Aldi bike cam light

August 14, 2019 at 21:52 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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As you may remember, a while ago my Cycliq rear camera light died on the operating table. Cycliq offered me a 15% discount on a new one, which was sort of nice and sort of not very generous too. Anyway, serendipitously, the very next week Aldi were offering integrated rear light bike cameras for just $69. So I bought one.

It’s clear that someone took a Fly6 to China, and asked a factory there to make something similar but at a very low price. It takes a lot of its design cues from the Fly6, although it’s a lot bigger overall. It has IPX4 waterproofing (which is less than the Fly6, but adequate for most purposes), similar arrangements of buttons and slot covers, and some similar features.

First up, it’s somewhat bulky and heavy. I don’t really care, but if you like your bike to look sleek and / or worry about weight, this is not for you. It uses a rubber bungee things to attach to the bike, and this is actually pretty good – one of the better designs of such things. Better, in fact, than the original Fly6 clip.

It can take a maximum 32GB microSD card, and records in 1080p, 30fps. The video files are broken up into 10 minute pieces, and you can fit about seven hours of footage on a 32GB card.

The light is quite bright, and has steady and two flashing modes, but it’s not spectacular. You can turn the light on and off independently of the camera; there are separate switches for the two functions. A dim green LED lights up to show the camera is operating. The camera automatically overwrites the oldest footage on the card as it goes, so there’s no need to manually delete files on the card.

The battery lasts for about 3 hours, some way short of the claimed 5-6 hours. When the battery gets low, the camera turns off and it bleeps, but the light stays on for a while longer. The manual claims it stays on for 1-2 hours, but it doesn’t; you get about 30 minutes of light before the battery goes completely dead.

There is no function that turns off the camera if you are in a crash, but the recommendation is to put a big SD card in so the battery runs out before your crash footage is overwritten. With the supplied 8GB card, this could happen, but with a 32GB card you are safe – the card will not fill up on a single battery charge.

The quality of the video is just OK. Less good than my 2nd gen Fly6 (which was only 720p), and I’m sure nowhere near the latest Cycliq cameras. There is no stabilisation or other tricks. As is often the case with these cams, the audio is as good as useless. Night time performance is pretty terrible; there’s note much chance you will be able to make out a number plate on footage taken when it’s not daytime. Also the lens seemed to get scratched very easily; it obviously gets dirt on it from it’s position above the wheel, and wiping it away has scratched the lens a lot in a short amount of time.

Here’s some samples of video:

Daytime – road

Dusk – off-road

Dark – Road

One thing you will notice is that the red flashing light leaks into the video, especially at night. That doesn’t bother me, but if you are hoping to capture epic footage for your cycling film, it’s probably not for you. Actually, if you want good video quality, it’s probably not for you. But if you just want a basic cam to record the daily goings on on your ride, it works quite adequately. My Fly6 lasted four years, so at a quarter the cost I will be quids in if it lasts more than twelve months.

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New Camera – Shimano CM-2000

June 27, 2018 at 21:40 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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A few months ago, the Shimano camera I have facing forward on my bike fell off. The clip isn’t all that great, and I apparently hadn’t secured it properly. After pinging across the road, it still worked – but the lens was cracked. A new lens cost $40, so I didn’t buy one; after all the camera came with a spare one (of a different shape for using under water) which I thought would be fine. Except that I couldn’t find it anywhere. And then it seems what remaining stocks of spare lenses that might have been around evaporated, and were no longer available anywhere.

The great thing about Shimano bike cameras though is that they are absolutely awful. Not the actual camera bit;  the physical design (apart perhaps for the clip) and the video quality is fine. No, rather all the other bits are awful. They WiFi connection is flaky as. The battery life is ordinary. The app is a disaster. The promised video editing software to overlay your data has never made an appearance. This means that, when launched, they retail at $500 but after a while are available for a song as no-one wants to buy them.

And it seems Shimano made a version 2 bike cam, and this too is awful, and is now also available for a song. A $149 song, in fact – which is not a bad price for a high-quality HD waterproof camera, even if none of the other features work. So I bought one. Although they still don’t include a handlebar mount, I was able it improvise a stem mount from the helmet mount and some cable ties.

It’s definitely better than version 1 – especially in low light. But the clip is exactly the same. And on the third outing with the new camera, it too pinged across the road after going over a bump. Luckily, the lens was not broken (the design means it’s a bit less vulnerable than version 1), and it still works…

Shimano Sports Camera CM-1000

July 19, 2016 at 14:32 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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CM1000As you may have noted elsewhere in my blog, I have another camera in my bike arsenal. I’d been thinking about a front-facing camera as a counterpart to my Fly6 on the rear, and had seen the CM-1000 a few times. It looked quite good – the main attractions being it is waterproof without needing a housing, and quite low-profile. The RRP seemed to be around the $460 mark though, which seemed quite a lot, given that’s about the price of the Fly12 (the front light / camera combo from Cycliq). It also didn’t seem to have that important feature of the Fly range – the ability to automatically overwrite old files, meaning you don’t need to faff around deleting thigns to make space on the memory card.

Then I spotted it online from an Australian retailer for about $160. This was too good an opportunity to pass up, although it did cross my mind that if it was being discounted that heavily, perhaps it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…

cm1000 on barsThe camera itself looks smart enough, but shortly after getting it out of the box I discovered the first problem. It doesn’t come with a handlebar mount. This is a camera specifically for cycling made by the worlds largest bike component manufacturer. And they don’t give you a clip to mount if on your handlebars. Unbelievable. The mounting is a GoPro style one, so there are plenty of mounts available, but it’s a strange omission – which meant I couldn’t actually use the camera until I bought a mounting for it.

The camera can record at a range of resolutions, angles and frame rates, which are set via a phone app. You connect the camera to your phone via wifi, and can control the various settings, as well as downloading or deleting files and using the phone screen as a viewfinder. This should be good, but unfortunately the connectivity is extremely flaky. It just rarely successfully connects to the phone. And since I upgraded my phone to the latest version of Android, it has never worked. The only way I can now adjust the settings is to us an old android tablet I have, which seems to connect somewhat more successfully. The Google Play store is full of one-star reviews complaining about this, so it’s not just me. I’m not sure if it connects to iDevices more successfully, but for all intents and purposes the app is useless.

This means the camera really can only be used as a basic camera – you can start and stop recording, and then pull the memory card out to copy and delete the videos. Bad luck if your memory card fills up during your ride – you can only delete files with the app, but it doesn’t work, especially when you need it to.

Having said all that, the video quality is good. It records in full HD, and can also record at high frame rates (up to 120fps) if you want to do fancy slo-mo shots. (Although good luck getting the app to work to change these settings…). It has a wide-angle lens, and the setting include a very wide angle mode which captures a lot of your surroundings, if somewhat ‘fisheye’. The sound, however, is terrible. These types of cameras rarely have good sound, mostly picking up wind noise. However, the CM-1000 is a slightly loose fit in the mounting (the original part, not the bit I had to buy) – which means you not only get wind noise, you get a loud rattling sound over all your videos.

Here’s a sample video, taken with the camera pointing backwards on the bars. Note the car who overtakes closer than the legal one metre!

video
(not sure what went wrong with the YouTube upload there – looks very grainy. The original is way clearer.)

What else? Oh yes, the battery life is not very good. I don’y get much more than 90 minutes of recording from a fully charged battery. So I have to charge it up every day in order to record my 45 minute each-way commute.

Apparently you can connect an ANT+ sensor to it, so it can record other data along with the video, such as speed or cadence. I haven’t tried this, but apparently all this does is create a text file of data sampled every second or so whilst the camera is running. When the product was launched some years ago, Shimano promised a video editing app that would then overlay this data back onto the video, but it never eventuated. Given the last firmware update was now almost a year ago, and the current firmware clearly isn’t perfect, I wouldn’t hold your breath that the video app will ever appear. I sense Shimano are no longer actively supporting this product.

So all in all, it’s not a great product. The video quality is good, and it’s nice that it’s waterproof. But everything else is hopeless. For $160, I’m quite happy with it. Had I paid over $400 for it, I’d have been sending it back.

 

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