Vholdr - Makara Peak Test And Review

Postby Conners on Thu 22/Oct/09 11:03pm

A few months ago I purchased a VholdR Wearable Helmet Camera from Chris at Revolution Products. Since then I've only had a handful of chances to use it, and have been too busy to do anything with the footage...

I headed back to Welly a couple of weeks back with my bike, and thought it would be a good chance to give it a thrashing on some of my favourite trails. I went for a spin in Wainui in the morning, and then caught up with my riding buddy Chris for a Makara session in the afternoon. We all know that helmetcam is much better when you've got someone to follow - so here's what I came up with from Makara:



Seeing as I'm kind of into the whole filming and editing thing I thought I should write a bit of a review of the VholdR, just in case anyone is interested.

Size
First off, I am amazed at how compact this thing is. Some of the other one piece helmetcams on the market look rather bulky and really only give you the option of mounting directly to the top of your helmet - which is sometimes less than ideal.

Mounting
The mounting system on the VholdR is awesome. Both sides of the unit are slotted, and the mounting bracket has matching slots which the camera slides into. A nice positive click once its located correctly into the mount, and you know it's not going to come out. Having slots on both sides means you can mount the camera on either side of your helmet, or goggles, or frame, or fork, or wherever you like. The standard mount supplied with the camera is a stick on affair - ideal for full face helmets or piss pots. I opted to get myself a vented helmet mount as well, which attaches with a couple of velcro straps (seeing as I'm a trail rider and don't own a fullface. Although I know Chris was running his with the stick on mount on his XC helmet initially with no problems). The clip above was the first time I'd used the velcro mount, and I did hear the camera rattling slightly in the really rough rocky sections (there is a section at the bottom of Nikau in the clip above where you can see this). Since watching this footage I've figured out a better strap configuration which has solved this issue :thumbsup:

Alignment
The whole camera unit rotates inside the camera housing, so you can mount it wherever you like on your helmet and then rotate the barrel to ensure that your footage will be on the level. As well as this, the VholdR has two lasers which you can turn on and use to align the camera. Yes, that's right - "lasers" :D . So sitting on the bike, with your camera on your head, you can turn on the lasers and know that you're filming the right spot. Getting good helmetcam footage can be a hit and miss affair at the best of times, but these two features give you the best possible chance every time.

Camera specs:
640 x 480 @ 30 fps
Records to Micro SD card, camera supplied with a 1 GB card. This is good for around 40 minutes recording. (A maximum of 2GB cards can be used)
Li Ion battery gives around one hour of life.

Operation
The VholdR is a breeze to operate. A single rubberised button on the rear covers power on/off, and also activates the lasers and status LEDs as well when the unit is powered up.
The two status LEDs on the back tell you how your battery and memory card are looking. Green for full, orange for getting a bit low, and red for empty.
And a simple sliding switch on top starts and stops recording. The switch is nice and big, and also has a positive click into the recording position. Oh, and then there's the beeps. One beep when you start recording, two beeps when you stop. Simple as that. Once you've got the controls mastered they can easily be operated without needing to remove your gloves (or helmet for that matter).

Footage quality
640 x 480 @ 30 fps is what you'll get out of most point and shoot digital cameras. And that's exactly what is it. It's not full res TV footage (720 x 576), so it looks a tad grainy when viewed on a big screen. But unless you're planning on releasing DVDs, it is fine. Persectly adequate for small clips for youtube etc.
The camera suffers when you go from dark areas and into bright light quickly (trees out into the open) or vice versa, but I'm yet to see a camera that doesn't struggle with this.

Overall impression
Awesome. I've used other bullet style helmetcams in the past which involve camcorders in camelbacks, additional batteries, cables and generally a lot of shagging around. Having a simple, lightweight, all in one unit is so much better. You can ride with this and hardly even know it's there. And being so simple to operate, you can just flick it on when you get to an exciting piece of track.

The features which sold me were the rotating barrel and the lasers. The flipside to the lightweight and compact housing is that there's no room for a screen to review your footage to check for alighment, but with the lasers there's no need for that. And when I'm riding I want to ride, not sit on the sied of the track and review my footage.

I did have a dud run the first time out - even with the lasers I still aimed the camera slightly too low. Never underestimate how far down the trail you actually look! But now that I know where my lasers need to be, I'm sorted. The lasers can be a bit hard to see when you're in bright sunlight though, so you sometimes need a bit of perseverence to make sure you're lined up properly.

There are only two problems of note for me. The first is that the VholdR charges via a mini USB port, which is slow. Something like 3 hours to charge fully, so you need to be prepared for when you're going to use it. I believe there is a fast charger available, but would've been nice to have a power pack to plug into to speed things up.

And the second is that about a month after I bought my VholdR, the Contour HD model was released. :( All the same features as the standard VholdR, but with glorious 720p High Definition footage. Or an option for standard definiteion 60 fps footage. All for much the same price as the original VholdR... And from what I've seen the Coutour HD footage is amazing. Colours look brighter, and obviously things are just that much sharper. So while this is a downside for me, it is a definite upside for you if you're in the market for a helmetcam.
Last edited by Conners on Fri 23/Oct/09 7:28am, edited 1 time in total.
Conners
User avatar
"Seeing Double"
Member for: 14 years 5 months

Re: Vholdr - Test And Review

Postby NickCW on Thu 22/Oct/09 11:30pm

Great review, man its been a good ten or so years since I've heard any deftones
NickCW
Member for: 9 years 7 months

Re: Vholdr - Test And Review

Postby j2hyde on Thu 22/Oct/09 11:34pm

I take it this thing has an internal battery? can you fit a spare? 1 hr of power is a bit limited.
j2hyde
User avatar
"I'm not for that. I'm for the ladies."
Member for: 12 years 2 months

Re: Vholdr - Test And Review

Postby Oli on Thu 22/Oct/09 11:36pm

Yeah, cool vid Ben. As usual. :thumbsup:
Oli
User avatar
Member for: 12 years 4 months

Re: Vholdr - Test And Review

Postby Conners on Fri 23/Oct/09 7:16am

j2hyde wrote:I take it this thing has an internal battery? can you fit a spare? 1 hr of power is a bit limited.

Sorry - I forgot to mention this. The battery is removable, so yes you could carry a spare to get your run times up. The battery is about the size of most cell phone batteries - it's a 3.7V 900 mAh.
So with extra batteries and memory cards you could ride/shoot to you hearts content. :thumbsup:

I was going to take some photos to help with the explanations, but wifey has stolen my camera :huh: There's plenty of pics and info here though ;)
Oli wrote:Yeah, cool vid Ben. As usual. :thumbsup:

Cheers Oli.
Conners
User avatar
"Seeing Double"
Member for: 14 years 5 months

Re: Vholdr - Makara Peak Test And Review

Postby Mr_Bob on Fri 23/Oct/09 9:52am

Great video Ben,
When we go for a ride sometime we should try a follow cam and lead cam with my one (so long as we match our speeds)
I'm stoked with my Vholdr that I got last week :thumbsup:
I need to use it more, Hopefully heading over to vegas on monday :cool:
Some of my vid's are here: http://www.youtube.com/user/callmesideshowbob
Mr_Bob
User avatar
"Pedal!"
Member for: 12 years 8 months

Cycling | Lower North Island | Makara Peak | Mountain Biking | New Zealand | Photography | Regions | Sifting | Wellington | Wellington Region - Latest Posts

Who is online

51 Users browsing this website: DotBot, Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot] and 47 guests

REMEBER TO CLICK THE LINKS WHEN BUYING FROM VORB SUPPORTERS


  • Chain Reaction Cycles
  • GT Bicycles
  • Merlin Cycles
  • ProBikeKit
  • Vorb Shop
  • Wiggle