It seems these days everyone is sporting a headcam on the local hill, and when it comes to making a ski film here at Dendrite Studios, POV cameras are absolutely essential to getting unique perspectives. Plus they are easy if you like easy. You put it on in the morning and press record every time you want some footage.
Here at Dendrite we can’t do easy. We need to push the cameras to their limit. That’s why we partnered with pointofviewcameras.ca.
It allows us to test all of the different cameras on the market, but more importantly the different mounts. Just because you buy one camera doesn’t mean you should only use that companies mounts. There are many advantages to mixing and matching, and you can get it all in one place. And for the final plug, we are based in Canada, and trying to ship expensive products across the border is never fun or easy. Conveniently, point of view is located right here in Vancouver, BC. There is also a US location for you south of the border folks (Blaine, WA). pointofviewcameras.com.
No POV camera is perfect. But everyone can find a camera to meet their needs.
The logical place to start is do you need the full resolution of HD or is the easier to work with SD sufficient? HD looks great but unless you have an HD TV or are using the cameras for professional applications, standard definition (i.e. the quality of a DVD) is probably fine. If you do decide to go with an HD camera keep in mind that you should have a fairly new computer to be able to handle editing and playing with the footage. HD, and especially very compressed HD that comes out of the popular models is very processor intensive.
The next thing to consider is a stand alone or a tethered unit.
Stand alone units are great and lightweight, but many of them you cannot review your footage until you get home to the computer. So adjustments in viewing angle need to be made through trial and error. Tethered units, while slightly more cumbersome also have a margin of safety. The camera head is attached by a wire to the recording unit. Think of this like a safety line. You are not going to lose your unit. The stand alone units are simple, but if something breaks there is no safety line. And good luck finding that camera in deep powder if your primary use will be in the snow like ours will be.
The third point to consider is sensor type: CCD or CMOS? Of all the cameras on the market only the SD models offer a CCD sensor. The advantage to a CCD sensor is the camera does not have a phenomenon known as rolling shutter. Your footage will always look crisp and clean and not distorted. CMOS sensors cannot always read the entire sensor quick enough when there is a sudden movement or shaking. The best way to explain this is if you pan the camera very quickly past vertical window panes or railings. The vertical lines will become diagonals on the screen with CMOS sensors. With CCD sensors the lines will always be vertical. To most people this effect is not even noticeable, but to the trained eye it can be distracting. When a pov camera is put through the rigors of action sports violent shaking is bound to occur. Some cameras deal with their CMOS sensors better than others. Dendrite’s recommendation: Watch footage from cameras and decide if you can tell the difference.
The final point is everyone’s favorite. What can you afford?
VIO POV 1.5
The following video is from last year with the VIO 1.5 before Dendrite was a reality. Took it up a few days in the grey light. The exposure issues you see in the sunshine have since been fixed through a firmware upgrade provided by VIO.
The VIO POV is bomb proof and a tethered unit, therefore it has a safety margin. It has a CCD sensor and is SD. The footage is easy to work with. For many people this is the right unit to buy. It is tried and true and you can view your footage right away on the built in screen and make adjustments. The footage can be easily edited on any computer built within the last 5 or so years. We decided against it because we wanted true HD capabilities for our film that is being shot in HD. But if you go HD, you need a brand new computer within the last year or so.
The VIO Tethered and with a screen.
February 4th UPDATE:
Checkout the VIO POV 1.5 Review from Dendrite Studios.
The ContourHD is wow, light and compact. The laser levels are a nice touch and the unit is very simple to use. Slide the lever forward to record, slide it back to stop. It offers smooth slow motion at 60fps as well as the standard 30fps. It is a great unit and will make a lot of people very happy. We eliminated it because the rolling shutter is slightly more pronounced than the next camera in consideration. With that said, the ContourHD produces some stunning images.
Here’s some recent video from the Revelstoke comp that highlights the strengths of the VholdR ContourHD. Our video was somehow misplaced and is no where to be found. Back up your files people! You can see the rolling shutter action in the top of the frame when it seems the horizon shifts in wierd ways. Not really that big of a deal in my mind but some people don’t like it. Congrats to Arne for throwing down this run with no inspection. I’ll plug unofficialsquaw.com as well as a great place for stoke.
Dendrite’s Winner: The GoProHD Camera
The GoPro HD is not perfect, but it is damn close for our specific uses. It shoots in full HD and shoots 1280 x 720 at 60fps, which is very nice for smooth slow motion. Its CMOS sensor does have noticeable rolling shutter, but it is acceptable and the advantages of the camera far outweigh that negative. The camera also comes with a great waterproof cage. Yes if you are a surfer this is the camera for you, and in the wet mountains of BC this seemed like a very good idea. The problem with the waterproof casing is sound is non existent while using it. There is a non waterproof case that allows for sound recording, but the camera itself has open ports and is not water resistant at all like the other units. I would not use this for skiing. So if sound is important and you are in a moist environment like skiing or snowboarding or mountain biking in the rain the GoPro may not be the right camera for you. We choose it for the image quality. We are very happy with it. Stay tuned for a POV Perspectives clip and a review on POV mounts. Because a small POV camera is pointless without the mounts to put the camera in really cool and dangerous places.
The GoProHD with the new very not dangerous “chesty” mount. Dangerous mounts in the next installment.
January 25th UPDATE:
Checkout Dendrite Studios POV testing of many different mounts combined with the GoProHD helmet cams. This was all shot in-bounds on Whistler / Blackcomb.
Cheers from Dendrite Studios!