Help me choose a handheld camcorder please

I want to buy a video camera to record my motorcycle rides. Summer is coming and I’m planning to do a big trip on my bike and I would like to have a handheld camcorder for that.

The idea is to attach the camera to my bike pointing to the road and, obviously, record the trip on video. Then, arrive at somewhere interesting, take it off the bike and record some more. How I will do the attaching and where is a big problem in itself, but I will worry about that later. Of course, if the camera had some fixation points for a custom made support it would be perfect.

Problem is, I’m pretty much clueless on the whole subject of video. Recording formats, brands, media, etc I don’t know much about that so I thought I’d ask the teeming millions for help, who never cease to amaze me with their colective brilliance.

I’ll talk a bit about my priorities. First I’m going to start simple, with some batteries and duct tape perhaps, but I want to be able to expand my “system” later on with extended visors (to the helmet for instance) and remote controls on the handlebars and a feed from the bike battery and whatnot.

Next of course is size. I need something small, that’s light and portable. Battery life and recording duration are also important. I don’t expect to record a day’s worth of riding on a tiny tape but I need the best size\capacity ratio I can find. Also, I need to easily pass the recordings to my PC to edit them and put it to DVDs.

I also need a camera that can withstand some abuse, something that is durable. Protection from the elements, like rain, would be great but that’s not always realistic. But I’ve seen the sports covers Sony makes for some of their models and it looks like it’s just what the doctor ordered.

As for image quality, I don’t know what to expect. I’d like to be able to turn sound recording off if I want to for extra capacity but I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t think I need really amazing image quality and detail, just enough (dunno what that is). A wide aspect ratio would be cool but again, I don’t know how expensive that would be.

Having said that, my funds are pretty limited right now, but I’d rather buy something good that will leave completely happy rather than settle for something cheaper that is simply ok, which I know I will regret later on. In other words, I want something that will leave me happy for a long time. I don’t know how much all this could come to but spending 1.500€ on this would be insane but doable with some sacrifices for me.

That’s all I can remember right now. As always I’m very grateful for any help.

Suggestion - don’t do that. It won’t turn out the way you think it will because it’s not a Steadicam or something similar. You’ll get every vibration and bump and people who watch it later will get motion sick. Trust me on this.

Good point, but I’ve seen the result and it’s not bad at all. Even with my friend’s cheap digital camera, I can get a kick out of watching it.

Examples here. They have a interesting section on video technology. They use a video walkman, which seems like the ideal solution but would negate other uses besides riding.

I use a tri-pod mounted camcorder to record in-car drives. Works well (but I have a PV-953 with an optical stabilizer). You cannot duct tape a camcorder to your bike frame. The vibration will crack your LCD. You need a mount kit. They make them for both bike frames and helmets.
The camera depends on your budget. Mini-DV is the standard these days with mini-DVDs being fairly common because they’re cheap and easy to transfer to a PC (all you need is a DVD ROM). The mini-DV on LP recording is 1.5 hours (SP - 1 hour) and the DVDs are the same.

I haven’t seen a regular consumer cam with any sort of weather protection. You might need to make/buy a cover for it. Even then I wouldn’t recommend using it in rain. Because you need to have access to several buttons a cover is usually impractical.

I can’t find those tiny “spycam” lenses uses anywhere on the net. Anyone know where I can find them and if these can be plugged in to a regular handheld?

Thanks badmana, I will look into what Mini-DV is exactly and how it works. Is it tape? Any disadvantages I should know about? I don’t think disc media would work for this application. Is there any flash media available with decent capacities at decent prices?

I forgot to mention I would use some foam padding too with duct tape. :slight_smile: My comment about duct tape was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, sorry if I wasn’t clear, I wouldn’t risk anything with a shoddy assembly but I wouldn’t say it is necessary to go all the way with a mount kit for small rides. It would depend on the size and weight of the camcorder I guess.

You’re right that recording in bad weather is not realistical and riding a bike in the rain is not that interesting anyway. I completely forgot about having easy access to all the buttons. That could be a huge pain in the ass with the Sony cover.

Wow, this thing is seriously expensive. Found a price quote of 1.000€. No way I can afford that.