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Old Aug 28, 2005, 8:29 AM   #1
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I'm currently using an Aiptek knockoff, presumably a DV 5100. I have this little cam mounted on the front of the bike and use it for recording while I drive, including off-road drives. This is basically hands off use, since while I drive I have more critical things to take care about. The cam is mounted in a little box to isolate it from gravel, vibrations and too curious bystanders. With a few thousand miles of recording I'm still pretty happy with it. Naturally, there remains a lot of shaking and stuff, thus any frame rate below 24f/s is good for nothing. I'd now like to upgrade.
First my pro and cons for the Aiptek:

CIF resolution – just enough for TV, no good for PC watching, still miss the detail of DVD like clarity
640*x resolution – not good, gives 11 f/s, shaky, apparent resolution not much better than CIF
small, light weight, survived rain, 100 miles hard cross country rides.
Asf format is somewhat inflexible, but I learned to deal with it.
Drains batteries before my 1 gig CF card is full, works with rechargeables.
Drains batteries in minutes if display is on.
CF not SD, great great plus, cheap reliable, huge capacities available.
Does not record date or time!!!
Adjusts too slowly to light changes, good videos require optimal light conditions, otherwise I get bright skys and everything else is far too dark.
Can't mount it to a helmet (still too bulky for that).

It's my impression that the technology pretty much advanced in the recent couple of month. There are several VGA(+) full frame rate cameras available or announced. So I now want to move on.

I need for doing bike movies:
- Video in port - to attach a "lipstick" external helmet camera
- 640*x resolution at full >24 f/s under all conditions
- battery duration of 1.5 – 2 hours minimum (no LCD display on)
- Always on, no auto power off while filming, no need to keep a button pressed while filming
- Able to use 2 or more gigs of external memory
- Fast to respond to changes in light
- Clear crisp videos, with lots of bandwith to use for dark sections. Natural colors etc.
- A remote (wire) control would be great, yes I love the dejavue, but at Cif resolution, this is not an option.
- No moving parts – just memory card recording.
- Affordable, since the tough conditions may kill the camera faster than I like it.

Going trough this list I came up with two alternatives:
Samsungs amazing sportscam with lipstick external cam and the Digilife's starting with DDV-810/DDV-V1. I watched the sample movies on the Samsung site. Cool frame rates, quality just acceptable (well it is a 500 bucks camera). Drains batteries like hell, uses Sony sticks (drains money out of my pockets like hell). Pretty expensive. Takes no stills (it does but only at video resolution).

The first DDV-810's are selling at ebay international for less than 200$, there are no sample videos anywhere I could find them.
No idea how well the video in port works?
Does it give full resolution at full frame rate?
What is the quality of the videos?
How fast does it adapt to light conditions?
Most importantly, can I film hands – off, or does a malicious auto power off function kills my recordings after 3 minutes?

Anyone out there who has experience or thoughts on this topic?

P.S. great forum on a topic where it is almost impossible to find hard facts

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Old Aug 28, 2005, 9:40 AM   #2
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Nagar, excellent topic discussion.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I was going to say th samsung miniket. if bulk is no concern. your best bet is to find a CAMCORDER and you can get an attachment for your helmet, and not worry bout the cost of the economy cameras, they will have all the features you need. otherwise like you said, and I agree 110% poor light conditions makes bad shots, as I am very pleased with the cameras Ibuy, but find that mustek still out proforms the aiptek. The Is-DV (5700) has a stabilizer but hitting a bump will be shaky. my walking stride might be controlled by the aiptek, but not by mustek.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Reseaerch is still the best tool sorry I have no info, but to research a small camcorder the optional lens and external battery pack, that even goes for the economy camera. as long as the batt's are not series connected you can parallel a good set of stringers and have hours of fun with the usb port.
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Old Aug 29, 2005, 9:45 AM   #3
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Weight and especially bulkiness is a severe problem. I'd love to slip the camera into the pocket, plug in the helmet lipistick camera an go off riding. If the camcorder is to big, thats going to be a problem. + it also increases the risk of getting hurt when I have an accident. Don't want to get the camcorder surgically removed :-).
I also don't trust that a camcorder with moving parts would survive on the bike for long.
Putting some batteries in parallel is a good idea, especially if it could be powered via AC plug or USB.

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Old Aug 29, 2005, 3:29 PM   #4
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Hi Nagar,

Can't offer much help, but I have a few comments. You might try contacting the remote-control aircraft people, since they do aerial video with hacked hybrids and have solutions to the auto-off and battery life problems. I think there was a participant on DWI who posted a link to their discussions. While the Aiptek DV4500 had several choices for the auto-poweroff timing, the Digilife does not.

I agree with your analysis of the Miniket Sport model. I suspect it would have controls for the auto-poweroff, since it is intended for exactly the sort of thing you want it for. If it doesn't, the designer should be shot. Too bad about the poor stills mode on it.

About the only thing I can comment on with the new Digilife, is that on my 720, it adapts to changes in lighting while doing video, rather oddly. When preparing to take video, it can "flicker" between different settings, with the camera motionless, as it decides what settings to use. Then when panning, even slowly, it can suddenly change settings, which looks bad. If I pan extremely slowly, it will gradually change the settings. The idea is to get the exposure right on the most interesting portion of the subject matter. This doesn't always work out, since these cheaper cameras don't handle contrast well enough. But the newer cameras are much better than the ones issued a year ago.
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Old Aug 30, 2005, 2:12 AM   #5
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Right! This is very valuable information and confirms my worries. While the 720 would not be an option anyway (there is no AV in), it highlights the issue of brightness control. While on the bike this is absolutely critical, light may change from very dark to very bright or even some direct sun in a split second. The Aiptek handels this reseanbly well, but does not handle sections with bright and dark sppots at the same time (which is technically far more demanding).
I found a very interesting private site regarding helmet cams, it is in german but has some very cool sample movies.
http://www.ploch.de might be a bit off-topic here because it does not deal with hybrids. Anyway, since I intend to use the hybrid as recording device for the lipistick/helmetcam it may still fit here. Anyone got any idea whether the AV in handles high resolution (400-450 lines) or would it degrade the signal, so that it would not matter whether the external cam has 300 or 450 lines resolution?
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