Hands on: Camera Demon review
Action cams are a great, hands-free way of capturing that action-packed footage - whether on the slopes, down the mountains or wherever your adrenaline-fuelled sport happens to take you. They're also a sure way of removing a chunk of cash from your bank balance. That's where Camera Demon - the universal helmet mount that can affix any compact camera with a standard 1/4-inch thread - comes into play: at £25 it's not going to break the bank and is compatible with pretty much any compact camera.
On the face of it Camera Demon is a hunk of plastic with rubber washer and metal screw thread set on a 3M adhesive pad. That description might be far from getting the blood pumping - in that is sounds like a shopping list for a visit to the builder's merchants - but it's what this little device can enable you to do that makes it interesting.
Camera Demon's adhesive 3M pad has a slight curve that's designed to fit to a helmet's curvature. We donned the device on a racing helmet before hitting a go-kart circuit to nab some footage using a Panasonic Lumix FT5 tough camera. Once that pad has been positioned there's no going back, it sticks on tight - indeed it takes a considerable blast from a scorching hot hair dryer to release it. Of course the general consensus is for the mount to stay on at all times, because once it's removed that's game over, no more adhesion.
Once in place the Camera Demon has a clip complete with a thread mount that slides into place with ease. However screwing the camera on to the metal thread is the fiddlier part because it's able to move forward and backwards and there's no way of locking it up before its being screwed all the way on to the camera. You'll want to ditch any gloves and use two hands for sure.
When it comes to then adjusting the camera's position - it can be tilted forwards and backwards or the camera can be creatively mounted sideways, backwards or however you want - we found the rectangular rubber washer could move into the wrong position and would take some fiddling to lock everything back into the desired position. Once it's locked down it is tight, it's just getting there which - when under time pressure as we were ahead of hitting the track - is the Demon's biggest niggle in our view.
And so to the track. The karts we used to were twin-engined beasts capable of up to 65mph. Far from the speed being the biggest obstacle to test the Camera Demon out it was the degree of vibration we could feel through our bodies that was most significant. But, and despite our fears, very little of that transferred into the footage that we captured. Good stuff.
Now the Camera Demon isn't a camera itself, obviously, so the quality of footage will depend on your chosen camera - resolution, format, frame rate, vibration reduction and so forth will all have impact on what's achievable - and we found the Panasonic FT5's 60fps 1080p AVCHD footage was nice and smooth. Our only moan is that we'd have liked a slightly wider-angle view - and it's rare a stills camera is wider than a 24mm equivalent - for those super-wide near-fish-eye results from the likes of a GoPro Hero3 or the like are, in general, reserved for those dedicated devices. Sound, too, is subject to distortion from wind which is unavoidable.
READ: GoPro HD Hero3 review
In terms of maximum load the Camera Demon doesn't offer up any specified weight limits, short of the fact it's not designed for big rigs. Plus we suspect anyone who's plonked a 3kg DSLR on their bonce will, well, look a bit bonkers and get neck ache. Having a light compact camera on your head isn't something that really enters the mind - it goes all but unnoticed - but as compact cameras are designed to be handheld rather than mounted a lot of the bulk from such design ergonomics will make for a more, let's say, visually impactful impression. Probably our fault for going for a bright orange wedge.
The Camera Demon is a good idea, despite some given limitations. Getting the camera mounted to thread is more fiddly than we'd like, but once it's there it's locked down tight and that adhesive pad is going nowhere. The footage you capture will depend entirely on your camera - if you're out in the rain you'll need a waterproof job; if you want super-wide-angle then, well, it's not going to be easy to find in a compact camera; and if movie mode is tucked away within the menus then it'll be next to impossible to know whether you've fired it up while the camera's out of view on your head.
Definite pros and cons to be considered here. For us it's the price point that makes the Camera Demon well worthy of consideration - if you've already got a camera with a one-touch movie button then the £25 investment could make your casual snowboard or mountain bike trip all the more memorable. Just don't forget to take your hair dryer along if you're renting the head gear!
Camera Demon is distributed by Proporta in the UK - head to the official site for further information.