BlackVue SC500 from Pittasoft
COW Library : Cinematography : Douglas Spotted Eagle : BlackVue SC500 from Pittasoft
POV cameras are popping out of the ether these days, and a small company in Korea, previously specializing in dashboard cameras, has entered the POV fray with their small box BlackVue camera.
The BlackVue closely resembles the frame of the GoPro, and that'll be the first comparison most folks will make when looking at this camera. Size and weight-wise, the BlackVue is identical to the GoPro, JVC Adixxion, Swan, and the majority of other POV cameras – and the profile isn't terribly different from its main competitor.
Why would one look at the BlackVue (or any other competitive camera)? Price, form factor, simplicity/ease of use/setup all fall into a consideration. The BlackVue is ridiculously simple with few buttons, no menus to scroll through, and the simple modes assure perfect recordings every time.
The camera features Wi-Fi output for monitoring, an included/detachable LCD display, and is capable of shooting 60p footage for smooth slow motion. The housing is a rubberized, non-water/weatherproof housing that mounts on a stickypad/thumbscrew system (compatible with GoPro mounting accessories).
The camera is essentially choice-free, in that it offers three shooting modes.
Image quality from this camera is about what I expected it to be. It's not "drop your jaw – this is incredible" good, and it's not really poor, either. It's better than some of its competitors, lesser than others, so I'd refer to it as "average." The camera features a Sony Exmor imager, similar to the imager used in the Sony AS-15 cameras, and I'm a bit surprised that Pittasoft didn't take greater advantage of the features this sensor offers. They've tuned the sensor to be quite dynamic, as this screengrab demonstrates.
Blacks to whites are managed well in this shot, and the camera manages exposure blooms quite well.
The lens is a fixed 170 degree lens, similar to most of the competitor POV cameras. The glass is exposed, as there is no cover/protection for the lens in the housing. The lens does come with a small rubber cover that is easily lost and falls off if the camera is tipped over. It is possible to sit the camera farther back in the housing, if the LCD display is removed, thus providing some lens protection via the housing.
The barrel distortion of the lens common, and can be de-fished in post. Note that the colors are only slightly oversaturated, and are reasonably well-balanced
The removeable LCD pack also has its own power button. Buttons are large, so operating the camera while wearing gloves won't be any kind of an issue. The built in speaker provides audio for playback, and also provides status indicators when buttons are depressed. However, this speaker/audio indicator is hard to hear in a noisy airplane.
Large buttons make for easy access while wearing gloves.
This system is not waterproof, nor even weather resistant. While I'd have no problem using it around mist, clouds, etc, I'd also be very uncomfortable in any environment where water might cover any significant portion of the camera. Pittasoft does have a waterproof housing in the works at an undisclosed price.
http://youtu.be/Jp4uBZtF8fw (you'll want to watch this clip in 720p mode for best comparison)
The camera also offers a USB port, suitable for charging or playback over a computer. Both ports are covered by a removable plastic plug. Like other small format cameras using this "feature," I find it annoying, as it's a small plastic part easily fumbled while wearing any kind of glove, and may easily be lost.
In speaking with the folks at Pittasoft, they indicated that they're now shipping a firmware offering better battery life.
Its light weight makes it perfect for many other applications; I particularly appreciated how well it flies on a UAV drone. The price is competitive, the camera is very easy to operate, and the build is robust. I for one, am looking forward to seeing how Pittasoft's new camera does in the rapidly broadening POV market.
Price: 300.00 USD