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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%! 

            

 
Sunday
Nov252012

Heads-Up! Here's a HUD that plugs into your car's OBD socket.

It's good to review a category of device that I haven't looked at before, and whilst there probably is no reason why anyone would need a Head Up Display in their car, it's still quite a fun (but quite expensive) gadget.

Concept cars have featured HUDs for years now, but there are some less exotic vehicles already on the market that are fitted with these, most commonly to show the speedo. I'd be interested to find out how the manufacturers resolved the double-image issue that I experienced with this device. I assume that most would use an angled piece of perspex or a reflective sheet…but it's something that I'll need to look into. If anyone reading this has a car with an HUD, please let me know how well it's implimented.

If you do want to purchase the Actisafety ASH 3, it is  for about £90

Technical details abut this review (people might ask - so I'm pre-empting the question)

This was a difficult one to shoot because of all the low light footage. You will notice a lot of blocking and grain in some shots taken inside the garage. The blocking gets added when I render out the finished video from iMovie (it looks fine during editing).  I've tried using different bit rates and formats without any success.  My camera also didn't like focussing on a reflected object on a windscreen in the dark….normally this would be a good thing, but on this occasion, that's exactly what I wanted to do. The cameras used were as follows. The Sony HX100V for the product shots. The moving in-car night footage was shot with the Koonlung Wired Bullet Camera, and the parked-up night footage was an iPhone 5.

Sunday
Nov182012

iPhone 5 Cases from ACase and Tech21

A quick look at a couple of cases for the iPhone 5, the ACase Superleggera Pro  and the Tech21 Impact Snap Case with Cover.

It's a bit of a shame to cover up the iPhone 5 with a case, but if you want to protect it then it's an unfortunate necessity. I saw Jerry Seinfeld mocking his friend's use of an iPhone case in 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee', suggesting that he might as well walk around wearing a protective helmet too, which did make me smile, but Seinfeld could afford to buy a new iPhone whenever he wants, whereas most people are not so fortunate.

I did try using my phone commando-style for a couple of weeks but that meant that I was reluctant to put it in the same pocket as my car keys, and as the other pocket of my jeans barely holds my wallet, this was not a sustainable situation.

There was a Kickstarter project for a case similar to the one from Tech21 but with the addition of a magnetically closing flap, unfortunately it didn't get funded. I doubt I'll ever find the perfect case, if such a thing could even exist, but I'm going to keep looking.

These are just two of many iPhone 5 cases already on the market, and countless more will no doubt launch over the coming months, but I think that it is very unlikely that I'll revisit these in the form of another video, they aren't really interesting enough things to talk about.

Buying links (Ebay searches)

 

COMPETITION

I'm going to give away the three Superleggera iPhone 5 cases from ACase shown in the video. If you want a chance at winning one of these then here is what you have to do.

1) Subscribe to my channel on Youtube.

2) Using the 'Contact Me' form (over on the right) send me a message with the subject "ACase Competition" and in the message just put your youtube username, nothng else.

On the 1st December 2012 I'll pull out three usernames and contact you on the email address you have provided to organise delivery. (Yes this prize draw is open to any of my subscribers around the globe).

Colours will be allocated at random...so I apologise in advance to the person who gets the pink one...you will both win and lose at the same time.

Good luck. 

Sunday
Nov182012

The Tiltpod - is that a tripod in your pocket...?

I really appreciate clever little products like the Tiltpod and I think that it's the kind of thing that would make for a good stocking filler this Christmas. Mine were sent directly from the US, from the Manufacturers Gomite - they seem to ship to most countries However the best price for UK buyers currently seems to be from Amazon UK....link below.  

Tiltpod on Amazon.co.uk

 

It's a shame that the Tiltpod Mobile wouldn't fit my iPhone 5 but I won't be holding my breath waiting for a version for the iPhone 5 because I don't think there will be enough of a border at the side of the screen to secure the holder without it getting in the way of the display.

UPDATE 20 Nov 2012- Good news....Gomite have confirmed to me today that they are working on a new iPhone 5 compatible version of the Tiltpod.

Sunday
Nov112012

Carry Speed Advanced Camera Sling Strap System

You know what's better than being sent something for free....getting something that you'd gladly have purchased yourself. It was only last month that I spent an hour or so searching around on the net for a better quality replacement for my current bargain-basement camera sling strap. In the end I couldn't find what I wanted at the right price so I gave up.  

It seems like someone was reading my mind, because a few days later, out of the blue I get an email asking me if I want to test out a couple of sling straps from a company called Carry Speed. I went on their website to see what this company was about. Not being a professional photographer, their site was rather really confusing to me. There seemed to be far too many configuration choices to make. I wrote back to suggest that they may want to reconsider sending me their review samples as I didn't think I was sufficiently knowledgeable about photography, and didn't even own a DSLR. They decided to send them anyway....so here is the video I made.

 

You can buy Carry Speed Sling Straps from a few places, but I think the best option might be to buy them from the Carry Speed website. That way you can get the exact configuration you want. Just remember it's easiest to start by choosing how you want to attach the strap to the camera and then work your way up from there. 

Friday
Nov022012

The Philips In.Sight WiFi camera vs Techmoan

I'm a fan of Philips and their Sense and Simplicity design philosophy.  Their product aesthetics share a lot of the same simple but smart design elements seen in the best Braun, Ikea and yes, even Apple products. Many of Philips neat and sleek designs wouldn't look out of place on the set of a futuristic science fiction movie. 

I'm always looking for the next thing to review. One good place for me to look for suitable candidates is in the third party accessories section of an Apple store. The space available here is rather limited and therefore I would assume the products that make it into this exclusive club are in some way a step above the norm. To get into the Apple stores I would guess that a product's aesthetics must be a good compliment to the official Apple product range, and secondly I assume that they must be easy to use.

I make this second assumption based on the fact that the Apple stores provide product support for the items they sell. Whether this product support officially extends to non-Apple branded accessories I don't know, but I would imagine that their friendly staff would be reluctant to refuse help to any of their customers for whatever reason.

Anyway with these things in mind I happened across the Phillips In.Sight in an Apple store. It was available in two packs. A single camera version for £99 or a dual camera pack for £179. The obvious Apple connection was the fact that the camera used its own Philips IOS InSight App to view the camera's feed (Android app also available). I was intrigued to see how Philips had managed to make a WiFi camera that could be easily setup by a novice, because I.P. cameras can be a nightmare to set up. If you don't know what port-forwarding is, how to manually set up static IPs and what a DNS server is,  then usually it's better to steer well clear of them, unless you want to spend hours tearing your hair out, something which I can ill afford to do.

£99 is quite expensive for a fixed lens camera when you consider that the cheaper Foscam camera I reviewed also has excellent night vision and as it's motorised, you can control its position remotely. I can however make a calculated guess as to where Philips have spent their money. Beyond the branding and high street presence, the other costs must be swallowed up by a subscription to the streaming go-between Yoics. This is the company that Philips are using to facilitate their easy set-up external streaming. This would explain why the two camera set is better value than the single camera…a proportion of the cost of that first camera will likely be getting forwarded to Yoics for their services. The convenience of the 'easy set-up' of this camera comes at a not inconsiderable cost to your pocket.

I can now understand why you have to pay an extra fee for the ability to stream over  3G for periods longer than 5 minutes. You aren't just streaming directly from your house, you are pulling data from Yoics servers. There is one thing that I should have mentioned in the video. Streaming over 3G worked as well for me as the WiFi streaming did….but you'll need to watch the video to see if that is actually a good or a bad thing.

You can read about the In.Sight camera on Philips website here.

UPDATE - JANUARY 2013 - IT WORKS!!!!

Philips have updated their IOS app and everything works fine. I'll post another update soon - but rest assured it now works properly, like is should have all along.

Sunday
Oct282012

Using the 120º ACT20 Action Cam as a car DVR.

For a while now I've been hunting for a car DVR that's small enough to be hidden away. I don't like the idea of detaching something from my windscreen every time I park up...I'd much rather have a camera that could be installed and then forgotten about. 

Well one of the contributors to the site (apologies, but I've forgotten who) suggested that I should take another look at the ACT20 action camera because following a firmware update it is now able to function as a car DVR.

The ACT20 made for a pretty mediocre action camera, but perhaps it could redeem itself when repurposed as a car (or bike) DVR. I picked up a new 120º version and gave it another shot. Watch the video to find out how it fared.

I bought mine from

 

My full review of the original 60º ACT20 camera can be found at the link beow.

http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2011/6/21/the-act20-action-camera.html

Sunday
Oct212012

How To Shoot Yourself in the Face (& other tips).

I've put together this quick 'behind the scenes' video to answer the questions I've been receiving regarding the equipment I use to create my videos.

I work with a very limited budget and have acumulated my videography equipment over a few years. So what I am showing you here is not a list of recommended equipment...it's just an insight into what you can achieve using some pretty basic kit. I will inevitably upgrade most of the things you see here...starting as soon as possible with a new Macbook, as my current one is on the verge of becoming a collectors item and adds a couple of hours of rendering time to the production of each video.

 

Below are links to the things shown in the video. These Amazon links are affiliated, and you may be able to find some of these items cheaper elsewhere. 

Apologies to the readers/viewers from other countries, these are all Amazon UK links - you'll need to do a bit of googling to find these products in your country.

 

Here are a couple more links.....

Ultraclamp at Dogcam - I think this works out cheaper than the Amazon prices, but be sure to have a look around for this, it's for sale in many places, often sold under the name of the Pedco Ultra-Clamp. When you are comparing prices, make sure you are paying for both parts of the clamp and also not one of the older models either.

If you don't mind getting a refurbished camera you should check out the link below to access...

Refurbished & Clearance Sony HX Cameras at the Sony Outlet Shop

(Note the Sony Outlet Store link above won't work if there are no HX cameras for sale)

If that happens, you should still be able to access the front page of the Sony Outlet Store HERE. Also be aware that this site seems to go up and down a lot and it's worth checking it often to see if the stock has changed.

Finally, remember to pop over to  BinaryCafe.com if you want to learn more about the Sony HX100V & newer HX200V superzoom cameras.

Sunday
Oct142012

720p Spy Pen Review (2012 h.264 Version)

Here is my review of the first 720p h.264 HD Spy Pen. This covert camera records pretty decent footage, and is leaps and bounds ahead of the 1280x960 mjpeg 'HD' Spy Spy Pen that I reviewed a couple of years ago.  The live video-out function might also result in this camera getting some use outside of its intended (and unlikely) spy pen purpose.

I believe that this pen is related to the 808 #18 camera from the fact that it is distributed by the same sellers on ebay. It is therefore likely that the firmware could be updated, and the small time stamp removed, although at the time of writing I cannot confirm this.

If you buy this pen and want to change the time, it uses the familiar technique of copying a text configuration file to the built in memory. You can dowload an example file here. All you need to do is edit the contents to show the correct time and date and then copy your updated file to the pen. The time is updated when the pen is next switched on. 

I mentioned in the video that this was a difficult review to shoot because I kept accidentally pressing the on/record button in transit and filling the memory up with footage of the inside of my bag or pocket. Every time this happened, the day's shoot had to be abandoned so I could return home, attach the camera up to my computer and empty the card out. After this happened twice I ended up taping a protective cap over the pen to stop it happening again. This is the only time that I've had a problem like this with a camera, and it was caused by the fact that the camera only needs one brief tap for it to both switch-on and automatically start recording. The fact that the memory can't be removed or swapped out also contributes to the problem. There is also no way to tell if the camera is on or off by looking at it. I know that this is so that it can't be detected as a camera....but it also makes it very hard to use as well.

If you want to buy one, here are a few links to stores on ebay.

Wednesday
Oct032012

Belkin CarAudio Connect AUX with Bluetooth


I may well be the last person to find out about this device....it's been on the market for quite a while now, but hopefully this video will still be of use to someone. I demonstrated this in the video with an iPhone, but it should work fine with any devices that can output their audio via bluetooth.

I don't own a decent Android phone, so I'm not familiar with how voice control operates on them, but if it can be activated by a press of the 'answer' button on a bluetooth headset, then it will work fine. This device can perform every function you can activate by pressing an answer button on a normal bluetooth headset 

If you shop around you can usually get this at a good discount. At the time of writing, it's on Amazon for £40.99

Tuesday
Sep182012

A Car DVR with a wired rear camera

My Car DVR reviews seem to be quite popular, so I thought it was time to do another one. It takes something a bit different to get my attention with so many similar car cams available. This model does have the interesting feature of an additional wired rearview camera. The fact that the camera is compact and pretty cheap also counts in its favour.  

I hijack the beginning of the video review to explain why it’s really not possible for me to answer the (hundreds) of email requests I receive asking me to recommend a specific ‘best’ car camera. This will also apply in relation to the similar requests I often get regarding action cams. 

I really can’t tell people what camera to buy, any more than a car magazine would try and tell you what car you should drive. These reviews are produced only to help people to formulate a decision based upon their own very specific personal requirements. Please also bear in mind that everything I test is only used for a short period of time, I have no idea about the long term reliability of any of the products I review. 

Overall though, this seems to me like a pretty decent camera for the price, despite one or two relatively minor niggles. I paid approximately £50 for mine from this seller on eBay who despatched from the UK. If you want an up-to-date list of auctions, you can click This Link which will perform a search on eBay UK for you.

Some of the other eBay sellers stock a grey coloured model and some also come with a different style of adjustable rear camera. 

I have also found it for sale on DX.COM where it seems to be supplied with an additional suction cup mount

As always there seem to be a few variations of this camera around - so take a close look at any example screenshots shown in any adverts. The menus in mine appear as a bar along the bottom of the screen.  Here's an example of one where the OSD looks completely different, and I have no idea how this one performs (It also comes without the rear camera).

UPDATE - 22 SEPTEMBER 

Download four clips here - Front & Back, Day & Night.

Tuesday
Sep042012

Liquid Image Ego Review - Part 2

Here is the final part of my exhaustive (and exhausting) two-part review of the Liquid Image Ego camera. (Part 1 here)

The quality of the video this camera produces is excellent, but the accompanying Actionconnect app and the manner in which it interacts with the camera needs a lot of work.

Luckily this camera can be used perfectly well for most of the time without any need to resort to the application. I found that once I'd used the wifi viewfinder to correctly line up the camera mount on my motorbike - I didn't need to use the app  again, until it came time to adjust the FOV setting.

Unfortunately due to the fiddly nature of this procedure, rebooting the camera and connecting it up to my phone by the side of the road took long enough that a helpful biker stopped and asked me if I needed assistance. He had seen me crouching beside my machine a few minutes earlier when he rode past in the other direction and assumed that I needed help. This experience taught me two things, firstly that bikers are generally very helpful people, and secondly that I really shouldn't try adjusting the settings on the Ego if I'm in a hurry.

Price - When I bought mine from Expansys on Amazon, it was £120. Now that Expansys are out of stock, the cheapest price from other stockists is over £150, which in my opinion is too high. I'd suggest waiting for prices to drop back down a bit. 

SAMPLES 

If you want to download some samples - I've uploaded a folder containing 1080p30 and 720p60 videos together with some stills. These will look considerably better than the youtube clips. Click Here to download these files 

If you read through the comments you'll see that a couple of people have been having issues with the camera shutting off recording after 30 mins...rather than carrying on making more 30 min files. The solution appears to be a combination of using a different firmware from the one supplied on the camera and also possibly sticking to cards under 32GB in size. It's possible that some 32GB cards may work...but it's something you'll need to experiment with. 

UPDATE Jan 2013 The Action Connect app has been replaced with a really good Liquid Image App and the firmware has been tweaked a number of times and now has options to turn off the light and flip the image (amongst other improvements). See the Comments for more. 

This is a really excellent camera for a brilliant price.

(£102 for the Blue one on Amazon UK - at the time of writing (18/1/13).