Tips from our Compact Video Camera Review

Here are a few hot tips we picked up over the course of our yearlong test of compact video cameras. Web extra from our January 2012 issue.

Sailing World

Video Camera Extra

The Go Pro Hero is one of the compact video cameras we tested.Courtesy Of The Manufacturer

1. A reality of shooting video is managing the volume of data you’ll soon accumulate. Recording a day of racing, you’ll easily fill a 32-gigabyte SD memory card, and at that rate, it won’t take long to fill your computer’s hard drive. We found that, for archiving purposes, it makes sense to move video files to an external hard drive. Should you gather the courage to share your videos on YouTube—or in SW’s member video gallery ()—take mercy on your audience and trim your footage using editing software like iMovie.

2. Be extra careful with your GoPro mounts. Although the company offers excellent accessories for mounting the Hero on head, helmet, chest, suction-cup, tripod, or handlebars/railings, all of these options attach to the waterproof housing with a GoPro-specific, multi-part, thumb-screw system, which poses a problem when you drop a critical screw into the drink the first day out…

3. The most versatile mount we found is Clamper Jr. ($40, www.promaster.com), a miniature tripod that transforms into a dependable clamp with rubberized, locking jaws. You could also splurge for a self-leveling hydraulic mount by Horizon True ($450, www.horizontrue.com).

4. Before you hit the water, make sure your camera’s battery is charged and its memory card empty. (Duh.)

5. Unless you’re planning to sell your footage to Hollywood, skip the 1080p resolution and shoot in 960p mode, which saves memory and, on some cameras (Drift, GoPro), enables the full use of wide-angle lenses. Even if you shoot in 1080p, you’ll probably end up scaling back the resolution when uploading the YouTube, etc.

6. Depending on your setup, you may want to start recording before leaving the dock, but you’ll conserve battery life and memory space by waiting until the starting sequence begins. Once the camera’s rolling, leave it alone and focus on your race. After a few hours, the battery will die, or the memory will hit capacity, and you’ll have a permanent document of your race. Whether you share it with the masses, or wipe it from memory, is up to you.