Sunday, December 2, 2012

Swann Freestyle HD Video Camera

This month saw the launch of the new and improved GoPro line.  The prices for, what I consider an 'optional' piece of kit, have exceeded my personal price-point.   But when I saw an ad for this video camera on Woot for $135, I decided to give it a go.  It appeared to have good HD video specs and, considering the included peripheral accessories, at that price it was a steal.  The box arrived yesterday and here's a pic of some of what was included.
All this was included in the Swann package.  

The mounting hardware is of good quality and design.  All plastic pieces fit well and appear to be suitably durable for action packed video work.  The waterproof case is good to 65'.  The "helmet mounting pad" fittings are of slightly different dimensions than those used with GoPro units so I will need to swap out the old mounting pad.   Included are an AC wall charger, USB/miniUSB charging cable, video out to composite video cable.

Included with the camera are two very useful features - The LCD screen "piggyback" and the wireless remote control.  The LCD screen attaches easily and is used to program the unit and preview/review video.  Video can be shot with the screen attached as a view-finder, however the waterproof housing does not accommodate the accessory.  The camera is useable without the case due to its (long overdue on the GoPro) integral 1/4" screw mounting pad and lanyard attachment point. 

The wireless remote is mounted on a high quality plastic clip and includes a button each to take snapshots,  record video, or stop video.  One feature that seems simple, but is going to make GoPro users of old smile, is that the video record button only turns the video ON.  If you are unsure if it's actually recording, you just hit the record button again.  

It's been raining this week so I've yet to try the camera out inflight.  Preliminary (indoor) video looks good. If the camera and accessories are durable and the video quality is reasonable, this camera will be a welcome, affordable alternative to the GoPro line.   

Here is a quick indoor test of the video in rather low light
I built the comparative chart below based on information found on the manufacturers' websites. The specs compare the GoPro Hero3 White edition ($299 retail) to the Swann Freestyle HD kit. Keep in mind that the Freestyle HD kit includes a LCD Screen and Wireless Remote at no extra charge. These two accessories cost $80 each from GoPro.  The prices at the bottom of this chart link to actual deals available Dec. 2, 2012.

Swann Freestyle HD

GoPro White

Video Format
MPEG4 Codec, 
MOV File Format
H.264 codec
1080p (1920 X 1080) 30fps
720p (1280 X 720) 60fps
1080p(1920X1080) 30fps
960p (1280X960) 30fps
720p (1280X720) 60fps
Photo Format
Photo Resolution
8MP / 5MP / 3MP 5MP 
Capture Mode
Single Shot, Continuous every 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, 60 secs, self timer every 0, 5, 10 secs Burst (3/sec.)
135 Degree angle view at 1080p resolution
170 Degree angle view at 720p resolution
"Med" at 1080p
"Ultrawide" at 960p >

Yes - Built in Built in
Audio Format
Stereo 48kHZ, AAC compression Mono, AAC with AGC

Storage Type
MicroSD Card (not included) MicroSD Card (not incl.)
Storage Capacity
Up to 32GB Up to 64GB

Record Time
Up to 2.5 Hours per charge Varies with resolution
(Info on website is vague)
Battery Type
Rechargeable Lithium-ion (1000mAh) Rechargeable Lithium-ion (1050mAh)
Charge Method
USB (computer or charger) USB (computer or charger)
2.36" x 2" x 1.6" / 60mm x 51mm x 42mm ?
2.9oz / 82g (without screen)
3.8oz / 108g (with screen)
2.6 oz.
Storage Temp
-4 degrees F ~ 140 degrees F
-20 degrees C ~ 60 degrees C

Working Temp
-4 degrees F ~ 122 degrees F
-20 degrees C ~ 50 degrees C (When inside waterproof housing)

$166.01 $259.99 + $160 for acc.

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