Cam Study – Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

Cam Study – Keychain Spycam, MD80 and Veho Muvi Pro

A lot of people have been asking me advice on the various micro DV cameras that I’ve been using on the bike for the last 6 months.  A lot more people will probably be bored to death reading this, so if you’re one you should stop about now.

First off I have to say, as someone who was employed as a Covert Surveillance Specialist around five years ago, these micro DV cams are just mindblowing!  OK, so there is far better kit out there, but the main point is in terms of bang for your buck, the professional kit is very expensive, and these cost around twenty times less and the rest.  For filming stuff to upload to YouTube you just can’t beat these cheap little unreliable buggers from Ebay!

I originally bought mine for filming my trackday sessions.  After testing them out during daily road riding, I’ve found very quick and easy mounting methods that mean I’d be stupid not to use a camera on every journey I make.

As a biker I get to experience some very weird stuff on the roads, and some very close calls.  So far I’ve captured quite a few on these cameras, and there will be more to come.  Something worth remembering if you’re doing this is that if Mr Policeman sees your footage he may well try to use it against you in a court of Law.  Once you get over the initial “I have a camera on so must show off!” phase, this can work to the opposite extreme of helping your case in the event of an accident.

You can watch all my videos made with all the cams on YouTube here.

Now down to the stuff you want to know:

Keychain Spycam

Price: Under £10 delivered (Micro SD card required for #2 and #3 cameras)
Battery life: approx. 1 hour
Memory: 8GB internal on the #1 cams.  15 mins footage took approx 300MB.
8GB removable Micro SD card on the #3 (not included).  15 mins footage took approx 800MB.

I bought four of these in all – two of the #1 and two of the #3 type.  For in-depth tech specs and how to tell the difference click this link.
My favourite was the first #1 cam which filmed with the buttons pointing to the side, meaning I could slide it between the cheek padding of my helmet and it was ready to go.

I used this all through Winter and it was great.  The sound I think is actually the best of all the cams I’ve tested here – it’s not as badly affected by wind noise, either.

This cam died after 4 months of daily use.  It crashes when you try to record and all the lights stay on until the battery runs out…  Shame.  The other #1 appears to still work but is rarely used.

The two #3 cams never really worked.  Used on bike the vibrations switched them off, and when it didn’t a full battery charge only gave around 20 mins of footage.  This could be down to the very cold Winter we had…

The #3 cameras were significantly better in terms of picture quality, but ultimately unreliable in my test, which is why I bought gave up on the keychain cameras.

Veho Muvi Pro

Price:  £65 (4GB micro SD card included, plus extra mounting clips)
Battery life: 1 hour.
Memory:  8GB removable Micro SD card (not included).  15 mins footage is approx. 800MB.

I received the Veho and the MD80 within a few days of each other, so had a good chance to use them back to back and at the same time.

You can instantly tell that the Veho has far better build quality than the MD80.  For a start the Veho has a metal case.  This makes it weigh a fair bit more, but so far hasn’t been an issue at all.  The Veho also has slides for the on/off function and voice activation, which means there’s much less chance of accidentally switching it on/off by pressing the button on the top.

The picture quality is much better than the keychain cams, and also better than the MD80.  Is it £50 better, though…?

To date there have been no problems whatsoever with the Veho.  Battery doesn’t seem to be deteriorating at all, and it seems as good as the day I got it.

MD80 on the left, Veho Muvi Pro on the right.


MD80

Price:  Under £15 (separate micro SD card required, extra mounting clips included)
Battery life:  1 hour.
Memory:  8GB removable Micro SD card (not included).  15 mins footage is approx. 800MB.

Is there an advantage over the Veho Muvi Pro?  Well it records in a wider screen resolution…

The MD80 seems more affected by vibrations than the Veho, but that’s using my very basic mounting (i.e. taping it to the bike with a bit of foam behind it), so I’m sure could be sorted out quite easily.  The vibrations affect the sound – it’s also worth saying that the MD80 records sound at a lower (quieter) level than the Veho, but in the right place picks up speech clearer.

I’ve had a few problems with the MD80.  Firstly, occasionally it randomly fills the card with fragmented hidden files, meaning everything looks fine except it won’t switch to Record.  Deleting these files makes it all work fine again.

Secondly I think the battery is deteriorating slightly.  Occasionally it will crash when transferring/deleting files, and the only way to do anything about it is to eject the micro SD card and switch it off.

For more info on operating the MD80 have a look here: http://md80instructions.co.uk

Extra things To Consider

The USB leads on the Chinese cameras are made of old shoelaces and Fail.  The best thing to do is to bin them straight away to save yourself the hassles.  Sometimes they will seem absolutely fine, but won’t charge the cam when plugged in, so it looks like the camera is broken and has stopped working.  They’ll cause all kinds of other problems, too, and no doubt many people have scrapped perfectly good cameras simply because they didn’t try using a different USB lead!

On all of these cameras, the Time/Date stamp is a permanent fixture that you can’t get rid of.  I don’t know why, because surely it’s harder NOT to have a time/date stamp than it is to have one?  Anyway, the link to all the techy stuff I posted way up there tells you all you need to know about trying to get around this, or indeed how to set them.  You’ll notice I don not set these, because why would I want to make it easier for anyone to track my antics in a legal dispute?

There are lots of Micro SD cards around.  Apparently, for the best use in a video camera you should get a Class 6 card.  I bought two from China for around £12 for 8GB labelled as Class 6 and they work fine.  However, it is worth noting that the Veho Muvi Pro came with a 4GB Class 4 card.  There is absolutely no difference between them, as far as I can tell.

Something that scuppered my earlier comparisons was that I uploaded some videos at home on a Windows 7 system, and some at work on Windows XP.  Personally, I use Windows Movie Maker to edit my footage, and here lies the problem:  Earlier versions of WMM DO NOT produce HD videos!  This basically means that unless you’re using WMM on Windows 7 you’re producing crap quality videos, and YouTube will make them even worse for you!  I also have Corel VideoStudio 12, which seems good but isn’t as intuitive as WMM.  In short – make sure you get video software capable of producing HD videos or you’ll have crap upload footage.

Whilst some of the Keychain Spycams work fine in a helmet, if you ride a sportsbike you don’t realise how much you look up with your eyes until you film 40 minutes footage of the ground, missing the dump truck that pulled out on you, all your knee-downs, and the owl that splattered on your visor.  To get around this I found in my AGV Stealth helmet I had to mount the Veho and MD80 upside down.  This isn’t a problem as most video editing software have a ‘Rotate film 90 degrees’ type function much like for pictures, so you just flip it the right way up when you edit it.


Conclusion

They are ALL great for the money!  I think there most likely will be a similar progression through the cameras like I made, with the Keychain cams being an entrance point.

More importantly, I have to ask myself which I would buy if I needed a second camera?  And my answer without hesitation would be to shell out the extra money for a Veho.  They have a much better external build quality that you can’t help but think will be to the same standard on the inside, and if they’re not then you have some come-back if you buy directly from them or one of the many reputable merchants who stock them.

Whichever you choose, you’re stepping into a future that’s put a lot of Private Investigators out of business, and though sometimes frustrating at times, all of these cameras are awesome bits of kit!

The Great Cam Experiment | ZX9R in the snow - covert helmet cam Jan 2010 | Nasty Evil Ninja

The Great Cam Experiment | Knee-down on clutch cam! | Nasty Evil Ninja

Worship Your Weak Heros

Worship Your Weak Heros

The world is going to shit.

Kids are unruly at best, and stab each other in the japs-eye at worst (or if they live in London), the criminals have more rights than your average law abiding citizen, and a ‘celebrity’ buying a new thong carries more news headlines than a natural disaster.

Adults don’t even read anymore, and if they do its childrens books about wizards!

WTF is going on?

I’ll tell you what: We don’t have any role models.  The closest we get to a role model is a choice between an alcoholic wife-beating rapist of a footballer, or a poncey metrosexual hen-pecked fashion whore of a footballer.

Ooh!  Choices, choices…

What we don’t have is any real Hero’s anymore.  Even in fiction, our ‘Hero’s aren’t exactly the Herculean, err… Hercules or even a pre-horeseriding-accident Superman.

http://failblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/epic-fail-costume-fail.jpg


Oh no – we get weak, pansy-assed weeds like this:

https://i1.wp.com/thesquigglyline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/406hobbit-group-lord-of-the-rings-over-sized-posters.jpg


Don’t get me wrong – whilst the books in the whole LOTR series bored me more than an impotent Vicar at a lapdancing club, I actually enjoyed the films quite a lot.  Apart from one thing, which – as you may have guessed – are the hairy-toed limp-dicks pictured above.

Hobbits.  Yeah, sure – have them in the film doing their thing, but FFS don’t make THEM the Hero’s!  They’re the cute little aside as the Hero sweeps through actually getting stuff DONE!  Nobody should want to BE a damned Hobbit!

Horrible, sneaky little weak, scared, indecisive, couldn’t-punch-their-way-out-of-a-wet-paper-bag dick-heads!!!

And just as everyone is getting over them and back to decent LARP costumes like Barbarians and Evil DeathfuckI’mhards, who comes along???

This twat:

http://wordpump.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/harrypotter5poster.jpg


They’re all a lot like Superman, actually – no, not the one with the head-stick and dribble – I mean the spastic that was Clark Kent before he took his glasses off.  As if he forgot he was actually Superman and never got around to saving anything but Dungeons & Dragons playing cards.

We all look up to Clark Kent as our Hero and role model rather than Superman, and nobody is saying “Hey wait a minute!  Where’s the passion?  Where’s the power?  Where’s the fucking HERO-ness???”

Then again, none of us could tell the difference between Clark Kent and Superman as long as he wore glasses and used less hairgel, so is it really all that surprising…?