Thoughts or experiences with action cameras

I am in the market for a new action cam - perhaps a 360 degree, perhaps a normal one. I would greatly appreciate to hear about the one you have used or researched. Here is my experience:

Sony HDR-AS100V and the Sony series in general:
Nice picture. Does not create any blur when mounted on a bike on a rough surface, when there is normal daylight. GPS takes up to 1 1/2 minute to lock on and is fairly accurate. Even though the camera takes nice still images at 13 mega pixels, time lapse is only 1920x1080 i.e. “full hd”. This is true for all Sony and most other action cams I have seen. Time lapse can be down to 1 second. Handles sun straight into the lens pretty good. Can be charged via micro USB when in use. Splash proof and water proof in the case that comes with it. Mounts on a normal tripod mount.
Some Sony models cannot do time lapse faster than 5 or 20 seconds. That is not good for Mapillary.

Garmin Virb
I have not tried these. They get good recommendations with nice image and are better to correct the lens distortion. Somewhere it looks like the correction is just a zoom, and that would be very handy in cars. The cheapest models does not have GPS. Like Sony, they only do time lapse in 1920x1080.

GoPro
I have not tried these. Should have the best image and best time lapse features. As the only one I have seen they will do time lapse in their full still resolution. Are fairly expensive compared to the other ones. Do not have GPS!

Xiaomi Yo action cam
This is mentioned in issue 1319 and seems to have a nice picture and can do time lapse down to 0.5 second. Does not have GPS. Pretty cheap too! Any further comments? I am thinking using a couple of these for other angles than straight ahead.

Braun Sixzero
Good image and cheap. No GPS. Time lapse is no faster than 1 image every 30 seconds.

We are trying to get one Xiaomi action cam to test. Will let you know how it turns out.

2 Likes

I have a Garmin Virb XE.

It is certainly not the ideal mly cam.

It cannot operate while charging. Data transfer is not possible while charging. The battery can only charge in the camera.
The minimum time lapse is 1 second.
An interval of 1.5 seconds is not possible.
It is heavy.
It has no display.
I have allready met a big GPS inaccuracy in open air. Maybe I did not wait long enough after the GPS fix.

Positive =
it uses the Gopro mounts.
128 GB SD card
Remote control with smartphone.
Can be installed behind the rear view mirror of my car.
Works also with the external bluetooth Garmin GLO GPS receiver

Maybe it will one day receive photo direction through an ANT+ compas.

But, and for this I cannot blame Garmin =
It is useless for me because I have trouble with Python on my computer.

Rollei S5

pros:
175 degrees angle
uses the Gopro mounts
has external extra battery, so takes photo’s for hours
comes with a remote control

cons:
extreme fish eye lens distortion (mapillary corrects for this)
easily gets condense in casing, condense always forms in front of the lens
GUI isn’t to user friendly
no GPS
if timelapse is set to 0,5 sec the cam runs out of memory

see my mapillary profile for examples http://www.mapillary.com/profile/de%20vries

This could be a charging cable issue. I had the same problems with my Virb Elite, untill I used another usb-mini usb that problem was solved.

No, there is only one very special charging cable possible = https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/shop-by-accessories/cables/charging-cable-virb-x-xe-/prod515317.html
I can even charge under water, which is my last possible wish.

I use a GoPro 3+ most of the times. Gives a pretty good image even at higher speeds (view my pictures on Mapillary) but as stated above no GPS, which makes it a bit more work to upload. Would be nice if i could track my position on mapillary, so the coordinates could be automatically added while uploading the images

1 Like

@Harry, I think you should create an issue on https://www.github.com/mapillary/mapillary_issues/issues, that if you upload a GPS track and promises clocks are synchronized, then Mapillary will do the work.

I have been using the original Garmin Virb Elite when biking and it works great.

Pros:

  • takes standalone geotagged jpegs, easy to upload afterwards
  • regular GoPro mount compatible
  • if you want to record video, the GPS trace and video are in sync
  • battery time is great, I never run out of battery before my legs give up :wink:

Cons:

  • the fastest it can do is 2s intervals
  • GPS lock takes longer than phone (because not using cellular to lock)

I have high hopes for future 360 action cams but none of the promising models are shipping yet.

2 Likes

@tryl

I’m the guy who use a Xiaomi Yi.

You should know a few things about this Action Cam :

  • You need to refocus it, or you will loose details
  • 0.5s and 1s timelapse are with Auto-Exposure locked. It’s a major drawback. I sent a mail to Xiaomi and started this thread : https://forum.dashcamtalk.com/threads/timelapse-and-auto-exposure.13229/
  • The Yi don’t use the subsecondtime, so if you use 0.5s Timelapse, you will have some problem to add lat/lon

But, Xiaomi are releasing new firmware pretty fast, and there are many people trying to hack this camera. I hope that everything will be better and easier soon.

btw : another sequence, on bike :
http://www.mapillary.com/map/im/cD0nfFzKixMdILQWEZmVHw/photo

2 Likes

Got GoPro 3+ Black and Xiaomi Yi. Both cameras work good in timelapse mode. Been mounting GoPro outside car with suction cup & safety rope with carabiner.

Using MyTracks application for Android to save GPX logs and geotag photos with gps.

When starting timelapse I take a photo of my phone screen with exact UTC time. After that I compare it with EXIF timestamp and modify photo date time using exiftool. For example the following will subtract 9 hours 59 minutes and 58 seconds from current photo datetime.

exiftool “-AllDates-=0:00:0 09:59:58” -v -overwrite_original_in_place *.JPG

Keeping all photo datetime in UTC is much easier, and you don’t need to worry about daylight savings time, travelling between timezones, etc. GPX tracks are also in UTC after all.

Adding GPS position using gpscorrelate. Recently switched to mapillary script geotag_from_gpx.py which in addition to latitude & longitude adds camera angle based on track direction. Would suggest mapillary to make UTC datetime as option for this script.

Here are some example of photo taken with cameras:

Xiaomi Yi from inside car:
https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/wRQMnYSitkex_B0jLN4s-g/photo

GoPro 3+ Black mounted outside car
https://www.mapillary.com/map/im/teUp2A71huaXvTnj5_1kKg/photo

I was really surprised with image quality of Xiaomi Yi camera, considering it costs only AUD $80 !!! The only downside is absence of led screen, so you need to control camera using app on phone. Camera case is bit different from GoPro but it has same connector so you can use all GoPro compatible accessories

2 Likes

My GoPro camera mounted on car while driving in Fiji:
https://goo.gl/md8B5y

I’ve ordered case with side opening, so you can plug USB cable with power and not worry about short battery life while driving for hours. 128 Gb MicroSD card helps with storing all images

BTW GoPro suction cup is the best for getting your camera mounted outside car. Tried cheaper suction cup from eBay was a waste of money - it just does not hold camera :frowning:

3 Likes

I’ve a first gen garmin virb, bought 4 weeks before the next generation was released, so there’s that :confused:

I find it really good and simple to use. I’ve collected thousands more images by putting it into other people’s cars for a week. All they need to know is how to turn it on, start a sequence and turn it off.

Worst thing about it, the way images are stored makes sorting into sequences massively time consuming.

There is a python script that supposedly helps with the sorting but I don’t understand what to do with it so right now I have about 300,000 unsorted images stored on drives that I refuse to go through manually.

Anything I collect with the virb is basically going to gather dust until I find an easier way to break them into sequences.

1 Like

I wrote a Python script for my own use which groups files into directories based on datetime time.

Script

Usage:
python group_photos_by_date_and_distance.py “*.JPG” grouped 10 4 200

Where:
10 - maximum time in seconds between photos in same group.
4 - minimum distance in meters between photos. Allows you to remove duplcate photos taken while standing on traffiic lights.
200 - maximum gap in meters for photos in same sequence

5 Likes

Yeah I’ve seen some others around too but I’ve no idea what to do with them

I’m not a coder so a script means nothing to me unless it’s akin to using normal software.

For example, I use a python script for mapping many bog lakes in Ireland automatically, but once I got it set up, I only have to press a single key in josm for it to run. I’ve no idea how it works, or what any of the code means. This is the scanaerial plugin I’m referring to

Dave, send them to us in some format and I/we will sort them for you with the scripts. They basically split based on time difference between photos (if time-lapse, anything significantly larger than the time step means a new sequence). Copy to SD card and send with mail or we figure something out.

I have a Xiaomi Yi camera as well. It takes some excellent photos. There was some progress on getting it to run custom code over in the dashcamtalk forum. It would be really cool to send photos via wifi to a computer or to use the onboard bluetooth for GPS geotagging in real time. I don’t think anyone doing the camera hacking/exploration has the same aspirations, though :smile:.

Cheers for the offer @jesolem but I need to do a load of QA on the images so to be honest I’d much rather know how to do what I need, do it myself, and then upload.

Teach a man to fish and all that :wink:

@DaCor do you need a step by step guide to use the scripts? One will split your images into folders by looking at the time between them. One (optional) will remove duplicate images, e.g. when you are stopped for a red light. Finally one will upload everything.

Or how can we help?

A step by step guide (idiots level) would be massively useful.

For example, I have no idea how to “run” a script