Wearable camera
March 7, 2018 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy a very simple lightweight camera that I can use as a sort-of on-person dashboard cam. Preferably something not too expensive, that I can clip on my coat or backpack. Quality should be good enough to see number plates. I don't care about quality otherwise, though it would be really nice if it worked okay-ish in low light.

I keep getting driven of the road, hit, or almost hit by people who drive cars and I want to start keeping a record of those moments. I have a regular action cam for that, but I don't always take it with me because it's so large. I could put it on my arm, but my arms are moving a lot so that's not great. It also requires quite a bit of manual interaction to get it to film properly (it doesn't have a screen so I have to start the mobile app to adjust the angle and press record). I thought about a GoPro Hero Session, but I already have a good action cam so the expense of another one is holding me back, and the Session is still somewhat large. I would also need to find/buy a mount for it so that I can leave that permanently attached, because otherwise I think I'd have the same hassle problem with starting the camera.

I see a lot of relatively inexpensive (around $50) small wireless camera's on Amazon. They're sold as spy cams or nanny cams and even have infrared night vision. I think that one of those might work, but since they don't seem to be made for this purpose, I would like to hear recommendations for this specific use case. Non-recommendations also welcome, if those camera's are all garbage then that's good to know too. If there is something that is absolutely perfect apart from the inexpensive part, I'm still interested.

I'm in Europe. Most of the brands that I see on US Amazon are available at EU Amazon as well, and all recommendations are welcome, but if there's something that's exclusively available at a US store, I'm not going to be able to buy it. I also want to have it this month, so no crowdfunded projects that may or may not ship in a few months.
posted by blub to Technology (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is this for cycling or motorcycling or something else? I see a lot of riders with helmet cams, presumably for this sort of thing. It's nice to be able to attach an action camera to your head, because you can aim it with a very natural "looking at something" motion.

Even if you're not wearing a helmet, I suspect something marketed as a "helmet cam" is what you want. Sorry I don't have specific recs, though!
posted by mskyle at 9:05 AM on March 7, 2018

Maybe the Google Clip cam could do what you're looking for?
posted by Grither at 9:29 AM on March 7, 2018

I spend a lot of time looking at dashcam video (it's how I get stimuli for perception and driving experiments), and I can tell you that the current-generation cheap dashcams (< $100) are really damn good under most conditions. I'd look into getting a cheap-ish one, shoving a big SD card in it, and clipping it to a backpack strap. It'll still have motion, but they've got wide field of view, good low-light sensitivity, and seem like what you're after.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 9:38 AM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a cheap & cheerful GoPro knockoff that takes good video and came with like forty mounting connectors for under fifty bucks on Amazon (and probably cheaper elsewhere). Only the microSD card was extra, and those are cheap, too.

It has a dashcam mode, which takes short videos (5 minutes?) and rolls over the oldest ones.

You could leave the base mount on the front of your bike's gooseneck, and then open & close the waterproof case whenever you take out the camera -- or even pull the whole case from that one mount. A camera mounted on your body will result in nauseating footage; at least the bike frame will be more stable, if not quite a Steadicam. :7)

I have two of these cheap cameras (which my kids call the FauxPros). The first one was a little wobbly in the case, but once I learned to jam in a fold of paper or something, the buttons are more responsive. And then newer one started out with better fit & finish, and is just a better item in every respect.

Those spy/nanny cams want to pull power from USB, whereas an action cam is in a form factor designed to hold its power & storage in a weather-tight case. Plus the sensor in an action cam is probably bigger.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:56 AM on March 7, 2018

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