Thursday, 6 August 2020

My Cycle Camera - The Drift Ghost X/XL

It's slightly sad that we are at the point where having a camera whilst cycling is recommended.
I personally think a camera is valuable for the following reasons, but of course it's a personal choice.
  • If a driver hits you whilst you, or performs other dangerous manouveres such as passing closely or attempting to overtake whilst turning (Left hooking), then you have the video as a record for evidence purposes and can report to the local force. It can often be hard getting any action without witness or video as it's all too often the case that the stories differ.
  • Equally when riding on traffic free paths I have had close encounters with dogs and owners. Again if anything such as a collision occurs you have the video as evidence. Vet bills can be high and we are now in a shameless sue first culture sadly
  • It may be useful to record sections of the trip as part of a video blog.
  • Also a video can be useful to capture stills for reporting things like fly tipping and other issues
Really cheap action cameras are often poor to control, have a short battery life and quality can be variable. I tried the cheap bullet cams, the go-pro clones and gave up, and in the end I bought a Drift Innovations Ghost X. Why?
  • Good battery life of 5 hours+ which is replaceable with a long life module for 8 hours
  • Full high res 1080P recording which is very good for picking out details
  • Can connect to a phone app for setup, video review and even live streaming
  • Stealthy rugged design which feels very robust
  • At about £130 it was by far the best bang for the money

They have now released the Ghost XL which has a 9 hour battery life, much improved waterproofing and an optional remote control for an extra 20 quid. the XL would my choice now.

Mounting the camera

The Drift has a standard tripod socket on the underside and has a QR bracket that clips into one of 2 self adhesive quick release mounts supplied. One with a flat base and one slightly curved for a motorbike or cycle helmet). You can buy additional mounting adaptors to fit Go-pro mounts, handlebar mounts.

I went a bit Heath-Robinson and stuck the mount to a flat piece of plastic which is then cable tied to stem and handlebars which actually works well. 

In case the camera ever falls off, I have attached a thin steel lanyard to the QR bracket screwed to the camera and have a small carabiner clip which attaches to a brake cable or similar

Basic setup

The Drift has three big rubber buttons on one side (which are easy to use even with winter gloves)
  • Power <| turns camera on and off, and is also record/shutter button
  • Left/Right - Menu navigation
  • Wifi |> - Sets wifi on or off (long press) and cycles between the camera modes below 

On the other side are rubber flaps covering the microSD slot and the mini-USB which is for charging and data. The box also contains a mini-USB to 3.5mm jack adaptor for connecting an external microphone

there are 3 main modes for the camera which are cycled through using the Wifi button and they are as below:
  • Green        Video mode
  • Yellow       Photo
  • Purple        Timelapse
  • Light blue  Photoburst
  • Dark Blue  Settings 

Recording modes

  • Dashcam where it records in segments of a few minutes and just loops, overwriting oldest files
  • Manual, where once you record it runs until you stop, power off or the card fills.
  • Instant On where it starts to record as soon you power it on until you stop, power off or the card fills.
  • Tagged where it continuously records, but only saves a 1 minute segment when you press the play button which is 30 seconds either side.
  • App control, so you can control and view the live video on a smartphone via the Drift Life app.
The camera also has a nifty clone mode. If you have multiple cameras you can connect them together so the settings are synced and you can control from the master camera. This would be useful if you had front and rear Ghost cameras for example

Settings

My settings are shown below, and although you can use the menu and buttons on the camera it is much easier to use the app. Using the app also synchronizes the camera's time with the phone
To use the app with the camera -
  1. First power the camera on. 
  2. Once it's on hold the rear button in for a few seconds until the rear indicator turns to flashing and then a steady green. 
  3. On the phone or tablet, connect to the camera's wireless (network name will start with DRIFT-).
  4. Open the app and click "Connect to Camera"

Using the camera

As I have my camera setup in Dashcam mode, using the thing is as easy as:
  • Hold the power button until it beeps
  • After a few moments, press the power button briefly and it will beep. the indicator flashes red and the rear screen turns to red and it's now recording
  • To power off, hold the power button until camera shuts down

Getting video files

There are several methods to transfer video files.
  • Use the app and copy video files to the local device
  • Connect the camera via USB to a computer. This will mount the camera as a drive and you can find and copy the files across
  • Remove the SD card (with camera powered off), and insert into a computer

2 comments:

  1. Cheers, very useful sum-up. THinking of getting one of these - sounds like should be a fairly straightforward to fit to the RHS of a cycle helmet - would you say that's the case?

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  2. Thanks. glad you liked the write up. One of the self adhesive QR mounts supplied with the camera has a curved lower side specifically for mounting to a curved surface such as a helmet.

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