Having grown up racing motocross at an elite level, I had collected as many broken bones as you have fingers and toes and consequently decided to hang up the boots eight years ago. Combining the strength required for bull riding with the endurance required by running, it is a brutal sport that takes equal toll on the machine as it does on the rider.
These days I spend the majority of my time focusing on building startups and am consequently surrounded by tech and my oh-so-precious iPhone. It, much like my body back in my motocross days, has taken a beating. However, since getting my Optrix case I have been emboldened with a fearlessness previously unfound as it relates to putting my iPhone at risk.
I regularly use my Optrix case for everything from mountain biking to mountaineering here in the Reno-Tahoe area and have seen my phone kept safe despite taking a beating, yet I still considered the biggest test to be motocross. We regularly test various electronic devices while on the bike for our startup and we have seen our fair share of broken devices. To be honest, I was worried my iPhone wouldn’t escape this test, but I decided to head out to the local motocross track and give it a shot anyway.
Motoing with Optrix
The first thing I noticed was how minimal the weight difference was when compared to other established helmet cameras. In this case I was shooting video and the video was extremely stable with no notable knocking as is prevalent with other popular helmet cameras that I had used. It is also important to note that the iPhone 4S is more than sufficient for high-speed POV videography. I experienced no blurring and had video quality that was still higher than what YouTube provides at 1080p.
After 30 minutes of flying rocks, dirt, and insane G-Forces I called it quits and I feared my iPhone had already done the same. My worries were unfounded however, as it turns out, my body was giving up long before the case. The case, lens, and phone were in perfect shape even after taking regular abuse as seen in this video. I was once again hugely impressed with the Optrix case’s durability and the concept of the iPhone being the perfect camera for POV footage was reaffirmed.
Tips for Best Use
Along the way I learned a few things I would like to share:
1. Viewing Angle – The most common mistake I see with any sort of POV filming in sports is that the camera is pointed far too low. Optrix makes it easy to adjust your camera to the proper angle, which should be about 100-115 degrees from horizontal. After properly adjusting, it may appear the first few times that your camera is pointed too high, but that 10-15 degree setback from a parallel viewing angle with the ground will give you the footage you’re after. When you are riding or doing any sort of similar sport you tilt your head down as you focus, thus justifying the angle adjustment.
2. Lens – We don’t realize how much we take in from our peripheral vision when participating in high-speed and high-adrenaline sports. The fisheye lens (175 degree) gives you a great field of view that is about as close as we can get to what we really see.
3. Mounts – For motocross, unlike mountain biking, the Chesty is less than ideal as the geometry of the machine places the handlebars high and the dynamics of the changing riding position leave great disparity between the viewing angle while sitting to that of standing up. The slightly curved helmet mount is the best solution for motocross.
4. Sticker it up! – Don’t be afraid to put a sticker or two of your favorite brands on the carrier sled. For sports with such intense and varying g-forces it seems to provide additional stability to the phone in the case.
The Bottom Line
To wrap it up, I was very impressed with the Optrix once again. It withstood some very tough abuse and performed above expectations. Having ran it through the ultimate test of the sport of motocross, I am more than ready to sell my old helmet cam at our next garage sale.