New wearable video camera allows you to film your own version of Cliffhanger in HD -
Just in for review is the new Swann Freestyle HD wearable video camera, a compact little video unit that comes complete with a range of mounts and a tough little case that's waterproof up to 20 metres.
Be Your Own Tarantino...
We've got it in because it's now so easy to capture your outings on video and share them on line using sites like YouTube and Vimeo and because at £279.99 for a compact package, which will shoot video at 1080p HD level, it's now quite possible to produce decent quality footage without breaking the bank.
We'll tell you a little about the Swann Freestyle in a minute, but our plan is to pass it on to someone who knows a lot more about making videos than we do and compare it to the other leading units on the market.
What we can tell you now is that the Swann comes with some neat features as standard. The camera it'sel is a compact little unit complete with a detachable back incorporating an LCD screen which you can use to see exactly what's in your shot, to play back footage in the field and finally, to set preferences like resolution on the camera.
Also included – thankfully – is a tough-looking, transparent, polycarbonate case that's claimed to be waterproof down to 20 metres and allows you to control the basic functions using two buttons. You can stop and start filming and capture stills without exposing the camera to the elements.
One minor flaw is that you can't fit the screen inside the camera, so to see what you've filmed in weather-proof mode, you have to open the case and risk water and dust getting to it. Nor can you turn the main power button on or off.
Power is from a rechargeable lithium ion battery giving a potential filming time of 2.5 hours. Charging is via a micro-USB port and video is stored on a Micro SD card, which isn't included. A 32GB card would give you around ten hours of video, says Swann.
Also included are a meccano-like array of mounting brackets, more about those in a second and a remote control which allows you to operate the camera remotely. So you could, for example, sit it on a rock then film yourself walking towards it.
The big omission, at the moment, for outdoors people is the lack of any kind of chest mounting harness or a handle-bar mount for a bike. Swann tell us that both of these should be available by March at the latest, in the mean time, we bodged a bike bar mount using the bracket from a light.
We'll leave it to our video expert to judge the quality of the video, but as video novices, we found the camera pretty straightforward to use – switch it on and the lefthand button starts and stops recording, while the one on the right takes stills.
There are two resolutions available: 'professional-grade 1080p HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), boasting 30 fps, 3x digital zoom and stereo audio' it says here, and 720p (12809 x 720 pixels). The lower resolution also gives a wider field of view at 170˚ versus 135˚. There are also lower res WVGA and QVGA settings.
We tried both the high res settings on a bike ride and were quite impressed with the results in isolation. There's something mildly magical about seeing your day played back in high resolution on your lap-top screen and the process of doing it is very simple too - connect USB cable supplied, copy files from card to computer, open files and view. The files, by the way, are in .mov format.
So what we can tell you now is that it works, it's relatively straightforward to use and we're still waiting for outdoors-friendly mounts, though our bodge bar-mount worked pretty well to be fair. We reckon a chest harness may well be the way to go for general walking, scrambling and climbing use, though the sticky-padded mounts supplied would sit on a climbing helmet without too much trouble.
Watch this space for a more expert take on the Swann and a number of other HD cams.
More details at www.swann.com/s/products/view/?product=1297.