Shimano’s first foray into the world of wearable video cameras is the creatively named CM-1000 Sport Camera. You use it to film sports, apparently. Luckily, its name is just about the only criticism we’ve got of this excellent, petite and simple new entrant to this highly competitive arena. We’ve been using this little guy for two months now.
The Sport Camera (jeeeeez….) is tiny, lightweight, low-profile and water-proof to a depth you’ll never need when mountain biking. With dimension no bigger than box of matches, its size is obviously one of its great attributes – at 86g you don’t notice the additional weight on your helmet, and if you’re creative with your mounts it’s miniature enough to fit just about anywhere. Speaking of mounts, the Sport Camera uses the same mounting standard as GoPro, which means there are dozens of accessories and aftermarket mounting options available. The camera’s size and shape also makes it easy to use handheld, which is cool if you want to use it off the bike.
The downside of this camera being so small is that there’s no display panel on the camera itself, just a pair of LED lights to inform you of battery life, SD card memory and filming mode. You can toggle between different filming resolutions simply by pressing the ‘Mode’ button, but for more fundamental adjustments (such as changing the filming width or viewing/deleting files) you’ll need to use the Sport Camera app which is available for Apple or Android devices.
Using the app is pretty simple – the camera creates a Wifi signal which you connect to with your phone. The app then gives you a live view (perfect for making angle adjustments when the camera is helmet mounted) the ability to view recorded files, deleted unwanted clips, view remaining memory/battery life, make adjustments to the lens angle (135 or 170-degree), change the still image shooting size and much more.
As easy as the app is to use, getting your phone out on the trail is a bit of a pain. We tended to use the app at the start of a ride to get the camera position dialled, then leave it well alone. Syncing the camera to the app will accelerate battery drain too, just another reason to set-and-forget.
The camera can be set to record with either a wide (135 degree) or super wide (170 degree) lens angle. They both deliver a good picture, but the 170 degree does obviously tend to give you a bit more of a fish-bowl effect with the action at the edge of screen appearing a bit distorted. Our preference was the 135 degree setting.
You also have the option of three different frame rates / resolutions; Full HD 1080p/3ofps, HD 720p/120fps, or a lower resolution 240fps. Our preference was for the Full HD mode (even though 30 fps is a little average), but those slow-mo addicts will love the 120fps at 720p. Those hell bent on the big screen will notice that there isn’t a 4K recording option, but given that most people are using these cameras for web-only films, we don’t see this as a negative. There is a still photo option too, which at 6 megapixels isn’t up to same resolution as offered by the category leading GoPro (12MP) and the Shimano camera does lack a burst mode for photos.
Along with its size, the simplicity of operation is a real strong point for this camera. The record button is easy to find with gloved hands, being right in the middle of the unit, and the recording start/stop is signalled clearly with a loud two beeps for recording, five beeps for stopping recording. If you’re the kind of person who likes to run multiple mounts (say, one on your helmet, one on your fork leg) the Shimano cam makes life easy by automatically rotating the image to suit the camera orientation as well.
In terms of recording, the camera uses a Micro SD card (not supplied), which is becoming more common nowadays and the files are .MOV, so no unusual software is needed for conversion. One point of note is that battery is non-removable, which is a bugger should you wish to use the camera for a longer period of time without access to a charger. Shimano claim the battery will deliver around two hours of recording time, and we’ve got no reason to doubt them. We’ve left the camera on in standby mode for longer than that while riding and we’re yet to run out of battery on the trail.
With the inexorable march of electronics into mountain biking, the CM-1000 is ahead of the curve. The camera can be synced with ANT+ sensors (cadence, speed, power etc) and will also hook up with a Shimano Di2 shifting system, so you can overlay all kinds of geeky information about your performance over your footage!
All up, the Shimano Sport Camera is a really good option is this stacked, competitive market. The non-removable battery, reliance upon an external app for some adjustments and restricted still photo recording are all crosses, but the size, simplicity, ease of use and good picture quality are big ticks. Ultimately, it’s a very refined offering for Shimano’s first foray into this field.