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Camera for Pylon-Mount Slalom Video?

Recently I've been doing some research to replace the camera I've been using to film and analyze myself skiing this past year (mostly slalom). The quality just doesn't cut it an I need something better. Currently my research has been focused on the gopro hero3+.

I'm attracted by the ability of the camera to do 720p at 120fps, which will allow me to slow down the action during post processing. However, the camera has the significant drawback that it has an extremely wide field of view, which makes it more difficult to capture detail at a distance (say behind a ski boat). So in addition to purchasing the camera I will have to modify it to accept a new lens. I'm currently considering modifying it to accept c-mount lenses which will provide me with a variety of options to zoom in closer on the action. There is a kit which was recently developed which should provide this capability (

However, I'm also concerned about the image quality on the hero3+ at 120fps. The current camera I've been using has an 8mbps data rate at 720p with 30fps (h.264 codec), and the image quality leaves something to be desired due to compression artifacts. I know the gopro is capable of 45mbps (also h.264 codec), but normalized to 30fps that is only 11.25mbps. So I'm not convinced that this is the way to go. However, the only alternative I've been able to come up with is using an industrial camera that would output raw sensor data, sans compression, to a laptop. Strangely, given that I've already got the laptop this would be a wash on cost, but it would be a pain to haul a laptop out to the lake and back, not to mention waterproofing concerns.

Can anyone here provide advice on building a camera system to film our skiing adventures? What types of camera and mount setups do you all use? What are some good camera options? Is slow-motion even beneficial? While I like the idea of being able to do slow-motion on the gopro, I'm not entirely convinced of the utility of doing so. So a reduced frame rate is definitely acceptable to me if I can get better image quality.

Any input is greatly appreciated!


  • KavanKavan Posts: 24 Baller
    While I can't point out a better camera individually than the go pro for shoting at 120fps I can tell you for sure you don't want to get a camera that shots raw because then you have to color correct and the file size are way to big if not a professional. You could get any dslr camera and set them to 720 60fps and get plenty of options for a lens. Or you could go cheap with a sony handy cam and set them to slow mo golf mode and ski with that recording. That's my two cents
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,224
    edited December 2013
    No need for 120fps. 60fps is plenty good for any slow motion filming you need. I despise go pros for training unless you do change the lens. We've used a GoPro HD3 modified with an 8mm non fisheye lens from RageCams before.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 810 Crazy Baller
    I personally consider this Panasonic HX WA30 for actions spots such as snow and water skiing.
    Maybe it is on the top end but It fulfills all my expectations on a durable all weather camcorder.
    Any one that has any experience on this camcorder?
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller

    That is one of my concerns with RAW as well. The work flow (and storage if you get behind on your post-processing) really does start to become a bit of a pain, but sometimes it does help to bring out the detail and there are no compression artifacts. However, I really would rather have a simple integrated solution with decent image quality where I wouldn't have to worry so much about logistics and post-processing.


    How did the modified GoPro perform? Was vibration an issue due to the lack of image stabilization?
  • dave_ndave_n Posts: 66 Baller
    Dave. If you have an I-phone, or even better an I-pad, have a look at an app called Coaches Eye. I can analyze my skiing, frame by frame, just fine with video shot at 30 fps. ( I believe that if you have the latest I-pad or an I-pad mini, Coaches Eye will slo-mo @ 120 fps ) Rather than uploads from camera cards, transfers, e-mails to myself etc. I find it much easier to video with my I-pad using the Coaches Eye app. Connect to a TV and analyze it on a big screen. The app is the best thing I've seen for the job.
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    I've gone through a lot of cameras in the last couple years trying to find something that is clear, stable, will last more than a few sets, and is cheap enough and easy enough to operate that anyone in the boat can figure it out.

    I used a gopro and it's terrible! I don't understand why so many people recommend these. It's so zoomed out that you can't see anything unless you're running seriously short line lengths.

    Next I used the Toshiba H30 which started off really good. Battery was excellent filming probably 10+ sets. As time went on, I could tell the stabilizers/lens was more subject to vibration. It was really smooth and it got really jittery. Handle pops used to not be an issue but then every slight handle pop would destroy the focus which could ruin your whole session if you or the driver didn't think about resetting it.

    Replaced the Toshiba with a Samsung HMX-Q10. It was the worst camera I've ever used. For hand carrying, it's good but it really sucks with high frequency vibrations. I think stabilizers were worse than nothing at all. I used it for about 4 sets before ordering something else.

    Last, I bought a JVC HM650b. I'm in love with this camera so far. The standard battery lasts about 3 sets so I bought a much larger battery and it's been good.

    I'll try to post up some videos soon for comparison when I have more time...
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    edited December 2013
    Oh I almost forgot about the Sanyo Xacti. I don't remember a lot about this cameras video quality or even which model it was. I only remember that the base was way way too thin to be mounted on anything that vibrates or moves. My experience ended when I ripped the mount out of the camera.

    So here are the videos I promised. Hopefully it helps... First two videos were taken using the original Trakker camera mount. The second two videos were taken using the Trakker p4 mount.

    This is the Toshiba H30 at the beginning of it's life. Fairly stable and the focus was unaffected by slack hits or handle pops. It bounces a little but it wasn't bad. This video was unstabilized.

    This is the same Toshiba at the end of it's life. This video was software stabilized because that was the only way I could get anything useful out of it.

    Here is the Samsung HMX-Q10. It couldn't even take clear video when the boat is idling and not moving. For the record, the camera just stopped where the video ended. Still no idea why but it did. This was using the on camera stabilization but no software stabilization.

    Here is the JVC HM65bu. My only real complaint with this camera is the sound kind of loses bass every now and then. Not a big deal for my purposes though. The video looks amazing from the original file but has lost a lot of quality going to youtube. Much much better than all the others. This video had the on camera stabilization turned on but no additional software stabilization was added.
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    Thanks for all the info and videos! It seems as though the JVC stabilization makes a ton of difference on their cameras. I'd been looking at image stabilization as a secondary requirement, but I guess it's much more important than I had thought. High quality video won't make much difference if the high freq. vibrations are making everything fuzzy.

    Unfortunately I don't have any Apple products. Apple bricked my 3GS after I installed an "unapproved" battery back in 2010 to replace one that would no longer hold any juice; this was after I'd been using said battery without issue for 2 months and they simply locked out the non-Apple serial number batteries with a firmware update. I have to admit their mobile video and camera capabilities are very impressive, but I'm still a bit peeved. However, it looks like the Coach's Eye app you mentioned is also available on Android. That would definitely be nice to get better immediate feedback on the boat. :-)

    I actually didn't notice your post about the HX-WA30 earlier. I wasn't even aware of that camera, but it definitely seems like it might be worth looking into. I has a good 1080i 60fps mode with a relatively good bitrate and image stabilization. It even has a 720p 120fps mode if I want to try that out as well. I want to find somewhere I can go into a store and play with one. I'm only concerned about the efficacy of the image stabilization. Based on Waternut's observations it looks like the performance may be high or miss for water skiing. Of course, that will probably be an issue with any camera I try. I don't like the idea of buying things, trying them, and then returning them, but that might be the only way to find a good camera for skiing. :-(

    Thanks everyone so far for your input. This is very educational so far!
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,476 Mega Baller
    I have had great luck with a Flip. Brain dead easy to use, durable with a good picture and stabilization. They dont make them anymore but they are cheap and work great with pylon camera mounts. And they are so cheap if you drop it in the lake you wont care and just buy another one on ebay
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • WaternutWaternut Posts: 1,511 Crazy Baller
    @defectivedave The stabilization is huge. You especially see it in slow motion. Most cameras can handle the high frequency vibrations fairly well since they were designed to be held in a jittery hand. However, even if the camera can't, Cyberlink Powerdirector is probably $60 and it can fix and save a 10 minute file in 720p (all I really care about but it'll do more) in probably 6-7 minutes. Obviously, it didn't work for the Samsung but it helps with most issues. However, the Powerdirector software doesn't fix slack hits very well and that's where the JVC really shines above the other cameras I've tried as it can greatly reduces it enough that the software can usually take care of the rest. That way if you want to see what actually happened or where you went wrong, you can usually see it instead of viewing a jumbled mess of shaky video.

    If you aren't sure what camera will work for you or you're cheap like me... I bought all of my cameras used off of Amazon. If I didn't like them, I could usually relist them on Amazon up to a year later for pretty much what I paid for them. I made $10-$15 on some and lost about the same on others so it all worked out.
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller

    I'm definitely cheap, but no so cheap that I won't go out and buy a decent camera if I think it's worth it. However, the buyer's remorse hits much harder when such things don't live up to expectations. I'll probably buy used as you recommend in order to offset some of the cost and make it easier to recoup them if expectations aren't met. Also, what type of pylon mount are you using? Seems like it performs really well with the JVC.
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