Tuesday Nov 05, 2013

Head Cam Battle!

With severe weather warnings hitting the UK we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us to dig out our wetsuits, get a few head cams and go wakeboarding for the day! 

Leading up to the day the weather had been awful and we seriously questioned our decisions in the office. We woke up bright and early on the Monday and luckily for us it looked as if the storms had passed. So we were off, we headed to WMSki Cable in the Cotswolds - the guys there are awesome and they opened up the lake for us to have it exclusively and had organised for a couple of the local riders to come and test the cameras out for us - we had National Wakeskate champion - James Harrington (aka Mini), Student Nations Champion - James Whiting and our very own Sam Millar (online editor at extreme.com).

We were very kindly leant a few cameras from our good friends at HEDCAMz.com - the guys there had also been awesome and hooked us up with 3 cameras to put to use - we wanted to look at each camera and establish a few main points:

  1. How easy is it to use.
  2. How good is the camera quality.
  3. Does the battery last.
  4. Waterproof.
  5. Can you tell it’s filming when you’re riding.

Testing out 3 cameras and putting the footage together for comparison sounds great, right? Yeah, one slight hic up on the day meant that we would only actually be testing 2 cameras - no fingers can be pointed at this stage but we definitely forgot to charge one of the cameras and spent the whole day believing we were filming when in actual fact we secured about 4 seconds of footage! Not ideal. So the slight mishap meant that we would be comparing the following Cameras:

GoPro - Hero 3 - Black Edition

ISAW - Extreme A3

HEDCAMz - Ten80

GoPro - Hero 3 - Black edition


Our verdict:

The GoPro is of course a popular camera and quite rightly too. 

The GoPro is simple to use, admittedly we didn't play around with the bluetooth settings or the Wi-Fi and kept the camera at the same settings of 1080p at 60fps, we dug into the menu screen for a look and found it pretty easy to negotiate our way around. You have a small screen on the front of the camera that lets you know your battery life, the settings you are on and how long you have been filming. All of this is easy to view and easy to change. What we really wanted to know though was if you could turn it on easily and go out on the water and ride away without worrying too much whether it was on or off. The GoPro is simple, you turn it on by holding down the button next to the lens and you are off, you have a constant flashing red light when you are filming which tells you that you are filming. This also comes with a Wi-Fi remote that allows you to control your GoPro from your hand help remote - this is great if you are using a helmet attachment or any other attachment that might be in a slightly awkward place.

The camera comes with waterproof casing which is capable of taking you down to roughly 60m with a battery life of roughly 1.5 hrs if you have the camera on basic setting for basic filming. 

The GoPro black edition is a very nice size it is 30% smaller, 25% lighter and 2x more powerful than other models. It is wearable and mountable on a number of different attachments - we tested it on a pole and a chest mount (see video) and found it very simple to attach to both by applying a unique screw mechanism that prevents the camera moving when fitted.

Overall the quality of the camera is great. We found the Gopro to be slightly darker than the comparison camera but the picture a bit more crisp and found the slow mo a little jerky (see video).  Although Smart phone applications are available to use your phone as a live video player with this camera we would liked to have an LCD screen on the camera so that you are not filming completely blind - especially when you are using the camera with a pole to film someone else. 

Price (RRP): £359.99


ISAW - Extreme A3


Our verdict:

The ISAW is an all round great bit of kit. With it looking pretty identical to the GoPro we were intrigued to see how it performed - we weren't disappointed at all! We had it set to 1080p at 60fps and much like the GoPro the quality was really good and the slow mo clips came out great (see video). 

For starters, this camera is very easy to navigate your way around - it actually has a built in LCD screen so you can see through the screen when the camera is on, the LCD screen goes into a ‘sleep mode’ after a few seconds but a flashing red light in the top corner reassures you that the camera is still filming. Much like the GoPro this is easy to start and stop, one simple click of the button on the top allows you to start and stop the filming easily with the flashing red light letting you know you are in filming mode. The LCD screen easily allows you to change settings and check battery life, which is roughly 2hrs of continuous filming, quite easily enough for most outdoor activities. The camera comes with a waterproof 

The ISAW is slightly bigger than the GoPro but it does have the LCD screen built-in and doesn’t affect the ease of attaching this to the additional attachments. Again, this camera is attached to the attachments with a unique screw mechanism that prevents the camera moving when fitted. 

Overall this is a great camera, we loved that you have an LCD screen to use and the fact that the screen makes changing the settings ever so slightly easier. The camera is a doddle to use and the quality was smooth and nice - maybe a little light on the exposure in comparison to the GoPro. The connection at the base of the waterproof case is the same as the GoPro meaning the ISAW is compatible with all of the GoPro mounts

Price (RRP): £299.99


HEDCAMz - Ten80


Our verdict:

For a cheaper alternative we wanted to try out the HEDCAMzTen80. Unfortunately, we didn't charge this up...well I say ‘we’ but what I mean is ‘I’ (shhh, don't tell the boss yeah?!)

There is an array of mounts included allowing you to mount the HEDCAM Ten80 pretty much anywhere! This really is as lightweight as it gets, we had it on a helmet and literally couldn't tell it was there - this camera is your lightweight cheaper alternative to the GoPro or ISAW. With it being a smaller camera it doesn't have such a wide angle lens which isn't a massive problem depending on what you are filming and in someways can be a little better. 

This little gem is easy to use and points out a laser beam for the first 10 seconds of filming to allow you to see where the camera is filming.

Seeing as we didn't get enough footage on this one we are not going to give it a score out of 5 but check out the website and make the decision yourself! 

Price (RRP): £167.99

Although we only managed about 4 seconds of footage, we did manage to grab a screen shot of one of the shots before the battery gave up! All the shots below  are completely unedited.

GoPro Screen Shot

ISAW Screen Shot

HEDCAMz Screen Shot

In summary, there really wasn't a huge amount of difference in both cameras - the GoPro is slick, slightly smaller and has the option to buy an LCD screen as an add on. The ISAW is a cheaper alternative that really didn't differ too much in terms of camera quality and offers the built in LCD screen which we found to be a huge bonus. Both cameras are simple to use and come with numerous addition mounts and accessories.

Check out the websites for full product descriptions and additional add ons.




Huge thanks to the crew down at WMSki cable and the guys at HEDCAMz for hooking us up with some epic cameras and mounting equipment. 

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