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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

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
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).

Monday
Aug272012

A look at the Honda NC700X DCT Motorcycle

Quite a few people asked me to make a video about my new motorcycle, so here it is. This was a very complicated video to make, production was spread over a couple of months using numerous cameras and there was a lot of unused footage from false starts. In the end it didn't really turn out how I planned, but then again, I didn't have a plan, so that might be the problem. Nevertheless, there are some nice on-board camera shots in the video, so there is definitely some enjoyment to be had.

I suppose the biggest problem I encountered when making the video is that I absolutely love this bike, it feels like it was custom made for me, so it's very hard to be impartial and find fault with it. That's not a bad problem to have really. 

Making Of - 

The Sony HX100V shot the exterior shots of the bike. The footage taken of me on the bike chasing after the camera was the Xdreme, but it was heavily zoomed in, making it rather low def. The onboard footage was broken down as follows. The Sony MHS-TS20 shot the dashboard, the Ego took the footage from the front left of the bike where the shock absorber is in shot and everything else was done with the wired bullet cam HD-VC93. I did try to do some commentary whilst I was driving, but the sound was a bit overblown, peaky, and rambling, so I chose not to use it. 

Saturday
Aug252012

Self powered HDMI splitter.

Just a quick post that's not worth its own video. Were you aware that you can now get a powered HDMI splitter that doesn't require a separate power supply? For those who don't know, a HDMI splitter duplicates a source and sends it to two outputs at once, and should not be confused with a switcher that routes multiple sources into one input, one at a time.

This splitter draws its power from the HDMI socket rather than a mains plug wall adaptor. This is a big deal to those people who have an area behind the TV cabinet that looks like a warning poster from the Fire Brigade. I've got over a dozen plugs behind my TV powering all my AV gear, but I needed to split (duplicate) the HDMI signal from my Sky HD box and I wanted to avoid taking up any more wall plugs.

This bus powered HDMI splitter seems new to the market, but I'm sure that now one company has figured out how to do this, others will follow.

All the device does, is duplicate the output from an HDMI socket, in full resolution with no impact on quality. Both HDMI destinations do the HDMI handshake with the splitter. If one device is turned off, the other one is unaffected. Build quality leaves a bit to be desires, but it works fine. Once plugged it, it can be tucked behind the TV with no need to press any buttons on it. If for some reason either device fails to connect properly, just press reset and it will attempt to handshake again.

Cost is approx £24 which is a lot cheaper than most traditional wall plug powered HDMI splitters. Purchased from CPC.

 

Wednesday
Aug222012

Liquid Image EGO Review (2 part review)

Here is part one of a two part review of the Liquid Image EGO 1080p sport camera. (Part 2 here)

Over the next two weeks I will spend more time using the camera and then post the final part of the review, together with some downloadable sample.

This is the first time I've split a video review in this manner. I did this because I wanted to give myself more time to perform all the tests that a camera like this warrants, as well as discover any quirks and idiosyncrasies it may exhibit.

If there is anything specific that you want to see in part 2, please put details in the comments and I'll see what I can do.

I bought this camera from Amazon, it cost me approx £120.

PDF Manual on the Liquid Image Site (not much other info there though).

Here is a gallery of all the set-up menus from the Actionconnect app.

 

Update 27 August 2012

I took the Ego out on the bike yesterday and got some really nice looking video. I'm very impressed with this camera.  I'm currently working on my review of the bike and then on the final part of the Ego review...but if you want to see something from the Ego now - you can download a clip using This link. This clip was shot in 1080p30 with a 90º FOV and the plastic protective shield was on. The clip has been trimmed for length using MPEG streamclip (but not re-encoded).

PART 2 OF THIS REVIEW IS HERE

Saturday
Aug182012

360º Video and the Sony Bloggie Touch

To sum this review up, this camera is beautifully constructed but has focussing issues together with an unresponsive and frustrating touchscreen. The digital zoom is too easy to accidentally engage and cannot be deactivated. This is one of the last of the pocket Bloggie cameras. Cameras like this have now been superseded by smartphones. Smartphones offer a number of advantages when it comes to sharing, accessories and post-processing. This Bloggie MHS-TS20 was first introduced in early 2011 can now be picked up at a fraction of its original intended selling price.

360º Video  

To save me responding to multiple comments regarding the same things, I'll explain a little more about what I expected from my 360º video, what I am not interested in and what I've found out in the six months I've owned this camera.

I am aware of the existence of unwrapping software for the 360 video that stretches the video out to one long thin strip. However I am not interested in unwrapping the 360º video. Viewing things that happen in front of, and behind the camera at the same time, is both confusing and unnatural. I only wanted to view the video as a scene that could be interacted with by moving the 'camera' window to view different segments of the action, just  like the iPad app that I demonstrated. That iPad app by the way is called '360 video' and is just a player for a few set scenes that are included with the app.

I use an Apple Mac, and the options for playing the 360 video clips on a Mac are very limited.  

There is an OSX app called ThreeSixZero however it doesn't work with the files created by this camera.

I am also aware that there is a way to play the 360º in flash…but this kind of thing is way beyond my abilities or the amount of effort or time that I want to spend to play back a few 360 clips.

I'm also aware of work done to hack the Bloggie 360 attachment to improve the quality of the video by increasing the resolution it records in up to 1080p (apparently it normally records 360º video in 720p). However if I were to do this, I'd have no way at all of playing back the video, because the 1080p 360º files wouldn't be recognisable by the Sony Bloggie software. I also believe the quality of the optics mean that the overall video quality would look poor whatever the resolution.

What Sony needed to provide alongside the 360 attachment was an online gallery where users could upload their  360º video. The clips could then be played in a browser by anyone and shared or embedded on a website. There's really no point in being able to record video that can't be shared or played back anywhere.

Kogeto with their 360º Dot and GoPano with their GoPano micro iPhone attachments understand this and provide all the sharing and embedding features that a user would expect. 

As I mentioned in the review, I'm not convinced that 360º video adds anything to the experience, so I won't be pursuing this idea any more. I am however interested in 360º photos. I don't want to create 360º panoramas by using iPhone apps. I want a camera that records a 360º view in an instant and offers a way to share, view and inteact with those photos.

I was therefore very interested in the Tamaggo camera that was announced about 8 months ago at CES. Unfortunately maybe this product was a bit too good to be true as there has been very little seen or heard from this company since.

If you want to grab a cheap last gen bloggie there are plenty on Amazon

Bloggie Cameras on Amazon

MHS-TS20 SAMPLE CLIPS AND PHOTOS - recorded by myself.

Sunday
Aug122012

and the best iPad case is.....

...the ZooGue Case Genius. Here is a quick video where I demonstrate the iPad case that I've finally settled on.

Bought from Amazon - for approx £40 

I may upload a few more short videos like this over the next few weeks. I'm juggling a few potentially complicated projects at the moment, so I'll try and finish off a few half-baked ideas like this to enable me to take a bit longer creating the longer videos.

 

Sunday
Aug052012

Nescafé Alegria Review

For obvious reasons I can't tell you whether you would enjoy the taste of the coffee produced by this machine.  I can however express my personal opinion, of the machine and its abilities so here it is. 

I bought this machine during a half-price sale at Staples for £50 because I thought it would be an interesting thing to review, and I hadn't seen any other reviews of this online. It's a different take on a single-cup coffee machine, as it uses coffee made using the current fad of mixing in Micro Grind whole-beans with freeze dried instant. In my opinion this is the Emperor's Clothes of coffee, a way to re-market instant coffee at crazily high prices. My taste buds are not great. I can't identify a Sumatran from a Columbian from an Ethiopian coffee by taste.  But I can spot the difference between an instant, a filter and an Americano. The coffee this machine produces tastes to me like good quality instant.  

I've pretty much finished my 'free' refill cartridge now, and I won't be buying another. If the price of refills was more realistic, say £5, then I may well have stuck with this machine a bit longer. It is convenient and neat and the coffee whilst not great is passable, certainly respectable enough for me to quickly gulp down before setting off for work. 

However the machine is now back up to £100 and the refills are £13…..so at that price it's a complete non-starter. I suspect that without a massive price shift, this product's days are numbered.  Expect to find these cluttering up the bargain bins at your office supplies retailer in a few months.

If you want to know more about this machine, the official website is here.