Bay Area traffic is horrible. With all the texting, selfies, spilled coffee, and “Lanesharing? NOT ON MY WATCH” idiocy that takes place, I wanted a reliable “evidence collection” camera for my commute rides.
I have a handful of “action cameras” that would capture the carnage and prove my light was green, but I have to remember to charge them, bring them with me, and worry about battery life / memory card capacity every ride time I ride, otherwise the whole thing is pointless.
Oh, and I have to remember to hit the record button.
I wanted to ride without having to worry about charging batteries and changing memory cards. I wanted to turn the key on and go, as if I didn’t have to record my every move, just in case.
The system consists of a bullet lens that plugs into a separate camera box (or DVR, if you prefer) via a cable. As with other cameras, there are multiple mounting options, ranging from helmet to handlebars. A simple switch on the side allows you to choose between single recording, continuous recording, or flashlight.
No, “flashlight” is not some new ultra-HD compression tech—it’s just a single LED flashlight.
On the DVR, there are three buttons that allow you to change recording modes, start and stop recording, and turn the unit off. Also on the DVR is a multi-color LED that indicates what mode the C3 is in—red for 1080p / 30fps, green for 720p / 60fps, orange for 3 megapixel photos. All files are recorded onto a microSD card, which you must supply.
Innovv sent us two lenses, one with a 90-degree field of view and another with wider 120-degree coverage. Standard kits (the ones you guys are gonna go buy after reading this) include one or the other. Also in the box are data cables, power converters and cables (for hardwiring, like my setup), and various mounting options for the lens, including helmet and tripod screw mounts—which are very versatile for permanent mounting.
The two recording methods are pretty much what they sound like. The single recording mode will fill the card up once and stop, while the continuous recording mode will “loop,” overwriting the earliest files when the card runs out of space. Hello dashcam.
Both lenses are waterproof—perfect for moto application, or at least our moto applications. You know, motorcycles that get ridden, often in the rain. The DVR, however, is not waterproof, which threw a bit of a wrench in my permanent-mount plans.
Since I was shooting for full dashcam functionality, I used the hardwire cable and permanently mounted the wide lens on the front of my KLR, using part of the tripod screw mount. In typical “KLR engineering” fashion, I placed the DVR inside a repurposed gelato container and ziptied my new “easy access waterproof case” to the back of the bike.
Photos: Surj Gish
I went for a quick spin and pulled the card. Video quality was rock solid and crystal clear, and despite the microphone being housed in an airtight ice cream container, the audio was not too bad. There’s an optional external mic, but it plugs into the same port that I needed for power.
Speaking of plugging things in—the camera must have a lens attached to connect to a computer and adjust settings such as file size. That’s a significant problem if you want to permanently mouth the whole shebang, which was my plan. Fortunately, I had two lenses, and only mounted one.
Video capture has been completely reliable. I start the bike, the C3 starts recording. I end up with a folder full of smallish video files, which sounds like a mess, but actually turns out to be ok. Looking for specific footage? Easy, just look for the time stamps around the time your footage would have been captured. No more scrolling through a giant video file to find three seconds of footage.
Customer support is available through email, and while there is sometimes a little lost in translation, they’re responsive and I was able to get all of my questions answered.
Although it has some connectivity limitations, these shortcomings are easy to overlook, and the C3’s excellent video quality, two-piece form factor and hardwire capability make it a perfect commuter cam. I’ll be adding one to all of my bikes.