Ok, I needed tough video camcorder to record yacht racing events on-board. My modest requirement list was:
- reasonable priced (well below U$ 1000)
- easy to use
- fast start-up
- wide angle lens
- small enough to fit into Helly Hansen pocket
So, looking around, I didn’t find any suitable one. It should be SD card cam, due to shock resistancy requirement. HDD and DV cam’s cant cope hitting to the deck, during fast tack or other similar sudden ast of violence. I found some reasonable priced cameras like Panasonic SDR-SW20 and Sanyo Xacti VPC-WH1 and Xacti VPC-CA9. There are also more less known brands like Hammacher and Vivitar. Still, they had quite moderate normal focal-lenght lens. Panasonic has 43 mm (wide end) in 35 mm film camera terms. But I need wide-angle, cause there is no room on the boat and You relly like to catch all the action, not fragments of somebody or pieces of something. I made through search, but still didn’t find any wide angle, compact SD card cam.
So, I had to modify one. I bought Panasonic SDR-SW20 cause the wasn’t Sanyo waterproof at dealers shop. I also purchased Cokin 050S wide-angle “magnetic” adapter. It was obvious, that magnetic fixation cant cope action on the boat. So, I just glued adapter to the camera, using Loctite SuperAttack Ultra Gel instant glue. Cokin 0,5X adapter shortens focal length to required 22mm wide angle and now it’s much more usable on the boat. Cokin has M and S size adapters in their product line for different camera models. Size S fits to Panasonic SDR-SW20. Size M is too large and it’s not easy to make it watertight. Use only very small amount of glue to fix wide-angle converter to the camera. It’s good idea to cover joint with colorless silicone to make modification watertight.
I equipped my Camera with 16GB SD card. I accommodates 4 h 20 m of max quality or 6 h 40 m of std quality recording. Enough for 1 day shooting. Camera came w/o memory card, it was good. Who needs some crappy entry level card, usually found in the package. LiIon battery is small. You have to re-charge it every evening after shooting.
Sample movie (on-board of our Grand Soleil 42R, approaching a mark, spinnaker up, genoa down…)
- cheap, camera + 16GB SD card + wide angle converter
less than U$ 600
- compact, fits easily anywhere
- handy image stabilization
- easy to switch on/off by opening/closing LCD lid
- short battery life
- image quality, no HD
- no MPEG4 (MPEG2 only)
- too small “Recording” indicator
- wide-angle converter too small to provide full sensor image
Panasonic SDR-SW20 waterproof SD camcorder
Cokin Magnefix 050S wide-angle converter (size S)
SanDisk Ultra II 16GB SDHC card