Riding with a mounted camera

Sunday, September 21st, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Today I went for a ride with Brendan and Hamish (they are getting ready for the 100km around the bay) up the Eastlink Trail to Ringwood, around to the other end of the tunnels and then back. As well as it being the first time riding along that section of Eastlink it was the first time I had a camera mounted to my bike.

Last Thursday I spent some time making a bracket so I could mount the secondhand camera to my bike. I thought I was going in the right direction until I discovered that the older Cateye mount wouldn’t fit on the newer Cateye mount. So I stopped.

On Friday I remembered a bracket that I had in my box of bicycle bits that might be suitable for this style of mount. This is the result:

Simple camera mount for bicycle

with the camera mounted like this:

Simple camera mount in use

I had to remove one of the Cateye mounts, remove the light from the other one and there is no quick way to remove the camera, but it worked surprisingly well. However the camera wasn’t quite level, partly due to the shape of my handlebars and partly because the tripod mount on the camera isn’t centred.

I have another old mount of the same type, so a new version I am thinking of is to use both mounts, one of each side of the stem, with a horizontal bar in between. The camera is then mounted onto the bar. As well as better distributing the weight of the camera it would also keep it level with the handlebars. The bar might also provide a place to attach a quick release for the camera.

Enough about the mount. What about the camera?

For the first two thirds of the ride I had the S45 attached. It was on all of the time and when I saw something interesting coming up I would reach over and press the shutter. I ended up with almost 200 photos, most of which are ok, even if they aren’t necessary showing anything interesting. I also tried out the video function which worked nicely except that it is only 320×240 at 15 frames a second for a maximum time of 3 minutes.

For the last third of the ride I had the Flip video camera mounted and after reviewing the video I can see that it isn’t suitable for this purpose as the vibrations coming up from the path surface are seen as distortions in the video. In contract the video from the S45 is shaky, but each individual frame is fine.

Aparat from the cost of the Flip I am not that concerned as I prefer to have photos of the ride at a much higher resolution than a video camera would give. Instead of reaching over to press the shutter I am thinking of two methods to take a photos automatically:

  • A firmware enhancement such as CHDK that provides an intervalometer function.
  • Wiring up a timer of some kind to the camera that mimics pressing the shutter.

I shall see how things go.

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