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This section is my attempt to share what I have learned from shooting and producing mountain biking videos. Many of these "tips" might seem obvious to some people, but without a mentor, I have stumbled many times and learned from my mistakes. I'm still stumbling and I'm still learning!

You can go several routes on the video camera thing.

One route is the Samsung SC-X210L Sports Camcorder. The video is not high quality, but it's not too bad. The package is sweet because it's so small and lightweight. But it uses flash media that's relatively expensive and it compresses the crap out of the video (mpeg4) to get it to fit.


Another route is to get a small miniDV (I'd recommend getting a Sony HC42 off of ebay that has an "A/V in" port and a LANC port) and use a remote lens such as the VioSport Adventure Cam 3

VioSport's Remote Lens

[NOTE: Optionally, you can build your own remote lens kit for a significant amount less money. All it takes is a bit of leg work and simple soldering. And the only soldering needed is to get the right connector on the battery. I'll explain the homemade remote lens kit elsewhere. Check the "Remote Lenses" tab above for more info.]

You'll also want a remote LANC button so that you can start and stop recordings for the action.

Cameye Sport remote LANC

The advantage of the remote lens to miniDV cam set-up is that:

  • tapes are cheap ($2.25 for a 1 hour tape - as opposed to that flash card for the Samsung, which is about $20 for a 2Gig card that holds about an hour)
  • the picture quality will be better - but still not as good as the actual camera lens
  • The disadvantage of the remote lens to miniDV cam set-up is that:

  • you have to carry a 1 pound, lead-acid battery to power the lens (I carried this in my CamelBak)
  • there are several wires that need to be bundled and managed (video and, optionally, audio connections between the camera and the lens as well as the power from the battery to the lens (I tucked these into my CamelBak)
  • the camera needs to be stowed somewhere (I used my CamelBak)
  • the picture quality is not optimal - see, a remote lens set-up uses the camera as a storage device only. That means that all of the camera's nifty features such as SteadyShot and auto- focus and A/E and white balance and such DO NOT work.

    Another route is to get a small miniDV (once again, I'd recommend getting a Sony HC42 off of ebay) and mount the camera itself to your helmet. Here's my homemade set-up that works really well:

    YouTube link to my Helmet Camera Setup

    Check out these options:

    Camera boxes by BoneHead Composites

    The upsides to using the real camera...

  • the picture quality is the best. You get all of the camera's adjustability and features.
  • you can still use a remote lens to get special shots (lower quality, but mountable in places where you really wouldn't want to risk strapping the camera)
  • you can still use a LANC remote to start and stop the recordings to save tape, time and battery life (be aware that there are 2 different versions of the LANC)
  • The downside to using the real camera...

  • the camera will be much heavier and trickier to mount (but the boxes are a nice option)
  • if you mount it on the side of a helmet (I recommend), you'll need a counter weight on the other side and that makes the set-up even heavier
  • if you mount it on the top, beware that it's damn easy to hit a low branch and do damage
  • Anyway, use the tabs above to explore what I've learned.