The Drift X170 is an interesting package with some features that make it stand out from other cameras. For example, packing a 170 degree wide angle lens that has 360 degree rotation. This allows you to always have the image the right way up when filming which is important with the camera's 16:9 wide screen filming mode. Two video file types are supported, MP4 or MJEG AVI at 30 FPS. The body is wrapped in protective rubber outer making it waterproof to 0.5 meters.
Let's see how it worked out inside,
The camera also boasts a viewing screen unlike many helmet cameras which can used to set your filming angle and allow limited off the bike filming. The screen also gives clip playback and access to the settings such as 16:9 or 4:3 ratio and file type selection.
Another unusual feature which I certainly have not seen before is the remote control worn on the wrist which can be used to start and stop recording without having to take off your helmet or hunt around for the on / off switch. I found this very easy to use and with a 10 meter range works wherever the camera is mounted.
The camera has a very small internal memory and needs to have an SD card inserted in the back of the camera above the batteries. I used a 4GB SDHC class 2 card in the camera and after several runs down the Fort William track it still had plenty of room for more recording. The unit is powered by 2 AA batteries which certainly need to be lithium batteries as normal alkaline ones went flat within an hour.
You can either mount the camera on the bike via a supplied clamp or to a helmet. For the helmet 2 clamps are provided which can be attached by supplied extra strong velcro or mounted on your goggle strap. It was found that you needed to have the goggle strap very tight to support the camera as it is not the lightest out there.
Now for the most important section, how well did it perform
. The camera is not HD, but does offer a reasonable quality of image in either 16:9 or 4:3 format. Mounted on the handlebars the camera works well on an XC bike, but suffers from the movement of the forks on a DH bike. Best results were from the camera mounted on a full face helmet and a reverse angle mounted on a seatpost. It seemed to cope well with the usual movement, but did jump a little on rockier sections of the Fort William track. The camera copes reasonably well when the light changes, but you do get a white glare with sudden changes of dark to light. Image quality is better in open spaces where more light can get into the lens. Helmet mounted on the Fort William World Cup track
Seatpost mounted reverse angle on the Fort William World Cup track
Bar mounted on downhill bike and XC bike at Cannock Chase
In all I was pretty impressed with the Drift X170
considering it costs a reasonable amount less than some other cameras on the market (UK price £199 GBP
). I would certainly say if they could produce an HD version of this camera with the extras like the screen, remote and rotating lens it could give all the current crop of HD helmet cameras something to think about.
Thanks to Sam Maddison of Team Mountain High Orange for testing the camera. In the UK they are available through www.actioncameras.co.uk
or Drift Innovation's
site will have a listing of all world wide distribution.