Innotrend DIMIKA Mini Digital Camera First Look
|Date of Review||February 2014||Subject||DIMIKA Mini Video Camera|
|Manufacturer||Innotrends Ltd.||Format||HD, H.264|
As we add new features to Cybermodeler Online and our other online resources, we also look for new tools to make those features come to life. One major tool in the reality television and webcast worlds is the Point-of-View (POV) camera, and one of the most successful of those cameras is the GoPro Hero series.
We've put the GoPro through its paces on several projects over the last few years and there is good reason for its popularity. The camera records in HD format with a wide field of view which helps to capture the action in a very dynamic environment where second takes are not an option. The camera itself would not survive long in less than ideal conditions because like any electronic device, it is vulnerable to getting wet. One of the secrets to GoPro's success is the clear plastic enclosure that is air and water-tight allowing for outdoor filming under virtually any conditions and even underwater. If you watch your favorite television and video sources carefully, you'll usually see one or more GoPro cameras at work.
A few months ago, I received an interesting bit of information about a new POV camera coming on the market with capabilities similar to the GoPro at a fraction of the cost. Last month, the DIMIKA arrived for testing and it was impressive bit of engineering. As you can see in the images, the camera is smaller than the GoPro Hero3 and has some other notable differences.
|Record Time||up to 60 min||120+ min|
|Mount||Tripod Socket||Multiple options|
The table above shows the dimensions and mass of the DIMIKA versus the Hero3/3+ without and with its environmentally sealed case. For extreme outdoor action, there are few cameras better than the GoPro, but there are times when even the GoPro can get in the way of things. The GoPro 2 is not listed but it is larger and heavier than the newer GoPro 3 series. Let's look at some other distinctions:
- GoPro1/2/3/3+: the lens is mounted to the largest surface of the camera, so you'll have that higher profile to factor into your shoot layout
- DIMIKA: the lens is on the smallest surface of the camera, so it will have the lowest profile
- GoPro3/3+: the user interface is three buttons and a small LCD display
- DIMIKA: the user interface is a toggle switch and two LEDs
- GoPro3/3+: can be operated outside the clear plastic shell but cannot be mounted without the shell
- DIMIKA: with a field of view of 140 degrees and similar light sensitivity to the GoPro, the camera is functional indoors as well as outside. If you visit the DIMIKA website, you can see how the camera performs suspended under a micro-UAV.
- DIMIKA can be operated and mounted outside its protective sleeve, but cannot be mounted while using the sleeve
- Both cameras will operate/record while charging (your filming limit is only SD card capacity)
So what does the DIMIKA offer that the GoPro doesn't?
- The camera is simple on/off/record operation. You can change its modes of operation through a simple PC/Mac application while the camera is connected via USB. This is the point and shoot version of the POV camera.
- The camera has a built-in orientation sensor. If the camera is turned over, the video will automatically rotate 180 degrees while still recording. This can be turned off using the PC/Mac application if you're planning any free-fall recordings.
- DIMIKA has a G-sensor in it so it will automatically save its recording on an impact.
- The camera has loop recording capability so you can let the camera run and stop recording after something significant happens.
- The camera also has a motion detection recording capability.
What caught my attention with this camera was its potential right out of the box. Because it is smaller in profile, I can use this camera as a dash-cam on my Jeep Wrangler. The GoPro does this, but it gets in the way with the small Jeep windshield. There is a huge trend in Europe for dashcams which double as crashcams to show police what happened in an accident. Remember that meteor that exploded over Russia? Many of those video points of view were from personal dashcams.
The camera is small enough to fit inside a standard HO scale boxcar or on a flatcar. Now you can record a tour of your favorite train layouts from the engineer's point of view without worrying about your camera hanging up or damaging the scenery. Because of the small size and mass of the DIMIKA, the camera can be mounted to radio control aircraft, gliders, helicopters, etc. It can also be attached to helmets, visors, handlebars, just about anywhere you can imagine.
I mounted DIMIKA on Joby, my flexible tripod which also has strong magnets in its feet. The camera/Joby works great mounted to ceiling vents, work benches, wherever you need it. After running a few test videos side-by-side with GoPro and not seeing any real differences in the video quality, I decided to take DIMIKA for a test drive – literally. I mounted the DIMIKA/Joby on the hood of my Jeep and went for a 45mph drive through the countryside to see what would happen.
The Joby didn't budge on the hood and because of the low-profile of the DIMIKA, there was no issue with wind resistance. You can see in the video the changes in light conditions and the camera stepping its sensitivity up and down in response. What I found especially impressive was the audio quality – the camera is not as susceptible to wind noise as the GoPro or my other video cameras. There is definitely wind noise, but the microphone is still processing other sounds happening around the camera as well.
One word of caution, the DIMIKA has a plastic shell but a metal base plate where the camera mount is located. The metal base plate doubles as a heat sink as the camera will get warm during extended use. Running the camera in prolonged direct sunlight could heat soak the camera and cause the camera to overheat.
The only thing I noted in my testing that was different than my other video sources is the H.264 codec in the DIMIKA. It outputs a MOV file which runs perfectly through QuickTime, but Adobe Premiere Pro loses time synch between audio and video from DIMIKA. The manufacturer attributes this to their H.264 codec's variable frame rate (VFR) in the camera and Adobe's lack of support for VFR at present. The workaround was easy enough, I simply ran my video through QuickTime Pro to export a different MP4 format and that file works fine in Premiere Pro and this was used to produce the test video above.
The DIMIKA uses Class 4 or better microSD cards up to 32GB, charges and connects to your computer via USB (uses same micro USB connector that many cell phones and cameras use), and retails for a mere $69.00 USD. I can think of other applications to test this camera where a GoPro or similar POV camera would be impractical, but that will be a future follow-up article.
This is a nice tool in the video arsenal that can do tasks that might not be as easy to set up with other cameras. Compared to the cost of the other cameras, this tiny POV gem is far less expensive to replace should your action get a little too dynamic. Give one a try! The DIMIKA is avalable directly from their website dimikacamera.com.
My sincere thanks to Innotrends for this review sample!