Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mini DV MD80 / D001 Cam

 Myself and Jon have bought the mini DV D001 Cam from off Ebay. At the time of buying they were £18.50, they can now be picked up for as little is £12, which is less than a tank of fuel. So for that price we weren't expecting anything amazing.
  We have now owned these cameras for over 12 months, and after some recent testing can give a fair review of these little camera's.
 The purpose for buying these camera's was to attach them to the motorbikes and record some of our favourite roads and the trips away, so that during the cold, dark winter months we can virtually ride some of the best bits and share them with you via our Youtube channel.


The Mini DV/MD80 has a 2 mb High Def camera,
Video records at 30 FPS in 720x480 pixels,
It supports memory cards upto 8 Gig,
There is a hi res camera mode that can shoot up to 2,000,000 pixel images,
It has a fast acting light response lense,
can be used as a web cam,
and has a 2 hour battery life.

 In reality the camera mode is a waste of time as you cant see what your taking the picture of,the 30 FPS is pretty good, 720x480 is almost HD, the fast acting light responsive lense works well,  the battery lasts about 2 hours and my 4G card holds about 50-55 minutes of video.
 When the camera arrives it comes with all the bits to attach it to a computer, a disk with the drivers and files needed, some brackets and instructions which were originally written in Chinese, so makes interesting reading if not any sense.

 In Use

   The first chance I had to try my camera was when we went to Germany and the Nurburgring. I used the brackets included in the kit and clamped it to the handlebars, but didnt have any idea what the camera was looking at as theres no view finder. Also I didnt know what the camera was doing as you cant see the lights when its sunny outside. The 4gb memory card can hold just under an hours worth of film so I saved it to record a lap of the nurburgring, the sudchleife and any other intresting bits we could find. We connected up to a laptop at the hotel only to find I had recorded a lap of the sky, with a few overhanging trees, and Jon had recorded by using a helmet cam idea of his a lap of the tank of the motorbike. Both cameras had wavy lines scrolling up the screen which made the footage unwatchable.  Most dissapointing!
Wobbly vision
 Once back home I tried the camera every time I went out with varying amounts of success  The main issue we were getting from both cameras was wavy lines scrolling up the screen, I found it was caused by the vibrations from the bike. After experimenting with places to mount the camera I discovered that the motorbikes frame hardly vibrates at all, so built a mount out of a piece of plastic tube which fits tightly into a crash bobbin. This has stopped the problem almost completely, only occasionally under high revs do they come back.
The brackets that are included in the kit, are useless for the purpose we need them for, so they went in the bin.

Lower MotoGP style view
 (Date Stamp was hard to adjust)
 After some experimenting we found that videos recorded from a lower position give a better perspective, show some interesting views and feeling of speed. If you watch Motogp they also use some nice on bike camera positions, looking behind across the top of the rear wheel or at how much the front tyres give in the corners, so we want to try out some new ideas and brackets.

 Another issue was the on light and record light could not be seen, so by removing the 4 screws in the sides of the camera and pulling it carefully apart you can see the little led lights. I used a dremil to make a hole big enough to let the light shine out of and put it back together. When riding along now I can see the lights clearly.

 After this Modification and using the bike mount I am pleased to say that I rate this little camera quite highly and have no fear of recommending them as a good buy and good value for money, just be prepared to put some time into experimenting with brackets/mounts.

For and Against

The good things about these camera's are the size, reasonable quality video and they arepretty tough. (We had one fall off a bike at over 70mph, when we went back to collected it it was still recording)
 The problems with these camera's are the poor instructions, the wavy lines, the L.E.D lights are not visable in bright sunlight and the worst thing is the time/date stamp cannot be removed. The newer version of the camera now has a much smaller transparent time/date which is a step in the right direction but totally removal would make for a welcomed option.
However there is ways around all of this:- 
The Instructions - Just go on Youtube and watch some of the how to use the MD80 videos.
The wavy lines - Experiment with positions on the bike that don't vibrate. Plastic fairings, mirrors and mud guards are no good, you need to find something metal for the best results, frame, swingarm or lower part of front forks we find work best.
 The L.E.D lights - Make your own window to view the L.E.D's (see above).
 The Time/Date Tag - Using Windows Live Movie Maker with 3rd party effects such as the increase zoom by 15% mode helps mask the problem as the time and date disappear off the bottom of the screen.     
 To reset the time - You will need to make a file in notepad which you copy onto the camera. There is a demo file on the disk that comes with the camera.
Good Luck with getting that to work! Eventually mine gave the correct time.
Old Camera with Yellow Date Stamp

New Camera with Transparent Date Stamp
To Watch this video click here 
 In conclusion we like it.   4/5

 See our videos on Youtube

Latest Video has the new look time date stamp

 The camera mount video
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