I am a keen cyclist who rides mainly on country lanes. However, I do cycle through some of the local small towns. Most of the motorists are considerate and I usually get a cheery wave when I pull over to let them past on single track roads. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of inconsiderate/incompetent motorists. In the last couple of weeks I have had a couple of very close shaves, which would have resulted in serious injury if I had been hit. So I decided to get some sort of action camera to record my rides. This won't prevent me from being injured, but at least I will have some sort of record of what happened. Also I can gather evidence of the small proportion of drivers who think passing you a few inches away at 60mph is good driving.
I have got an old GoPro Hero3, which is a decent enough camera. However, battery life is very short at around 1hr and it can't be charged while in use. Also it doesn't have any image stabilization, so on our potholed roads it records very shaky footage. After doing some searching and looking at lots of YouTube reviews I decided to buy the Firefly 8SE. The Firefly has a couple of features that I required:
- Can be used while recharging the battery.
- Optical image stabilization
I bought my camera from Amazon, although you can buy it direct slightly cheaper from places like Gearbest. The box contains a waterproof case
- Microphone. Package includes a separate usb microphone (there is an internal one too).
- Battery life at around 100 minutes at 1080P.
- Can be used whilst it is being recharged.
- Can be set to record videos in short segments. If the memory card fills up, the oldest clips will be deleted. So, it can be used as a dashcam.
- Lots of clips, buckles and mounts included.
- Can record in 4k
- Software image stabilization at 1080P.
- Minor niggle: recharging is via mini USB (presumably to be compatible with GoPro)
- HDMI output
- Various modes: car mode, timelapse, can save photos in RAW.
The camera can't be recharged while it is in the waterproof case. New cases are inexpensive, so I intend to cut a small slot in the case so I can plug in the USB cable to recharge while riding. In anything except torrential rain this should be adequately water resistant.
The image stabilization worked very well on our roads. Footage taken when the handlebars were juddering over badly surface road looked quite stable on the video. Most important I could easily read the number plates on passing cars.
Some more minor niggles:
- Touch screen can require a few prods to work.
- Some button actions not very intuitive: you have to work out which of the small buttons on the side you need to long press for 3 seconds to toggle the wifi.
- Some of the included mounts and brackets are a bit fragile. You probably need to buy some decent ones if you use them on a regular basis. I snapped one bracket the second time I used it.
- Some people complain about whining on the audio when the screen is turned on. I haven't noticed this, but I don't really need to record audio.