BY GREG KAPLAN
Capture your ride in photos and video with this lightweight, powerful device
When Bicycling reviewed action cameras early in 2014, the Shimano Sport Camera CM-1000 had not yet been announced. Soon after, if you saw any of the 2014 Tour de France on-bike video, then you saw video captured with Shimano’s new CM-1000 Sport Camera. The image quality captured by the Shimano camera is on par with other action cameras, such as the Garmin Virb Elite, and the GoPro Hero4. Where the Shimano camera has a slight advantage, I think, is its tiny form factor, and the phone-enabled user interface.
Weighing in at a scant 86g (claimed), and just barely larger than two stacked matchboxes, this action camera is one of the smallest on the market. The CM-1000 can be mounted to your bike or your body using any GoPro®-compatible camera mounting system. Included with the camera is a helmet mounting strap—but I opted for a K-Edge combination camera/GPS mount, to keep my bike cockpit looking tidy. Also included with the camera is a mini-USB charging/data transfer cable, a retention strap to protect against loss in the event of a crash, and a special lens for capturing underwater video. Not included with the camera is a MicroSD card—you’ll need to buy one to capture video. A 32G SanDisk Ultra MicroSD was recommended, and has worked really well with this camera. The Sport Camera requires no external case, even when using it in wet conditions.
Setting up the camera using the free iPhone app was an easy process (an Android app is available as well). The Sport Camera uses a password-protected WiFi network connection to your phone, instead of a Bluetooth connection. Enabling this WiFi connection was simple: press and hold a button on the camera, look for indicator lights to flash, listen for the connection sound, and then securely join the camera’s network with your phone. Once connected to a phone, one can access the camera’s settings: you’re able to capture wide-angle and super-wide-angle images, pair ANT+ devices like a power meter or heart rate monitor with the camera, view or delete video files, and check on the camera’s battery status. Since the camera is often mounted upside down to a bicycle, and would capture video that would look upside-down, automatic image rotation is enabled by default, so the camera captures video that appears right side-up. The settings for this feature can also be accessed through the phone app, and can be disabled, if desired.
The Sport Camera does not have a built-in viewfinder, but you can use a WiFi-connected phone when positioning the camera on your bike. Once the camera is positioned and configured, you can disconnect the phone from the camera to save battery life on both devices. The battery in the Sport Camera is rechargeable, but not replaceable, and lasts for over two hours of continuous recording.
Operating the Sport Camera without a phone connected is pretty straightforward. There are only two buttons on the unit: a larger button, which toggles power on or off, starts and stops recording, and grabs still shots. A second, smaller button is used for toggling through video recording modes and controlling WiFi. Button presses are confirmed with audible signals. The Sport Camera is designed for normal, daytime lighting conditions only. One can capture video in 1920×1080, 1280×720, and 640×360 modes; still images are captured at a 2848×2136 resolution, in .jpg format. When the camera is mounted under your bars and recording in super wide mode, you’ll capture video of the end of your brake hoods. Video is captured in the common .mov format and can be viewed using a QuickTime player, or almost any modern web browser. The microphone on the Sport Camera is a good listener, and will capture all sorts of noise, even through background wind sounds.
Using the camera mid-ride, when it was not connected to my iPhone, I found the power/recording toggle button slightly challenging to operate, especially when wearing winter gloves. I wasn’t quite sure if the camera was on and if it was recording, without looking at the status lights on it. Also, it was hard to hear the camera ‘beep’ over outdoor background noise, which indicated recording mode. Several times I had to take the camera off its mount to see if I had successfully started recordings.
Shimano indicates that you’re not supposed to remove video files when the camera is connected to your computer—it’s suggested that you use your phone to do this—which adds some complexity to managing your videos. But, this is a minor trade-off, given the features and size of the camera. What is currently missing from the Shimano Sport Camera ecosystem is video editing software that one can use to create ride data overlays (such as speed, elevation, power output, etc.) onto captured video. But this is certainly no reason to pass on this $299 diminutive and powerful camera from Shimano. This is a full-featured, lightweight, powerful recording tool. And it was a lot of fun to use it on solo and group rides, sharing and reliving the day’s fun.
After capturing video with the Shimano CM-1000 Sport Camera, it was easy to import, edit, and add audio using iMovie. (Greg Kaplan)