Drift Ghost S Helmet Camera
Drift Ghost S Helmet Camera
Preview of the Drift Ghost S Helmet Camera
Whether it’s racing or taking part in an epic cyclosportif, doing a downhill MTB run or simply commuting to work, today’s cyclists see video recording their activities as the norm. If you haven’t started videoing your more important rides and races, then you really should give it a go; it’s great to watch back the footage of yourself in action. However, just like bikes, not all cameras are created equal and the Drift Ghost S makes claim to be the best helmet camera (or action camera, as they are also known) for cyclists.
Go Pro may be the best known brand in the world of helmet cameras but its traditional camera styling just doesn’t look right on an expensive and otherwise aerodynamic bicycle. Consequently, spotting a gap in the market there’s a lot of new competition out there, with both Garmin and Shimano recently launching action cameras. Fortunately, neither of these cameras have taken their styling cues from Go Pro; rather both mimic the Drift Ghost S which, with its aerodynamic shape much more in keeping with your bicycle, just looks right. The Go Pro only scores if you plan to mount it on your chest… No, we thought not.
Integration seems to be the name of the game for the new entrants to the market: Garmin’s VIRB brings GPS, ANT+ and remote control via the Edge head unit to the table, whilst Shimano are aiming their camera at those of us with Di2 groupsets displaying gear selection on your video recording. The Drift Ghost S is not as cycling specific as either of those but that may just be its advantage; it’s a stand alone product, not reliant on other parts of your kit, neither GPS head unit nor your groupset, meaning that if you change one part of your bike set-up, your camera is still current.
A major criticism aimed at early Drift cameras was their large size with what appeared to be a lot of fresh air around all of the workings hidden inside the outer shell. The Ghost series is much smaller, making this compact camera much easier to accommodate on any mounting point on bike or body. Size wise the Ghost S is small and compact; it’s about 2 inches tall by 4 inches wide and an inch or so deep. It weighs 171g and the remote control weighs just 22g.
As well as its compact, aero shape there are a raft of features that mark the Ghost S out as a market leading camera for cyclists and will help you to justify the hefty £320 price tag; sure you can pick up a helmet camera from eBay for £50 but good luck with it in both performance and longevity terms…
The immediate impression on handling it is that the rugged Drift is built to last. The Ghost is shock resistant to 2 metres apparently, which means it should be tough enough to fall off your helmet and survive. Even opening it is testament to how serious they take the build quality. Everything important – sensors, processors, SD card, battery, etc – is hidden away behind a fully sealed, rear hatch which you have to unscrew via a finger operated wheel in order to gain access. It’s not an easy operation, especially if you have cold fingers.
There is the option of having a less well sealed, more easily accessible (for inserting cables) rear hatch, but why you would risk this as a bike rider I am not sure. Here in the UK water ingress is the issue; elsewhere in hotter climes it would be dust. That sealing means that the Drift’s waterproofing which is good to 3 metres, so it should withstand the worst drenching any cyclist will ever go through and keep all of that dust out. Indeed, Drift claim the Ghost S is ‘engineered to withstand dust, snow, rain, splashes and submersion up to 3m for 30 minutes at a time’.
A real benefit of the Drift for cyclists, and an issue we have experienced with most other helmet cameras, is that it has a decent battery run-time as standard, with up to 3.5 hours (or 2 hours with Wi-Fi activated) on full 1080 HD at 30 frames per second. This makes it much more practical for sporting, endurance cyclists, especially those wanting to record the odd epic. To get longer than that, then taking a spare battery with you may be an option, changing it over at a feed station. The Ghost S has a number of features to help conserve battery power, such as LCD Off, adjustable LCD Brightness and Auto ON/Off features. Of course battery life is nothing if you can’t save all of your recording and the Ghost S comes with the capability to mount an SD card of up to a healthy 64GB, which should keep you going for a while.