Saturday, December 29, 2012

Capturing the Action with Sports Cameras

It's nothing new that electronic gadgets are getting smaller, cheaper and better.

One of the more interesting segments I've seen lately is sports cameras ... in particular, video cameras.

The first "portable" video camera I ever used was a behemoth that required a suitcase-sized bag containing a reel-to-reel videotape along with a beefy cable to a video camera that was so heavy it had to rest on your shoulder.

We've come a long way since then. Most of these cameras are now small and light enough that they can be mounted on a helmet and you not even know they're there.

And, if by some chance you bang your head on something and destroy the camera, it'll only set you back a couple hundred bucks instead of thousands.

While many of these cameras are used to record feats of daring, like Felix Baumgartner who skydove from a record-breaking 128,000 feet or Jeb Corliss who skydives in a "wing suit" or people who kayak, ski, run, drive fast cars or anything else we like to see.

But these cameras are also great ways to record family vacations, trips and even sports events, since they're small, easy to wear and fun to see the results.

I've even noticed people who mount them on their dashboards to record what happens when they drive and even provide evidence in case they see or are in an accident.

I recently saw a policeman who had a small camera attached to his glasses to record his interactions with people he met, presumably so there's a record of his interactions.

So here's a rundown of some of the current contenders out there:

GoPro: This is the Apple iPad of the segment. Their Hero line of cameras controls the lion's share of the market for good reason and has a huge following. GoPro's recent addition of their Hero3 keeps them a leader in this segment.

Contour+: Smaller and more self-contained than the GoPro Hero series, it's a great competitor. Their small size and great features make them especially attractive for people where small size really matters.

Other cameras worth looking into include: JVC Adixxion, Sony Action Cam, Ion Air Pro, and Drift HD Ghost.

So, whether you're trying to break a world record or just record some fun family events, take a look at some of the sports video cameras out there. You'll be glad you did.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Friday 28 December 2012.

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