Help find a camera to film while driving!
February 26, 2007 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find a video camera that will help me film from my car as I'm driving?

I'm working on a rather ambitious project. I'd like to mount a camera on the dashboard of my car to film as I drive along (for a media project). The camera would have to be on the budget side of prices but perform well enough to post to YouTube and the like. It would also need a mic input so my voice and/or music in my car can be heard. Any suggestions as to a model that would me do this?
posted by Geoffh to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would think that it would have more to do with how you mount the camera than the actual camera itself. I'd think that even the most basic dv cameras would provide Youtube-worthy video. You might look into the GorillaPod for mounting whatever camera you get -
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2007

The key feature you'll want to be looking for is image stabilization. Optical is best, digital is ok. No stabilization will lead to a very shaky video. There may be mounting solutions to minimize vibration, but I don't know about them.
posted by knave at 8:24 PM on February 26, 2007

Take a look at the Samsung Sportcam. Along with the standard unit it has a camera which you can wear on your head. I have had great fun with it. It would work very well for what you want to do. Further, it is a hard drive cam so you just plug it into your computer and download the movies. Check out this link for the details...
posted by bkeene12 at 8:30 PM on February 26, 2007

I think you want a gorilla pod. not balanced or shock-absorbing but cheap.

for the record: Claude Lelouch mounted his camera onto the bumper of his ride. take a look at C'├ętait un rendez-vous (youtube). I couldn't find the original, which is in 16:9 and of much better quality.

(wikipedia can tell you all about it).
posted by krautland at 9:17 PM on February 26, 2007

Any camera on the market -with a mic input- will do what you want. The trick, as others mentioned, will be stabilizing it.

Depending on your project, you may want a camera which can be manually focused, so that the autofocus isn't hunting around in your view.
posted by fake at 3:36 AM on February 27, 2007

I was looking for a mount for a similar purpose, and my googling turned up this: I didn't wind up buying one (that silly time/money constraint, you know) so I can't endorse the store or the product, but it looks like the right sort of mount for this application. Pro rigs have more suction cups and support higher weights, but cost more.

You didn't mention if you wanted the camera directly in front of you, or off to one side (a la hanging from the windshield in front of the passenger). The latter is easier, since you don't have to worry about the camera blocking your view of the road so much.

If you want to put it directly in front of you, look into bullet-cams that you can mount to the dash and connect to the external video input on higher-end consumer cameras. That Samsung Sportcam would probably do it. You might be able to find a small suction cup mount with a clamp that would hold a bullet-type camera body, or maybe a bullet-type camera body with threading for something similar to what I linked above, although you'd want a smaller suction cup to avoid impairing your view.

As an aside, anything that blocks some of the view not already blocked by the car's body is liable to run afoul of the constabulary.

Also, I'd stay away from the gorillapod. It isn't designed to be -afixed- to the dash or windshield, so I imagine any acceleration/deceleration, however gentle, is likely to topple your camera.

Camera-wise, most any prosumer/consumer camera with an external mic input should do what you want. I'm not keeping up with those products anymore, but I have a Panasonic PV-DV953 that I'm fairly happy with. It's been superceeded by the PV-GS400, I believe.
posted by Alterscape at 7:15 AM on February 27, 2007

I've used the chasecam products - combined with a cheapish Canon Elura (quite popular for their low price and light weight) for recording fun car chases.
posted by wzcx at 1:44 PM on February 27, 2007

for the record: Claude Lelouch mounted his camera onto the bumper of his ride.

It wasn't quite that simple. At the risk of killing a Geocities site's bandwidth, look at this image. Wikipedia calls it "gyro-stabilized", although I'm not sure it goes that far. Either way, it's probably above and beyond what Geoffh wants to do.
posted by knave at 8:17 PM on February 28, 2007

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