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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone tried using a helmet cam at night? What worked best for you. I tried it for the first time last week but not extremely happy with the results. I have tried it before on my dirt bike and it came alittle better but I was using more light. Wondering if that is my problem or if helmet cam's at night just won't work good.

Here is a clip from the ride.

Its a bar mounted mount so it slipped at the very end of the downhill so that's why you get a great shot of my forks and front wheel, haha. I guess I was hoping to see more than just the stop light and then complete black everywhere else. I am using homemade lights with 6 scc p4 led's at 1amp. When I tried it on my motorcycle I did the 6 p4 led's on the bars and the helmet cam mounted on my helmet with a scc P7 flashlight taped right next to it. I was afraid of the camera plus flash light on my helmet to be too heavy so I tried the bar mount this time.

I can also play with the camera settings. I adjusted the exposure down about 3 stops from normal but can go more. I was also recording at [email protected] where my other option is [email protected] During the day the higher framerate looks better on moving shots but I don't know if that applies at night as well. Camera is a countourHD 1080.

My next night ride is tomorrow so maybe i'll make some adjustments and try again. Wanted to get some suggestions from people that have tried it before. I can't be the only one that has tried to use a helmet cam at night? Or maybe I am the only stupid person that thinks it can work, haha.
 

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Dunno about the Contour, but the GoPro HD has an f/2.8 fixed aperture lens. That is relatively "fast" in general, but if the shutter speed is 1/30 sec, you need a high ISO speed chip to gather the meager light at night and you get a lot of noise. Add to that the fact that the lights you are shining illuminate a small area with many orders of magnitude more light than the surrounding area, so there is no exposure setting the camera could muster to expose both areas correctly. Either the dark background comes in grainy and muddy and the illuminated area is a washed out highlight, or the illuminated spot is correctly exposed and the background is plunged into the black void. You can't have both, though your eyes and brain would have you think otherwise when gathering the footage. The only way to expose the background somewhat is with an extremely wide and diffuse, bright flood light. Even that would probably only reveal what was within 10' of the rider.

Shoot at dusk and you will achieve the effect of shooting at night, but the background will still be visible. This vid goes from afternoon to night riding. The deep blue landscapes were taken after the sun went down, but before actual darkness settled in.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
tscheezy said:
Dunno about the Contour, but the GoPro HD has an f/2.8 fixed aperture lens. That is relatively "fast" in general, but if the shutter speed is 1/30 sec, you need a high ISO speed chip to gather the meager light at night and you get a lot of noise. Add to that the fact that the lights you are shining illuminate a small area with many orders of magnitude more light than the surrounding area, so there is no exposure setting the camera could muster to expose both areas correctly. Either the dark background comes in grainy and muddy and the illuminated area is a washed out highlight, or the illuminated spot is correctly exposed and the background is plunged into the black void. You can't have both, though your eyes and brain would have you think otherwise when gathering the footage. The only way to expose the background somewhat is with an extremely wide and diffuse, bright flood light. Even that would probably only reveal what was within 10' of the rider.

Shoot at dusk and you will achieve the effect of shooting at night, but the background will still be visible. This vid goes from afternoon to night riding. The deep blue landscapes were taken after the sun went down, but before actual darkness settled in.

ahh thanks. That is what I was thinking too. I am into photography so what I was seeing was kinda expected but I was hoping that movies would have something to deal with low light. In a regular camera you just set the shutter speed alittle slower as you loose light (or ISO or Aperature). But on my helmet cam I don't have any of those options. Also with my SLR I am not running around with a flash light trying to take pictures either. So I was hoping that there is some trick or setting or something that would make the night helmet cam videos better.

I might try mounting it to my helmet tonight with a flash light and still using the bar lights. Or do you think thorwing more light at it will make it worse. As it will be a higher contrast from the trail and background. I guess I am looking for more of the background and sides of the trail. Right now even through the trail is pretty technical and steep in certain area's it looks like I am riding through a flat corn field at night, haha. Not exactly the video I had in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ok I just watched your video and that is awesome. Do you work in the film industry? How did you get those camera angles of the other rides? Some of them it almost felt like you were in a helicopter. But on to the night shots. I think the dusk riding that you did is the look i am going for. Your night shots look good too but I think the white snow is helping. You can see your spot and side spill pretty good. My rides start at 6:45pm so this time of the year we are already starting in the dark. But when summer hits we start in day light and end in the dark so that sounds like the best time to use the helmet cam. Thanks for showing the video as it helps alot in showing the limitations of the helmet cam in low light and how to get around them.
 

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I'm just a hobbyist and only bought my first POV camera a year ago. I'm having fun with it.

I agree that my night scenes were helped a lot by the snow, but you can just film earlier in the evening to keep the ground illumination up. Take a look at this video that was filmed around dusk also. He starts with no lights, and as it gets darker he turns his headlight on. Later, they add an external flood light for filming in addition to his helmet light. It works pretty well because they focus on the terrain immediately around the rider and don't worry about the background other than city lights. The most impressive part of the video is how it conveys the insane steepness of the trail. You will just have to experiment a lot with daylight levels and artificial light to see what works in your area. A lot of stuff will end up disappointing, but you may get some really cool footage out of it in the end. Lighting is a huge pita so just don't expect it to be as easy as slapping a bike light on the bars and hitting 'record.' You may need to use a camera with a narrow FOV to reduce the obvious effect of light fall-off if your flood isn't megawide.

I posted some of my filming techniques in this thread.
 

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tscheezy said:
Dunno about the Contour, but the GoPro HD has an f/2.8 fixed aperture lens. That is relatively "fast" in general, but if the shutter speed is 1/30 sec, you need a high ISO speed chip to gather the meager light at night and you get a lot of noise. Add to that the fact that the lights you are shining illuminate a small area with many orders of magnitude more light than the surrounding area, so there is no exposure setting the camera could muster to expose both areas correctly. Either the dark background comes in grainy and muddy and the illuminated area is a washed out highlight, or the illuminated spot is correctly exposed and the background is plunged into the black void. You can't have both, though your eyes and brain would have you think otherwise when gathering the footage. The only way to expose the background somewhat is with an extremely wide and diffuse, bright flood light. Even that would probably only reveal what was within 10' of the rider.

Shoot at dusk and you will achieve the effect of shooting at night, but the background will still be visible. This vid goes from afternoon to night riding. The deep blue landscapes were taken after the sun went down, but before actual darkness settled in.

Man, I hadn't seen this one. I think it is one of my favorites yet. Love the shot of the stars at the end and the sled dogs and an interesting change. Handlebar mount on the sled might be really cool for a video.

Back to the topic at hand, I have also shot some night footage but I deleted it right away b/c it really sucked. lol As much fun as night riding is someone needs to figure out a good method for getting good footage. I will try to get some this spring and fall as well.

This video is made for a light company and may give you some ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wherewolf said:
Here is an ancient lipstick cam night video. At about 3:45 the guy in front falls and breaks his clavicle. I became a solo night rider at that point.

I think I would be happy with that video. 75% of the screen you can tell what's going on and what the trail looks like. Do you know the setup he was running?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
tscheezy said:
I'm just a hobbyist and only bought my first POV camera a year ago. I'm having fun with it.

I agree that my night scenes were helped a lot by the snow, but you can just film earlier in the evening to keep the ground illumination up. Take a look at this video that was filmed around dusk also. He starts with no lights, and as it gets darker he turns his headlight on. Later, they add an external flood light for filming in addition to his helmet light. It works pretty well because they focus on the terrain immediately around the rider and don't worry about the background other than city lights. The most impressive part of the video is how it conveys the insane steepness of the trail. You will just have to experiment a lot with daylight levels and artificial light to see what works in your area. A lot of stuff will end up disappointing, but you may get some really cool footage out of it in the end. Lighting is a huge pita so just don't expect it to be as easy as slapping a bike light on the bars and hitting 'record.' You may need to use a camera with a narrow FOV to reduce the obvious effect of light fall-off if your flood isn't megawide.

I posted some of my filming techniques in this thread.
I went through the thread of your filing techniques and wow that is pretty cool. I don't think the 360 helmet mount will work becuase I ride through tight tree's atleast once a ride. When you bring out your rigs and stuff for filming is your main goal of the MTB trip to get footage? Or do you just ride and everyonce in a while mount the camera in different places? And I do like all the differnent mounts for the bike but I don't think they will work very well at night unless you mount a light next to the camera. But I think I am going to order some for day rides as I really like the shots where the camera is mounted to the frame and you can see the wheels. Also what are you using for a chest mount? I like that POV better than ontop of the helmet. Seeing the arms and handle bar makes it more interesting, atleast I think it does.
 

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I don't film on most rides, but sometimes if the weather is good, the trail conditions are right, and we do something 'different' that deserves to be recorded, I will drag the cams along. A fatbike beach ride, cool mountaintop crust riding, or late summer alpine singletrack etc that I don't already have a good movie of are all fair game for making a vid. At those times I will go out on the ride with the express purpose of filming and I will carry a camelbak with my zip line and shuttle, some RAM gopro mounts, and the twirly-head cam inside. None of that stuff is attached to my head or bike until I am ready to film. I now have a QR system for putting the twirly cam on/off my helmet without even having to take my helmet off. I do own a modified GoPro chesty, but it produces pretty terrible footage most of the time since it is so unstable. I like the perspective but I dislike the results. My wife is patient and thinks the movies are cool, so she is willing to help out even if it means I ask her to ride a certain section of trail 4 times.

Short clips. Variety. Start with interesting scenery and terrain. Most videos (mine included) would probably be better if they were half as long.
 

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Fullsailbiker said:
This video is made for a light company and may give you some ideas.
Very cool vid. You can tell they used some high quality cameras for that.

The dusk scenes where it's pseudo-night are nice. The scenery is bathed in a moonlight-like glow, but you can tell the sky is still somewhat lit. The later scenes on the trail are true darkness, and they are sporting some 1400+ lumen lights (that's bright). Having one rider follow the other so the rear one helps illuminate the front one is effective, and they didn't use any POV shots. I think that may be key as the camera on the rider will aways be very affected by the rider's own light source. My off-bike shots in my vid are nicer than the POV on the bike stuff where I was using my light to illuminate the rider around me. Same is true for the dusk/night trials rider I linked to on vimeo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I took some more video on Wed night. This time I mounted the camera on the helmet with a flash light tapped next to it. Kept the video settings the same. But it was raining so we took a different route to stay next to the car. It was just sprinkling and misting the whole time so it wasn't too bad but didn't get to do the same trail for comparesions. And right now the video's are too long and boring to post, I need to cut them down alittle so you guys aren't watching me go uphill for 30 min at a time, haha. I haven't really watched them yet to see if it came out better. Just noticed the run times for each video was too long to post. I'll try and see if I can find a way to edit them this weekend.
 
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