July 15, 2012 in Camera's and Equipment
Drift HD Helmet Cam Review – written by SkiAndBoarding
Drift HD – A small and powerful 1080p waterproof camera, perfect for action sports
A group of us recently went on a skip trip to the beautiful resort of Chamonix in the French Alps and this provided us with the perfect opportunity to test the Drift HD camera. The first thing we noticed after we watched the video back on a computer after transferring it using the USB cable (which is provided with the camera) was the vibrant colours and the smoothness of the picture even on fast moving skiers or snowboarders.
History and tech behind the Drift HD
The Drift HD camera is the successor to the Drift camera that is known by many, for its impressive performance, durability, reliability and small size.
The Drift HD is smaller than its predecessor and has more power for performance. The additional power results in improved picture resolution resulting in impressive full 1080p high definition video that can be enjoyed by all; it helps capture every memory and moment in far greater detail, to be enjoyed time and time again. Due to the Drift HD being smaller than the previous Drift camera, this means that the camera weighs less and is also less intrusive and obstructive when placed on any mount.
The Drift HD camera has the following specifications:
- Full 1080 HD video
- 1.5 inch colour LCD screen
- Wide-angle field of view
- RF Remote control
- Video and photo capture (9Mega pixel photo’s)
- Can work with cards up to 32GB (Only accepts Micro-SD cards)
- Water resistant
- Slow motion compatible
Whilst away on our Ski trip we wanted to put the camera through its paces, for performance, durability and overall reliability to help all of you action sports enthusiasts, camera lovers, skiers and snowboarders when you are looking to buy a small HD camera.
Firstly we were impressed everyday with camera’s durability, the camera was used by those who are competent on skis and are adventurous with jumps on piste, off piste or in the snow park, needless to say these were not always landed and hard knocks and falls happened on a number of occasions. The Drift HD continued to record through the entire sequence of any crash or hard landing, making for brilliant video to watch back with your friends and have a laugh (providing no one is serious injured of course).
Once we knew from the get go that the camera was going to continue working even if it suffered a hard knock, this meant that we could ski or snowboard without having to worry about it. This meant we could be focused on the skiing rather than worrying about whether or not to do a jump incase the camera brakes. The last thing anyone wants is to take a camera on holiday and to break it on the first day, resulting in no camera for the rest of the duration.
We were impressed with the alternative rear panels that can be used, one waterproof and one that allows for the likes of an external microphone to be connected (Read our microphones section below) or a USB cable. Another thing that we thought was simply brilliant was the fact the Drift HD camera includes a lens which can rotate up to 170 degrees, allowing you make sure that your picture is always as straight as possible not matter what angle the camera might be when attached to a mount. Without the rotatable lens it would render the majority of the video useless.
We found that the buttons on the camera had to be pressed quite hard in the center of the button, to get the to operate, this is most likely due to the fact that the camera is waterproof and as such has an outer casing/shell that is thick, durable and helps prevent moisture from getting inside.
How does the camera operate and is it easy to use?
The Drift HD camera is operated by the use of four buttons and we found the controls to be fairly intuitive and easy to pick up. This is great as the last thing you want to be doing when away on holiday, is messing around with reading manuals to be able to do things such as work out how to access the video’s you have taken, play them back or to delete the ones you don’t like to save space on the memory card.
Mounts and accessories
The Drift HD camera comes with an impressive array of mounts that helps you position the camera at various different angles on numerous objects. For example it comes with two adhesive flat mounts that can be placed on any flat surface, including that of a ski, snowboard or helmet. This helps capture a variety of different shots can be coupled together during postproduction of the video.
The Drift HD camera by Drift Innovation comes with the following in the box:
- Drift HD camera
- Google Mount
- Flat surface mount
- Curved surface mount
- Universal clip
- Rechargeable battery
- Remote control
- USB cable
- Strong Velcro strap
The Drift HD camera also comes with a wireless remote control and a strong Velcro strap, which we used extremely regularly and made it far easier to operate the camera. For example it is easier to use the remote control to stop or start recording on almost all occasions and especially when you want to film when the camera is attached to a mount on your helmet or you are travelling up a chair lift and do not have much room to manoeuvre.
Overall the battery performed as desired and for the average skier would most likely be absolutely adequate and provide enough battery life for recording numerous snippets and clips throughout the day. The battery can be easily charged by plugging in the USB cable into the camera and the other end either into a USB plug socket or a computer via USB. Do note that the camera battery only charges when the camera is off.
If you are a camera enthusiast or you intend to shoot for long periods of time, then it is definitely worth getting an additional battery or two. The additional batteries will be of huge benefit if you intend to do large amounts of shooting as we found that when we used the Drift HD camera the battery lost charge very quickly when we kept watching back the recordings after ever ski jump or snowboard jump. We always found that at lunch when we were eating at one of the restaurants on the mountain, everyone would want to watch back the clips and this literally ‘EATS’ the battery life and there where a few afternoons where we wish we had the additional battery as we ran out of charge. This resulted in us missing key jumps and moments that would have added significantly to the video for the holiday.
The Drift HD camera includes an internal microphone that is great to have but like many internal microphones you cannot expect too much. The internal microphone picks up noises clearly up to about 2 meters away from the camera; anything further than this that is as loud as normal speech is not picked up and recorded. We found this to be frustrating as there are times when it would be great to hear a little more of what is going on around you, atmospheric sounds or to hear the other end of a conversation when you are on the slopes. One problem which always occurs which is not exclusive to the internal microphone of the Drift HD, is the noise of the wind passing the microphone. A great feature about the Drift HD camera is the ability to plug in an external microphone, this helps greatly if you are looking to use any audio recorded by the camera at the time of shooting.