If you Google the internet for dashcam videos, you can see all sorts of automotive carnage that has been recorded all over the world. There are also a growing number of cyclists who have routinely been recording their rides to document bike/car conflicts of various kinds.
I have been resisting putting a camera on my bike, partially because of the expense, and partially because of the odd appearance of a helmet mounted camera. (Although from this post, you might think that it is deeply ironic that I would care about aesthetics.)
However, recently these cameras have been coming down in price, and there has been a whole slew of GoPro clones of varying quality advertised on various Chinese websites. Last month I decided to try out a Go Pro clone called the “SJ4000 sports camera” that advertised 720p recording for well under $100. In fact, the final cost including shipping and duties was about $60 CAD. (does not include a micro SIM card). I was interested to see how it would compare with a GoPro (which I do not have on hand), or one of several bike cameras are about to come onto the market for around $200 USD or higher, such as the Rideye, or the Fly12.
It does a decent job of recording, although the frame rate is only 30 fps. The resolution is enough that you can catch license plates some of the time, if the car is relatively close, as you can see from this screen shot.
The runtime for the camera is more than 90 minutes, which is more than adequate for my roundtrip commute. If you put it into 10 minute loop mode, it records your ride in 10 minute segments.
My quick impression of the camera is that it gives perhaps 75% of the performance of the lowest end GoPro, at about one third the price.
As a more useful comparison, I shot some video with the GoPro clone and the Fly6 taillight that I got as a kickstarted project back in June 2014. I had not used the Fly6 as of yet as it is only designed to mount off a seatpost, and this wouldn’t work for any of my regular bikes since they all had racks and panniers that would block the view.
This company is also working on a front camera, the aforementioned Fly12, due to be delivered fall 2015. The kickstarter price for the Fly12 was $199 – $239 US.
and the Fly6 at the same place on the video.
Note that the date time stamp is upside for the FLy6. From the still shots, the image quality is not that much different, although the colours for theFLy6 are much nicer.
However, the Fly6 seems to shoot at a higher frame rate as can be seen from this video. Note that the GoPro footage is shakier because it is mounted on the handlebar as opposed to the headtube.
Bottom line: the Fly6 is a better unit, but at more than three times the price. I’ll stick to my Go Pro clone.
In actual fact, since the shipping cost was high, I ordered six of these cameras.
If you are interested in having one (local pickup in downtown Toronto only), they would be $57 CDN. Send me your email in the comments (which I will not publish) and I’ll get back to you.