Sunday, August 17, 2014

Safely Recording the Police Using Action Cams

Let's get this straight, you do have the ability and the legal right as U.S. citizens to record police officers. You have the right to record video from your property or on a public street. As we have learned, some police officers have not read the constitution or are inclined to prevent you from countering their mythical view of events.

We need to protect ourselves and our neighborhoods. These are ideas to consider.

There is only one thing I require you to keep in mind. Your personal safety. It it dangerous. It is hunting season and those with a license are taking aim.

Action Camcorders

Action Camcorder are generally used by people doing sporting adventures or events. The most famous of these are the GoPro line of action camcorders. One of the things that makes action camcorders attractive is that the have the ability to a record wide angle view of a mountain, river or police action.

  • Small, light and can be hidden from view.
  • Generally have a wide recording angle so that you have a good expansive view of the area.
  • Some models are WiFi enabled; meaning if they are connected to a smarphone, tablet or computer you could potentially upload video quickly to a web hosting service like YouTube.
  • Most action camcorders do not have a viewfinder or you would have to pay extra to obtain one. Not a deal breaker because of the wide angle recording but you won't know what you have until you look at it later.
  • Action camcorders do not like being handheld. They are usually mounted on helmets, braces or tripods. There is no image stabilization so hand held videos can be really shaky.
  • You need to be minimally computer savvy to either connect the computer  to the camcorder or remove the memory card and get it to the computer. How savvy? Connect the USB cable to the camcorder to the computer and then transfer the video files.
  • Cost; decent action camcorders start about $180 to the $400 range. Knock offs can be found for about $100 on up but quality can be dicey.

So here are some options:

For affordability the basic $199 GoPro Hero3 would be a good choice, good audio, wide angle view and excellent video quality. This is the standard that the others try to meet. I'm thinking this would be good as a porch cam or resting on a window ledge. Again, Hero3 doesn't like to be held by hand, but if you have no choice this can capture a wide view of the situation.

Another contender is the Sony HD Flash Memory Action Camcorder. A bit more pricy than the Hero3 at $250 but it can record up to 4 hours before a charge and can record on Sony Memory Stick Micro or microSD cards to extend your recording time.

Need to be a bit more mobile? I think the Panasonic HX-A100 might be of interest. This is a wearable action camcorder that you could use like a Bluetooth headset. You'd have to purchase the Ear Hook and other accessories. Again, good video quality, fair audio quality and can be secured for on the street recording.

I know these are expensive options. These devices were built to be seen, be mounted in motion for more pleasant purposes. The way I am envisioning there use is that a home owner or renter sees an event from their property. They could use this type of camcorder mounted away from their body to record without notice of law enforcement.

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