The Best Helmet Cam Review

We set out to test some of the latest offerings in POV/helmet Camera technology. Some of the companies are now on their third generation of product, while others have innovated and created new practicality for established products.

In this day and age what we want out of a POV camera is good quality footage in most lighting situations, some slow motion capability and the ease of sharing our adventures with our homies.

The competitors for the Helmet Camera Showdown #2 are the GoPro Hero 3:Black Edition, the HitCase for iPhone5, the Ego by Liquid Image and we also threw the venerable GoPro Hero 2, our previous Best In Class winner, into the mix as a benchmark for comparison.

Read the full review below >

Review by: Dane Henry and John Considine September 4, 2013

Top Ranked Helmet Cams Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4
Product Name
GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
Read the Review
Video video review
GoPro HD Hero2
GoPro HD Hero2
Read the Review
Video video review
Liquid Image Ego 727
Liquid Image Ego 727
Read the Review
Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5
Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5
Read the Review
Video video review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award      Best Buy Award 
Street Price Varies $350 - $400
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$260
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$130
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User Rating Be the first to rate it
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100% recommend it (2/2)
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Pros Great image quality, many mounts, high-speed filming, smartphone connectivity, durable.Great image quality, comes with many mounts and waterproof case, 11mp camera, great value, LCD displayLight, good value, works with GoPro mounts.Durable, good value (if you have an iPhone 5).
Cons Expensive.Bulky as a side mount, Tele-tubby look, no (optional) smartphone viewing/streaming until February.Lack of waterproof case, Jello Image, image quality not up there with competitors.No high-speed filming, not great high contrast performance.
Best Uses Just about any outdoor activity (and motor sports as well).BASE jumping, biking, hiking, surfing, outdoor sports, motorsports, water sports.Quality images in a lightweight form. Ideal for someone who is very weight conscious, and not too worried about putting the camera in extreme conditions. Ideal fit for backpacking, hiking or rock climbing.As a budget alternative to GoPro, or second camera for B roll.
Date Reviewed Sep 03, 2013Sep 03, 2013Sep 03, 2013Sep 03, 2013
Weighted Scores GoPro Hero3 Black Edition GoPro HD Hero2 Liquid Image Ego 727 Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5
High Speed Filming - 20%
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High Contrast Filming - 20%
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6
Mounting Versatility - 20%
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Durability - 20%
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Ease Of Sharing - 20%
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Product Specs GoPro Hero3 Black Edition GoPro HD Hero2 Liquid Image Ego 727 Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5
Weight (oz - without mounts) 5.7 (with housing) 5.9 (with housing) 3.28 (with splash guard) 7.85 (with iphone 5)
MAX Resolution 2704x1524 1920x1080 1920x1080 1920x1080
Waterproof yes( with included case) yes (with included case) no (need $40 case) yes
Camera Megapixels 12 11 12 8
Wide angle lens 170 degrees 170 degrees 135 degrees NA
Manually configure settings yes yes yes no
LCD screen Yes (not included) Yes (not included) no Smart phone screen
Smartphone connectivity yes yes with optional accessory yes yes
GPS no no no Yes with free app
External mic jack yes yes no no
Max memory card 64GB 32GB 32GB Iphone Dependent

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



They have taken over the ski slopes, mountain bike trails, those crowded base jump take-offs, even finding there way onto rock walls…

The need to share our adventures and experiences with others is at an all time high. That's why at this moment the Helmet/POV camera is enjoying huge success.

So if you scratch your head when you see a line of people pressing record then dropping into the infamous Devils Enima Couloir, don't roll your eyes, they are probably skiing it way radder than you. At the end of the day they'll have a Facebook video status update to prove it and your empty handed. Didn't happen if you don't have a Helmet Camera video to prove it!

Performance Comparison

High Speed Filming (Slow Motion):
Here are the shots in Normal Speed

Here are the shots with each cameras slow motion settings

The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition excelled at high speed filming. This little camera offered frames rates as high as 120FPS at 720 or 60FPS at 1080. The combination of the high frame rate of 60FPS, along with the high resolution of 1080 put this camera in class all its own. There are many larger more professional cameras that don't offer these advanced features. The addition of decent quality 120fps gives the user their first taste of "super" slo-mo used by RED Camera and Phantom Cameras.

The Go Pro Hero 2 did well at high speed filming, but It only has high speed functionality of 60FPS at 720, which can't compare to the higher setting of the GoPro 3 Black edition.

The Ego placed slightly lower than the GoPro 2 even though it had the same speed and resolution settings the picture quality was not as good.

Unfortunately due to the Iphone5's video capability the Hitcase has no high speed filming option.


High Resolution:
The photos below are still frames taken from the video file of each camera's highest video resolution offering.
Click to enlarge
GoPro3 2700p Frame Grab
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Resolution Test - Hit Case 1080p Frame Grab
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Resolution Test - Ego 1080p Frame Grab
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Resolution Test - GoPro 2 1080p Frame Grab
Go ahead indulge a little and pixel peep the photos above. By taking a look at the still frame grab we can see different characteristics in resolution, lens field of view, sharpness and default color/white balance for each camera.

The GoPro Hero 3 clearly wins the High Resolution test offering recording of up to 2.7K ( 2704 x 1535) at 30FPS, compared to the rest of the cameras that could only records 1080 ( 1920 x 1080) at 30FPS. The ability to capture such high resolutions from such a small camera really makes the GoPro Hero 3 stand out.
Other things to take note off:
•The Ego seems to render the scene cooler/bluer in default color temperature. It actually is truer to the scene than the other cameras which introduce a warmer/orange color temp.
•The Hit Case's fish eye lens is not very sharp on the edges of the frame, only the middle of the frame is truly in focus.
•The Hit Case's lens is also not as wide as the other three cameras giving you a narrower field of view. This is not necessarily bad, just something worth being aware of.


Image Stability:
Image stability is very important, especially when comparing POV cameras. POV cameras have been known to have issues with rolling shutter artifacting. Rolling Shutter is commonly referred to as "Jello", this is where the video looks as if it were skewed or rippling like water. The tech behind this is the cameras speed in which it can read(record) the data off the sensor. The slower the read speed the more "Jello" you can expect to see in bumpy fast camera movements.

We tested each of the cameras attached to a bike frame to see how well they could handle the bumpy ride.

The EGO ran into some trouble here and had a very Jello like image, the effect was amplified when in slow motion.

The Hitcase ran into some similar issues but not quite as bad as the EGO.

The GoPro 2 was much more stable than both the Hitcase and the EGO.

The overall winner was the GoPro 3, probably due to it's ability to shoot faster Frame rates the camera naturally benefits from having a faster sensor read speed, this led to a surprisingly stable image on very bumpy terrain.


High Contrast:
Here we tested the Cameras ability to expose correctly to keep detail in both the shadows and high lights. When watching the test video keep your eye on the sun patches in the dirt, the patch of sky and the detail in the bush in the foreground.

The GoPro 3 has come a long way since its humble beginnings, and the way it handles contrast is one its most dramatic improvements.The image retained the information in the shadows while not losing to much information in the highlights.

The hitcase / iphone5 surprised us and handled this test moderately well, but it didn't retain as much detail as our overall winner the Hero 3.

The GoPro 2 seemed to struggle a bit. It held detail in the shadows but the sun spots in the dirt lacked detail as well as the patch of sky.

The EGO struggled in this test, the image came out fairly dark with loss of detail in the shadows and yet still loss detail in the highlights. That being said the image is still very usable.

To be fair, this is very a tough test for any camera including super high end professional cameras. All the cameras tested produced an image that was still very usable and sharable to friends.


Mounting Versatility:
Click to enlarge
Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition
Credit: john considine
GoPro has set the gold standard when it comes to strapping your camera to just about anything. They have mounting options to put this camera anywhere you want or need. The mounts are so great that all the rest of the cameras we tested were GoPro mount compatible.

Click to enlarge
Mounting Versatility - Hitcase
The Hit Case offers a limited line of mounts itself, in fact the chest harness was a standout for comfort and usability. The Hit Case is compatible with GoPro mounts, which they advertise, giving it a very diverse amount of mounting options. The size of the Hit Case can be an issue when mounting in small or lower profile areas.
Click to enlarge
Mounting Versatility - EGO
The mounts for the EGO are vary comparable to those of the GoPro cameras and are actually compatible with all of the GoPro mounts. The ability to use its own mounts or those of its competitors make it very versatile. The EGO is also the slimmest of the cameras tested, giving it an advantage when mounting in certain spots where a slim profile is needed.


Durability:
GoPro's were built to take whatever you can throw at them. With an included super hard plastic, watertight case, this camera is ready for adventure. The case is both impact and water resistant. One look at youtube and you can see some of the scenarios that this camera can survive.

GoPro Battery Problems: Three testers ran into some some similar battery issues: even when charged, the GoPro would not turn on. The solution was to either plug the GoPro back into the wall for a bit or to remove the battery and put it back in.

The Hitcase offers both waterproof up to 30 feet and ShockSeal technology. This case can help protect your phone from the elements as you capture your adventures.

The EGO comes with a faceplate to protect it from debris while in use, but the faceplate only protects the front of the device leaving the rest of the camera vulnerable. There is an optional underwater housing for an additional $40 but was not included in this review.

Ease of Sharing:
A great attribute of the Hitcase is that it relies on using an iPhone 5 as its camera, because of thie it offers the best sharing of all of the devices tested. The ability to to edit clips and then upload footage while still in the field makes this case by far the easiest to share your footage with.

The EGO saves its videos as quicktime files to be viewed on your computer. You can also view the files using the wifi app, and from there you have the option to upload them to Facebook or Youtube.

GoPro saves you video files as .MP4 and can be played back on your computer, or you can plug your camera directly into TV. With both GoPro's you must use a computer to be able to download the images to share with friends. The GoPro 3 was ranked the lowest in this field due to its high speed filming, you must use GoPro's Cineform Studio ( a free program from their website) to process this footage before it can be uploaded to the interwebs.

Weight:
The EGO was far and away the lightest of all the cameras coming in at a feather light 3.28 oz. At almost half the weight of the of next competitor this camera was barely even noticeable when mounted on top of a helmet. The GoPro 3 Black edition has shed some weight. The camera itself is down to 87.8 grams, from 99.2 of the Hero 2, but the case has actually gained some weight. 74 grams compared to 71.1. Overall the camera is lighter but not by vary much. The Hitcase was our heaviest tester coming in at 7.85oz including the iphone 5 (112 grams). The weight of the device made it slightly awkward to use as a helmet cam.

Waterproof (Out of the box):

GoPro cameras are known for being waterproof with their included case. The newest edition of GoPro takes its waterproof case to a whole new level. With a redesigned flat lens port the GoPro 3 black edition offers superior under water shooting, capturing sharper images than ever before.

The Hitcase is fully water sealed, so you don't have to worry about getting that precious iphone wet! One of the great features is that its not only waterproof but still touch sensitive allowing for full use of your phone.

The EGO offered no waterproof on its own and requires the purchase of and additional waterproof housing for $40 to go underwater. A splash guard/ faceplate is included.

LCD Screen:
Click to enlarge
The Hit Case for iPhone5
The large high definition screen on the iphone 5 allowed for image review right in the field, making the Hitcase the winner of this category.
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Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition
Credit: john considine
The GoPro Hero 3 has a small LCD screen on the front of the camera strictly for menu navigation. It is simple yet still a major upgrade in usability over the previous Hero 2. GoPro does offer their touch LCD screen as a premium accessory but it is not included with the product. The GoPro 3 can be connected over WiFI to use a Smart Phone for video preview.

The Ego has small LCD screen for basic menu settings, not for video preview. Although the screen is small the Ego's simplicity makes it very easy to switch between settings quickly. The Ego can be connected over WiFI to use a Smart Phone for video preview.

Smart Phone Connectivity:
One of the Great things about the Hitcase is its use of the Iphone 5. Not only does this allow to use you Iphone 5 as a POV camera, but it also allows you to view your record video in the field. None of the other cameras allowed for viewing of recorded clips while in the field.

With a built in wireless network the GoPro 3 makes it very easy to control the camera with your smart phone. With the free app you can preview you shot, change camera settings, start and stop recording, or even set off an alert to help you find your camera in the snow. *** As of summer 2013 with a firmware update the GoPro Hero 3 app now has the ability to playback photos and videos on your smart device, and even upload them to the web.

The EGO does offer smart phone connectivity with a free APP. You can use this app to preview your shot, and change camera settings. You can use the APP to begin filming but once you do you lose connectivity until you manually stop the camera.
The GoPro Hero 2 has no smartphone connectivity.

External mic jack:
With the external mic jac on the GoPro, you won't have to rely on the small internal microphone to capture your important sounds. You can take a full size professional mic and plug it into the mic jac with an additional adapter and pipe in professional sound to you camera. You can plug in an external mic to the iPhone 5, but not with the Hitcase on the phone. Here is an article on a budget way to add an external mic to a (naked iPhone)

Max Memory Card:
With the latest firmware update, GoPro Hero 3 has now added the ability to use up to 64GB cards allowing you to record just under 4 hours of footage at 1080 24FPS. GoPro Hero 2 works with up to 32 GB cards, approximately 4 hours of footage. The EGO works with up to 32 GB cards, offering approximately 16 hours of recording time.The Hitcase is subject to iphone 5 internal memory.

The Bottom Line
Editor's Choice: Best Helmet Cam
The GoPro Hero3 Black Edition is a go anywhere do anything type of camera. Its rugged and ready to go right out of the box and is at home in any activity that you can think of. From cruising the slopes on your skis, climbing granite walls, running rapids, or just taking a swim in the pool the GoPro 3 Black edition is ready to capture your adventures. The Higher resolution and high frames will defiantly catch the eye of the professional crowd. At 399.99 it is the most expensive camera we reviewed, but for the functionality it offers its a steal.

Best Buy
The Hitcase Pro for iPhone 5 is a great standalone product if you have an iphone 5 and don't want to invest in a whole new camera system, but its also great addition to other cameras as well. Now that other cameras such as the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition offer smart phone connectivity, the hitcase allows you to have a waterproof case to run your GoPro from. Plus it has a fisheye lens and can be used as your B camera. At $129.99 its a great value but can not be used without an iphone 5.

Other Versions and Accessories
GoPro 3 has two other lower priced versions, the White Edition and Silver Edition. Both other version feature the same waterproof housing and wifi access, the main difference is they offer lower resolution and frame rates. GoPro also lots of different mounting options, varied for all sorts of adventure applications. The also offer extended battery packs and LCD screens as premium accessories. An alternative to the extra battery pack is to buy an External Battery Charger and charge off that. This is a cost effective way to charge your GoPro in the field as well as your smartphone, tablet or digital camera.

The Hitcase offers a version that works with iPhone 4. There is also a less expensive model without the fisheye lens.

Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=A3PDXmYoF5U

Dane Henry and John Considine
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