Shoot to Thrill
Shoot to Thrill
Just hit “record” on these user-friendly, waterproof video cameras to bring your next race to your living room—and beyond. "Electronics" from our January/February 2012 issue.
Over the course of a yearlong test of compact video cameras, we recorded hours of racing, and reviewing the results confirmed the adage that our sport involves “hours of boredom punctuated with moments of sheer terror.” You can view the highlights here, but we left most of the footage on the cutting room floor, where it belongs.
Of the cameras we tested—GE’s DV1, GoPro’s Hero, Drift’s 170 Stealth, Contour’s HD, and SailPro’s Onboard Camera—each weighs next to nothing and delivers crisp footage, stored on an SD or mini SD memory card. The cameras are either waterproof (GE, SailPro) or come with a waterproof case (GoPro, Contour, Drift).
The differences are in the lenses, the user interfaces, and the mounting options. Cameras with a wide-angle lens (GoPro, Drift, Contour, SailPro) can provide a broad view of what’s happening on and around your boat. Those with detailed LCD screens (GE, Drift) are the most intuitive to operate, since you can scroll through menus with multi-directional keypads, switch between still and video mode, and review your footage. On models without built-in LCD screens (GoPro, Contour, SailPro), testers found it hard to tell whether the camera was recording.
When choosing a camera, consider the type of boat(s) you’ll be sailing, and where you’ll mount the device. In our experience, the most practical location for mounting a camera on a keelboat is the stern pulpit, where it can capture all the action. No stern rail? SailPro makes customized stern mounts. The GoPro, Drift, Contour, and SailPro cameras came with several mounting accessories. The GoPro mounts attach to the camera housing with a system of thumb screws and clips, which worked fine until we lost a screw overboard. Over time, we came to appreciate cameras with a tripod tripod socket (GE, Drift, and on Contour’s waterproof case), which allows more flexibility with mounting accessories.