I admit it. I am an unabashed gadget freak, always salivating for the latest laptops, mobile phones, and cameras. As for airsoft, being able to hold the latest airsoft gun has been a regular thing at Popular Airsoft, but for electronic gadgets, it's just once in a blue moon before we find a gadget that we can review for airsoft use. I would gladly trade my job here for a Gadget Show slot.
In this case, we're looking into having the upcoming Tachyon XC helmet/gun cams which will be released late this month. Actually there are two products. The first one is the Tachyon XC HD which is their first high definition version. But the second one should surely get us geardos excited: their Tachyon XC HD 3D. It's the first 3D helmet camera for us mere mortals and we can capture airsoft action in 3D once this gets released.
Tachyon is famous for the XC Micro 2010 which is in use by operators in Afghanistan.
It's actually 2 cameras in one, laid side by side. You then combine the footages taken by these cameras to create 3D videos using the provided software in the package. While we're a little bit disappointed that its 720p at 30fps as we were hoping it can be 60fps so we can create slow motion clips, but in a small package to create 3D at such a good price of US$389.99, then we cannot complain. Though we hope they read this story and plan for either 1080p at 24-30fps and 720p at 60fps. The video codec is H.264, which is what is now being used nowadays by many cameras, including those in phone cameras, and video DSLRs.
The helmet cam package comes with remote controlm general mount, charger, cables, straps, side mount, remote control, and a thoughtfully included a paintball/airsoft armor. The last one is what clinched the deal for us to enquire about having a review of this product. Furthrmore, it is waterproof up to 100feet! Though we doubt that airsoft players would always do some wateborne exercises with their AEGs.
Since these are two HD cameras to form the 3D video, it is imperative that you use the same of SDHC cards (from 4GB to 32GB), since SD cards have different write speeds and having two cards with different write speeds would surely guarantee no-synching of videos for both cameras. The FOV (field of view) is 120 degrees, which is wide enough to capture a good portion of the field.
There are optional mounts. While there is an optional Picatinny rail for you to mount on your airsoft gun, you cannot mount the 3D version with it. The Tachyon XC HD has the same specs as the 3D version, with the exception that it is just a single HD camera, can be mounted on the Picatinny rail mount. You can either mount the 3D camera on your helmet cam on a bike handle bar, or on a tripod. The HD version certainly costs less at US$179.00.
Frankly, these two helmet cams are reasonably priced compared to their competitors and they are waterproof, shockproof, and also can give you timelapse capabilities, giving you images every 2 seconds, very much suitable for surveillance purposes.
Below is a 3D video sample which you may need to click on the clip to go to the Youtube page to enable 3D viewing as the iframe doesn't work here and the clip will show the left and right videos. We sure hope to lay our hands on both units so we can use them for airsoft events and even video reviews. Since going HD is the trend these days, we might as well provide our videos in full HD. My cheap handheld videocam is surely a useless one since it has poor image stablisation that I am still stuck with using my DSLR. However, I need to many contraptions to stabilise my DSLR properly during filming, making it also an expensive proposition.
In the sample HD video with the Tachyon XC in the paintball game "OKlahoma D-Day 2010", there is still an image stabilisation issue with the "Jello" effect", as compared to the ContourHD or the X170 HD from Drift Innovations. We hope it's corrected in the XC HD and we that effect gets minimised. Audio is good enough, and we didn't notice wind noise.
The Tachyon XC 3D HD and the Tachyon XC HD will be released by the latter part of November 2010. Tachyon Inc. have dealers in North America, Australia, UK, Japan, and other countries in Europe. It's a good addition to your gear, so you may want to include it in your Christmas shopping list.