I enjoy watching first-person video of my competition shooting. Well, mostly I enjoy it. Sometimes the “D’Oh!” factor is a bit painful but on the whole it is fun to relive the experience. Also it’s a valuable training tool as I can see how I was engaging the targets, where I was looking, and what the gun and my hands were doing. While it is true that a lot can be learned from 3d person video (stance and footwork issues mostly) having a hat cam doesn’t require enlisting help and it’s actually more fun to watch.
My first camera was the iKam XTreme glasses camera. This was around $80.00 and they were available at Walmart for a while. The video was OK (VGA) but they were bulky and required that I wear contact lenses. I don’t see as well with contacts but I used them anyway. They broke after about a year so I tried a couple of other solutions.
My first real action cam was a GoPro Hero 3+ which is a superb video camera with tons of features, including a wireless remote and an iOS app that allows remote viewing and control. The two negatives I found were that the battery life was never great, especially with any wireless use, and the camera and mount were bulky and cumbersome when mounted on the bill of my cap. Also, it had to be removed from the waterproof case for charging and video download.
Next up was the Contour Roam2, which also is an excellent video camera. Contour makes a lot of different models but the Roam2 seemed to have the feature set I desired and nothing more. Waterproof, easy to operate, long battery life, simple access to charging/media download, and relatively low-profile. The videos were nearly as good as the GoPro for far less money ($99.00 vs. 399.00). The one fatal flaw for me was the weight. Tipping the scales at just over 5 oz., this camera was never comfortable out on the bill of my cap. In fact, even with the ear muffs holding the hat in place it would occasionally slip down during a stage especially if there was a lot of running. I ran this setup for a couple of years before going back to the drawing board in search of a better solution.
In early 2016 I found the best hat cam I’ve seen yet: Meet the “Mobius Action Camera 1080P HD Mini Sports Cam – Wide Angle Edition – C2 Lens“, otherwise known as the “Mobius Wide-Angle”. This little wonder is everything I have been looking for. It’s simple to operate with three push-buttons on the top, it takes beautiful video, the SD card slot allows a lot of 1080p video, it’s water resistant (no submerged use), and best of all it weighs a mere 1.4 oz.! The management software allows a lot of flexibility and gives you two programmable video modes and one still mode selectable via buttons while in the field. This is very useful if switching between low and high light environments, although I must say the “normal” 1080p mode does well in either. The mini-USB port allows both charging and file download so it’s extremely easy to use and maintain. I have mounted the camera to hats using adhesive velcro only and I’ve never had it come loose. There are a number of accessories that are included with the camera such as a tight-fitting lens cap, mounting velcro, mounting bracket, and USB cable which is really everything you need. The software was downloadable from the manufacturer and was simple to use. The only downside I have found so far is little more than a minor annoyance: there are no audible indicators of device status, i.e., once the cam is on my hat and the hat is on my head, I have no way of telling whether the camera is on, recording, or what mode it’s in. The Contour by comparison gave a single beep to indicate it was on and two beeps to say it was off.
In fairness to the Mobius, there is a setting in setup software that allows one-touch recording but that means you can’t change modes in the field. No matter, I simply hit the power button at “Make Ready” then by the time I’m ready I hit “record” (takes 4 seconds from power-on to be ready to record) and ask the RO/SO to tell me if the yellow light is blinking. No big deal. Otherwise this thing is wonderful.
I recently shot a match and afterward forgot to switch hats like I always did with the Contour. On the way home the clerk at the gas station wanted to know why I had a camera on my hat. Oops! At least I wasn’t recording! 😉 With several months of use, including 4 matches and a dozen practices I am extremely pleased with this little beauty.
I almost forgot: it’s under $80.00 with shipping!
Here’s a recent match video shot with the Mobius. The wide viewing angle of 117 degrees is ideal for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fw0UgB0dOA&list=UUHJspvdi99ZZkz3Zj2RWmkg
UPDATE: Summer 2016 I bought a $2.00 stainless steel money clip and mounted the camera to it with heavy-duty double-sided tape. Now I can take it off the hat between stages when it’s raining or just for safe keeping and I can use it on any hat. I used a black Sharpie to darken the underside of the clip to eliminate glare. Works really well.
So what to cover next? Suggestions? Email me!