DogCam Bullet HD review

DogCam Bullet HD 720p Camera

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.

Bullet HD mounted on cycling helmet

Operation

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.

Video quality

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.

Overall verdict:

performance
ease of use
build quality
value for money

Related Posts:
DogCam Bullet HD video camera »
Bullet cam cycling helmet test »
Cycling in the forest » (new)

36 comments on “DogCam Bullet HD review”

  1. Mary wrote:

    Nice review Patrick. I am in the throws of organising 3 cycling trips to the UK. Might get one of these for my birthday and give it a go. i Movie on my Apple Mac has fantastic movie software installed, that is so easy to use, even I can get reasonable films from it. :) Very tempted after reading this...

  2. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Mary. I'd buy one again. My normal camera (and mobile phone) both shoot video but the attraction of this one is being able to fix it to my bike or helmet, and it's waterproof. I don't know anything about i-Movie – I suspect there's a learning curve with any video editing software. The main thing is to be able to cut unwanted sections out of the movie and to resize it down for YouTube.

    DCS Systems told me you can play back the video on your TV if you can plug your laptop into it with a suitable cable – S-Video cable or DVI to HDMI cable (I think).

  3. Chris wrote:

    Still not sure about cycle helmet cameras. There was an interesting feature on BBC Breakfast this morning showing a number of incidents involving cyclists being cut up at roundabouts and junctions etc. It was preceded by no fewer than two warnings to the viewers about one of the accidents.

    I hope it's not the case, but I fear there will be a charge made that cyclists who use cameras on their cycle helmets (or 'safety hats' as the BBC's Richard Westcott called them) are somehow 'looking for trouble'.

    (Personally, I think I'd save the money and put it towards a new pair of wheels.)

    CTC's Roger Geffen was interviewed by the same reporter who joked about Geffen's slightly battered pushbike, an old Mercian with downtube shifters. It seemed to be held together with sticky tape 😯

  4. Patrick wrote:

    I agree with you about tending to look for trouble but I like the term 'safety hat' 😀

    Here's the helmet cam video on the BBC website.

  5. Sonja wrote:

    After watching the BBC item about helmet cams I decided to buy one to record my daily commute. On my trips in I have had a driver threaten to break my nose, I have had ketchup thrown at me by a van driver and I've had a few very close calls with drivers who don't look before pulling out. As a female cyclist on a hybrid bike I would hardly go looking for trouble but I ride assertively and protect my road space.

    It will also be interesting to record the number of pedestrians who step out into traffic! Mums with pushchairs seem particulary suicidal...

    'safety hat' LOL!

  6. Patrick wrote:

    Sonja wrote: I ride assertively and protect my road space.

    Quite right. Worth a bit of ketchup in your face.

    I came across this today: cam footage can be admissible court evidence.

    Paul Kitson, Cycling Accident Solicitor: Film which is captured on a cycle helmet camera is admissible in both civil and criminal courts. Many accidents or road rage incidents are not witnessed by third parties and any film which can be obtained can be compelling evidence.

  7. Will wrote:

    Chris Wrote: I hope it's not the case, but I fear there will be a charge made that cyclists who use cameras on their cycle helmets (or 'safety hats' as the BBC's Richard Westcott called them) are somehow 'looking for trouble'.

    Anyone who has cycle-commuted in a city for any length of time will know that they have nothing to gain by looking for trouble and that trouble will inevitably come to them.

    Having a helmet-cam does make it more difficult for the police to disimiss any reported "dangerous" driving, although the law as it stands usually means the driver gets only a verbal warning for his dangerous behaviour, unless the outcome of his dangerous behaviour had serious consequences.

  8. john wrote:

    im having problems with my camera it has full charge in it and when i press the record button the blue L E D stays on for about 2 seconds and then it flashes with a green and then when i go to look at my video its all pixelated, jumpy, poor sound quality and all round dissapointing. does anyone no the solution to this? and yes i have pressed the reset button im just stuck with it now.

  9. Patrick wrote:

    When the record button is pressed, the blue light comes on then flashes green and blue to indicate the cam is recording. If your video is poor, check the image quality by keeping the cam perfectly still and recording a short test. Then transfer the MOV file to your computer and play it unedited in Windows Media Player. If it's faulty just send the cam back for a refund or replacement.

  10. paddi wrote:

    Using my bike for work everyday for commuting to work I seem to get involved in more than my fair share of run ins / close calls with selfish motorists (even on this small island). I have reported several of the incidents to the Police who have supported a prosecution, unfortunately the local prosecution service were weak as !!!! and made deals but convictions were made. Based on feeling that the prosecutions services want to back out because its " your word against their word" I have now purchased a bullet cam. Watch out selfish/ignorant/dangerous drivers ! I am not looking for trouble but I am fed up of being shouted at, nudged by vans or cut up at left turns.

  11. Rog wrote:

    Poor video quality could also be a result of a bad quality/faulty or low speed memory card. Try a new memory card and see if that improves things.

  12. Edser wrote:

    Thanks for the review, I'm seriously considering getting one for a bit of fun. I don't do much city biking. I'm quite interested in the more expensive wide angled version, it may be better for the small trails up in the barcelona mountains. Thanks again, now I'm of to see if I can find more vids!

  13. Patrick wrote:

    I'm currently reviewing the DogCam Bullet HD WIDE. It's good. The switch is better and the LED indicator light is much clearer. The viewing angle is a lot wider though. Fine for streets but I'm not sure about mountain trails.

  14. Corina wrote:

    Haha I love the way in that video u pick up the ball and throw it over the wall... such a good sport! :)

  15. Patrick wrote:

    Gosh. Well spotted!

  16. Ruth wrote:

    Good, well written review. Could I ask what brand and class of memory card you're using? I've just bought one of these and while the quality is excellent it consistently switches off after less than a minute. I've mailed DCS so will see what they say, just wondered what brand you were successfully using.

  17. Patrick wrote:

    SanDisk Ultra 8GB. If you've charged the cam correctly and it still switches off, they should replace it. The on-off button is very sensitive on mine. I have to watch out it isn't switched off by accident.

  18. Ruth wrote:

    Thank you Patrick. I mailed them and they said it sounded like a memory card problem but they would test if I posted back to them. It switches off even when it's sat undisturbed on a table, so I don't think it's anything physical to do with the switch.

  19. Thomas wrote:

    watching the videos the time keeps jumping frames from 5 to 30 secs in some stages of the video, dose this camera lose frames during recording like some bullet cams do lose 2 secs to save the video every 5 mins or is that the way the video was edited

  20. Patrick wrote:

    I don't think the cam loses frames. It's just the way the video was edited.

  21. Thomas wrote:

    Thanks Patrick for clearing that up for me the videos were putting me off buying one

  22. Alister Smith wrote:

    Thank you for an excellent review of this camera. I have one too and can confirm all you say. There are better HD bullet cams out there that cost a lot more. But the DogCam Bullet HD 720 is very good value for money. I can strongly recommend it.

  23. Vanda wrote:

    I found your comments very interesting.
    I am a runner and would like to use it during a race/run. Do you think the camera could be fixed securely on my head and stay that way while shaken during running? Are there any straps with it to go around a head?
    I am concerned that there is no easy way to check if the camera is on or off especially that the on/off button is very sensitve.
    Any comments much appreciated, thanks.

  24. Patrick wrote:

    The bullet cam has an elastic strap that will fit around your head. It would be quite secure I think, but you would need to experiment with the camera position to make sure it points along the road – not too low and not too high when you are actually running. You might be better with the DogCam Bullet HD WIDE. More expensive but the on/off switch and indicator lights are better. Neither is foolproof though.

  25. Vanda wrote:

    Hello,
    I bought the Dog Cam Bullet HD Wide. It was tested while cycling, walking, driving in a car and running.
    The problem is that it switches itself off. The camera recorded only 30min of running on a pavement. It recorded off road running for only 3min and then it switched itself off. Cycling – similarly, it switched itself off at some point. We did not use it for long enough while walking and driving to notice anything malfunctioning.

    The quality of filming is very good when a video is watched on a computer. The sound quality is poor; you can hardly hear anything.

    The strap sits comfortably on a head. The velcro is strong enough to hold the camera while running. Although, I secured it with a hairband not to lose it on the trail.

    It does require a well lit area to record well. Cloudy, shady places came out very dark and it was hard to make out shapes on a video.

  26. Patrick wrote:

    If the cam is fully charged it should not switch itself off, especially the Bullet HD Wide with a better switch than the original non-wide version. The video may split itself into sections over 90 minutes or so, but if you mean that it switches itself off completely I would send it back for a replacement.

  27. Vanda wrote:

    Yes, completely. We have just tried it at home i.e. left it on a sideboard to record. It lasted for an hour.
    The battery is fully charged.
    So we are going to send it back. I'll send an update.
    Thanks.

  28. Philip Whiteman wrote:

    I am afraid that I found the DOGCAM to be utterly dreadful and an appalling purchase. Firstly, the instructions were insufficient. Secondly, the camera's run time is exceedingly short and never about 15 minutes; Thirdly, it would switch itself off frequently despite having used the reset button; Fourthly, when it did run, often the files were corrupted.

  29. Patrick wrote:

    I tend to agree. I have not found it very reliable in use. You cannot be sure it is still on after a few minutes. I've not had the corrupted files issue though. The DogCam Bullet HD WIDE is better, switch-wise, at least when new – I can't comment on 'in-use' as DogCam took the review model back as soon as I'd done the writeup (so comments are closed).

  30. Dave wrote:

    This camera has never worked for me since i purchased it. Ive bought 3 new memory cards and the files once download are corrupt or unreadable. Note to self dont be a cheap skate save a little more a get a gopro hd :-(

  31. Malcolm wrote:

    I bought one of these and the videos I managed to record of our ski holiday were very good. However, I have twice as many videos of my pocket. The LED is far too dim in bright light to establish if the unit is recording or not. The on/off switch should be changed to one like a torch then you'd know for sure the state of play.

  32. Brian wrote:

    I've used my Bullet HD on a couple of skiing trips and a bike & hike endurance event. When it works it is excellent for images but I've found the sound is very poor. Most frustatingly approximately 50% of the video sequences are corrupt and unreadable. Some start OK but the files become unreadable after a few minutes. Some sequences I have recorded are longer than 15 mins and are OK all the way through (especially the ones of the inside of my pocket)- it is really hit & miss. I tend to agree about the on/off switch, a slider switch would be better or even a bleep/double bleep audio indication for on/off would help. The blue light just isn't visible in daylight outdoors. It is fun though and cheap and whilst it does have some downsides I'd buy another one if starting over.

  33. Patrick wrote:

    Good feedback Brian. Mine was a bit of fun at first but I gave up a while back – too fiddly and unreliable. At £79.95 I suppose they are not bad value. Out of stock at present.

  34. aleena wrote:

    hi we tested this by recording videos and played them back on the computer. my partner then did a rally experience and when we got back and plugged the cam into the computer the pc didnt recognise it. he then took out the sd card and put it into an adapter and the files were there but all corrupt ?
    Plus when we now plug it into the pc it still doesnt reccognise it but u get a solid blue light on the cam ?
    please can u help me with this ?

  35. Patrick wrote:

    Sorry, I can't help. It could be all sorts of things. I suggest you get in touch with DogCam Sport via their website's support page.

  36. Dave wrote:

    I had the same solid blue indicator problem Aleena had with my Dogcam Bullet HD2. In addition to that, the laser was stuck on. It wouldn't work with my computer and it did not respond to pushing the button. I'm adding this comment because your blog post ranks second in Google for the search "dogcam solid blue light" so if someone else has this problem in the future they'll probably end up here.

    I left it until it ran out of batteries and after plugging it back in, it worked again. It turns out that it was not videoing while the light was solid blue but all the earlier videos I had taken that day were still on the camera.

    If you're here because you have the same problem, that's what you can expect.

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