Go Back   Mountain Buzz > Whitewater Boating > Whitewater Kayaking

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-09-2005   #1
thecraw's Avatar
Boulder, Jackson Kayak, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 911
Send a message via Skype™ to thecraw
Check out this new water proof camcorder w/ a helmet lens..

The SC-X105L Sports Camcorder from Samsung has an external lens attached to a cable that can reach up to six feet, for hands-free shooting.

IN the music world, the CD and the pocket music player have wiped audio cassettes off the map. But what about video? Here we are with our camcorders in 2005, rewinding and fast-forwarding as if technology hadn't marched forward one inch since 1985.

The new SC-X105L Sports Camcorder from Samsung ($570) cleverly reframes the question. It doesn't ask, "Which should you buy: this tiny, memory-based camcorder or a MiniDV model?" Instead, Samsung justifies the X105L's tapelessness as a necessary step to making a camcorder so small, rugged and water resistant you can use it in situations that would pulverize a regular camcorder. Now the question becomes: "Would you rather record the event with this imperfect camcorder - or not at all?"

At 2.3 by 3.7 by 1 inch and weighing a third of a pound, the X105L is just a wisp of a thing, smaller than some cellphones. It contains no moving parts, and its black rubberized skin contributes to its ruggedness.

The real breakthrough, though, is the external lens, attached to a black cable three feet long with a three-foot extension. (Imagine a lipstick cam or a "60 Minutes" hidden camera.) Using its tripod mount, the two straps (one long, one short, both included) or a hunk of duct tape, you can attach this water-resistant lens just about anywhere: to your head, helmet, arm, waist, handlebars, sunglasses or skateboard. The camcorder itself can be tucked somewhere secure and waterproof, like your pocket or backpack; you start and stop recording using a button on the cord.

This arrangement opens up a world of new recording possibilities, because you don't need two hands - or any hands at all - to hold the camera. Nor do you have to watch the viewfinder or screen; this camera looks wherever you're looking. In other words, this external-lens affair allows the camera operator, for the first time in consumer camcorders, to be a participant in the action instead of a spectator.

The external lens can capture all kinds of activities impractical to record with a traditional camcorder while you're in action: skiing, surfing, biking, snowmobiling and so on. The Samsung also shines in situations that require your full attention, making it too dangerous to operate a regular camcorder: driving a vehicle, skateboarding, tightrope walking, skydiving or conducting criminal "sting" operations.

Despite the built-in image stabilizer, the resulting video is not for those who suffer from motion discomfort. Otherwise, though, this thing works amazingly well. Here at Pogue Labs, our 7-year-old shared with his family a rider's-eye view of what he sees when he zooms around the neighborhood on his bike. Only now do we know what his sister sees when she sails over the ground, hanging from the handles of an overhead cable ride stretched between two trees. (There's even a microphone on the lens, so you hear her shrieks of delight.) And after equipping Bullwinkle the Wonder Dog with the camcorder and lens, we finally know where he's picking up all the mud and burrs when we let him out in the morning.

Unfortunately, the Samsung is still saddled with all the limitations of memory-based camcorders. Its 512 megabytes of built-in memory can hold only 10 minutes of video at the best-quality setting. The lower settings offer as much as 60 minutes of recording, but the results look like cameraphone or Webcam videos.

You can add storage in the form of a Memory Stick, but the maximum capacity for this camcorder (one gigabyte) costs about $90 online and adds only 22 more minutes of best-quality recording.

The battery life isn't great, either: 45 to 60 minutes a charge. (The external lens requires its own pair of AAA batteries.) At least the battery is rechargeable and removable, so that you can keep a spare ready to go. (Extra batteries go on sale in July.)

Then there's the little matter of the video quality. At the highest setting, the video is O.K. (you can see a sample at www.nytimes.com/circuits). But it often contains blown-out highlights and muddy dark patches, the autofocus is slow to react and low-light recordings look grainy. In short, don't expect the stunning quality of MiniDV camcorders - especially when you use the external lens. (You get better results with the built-in lens.)

Yet somehow, on this camcorder, these disappointments don't seem quite as crushing as they would on any other model. For example, the recording-time limits don't seem so dire when you consider that extreme sports, hidden-camera interviews and canine expeditions are usually pretty short. Nobody's pretending that you'd use this camcorder to record the school play.

It's even easy to excuse the so-so video quality of your paragliding or luge run when you consider the alternative: having no video at all.

Meanwhile, going tapeless also confers perks all its own, like random access to your video. You can jump from scene to scene without any rewinding or fast-forwarding. You can delete a shot with a couple of clicks, freeing up memory for more recordings. And it's impossible to record over a beloved scene by accident.

Finally, bringing the video to your Mac or PC is very fast. You just put the camera in its U.S.B. cradle and then, when the camera's icon appears on your desktop, drag the MPEG-4 video files to your hard drive.

Over all, Samsung has done a very good job of designing this camcorder, considering how little room there is for controls. The two-inch screen is excellent; in direct sunlight, you can tap a button to shut off the backlight, harnessing the sunshine itself to keep the image bright and saving battery power in the process. The camcorder's buttons are all on the skinny trailing edge facing you, ready for your thumb; they include Menu, Record, O.K. and a slider for the 10X variable-speed optical zoom.

In the next incarnation, though, the company should consider making two important changes.

First, the camera should auto-recognize when you've plugged in the external lens. You shouldn't have to dig into the menu system and manually switch the video source to External - and then reverse the process when you detach the cable. That's just silly.

Along the same lines, you shouldn't have to go into a menu just to switch from video to photo mode; the camcorder should have a simple switch. (The menu lists things like voice recording and MP3 music playback. Those features work well enough, but seem a bit indulgent on a device that's so tight on storage and power.) Then again, this might be an irrelevant complaint, considering how poor the photos are. At 800 by 600 pixels, they don't even have enough resolution for a 4-by-6 print.

Even so, Samsung has designed a tool that does a job no other tool can do: it permits hands-free, attention-free recording of otherwise unrecordable events. Polishing it up can come later. Even in its 1.0 version, the SC-X105L may be the most persuasive evidence yet that our grandchildren will live in a tapeless future.

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather...To skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW !!!! What a ride!!!!!!"
thecraw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2005   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
Cool review of it at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/09/te.../09pogue.html?

The guy even strapped the camera to his dog to see where it wanders.

cstork is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2005   #3
badkins's Avatar
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 488
Get it Marty! I've always wanted to do a helmet cam of the Source at high water!
badkins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2005   #4
Central, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 90
I'd wait

I've been looking for info about it since it was announced on amazon 3-4 months ago. The battery life seems to be a huge disappointment -- it lasts just about to fill the card -- and no longer.

If you're considering buying it, do read the reviews on amazon:


Based on those I decided to wait, and to stick to my Pentax Optio 43wr. The 10x zoom and helmet-cam would be the main reasons to upgrade... but seems like the helmet-cam quality is rather poor. Anyways, check out the amazon reviews for more info.

tpalka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-09-2005   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 82
You can do the same thing using your own camera with the stuff from Bullet Camera or www.helmetcamera.com The lens is sure to be more durable too.
Curtis_Elwood is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Whitewater Photogs - favorite lens? 22West Whitewater Kayaking 11 01-30-2007 01:12 PM
Cool new video site - win a Camcorder hoya Whitewater Kayaking 2 12-09-2005 01:26 PM
Check out the water flooding over this huge seive... skywalker Whitewater Kayaking 0 01-20-2005 09:43 PM
About to buy a digital Camcorder shaggstyle Whitewater Kayaking 4 07-22-2004 06:35 PM
Check out CRC's mobile water flows... mthurman Whitewater Kayaking 0 05-19-2004 01:16 PM

» Classified Ads
ShredReady full face...

posted by go-with-the-Flo

Size large/XL. White. Light use, no big hits or scratches....

Jackson Rock Star(Medium)

posted by Paddling Life

Brand new 2016 Jackson Kayak Rock Star

NRS Whitewater Kayak...

posted by sunsurfsnow

Brand new, still has tag. Price is $20 less than retail and...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.