires have to got between the sealing rubber of the cameras back cover (put on some grease to make it more watertight). The other side has to be soldered to the capsule for which I seewed a fur windnoise protector. The sound is perfect and the camera protected against splash water, if it is still save to immerse it into water will be tested (didn't capsized with it until now :-) After an immersion the electret microphone will be damaged that is for sure, but that will not be a loss if you get a new one for two bucks!
So I hope this will help some of you!
Cheers Erik

June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErik

There is a successor of the Crocolis cam available on Chinavasion! It's called the Xdreme HD sports cam!

June 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

Your reviews are great. I ordered an Extreme Crocodile and know exactly what to expect and what not. I'm one of those China stuff buyers. That may have something to do with my income. But don't tell anyone.

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDriewiel

Is Somax the maker of these things?
Cause I see this camera on their site along with the Crocolis and it looks very interesting

http://www.somaxchina.com/productinfo_1955_HD1080P_2.0_Inch_TFT_LCD_Screen_Waterproof_Sports_Camera_Recorder.html

Same specs (ie the beloved 720p @ 60FPS) but in a lens-on-a-cord form-factor.

Personally I prefer this, as you can use it as a boom cam with monitor. Plus you can set it up on your helmet and see what is being filmed as you film it.

Can anyone clarify? Same company so I could possibly expect same quality?

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterevilC

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