Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Crocolis HD 1080P Extreme Cam review

For reasons unknown to me I have always been infatuated with capturing my rides on camera. I've had oodles of action cameras over the years that progressively get better and better over time but never really been happy with any one in particular. Enter the dilemma. What to get next?


A  GoPro? Another Contour? Nah, something cheap and nasty from Hong Kong! Enter the Crocolis HD Extreme Cam for $194.95 (at the time of purchase) with the works. But is it worth the hassle? Let's take a closer look and find out.

Included bits

It comes with a  range of attachment options;
  • 1- Helmet camera mount
  • 2- Strap Mount
  • 3- Bicycle/ATV/motorbike mount- Secure handlebar mount for race
  • 4- Car mount- 360 degree adjustable
  • assorted cables
  • power supply
  • single Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • SD HC card supports up to 32GB
I wasn't really a fan of strapping something this chunky to my helmet so I've mostly used the handlebar mount, actually I've only used the handlebar mount, to attach it  with pretty good results. My only beef is that it has no swivel or pivot adjustment with this method so your pretty stuck for viewing/filming angles. I also couldn't get this mount onto the trellis in any way that was going to capture anything useful.
 

 I was tempted to use the above suction cup mount on the tank which would have been more adjustable and has a 360 degree pivot, but I had visions of it coming unstuck and flinging off at speed into oncoming traffic. Not ideal and more suited to in-cage mounting.

Video capture spec

  • 1080p – HD video at 30 frames per second
  • 720p – 60 frames per second 720p video. 720p (1280 x 720p) can record in either standard 30 frames per second or 60 frames per second.
This is all pretty accurate and standard these days. Most action cams are starting to come down in price and go up in spec - the latest GoPro called the Hero3 Black Edition is smaller than its predecessor and can record at a ridiculous 120fps so these are not knockout stats by that standard but produce good results. I still need to work out how to get the most out of these settings and uploads to YouTube, but here is my first attempt at some pretty straight footage testing out the internal and external mic with the cam strapped to the bars.

Features

While it is a big clunker of a thing, waterproof and ruggedly built, the buttons are super fiddly and almost impossible to use with gloves on. The Power button is in the centre of the three main buttons and this means while I thought I was turning it on or off I was taking still images, and when I thought I was recording I was turning the damn thing off. Frustrating. It has a still image auto-capture feature that allows you to do a time-lapse video really easily, cool feature and all but not a deal breaker when looking for an action cam.

LCD Screen

This is good and one of the main reasons I went for this camera at the time. But here is the downer. For some reason if the external mic input is on the inside of that and for capturing any sort of reasonable sound on a motorbike you have to use this but in effect renders it useless because the door would have to be slung open which means it is no longer water or dust proof. On top of that, the LCD screen is then all the way forward and down so you can't see what you are filming anyway. Arggh!



There are four buttons to access the menu with on the LCD screen and while these are easier to access than the top ones, you really need to take your gloves off and set it for the footage you are capturing before you start. The menu is pretty standard and something I have seen before on a range of these Chinese manufactured cameras. Click once for menu, step through with back and forward buttons, enter to adjust, enter again to confirm selection. It's pretty straight forward and you won't really need the manual to get going pretty quickly.

Design

It's a tough looking little unit that appears to be made of a tough polycarbonate resin of some sort and seems to handle a bit of a battering pretty well, but at a little over 11cm long and 7cm high it's pretty chunky for an action cam. I think the Contour is a little sleeker by design while this is more on par with the boxiness of a GoPro.
While I have no real complaints about it aesthetically I guess, the most annoying thing in my mind is that flip down LCD screen and access to the external mic jack. I did all of my filming on the Melbourne Cup Day ride recently using this camera so you can check out more of the video quality on these related posts;
Techmoan does a great full review of the device (and many others) on his YouTube channel which is far more in-depth than my waffling on so be sure to check that out before you make a purchase decision on this one. I'd have to say it's not a total disaster but not a complete winner either. The fiddly buttons, flip down LCD screen and mounting options may not be perfect, but the camera is on the cheaper end of the spectrum (I've noticed it advertised for as little as $125 on Chinavision since I purchased mine) and fully loaded with features and specs so you just have to way up the pros vs the cons. Not my favourite piece of equipment unfortunately. Next up is another cheap wired POV camera from Hong Kong. When will I learn and just get a GoPro?

Specifications:

  • Screen: 1.5 inch TFT Screen
  • Sensor: 5 Mega CMOS
  • Still Image Resolution: 2048x1536, 2592x1944, 3200x2400, 4000x3000, 4608x3456
  • Video Resolution: FULL HD (1920*1080) 30FPS 1080P (1440*1080) 25FPS 720P (1280*720) 60FPS/50FPS/30FPS/25FPS WVGA (848*480) 60FPS/30FPS
  • Digital zoom: 4x
  • Video output: PAL/NTSC/HDMI output
  • Audio: Built-in microphone/External microphone/speaker
  • Storage: Built-in 64M, SD card slot, support SDHC card (up to 32G)
  • Lens: 142 degree(1080P); 172 degree(720P&WVGA)
  • File format: JPEG/MOV
  • Power: High–capacity Rechargeable Li-on battery 3.7V/1800mAh
  • Port: USB2.0 port /TV OUT/HDMI
  • Waterproof: Yes (IP68)
  • Dimensions(mm): 115 (L) x 58 (W) x 50 (D)
Until we read again, ride naked.