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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that I'm starting to pick up some experience and skill at DEs I want to start capturing video of my sessions. I know nothing about digital camcorders and search doesn't discuss much in the way of recommended equipment for DE use.

I'm looking at the ChaseCam CruiseCam Headrest Mount from soloperformance.com. Anyone using this? Does it work well?

How about camcorders? What should I look for. What features do I need? One person told me to get a wide angle lens. I would like to get something for just a couple hundred dollars. Any advice is much appreciated.
 

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Only recommendations that I have is smaller is better and make sure you get a digital one for transfer to computer.

image stabilization would nice for a smoother picture, as well as a remote (wired preferable) control for start/stop etc.

I have yet to figure out how to get rid of wind noise, even with a remote microphone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sands said:
Only recommendations that I have is smaller is better and make sure you get a digital one for transfer to computer.

image stabilization would nice for a smoother picture, as well as a remote (wired preferable) control for start/stop etc.

I have yet to figure out how to get rid of wind noise, even with a remote microphone.
I was planning on a digital one. For audio I'm mostly interested in capturing communications with my instructor, so I can hear commentary on my driving as I review video. The remote control is a good idea.
 

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A wired remote is simple. I just tape it to the center console so I don't have to contort my arm to hit the 'go' button.

I can hear the cross talk with the instructor with the exception of the higher speed straights where the wind noise gets pretty loud.

Putting the camera in a spot where it can pick up the tacho helps too.
 

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If you want to use a wired remote, you're pretty much limited to Sony camcorders these days, and only a couple of their models. Sony developed a really neat remote control protocol (LANC), and there's a slick one button wired remote (SkyTools) that takes advantage of it. I have it and really like it. Canon used to offer LANC remote inputs, but not anymore. Most camcorder remotes are now IR, which I don't like.

One possibility is the Panasonic GS250, which includes a wired mic that has a built in remote control; I haven't tried it though. Looks like it's been discontinued recently.

You also might want to look into the Aiptek MPVR, it uses CF cards and the video transfer to your computer will be much faster than a digital camcorder using mini DV tapes. Downside is it records in mpeg4 and quality suffers a bit. No remote but very cheap, and it has RCA inputs if you decide to get a bullet camera later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
elbert said:
If you want to use a wired remote, you're pretty much limited to Sony camcorders these days, and only a couple of their models. Sony developed a really neat remote control protocol (LANC), and there's a slick one button wired remote (SkyTools) that takes advantage of it. I have it and really like it. Canon used to offer LANC remote inputs, but not anymore. Most camcorder remotes are now IR, which I don't like.

One possibility is the Panasonic GS250, which includes a wired mic that has a built in remote control; I haven't tried it though. Looks like it's been discontinued though.

You also might want to look into the Aiptek MPVR, it uses CF cards and the video transfer to your computer will be much faster than a digital camcorder using mini DV tapes. Downside is it records in mpeg4 and quality suffers a bit. No remote but very cheap, and it has RCA inputs if you decide to get a bullet camera later.
I've seen the bullet camera at soloperformance.com. What's the advantage of using one?
 

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dwette said:
I've seen the bullet camera at soloperformance.com. What's the advantage of using one?
Flexibility in placement. You can mount them on the windshield, side windows, fenders, bumpers, helmets etc etc etc. For HPDE, external mounting will most likely be frowned upon.

I usually use the windshield mount. Here's a video from VIR last month. I tried a helmet cam mount I fabricated (chasecam wanted $40 for theirs), but the velcro let the camera droop a little. I found something that will hopefully work better this weekend at MidOhio.

Downside is resolution is limited to 640x480 (don't let the number of TV lines fool you, they're all 640x480), where raw DV footage is something like 2500x1800. I don't know what resolution that Aiptek records at. I have the cheap 380 TV line resolution bullet cam, and I think it gives up a little bit of sharpness compared to straight camcorder video.

FYI, the bullet cam acts like the camera, and the camcorder serves as the recording device.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
elbert said:
Flexibility in placement. You can mount them on the windshield, side windows, fenders, bumpers, helmets etc etc etc. For HPDE, external mounting will most likely be frowned upon.

I usually use the windshield mount. Here's a video from VIR last month. I tried a helmet cam mount I fabricated (chasecam wanted $40 for theirs), but the velcro let the camera droop a little. I found something that will hopefully work better this weekend at MidOhio.

Downside is resolution is limited to 640x480 (don't let the number of TV lines fool you, they're all 640x480), where raw DV footage is something like 2500x1800. I don't know what resolution that Aiptek records at. I have the cheap 380 TV line resolution bullet cam, and I think it gives up a little bit of sharpness compared to straight camcorder video.

FYI, the bullet cam acts like the camera, and the camcorder serves as the recording device.
Thanks for the explanation. I don't feel like I need to go there just yet. My next event is a SCCA PDX in May, so I have some time to figure it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another question. Many camcorders now are widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio) video. Does this work better or worse. If I have a widescreen camera will I still need a wide angle lens?

I just looked at the Canon Elura 100. It seems to be a decent candidate, although a bit more than I wanted to spend. Anyone using that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Jim44 said:
Just thowing in a quick 2 cents, I use a Canon ZR-80 camera with wide-angle lens for race video, and record in 16:9 format. Works very well.

You can see a sample here:
http://www.jimbassett.com/videos/SunRace2Start.mpg

Jim
Cool. Is that Laguna Seca. It sure looks like the front straight leading to the first hairpin. The Canon Elura 100 seems more-or-less comparable. It's about $325 mail order.
 

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No experience with the ChaseCam headrest mount, I actually made my own out of wood 1x1s. There is a DIY floating around somewhere on how to make one out of aluminum bar stock. But that depends on how handy you are with tools and stuff, and by the time you buy a swivel camera mount it may not be that much cheaper now.

I mount to the passenger headrest posts, so the camcorder is about centered between the two seats. That gets a good view out the front, and is about the right angle to also see the tach/speedo through the steering wheel. The important thing is that the mount is solidly attached, in the event you have an incident, you don't want it to come loose and have the camcorder flying around the inside of the car and hurting someone. That's another advantage of the bullet cams - less weight supported by the mount. It would be a good idea to tether the camcorder too.

I have an old Sony DV camcorder. Getting the wide angle lens attachment definitely helps, otherwise you won't get enough viewing angle to see what you're doing with the wheel, etc. inside, it will be mostly out the front window because the standard wide angle isn't wide enough.

I've seen some people mount camcorders using the baby seat tether mounting hole above the back seat. I haven't tried it, but I would think the viewing angle is too far back, you won't get a good view of the instrument cluster since it would be blocked more by your back.

The other trick with camcorders is finding the right "balance" of inside and outside the car in the frame. If you have more inside showing, the camera's automatic lighting adjustment will compensate for the darker interior and the outside will be washed out. If you have too much outside view, the interior will be just a dark blob of shadows. So you have to play around to see what works. As you drive around the track, the angle of the sun will change lighting conditions too. I've been pretty lucky so far with just default settings on my camcorder.
 

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I've used the ChaseCam CruiseCam Headrest Mount. The mount seems really solid. The first time I used it worked fine. With the cameracorder mounted between me and the instructor, it picked commets well at low speeds, especially after corners where most comments were made. The second time I used it I think I had the camera a little farther to the right, because the instructor's helmet obsurced half the video in right hand turns (which of course are the predominate corner on a road course.) My third HPDE video session comes at the end of the month, so I'll see if mounting to farther left is better.

My cameracorder is an early mini DV model with 640x480 video - fine for this purpose. I like the idea of a remote because I bring a separate tape for each session and just start taping before I put the seat belts on and tape until the car is parked again. Fortunately I bought a monster-sized battery years ago that it almost half the size of the cameracorder and can make it through the day without charging.

I saw a Panasonic I think that recorded onto an SD card and came with a bullet cam. I was thinking of hard mounting the old camera like always, and keeping the new camera in my pocket (its that small) with the bullet cam taped to the side of my helmet so it shows where I look.

As for audio, the best video I've seen was from a guy that put the external mic inside the spare compartment behind the right front wheel of his E46. I might try that if I get enough time before the trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I ended getting the Canon Elura 100. It seems to have all the features good for car video: top loading, external mic and video in, widescreen video, spotlight function for recording, image stabilization, and a remote. It's also gotten great reviews, and I picked it up for $316 from buydig.com.

Also ordered the ChaseCam CruiseCam Headrest Mount. I'll add a wide angle lens I can get from Best Buy for $40 or so. Should heave everything in a week or so. In plenty time for my next DE, a SCCA PDX next month.
 

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Jim44 said:
Just thowing in a quick 2 cents, I use a Canon ZR-80 camera with wide-angle lens for race video, and record in 16:9 format. Works very well.

You can see a sample here:
http://www.jimbassett.com/videos/SunRace2Start.mpg

Jim
What is the advantage of the 16x9 format? I have the Canon Elura 85 and also considered a wide angle. The Canon 0.7 is about $90 and the Sunpak 0.5 at Best Buy is $40. Any comparisons?

Do you guys leave the camera in auto focus mode or manually set to infinity?
 

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The ELURAs make better track day cameras..

I have a ZR100 and I really dont like it. I thnk the 16:9 is key because personally I dont want to waste all that vertical space looking at my ceiling, though being able to get the shifter in the pictrue is kind of cool. But few of these cameras are good enough at dual lighting to capture the outside track video AND the interior video at the proper light levels.

I also added a wide angle adapter I bought from Ebay for $25 (which is the same quality as the $40 best buy version, but mine came with a cleaning kit and a little mini tripod as well).

Here is a comparison video with and without the wide angle;
http://tinyurl.com/sx5v2

Also note that I ALWAYS leave my camera in 16:9 mode with auto focus set. I dont think that has ever been a problem.

The ELURA line is much better, TOP mounetd tape and EXTERNAL Mic make all the difference in the world. I have to take a piece of acoustic foam that you woudl put over a recording satudio style mic and use rubber bands to hold it in place or else the wind noise is deafening. I am actually thinking of selling my ZR100 on ebay and buying an Elura so I can permantely mount a little mic inside my trunk as close to my exhaust as possible so I can actually hear my revs over the wind noise I currently have.

So you can see how well (or badly) a Chasecam Headrest mount works (on a 330ci on the passenger seat) here are some videos;

Thunderhill - WITH wide angle adapter and 16:9 aspect Ratio. Passenger sitting in seat with Chasecam mount installed (sorry about the chatting, it was the guys first time to a track);
http://www.mye46.net/videos/Track%20Days/04-19-2006_Thunderhill_Session%231.wmv

Sears Point (Infineon) - WITHOUT wide angle adapter, and WITH a passenger in the seat (which happens to be Jim) using the same settings and Chasecam headrest mount; (sorry about the music, the wind noise was so bad I couldnt handle it);
http://www.mye46.net/videos/Track Days/3-4-06BMWCCAHPDE-330ciRCompounds-Session #2.wmv

--Rodger
www.mye46.net
 

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Good point about a need for an external mic. My only complaint with a Canon ZR-90 is the lack of one. I do get a lot of wind noise. I've got a headrest mount bought from beastpowermotorsports.com. It works well. A wide angle adapter (came with the camera) gives a good view. I also learned to tilt the mount slightly drivers side. This avoids the instructor's head and allows one to see the speedo at times.

No need for a remote. I flip the LCD so its flush on the camera and viewable, I reach back and turn it on when gridding and press record on pit row. One time I needed gas, ended the session early, went straight to the station, and later discovered I video taped the whole trip. :)

The ZR-90 is a mini-DV with 60 minute tapes. It has a fire wire port as does my lap top. Standard Win XP can suck it in easily. You need a LARGE harddrive and lots of time to digitize a full 60 minute tape. I normally review first and capture only the best laps.

Check out http://www.opentrackers.com/. My M5 vids are in the CMP, VIR, & TGPR sections. CMP is the best. VIR has tons of brake squeal. Also check out the EVO 8 videos of a friend at Road Atlanta. Incredible driving!!
 

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My old camcorder died yesterday, 10 minutes into session 1 (its something electronic as it reboots as random). So, everyone thanks for all the recommendations as I'm now camcorder shopping too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
cwsqbm said:
My old camcorder died yesterday, 10 minutes into session 1 (its something electronic as it reboots as random). So, everyone thanks for all the recommendations as I'm now camcorder shopping too.
I tried out my Elura 100 yesterday. It worked really well for the first try. Still have to experiment with setting the right amnount of zoom, focus, special effects, whatever, but so far so good. I'm pleased with this camcorder.
 
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