In some ways, this is an odd report to write. The people at Drift are really friendly and helpful and the Stealth 2 HD camera is ideal for motorcycling video. It is simple, easy to use and rugged, but there is a problem – and it is one which the customer defines. If you look at a professional on-bike video it will inevitably have been filmed using a GoPro. The GoPro is the wrong shape, difficult to mount, fussy to use and expensive but…
And the “but” is that if you want the very best quality video currently available on the market, with terrifyingly realistic color and the purest of sound, then you must have a GoPro. The GoPro, despite being in a chunky, awkward-shaped box is also completely waterproof and extremely strong. I have had a GoPro detach from the bike and, although the case was battered, the camera was fine.
However, if you don’t need broadcast quality video then the Stealth is a really nice piece of kit and is ideal for motorcycles and motorcycling.
The Stealth 2 is tiny and light. It measures just 80mm (3.15″) x 42mm (1.65″) x 27mm (1.06″) and weighs in at only 97 grams – less than 4oz in real money. The outer case is hard rubber and has a non-slip surface. Access to the ports are via an easily, and conveniently, detachable cover retained with a big, chunky, knurled wheel. There is a Micro-B USB connector lead, which is a bit of a nuisance because it would be so much more convenient to have a standard download lead, rather than have to carry one specific to the Drift.
The 7-element lens is simply rotatable, so that the camera can be conveniently mounted on the bike and then the lens turned to give the correct perspective without the need for any electronic messing about afterwards. The Stealth lens has an optical 135° field of view, which is about perfect for on-bike photography. The depth of field – the area in which objects appear sharp – is huge and the resultant video gives that much sought after “being there” feeling.
The camera is claimed to be “shower proof” – whatever that means. Are Drift referring to a gentle English mist or a Montana mountain downpour which initiates an avalanche? I would guess the former because Drift are keen to sell us the fully, 40m (125 foot) deep waterproof case.
In real life, I think that the naked camera is perhaps more liquid resistant than Drift think. I had the camera mounted on top of my Suzuki Seeley’s fuel tank and the filler cap accidentally popped open and sprayed the camera with pre-mix race fuel. We wiped it down very carefully and gently, and the camera carried on with its job unimpeded.
There are two filming modes – one in 1080 HD at 30 fps and a second at 60 fps which gives 720 standard definition. The 60 fps setting can produce a sort of amateur slow motion which will impress your dog, and maybe your wife if you promise to take her shopping the following day, but no one else.
The problem for motojournalists is that some, but not all, readers – particularly those in cities – want to watch everything on the web in 1080 and get all hormonal and tearful when they can’t. Here in the heart of rural England where I live, we have download speeds of less than 6MB so we can’t watch anything in 1080 – except very early in the morning when everyone else on our country lane is still in bed. If you really want to watch all the videos you make in 1080, and slo-mo, then the Stealth will fail you. If you don’t, it does a good job.
The color rendition is excellent – but not perfect. A good test of any of these miniature video cams is how they deal with black and white. If you have a look at the video at the end of this story you will see that the white road markings and the black of our camera bike are both accurate. However, the subtleties of mid-range colors are not so well recorded. In particular, the greens have a slightly reddish tinge, plus a real theme park glow to them which is much more Florida than Switzerland. They are not miles away from being accurate but, once more, if you want Hollywood accuracy then you need a GoPro.
The sound is good too with an accurate rendition of the bike’s engine but with minimal wind roar.
The camera is easy to use. I wish that the Stealth 2 had the full color preview panel of its bigger, and slightly more expensive, brother the Ghost S but, instead, you have to use a remote control to set it up which is a real 5-star embuggerance.
The Drift Stealth 2 can be inverted and then the lens is rotated to give the film the correct orientation.
Battery life is very good at in excess of three hours – and it really is – so you will be able to bore everyone, including your wife and dog, into a catatonic stupor with just one day’s filming.
In summary, the Drift is a real challenger for the GoPro, providing you aren’t chasing TV quality movies. It’s easy to use, practical and durable. We have used it all summer and the camera has been faultless.
If Drift let us have a Ghost S to test, it will be interesting to see how close this gets to GoPro in the areas where the Drift Stealth is still behind.
For more information go to: www.driftinnovation.com