Thursday, July 1, 2010

Documenting Mischievousness

I've finally figured out a better setup for capturing images while on the motorbike:  someone else's!

I've been agonizing over purchasing an HD GoPro camera.  I just couldn't justify the cost if I wasn't sure of the outcome.  Come on...a 5 megapixel camera??  So passe.  And just how much video am I going to take?  How much video could I conceivably watch of my rides?  I just want some good images.

Mulling it over for weeks I finally took the plunge the day before the ride to Little River Canyon.  I should have guessed I was going to have problems when I couldn't even open the package!  Score one for me, though, in determining the plastic case didn't have to be broken into.  There was invisible tape along the bottom...

Then came the camera.  This thing is tiny!  And simplistic, but complex all at the same time.  There is one big a$$ wide angle lens (BA in a small way), two buttons and one small LCD screen.  These two small buttons control the four different modes and access to all of their settings. Buttons!  Not even dials.  And don't get the wrong impression about the LCD.  It is for mode setup only.  It does not preview images.

Cameras and I are like peanut butter and jelly. Fred and Ginger. Fish and Water.  T & A.  I can pick one up and just inherently figure out how they work.  Except for this one.  I had to read the two-sided, single sheet, folded explanation that passed for the "manual" about 3 times before I started to get a read on this thing.

The design is quite simple for its size and purpose.  This is meant to be a light weight, waterproof (while in its case) camera/camcorder for high and fast sports environments.  It achieves that quite nicely.  But it isn't exactly friendly to change in mid-stream.  It is more of a set it up and forget it type of [toy].  Not a problem if you know that going into it.

My biggest problem, outside of actually working the camera, was affixing the camera to the bike.  I am extremely reluctant to make permanent changes to my bike.  Permanent changes also including adding things to it.  So figuring out where to mount the suction cup was proving difficult.  I mean, it is a "nekked" bike.  There aren't too many places for a huge suction cup.

I have been fielding a few questions about the trustworthiness of this suction cup.  But I ultimately prefer a removable suction cup to a permanently affixed mount right now.  I will not lie and say that I didn't have my own concerns. Even after talking with an owner and seeing his set up I had plans to tie the camera on, just in case.  Time prevented that safety loop.  So I had Mr. Oilburner ride behind to at least notify me if it fell off.  But per GoPro's website, this is one powerful not-so-little suction cup.  As their site states:  Suction cup is GoPro-approved for external high speed driving and riding, and is strong enough to pull dents out of a car door (unfortunately tested by GoPro). That actually means a lot considering the suction cups for that purpose.  Or the ones used for glass installation.

I gave it a try and it worked like a charm.

If you have a sharp eye you will notice that the camera is upside-down.  Yep...  Which isn't a problem for still images.  Those can be rotated easily.  It's the video that isn't easy to rotate if you don't have video editing software!!  I am still trying to find one on the free cheap end to help with the few videos that I have taken.  For now I will just be grateful the laptop is super light and I can just hold it upside-down.  :-)

ADDENDUM: I am happy with the camera. Once I get used to the settings it will be easier to use. It still will be impossible to safely change modes while the bike is moving. Best to have spare SD cards and battery or charger. It is a great product for what it is built for. :-)

It was one of the most interesting realizations that I couldn't actually preview the images.  I was chagrined to remember I was going to have to wait until I downloaded the images to actually see what I had.  Wow.  Reminded me of my old film camera days.


  1. Looking forward to seeing what you capture with your new camera! I haven't tried it yet, but YouTube has a new free online video editor. A video about it -

  2. Dear Lori:

    Why is the camera upside down? There must be can't you mount the camera right-side up on the other side of the fairing? And I am curious if the suction of the cup will adversely affect vintage paint.

    I have hesitated in the purchase of one of these as it is my understanding that this unit will have real competition in the fall, when another vendor will introduce one that goes on and off with a remote control.

    I look forward to your future video productions.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. Rob, Thanks for the info. I will look into it. But do you know if you have to post it to YouTube in order to use the editor? I'm not sure if I am ready to venture into that much of a public realm. ( I don't already have a blog...)

  4. Dear Jack,

    The GoPro comes with 3 or 4 arms that you can add/remove/change in any fashion to conform to any curve or obstacle. I just worry that putting the all together, at a length of about 10+ inches, would be too much surface for wind resistance. So where I have it mounted on the side of tank was purposeful and not restricted by the mounting system. To put it "right-side-up" would interfere with the handlebars or turn signals. My only real suction cup locations on that bike are the tank or windshield.

    If I ever cave in enough to affix one of the permanent mount plates I will be able to have it properly oriented. But I haven't gotten to that point yet. :-)

    What is "vintage" paint? Is there something special like a different hardener? The suction cup is a clear silicone type of material that will not leave any marks. (Unless maybe there is some oxidization on the paint...which might also affect suction.) As long as the paint is well adhered to the metal I don't expect there would be a problem.

    Fairings might be a slightly different story. Mr. Oilburner's bike is mostly fairing. He affixed the suction above the light and found that it was buffeting quite a bit. I would be concerned about cracking them over time.

    What is the competitor camera? I haven't heard about one! I would definitely recommend you think hard about it and its options. The drawbacks to the GoPro: can't switch modes during ride, would have to stop; all visuals are on the front, so mounted in front of you and can't see anything. I do like it, but need more time with it.

    This other, upcoming one with the remote. Is the remote wired or wireless? Can you switch between modes with it? Or is it only to trigger the shutter or video?

    I'll post more when I can think of anything else.