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Action Videos – Tough to Beat the Old Pro


The average day behind my desk would be tough to classify as highly exciting, but once or twice a month I make hobby of punishing low cost video cameras. I start by mounting them inside a large dark metal box. Then I expect them to capture well balanced footage of bright blue-sky days in 15 degree cold, 120 degree heat, traveling over 130 mph, bouncing over curbs (3:42), mowing grass (15:00), the occasional collision, terrible vibration, all through a dirty piece of glass and a whole lot of wind.

As you might expect, the go-to choice is the GoPro. In my case a Hero 3 Black Motorsport edition – with good reason:

Considering the above, I’m always impressed with the results GoPro delivers. But hey, I’m willing to try new things. Earlier this fall I borrowed a couple of cameras from OIT Media Technologies, and took them to the race track. Having first played with both cameras at home, I was impressed with the quality and excited to see how they would perform. This would be the mounting mechanism, directly on the roll cage with a poly bushing.

I/O Port Racing Camera Mount


The first was the Canon Vixia:

This was a disappointment. I had high hopes for this one. The size was nice, the screen was nice, and the quality was excellent. The Vixia screwed into the standard tripod mount easily and appeared ready for action. Unfortunately, I have no video to show you. It turned off as soon as the car hit the track. Twice. I can only imagine this is some sort of issue with vibration or heat, as the camera experienced no problems outside of the car, but we may never know.

The second camera was the Panasonic A500:

A reasonably priced wearable 4k video camera? What fun! Except that it’s impossible to mount to anything! Steve and the contributors here at DDMC Blog have already shown you footage from this camera, unfortunately I have nothing to add to that. Time is limited at the race track, and a video capture device needs to be low on the list of things to worry about. I was disappointed out of the box that this camera has two separate pieces connected by a cable. It’s no smaller than a Contour HD, GoPro, or Replay, so why the additional clunky box? Additionally, there was no standard tripod mount. It did come with a velcro strap, which was about the right size for the roll cage, unfortunately the second piece of the camera comes with an entirely different sized strap that is not. Probably a moot point, as neither would have gripped hard enough to not spin upside down inside this thing:

In hindsight, these are probably great cameras for a variety of other purposes. But they are certainly not items I’d recommend for uses like this. To be fair to the Vixia, it’s probably better intended for home videos than action sports. And the A500 can be strapped to sticks and held out of sunroofs, worn on your arm, or put down rodent holes for one of Steve’s nature shots. In the end, I’m sticking with the GoPro, and while the new GP4 looks appealing, this old GP3 Black seems to meet my needs just fine. If only it could keep the #52 car from passing me before the end of the race…

– Evan Levine

Categories: 4k Video, Video Production

One comment

  1. Well done. I was cruising through this site and saw the video, then recognized VIR before I read any of the commentary. Fine driving! (I only ever did an HPDE day on the North course, but visited the race track a number of times as a teenager *years* ago)

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