DogCam Bullet HD review
At 78mm long x 22mm in diameter and weighing 32 grams the DogCam Bullet HD 720p video camera is a convenient size to mount discreetly on bicycle handlebars or a cycling helmet. With a charge of its built-in battery and an 8GB MicroSD card this tiny cordless cam records up to two hours of high definition video with sound.
See also DogCam Bullet HD WIDE review »
I am not an expert in digital video. This review is a first time user's impression of a DogCam Bullet HD in use during the couple of weeks since I bought it from DCS Systems Ltd in Cornwall. I ordered the cam by phone one afternoon and it was delivered the next day by Royal Mail. I'll be using the cam when cycling.
The DogCam Bullet HD is supplied with two end caps, a selection of rubber O-rings for waterproofing the end caps, a USB cable, flat base mount and enough elastic straps, strips of Velcro and double sided sticky tape to fix the cam to a cycling helmet or almost any flat smooth surface. There's also a basic but adequate user manual. As an extra, I bought a right angled double hook and loop mount so I can very securely mount the cam on the top of my handlebars.
The built-in battery is charged via the USB cable into a port behind the end cap. A tiny LED indicator light on the side of the cam shines red during charging and green when charged, which takes about an hour from flat. The bullet cam has only one control: the silver coloured on/off button on the top. When the cam is recording the LED light flashes blue and green. The on/off button responds to the slightest touch so care is required not to inadvertently activate or deactivate it.
Video files are transferred to a computer via the USB cable. The MicroSD card is recognised by the computer as a Removable Disk and if video has been recorded it shows as files VIDO0001.MOV, VIDO0002.MOV (etc). They can then be copied to the computer's hard drive and deleted from the MicroSD card. The fastest way to delete the files is to format the MicroSD card.
The two end caps supplied with the DogCam Bullet HD are not identical: one has holes for the microphone and the other doesn't, to waterproof the camera to 10 metres depth. The O-rings provide the seal when the end cap is screwed on tight.
Given the camera's very small size – the lens especially – and the vibration from being mounted on a moving bicycle, I reckon the picture quality is good enough. Sample videos on YouTube.
The HD image resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels (aspect ratio 16:9) at 30 frames per second. The pixels are there but subjective image quality is also a function of the lens and sensor. There is less detail and more grain than in a 1280 x 720 pixels image from a video camera with a larger lens and sensor, but this is expected.
YouTube video is not a fair test of the camera. At an HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels the file size increases at around 50MB per minute and takes a very long time to download. The following sample (taken at night) was therefore reduced to 640 x 360 pixels: length 4.52, file size 27.1MB.
Depending on lighting conditions, the cam is prone to lens flare and vignetting (a reduction in brightness at the edges of the image). In low light, grain is evident. However, as video tends to find its way to YouTube these issues are unimportant in a small cam like this, which is essentially a fun device rather than for capturing special moments for posterity.
Having said that, the original resolution displays car number plates quite well (if that is your intention). The option to include the date and time presumably means that images from the DogCam Bullet HD are adequate for evidence to be used in Court. The image quality in bright daylight is better. Sample stills on Flickr ».
Wind noise is a feature of the audio track when the bicycle is moving along. If you hear wind in your ears the cam will hear it too. Otherwise the sound is fine, and is recorded in mono. Overall, at less than £100 the DogCam Bullet HD is good value for money and an excellent cycling accessory due to its ease of use and tiny size.
The video container format is AVI, codec H.264, and angle of view is 63 degrees. This angle of view is narrower than other types of bullet cam. Whether it's wide enough depends on the type of use intended. I prefer the narrower view as the picture perspective and effect of speed are more realistic.
Viewing and editing video
The cam has no playback facility. The video can only be played after downloading the recorded .MOV files to a computer (or maybe putting the MicroSD card into a compatible TV – I haven't tried this). On Windows 7 the video can be edited to a limited degree in Windows Live Movie Maker. Alternatively a free video editor can be downloaded from Avidemux.
ease of use
value for money