Friday 26 October 2012

SteadyCam -one hand-

That's my own DIY SteadyCam, like others that you can found at the web, but not completely conventional ... 
The origin of this project was to intend for obtaining stabilized footage riding a mountain bike. What about a steadycam that doesn't need use one hand to frame?

 If anybody do not know what a steadycam works, please view the next video from PILOT steadycam.

That is a column-type steadycam, but there are arch-type models, more simple and less professional, that works in a very similar manner:  like this MERLIN or THIS ONE more simple.

Next some photos of joint (or kneecap / swivel) that provides independence from movement for two axis.
The movement for the thirth axis (rotation around Z axis) was solved with a bearing whose friction is Significantly higher that kneecap, but permits to implement the "one hand" system,

In the next, you can see the system to locate the camera to achieve that the exact centre of gravity of the complete steadycam coincides with centre of kneecap.


All the steadycams that I know have to be handled with two hands: Usually one hand for support the weight of the steadycam and other hand to aim or frame the image, gently, using very little force for not disturbing its working principles.

My modest contribution is that two rubber bands are used to mantain (gently) the camera pointing at front. Now the steadycam only stabilizes the fast and short angular movements, but not the smooth and permanent movements. And is possible to frame pointing with the same hand that holds the handle.

SteadyCam -one hand- from montonm on Vimeo.

The video in not a comparison between two similar recordings with or without steadycam.
The sample without stabilization (upper) only intends to show how the violent shaking on the handle of steadycam does not avoid that final result is acceptable enough.
The swinging up-down seems well solved and equally the oscilation side-to-side. But the rotation around z-axis is less smooth due the higher resistance to movement of bearing.

I hope to do some test with the steadycam on the bike... (not too esasy). I promise to report.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

CamOne Infinity 1080 -review & test-

Another "similar-to-GoPro" for test: The CamOne Infinity from ACME (Germany) by courtesy of Action Cameras.

This is all that comes inside the box:  Small camcorder; Waterproof case with curve lens; Handlebar mount; Flat mount with adhesive and fast anchoring; Two arms (short and long); USB wire and adaptator; Audio/video wire; Bag for the camera.

The Camera has some features that I like:
- Both, camera and case, have threads for tripod.
- It's small, but includes LCD screen to view when recording or playing back.
- The waterproof case has the same 6 function buttons that the camera, and you can operate all funtions alike with or without it. You will never need to open the camera on the trail.
 - The lens is interchangeable. Well done!... but only one is included in the box.
- There are two micro SD slots.

Unfortunately, not everything fits well:
- The side cover to protect connectors and cards is crappy and does not close
- It is hard to put the camera inside the case. It fits too exact
- The LED that indicates operations is just behind the rim black, and can not be seen !

Quality of mount system is similar to GoPro ones, but they are not compatible.

Recording mode:
1080p   to 30 fps  (1920 x 1080)   16:9       15.000 kbps
720p     to 60 fps  (1280 x  720)   16:9        13.500 kbps
720p     to 30 fps  (1280 x  720)   16:9         8.800 kbps
WVGA   to 60 fps    (848 x  480)   16:9         4.800 kbps
Bitrate values are aproximate, they are obtained setting the "high" mode. (there are three options: H, S, and L).
The same modes are in PAL too, (at 24 fps). But I have not tested them.
The battery life lets me to record 1 h. 43 min, and to recharge is fast enough.

Lens angle
As ever, no manufacturer publishes understandable and true informatio about view angles. The next data are measured and calculated by me:
CamOne Infinity        1080p     h.ang.     95º    diagonal ang.   103º
CamOne Infinity          720p     h.ang.   128º    diagonal ang.   134º
For comparative purposes:
AEE SD20                   1080p    h.ang.     78º   diagonal ang.     85º
AEE SD20                     720p    h.ang.   106º   diagonal ang.   114º
AEE SD20                     960p    h.ang.  106º    diagonal ang.   118º
GoPro HD HERO           960p    h.ang.   120º    diagonal ang.   130º
GoPro HD HERO         1080p     h.ang.   103º   diagonal ang.   111º
GoPro HD HERO           720p     h.ang.  120º    diagonal ang.   126º
Contour 1080 HD         720p     h.ang.    97º    diagonal ang.   105º
Contour 1080 HD         960p     h.ang.    97º    diagonal ang.   110º
Briefly, at 1080p mode, the angle view is a bit more narrow that GoPro, but at 720p mode is a bit wider.
The following video shows differences between angle view at different modes:
At 720p mode is possible to use the zoom function, but this feature is completly useless for on-board purposes: when camcorder stops and starts again the zoom fits itself to maximum wide.
Testing on ride.
For test the camera I place it on my improved "chesty", fortunately...
The CamOne designers did not implement any "beep" (The CamOne Infinity do not emit any sound, it has not speaker). They did not think of putting a swich instead a push button... and the small size and feeling are not appropriate for using with long gloves.

In the chest-mount the camera is at sight, but is almost impossible to see blinking  the LED to know if the camera is recording or not. If you put your CamOne on the helmet you can not to know if it is working !!!

Bicuerca - CamOne Infinity 1080p test from montonm on Vimeo.

On the good side the camera has a very good performance for measuring the light exposure. I think that is better (or more properly, less bad)  that GoPro, Contour, etc... and the rest of POV cameras that I have tested. The CamOne Infinity is not mistaken easily when a portion of a bright sky comes into the frame.

The colour feels something subdued and the image has a low contrast... but that can be improved in the edition process. The sample video shows the latest seconds of each secuence with filters to increase contrast, colour saturation and lights the shadows. The rest of time the images are as coming out of the camera.

On the negative side all footage seem some blurry. As slighty out of focus, but I have not been able to correct it by screwing or unscrewing the removable lens...
Sound is really bad (like others cams with waterproof case)

El Campillo from montonm on Vimeo.

This second video confirms the first impression about good performance in hard lighting scenes (backlight, bright sky, sun in the frame...). All footage are filtered with same settings.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

AEE SD20 -Review & tests-

That's the new clon of GoPro that AEE manufactures in China and several resellers distribute around the world: ActionPro (in Germany) Yo! HD 1080 (in Spain)...

The AEE SD20 includes together most of the accessories that are optional in the GoPro brand, and also laser pointer and wireless control.