The Swann MDV-450 has a nice design and feels quite solid with its cool metal casing. Getting the unit charged up was a little problematic, it wouldn’t charge from my iPod charger, even though the manual say’s it can charge from an external USB charger, so I resorted to using my PC. It is worth making sure the unit is set to off before connecting to a PC to charge, however my PC found it as a removable storage even with it off. It seemed to charge OK though and the process took about 2hrs.
The mounts the unit comes supplied with are a head strap, bar mount and dashboard mount. I found the bar mount worked quite well and could be mounted elsewhere on the mountain bike I used for this test. This gave some interesting results (see the video segments of the rear shock & forks). The head strap gave a stable image (less vibration) but in the instructions it shows it mounted under your bike helmet but I found this uncomfortable and awkward to align, so I put over the top of my helmet instead. This seemed to work quite well although still hard to align and level the camera… I have quite a few videos that are pointing down and tilted, this is where a screen would have helped. There is a eye piece attachment but this was equally as hard to fit and look through when helmet mounted. With practice though I managed to get direction right. I didn’t try the dashboard mount but it seems very stable and should work well.
The camera has a power on/off switch under a screw cap at the back, a microSD slot and USB mini B port. On the top of unit are four colour LEDs and a play/pause button. I did have trouble stopping and starting recordings and a few time the green light which flashes when recording remained on and could only be stopped by using the main power switch (which the instructions say not to do). This also meant I have loads of short clips where I thought I’d stopped the unit recording but hadn’t . The play/pause button also switches to camera mode when held for 3 seconds (this turns off the orange light). On the first use I found that I switched to this by mistake and missed a few runs I was trying to film, after this I made sure I checked for the yellow light before starting to record.
Picture quality is very good for the 640x480 resolution and resulted in strong colour and a good amount of detail. The frame rate copes well with speed, even on dull days the light level seemed good. I did try unit in the dark with a set of powerful lights (ay-ups) the video was watchable but slightly bleached by the spot of light, it gave a nice effect though. Sound quality is fine when stationary but once on the move (3mph or more) it sounds like I have a small jet engine fitted to my bike and is quite unusable, better wind protection for the mic is needed.
I had no idea of the unit’s price at the start of this test and apart from the problems aligning camera, the unit impressed me. The image quality is very good and the MDV-450 is very light and solid. With a quick search online at about £80 I am even more impressed. The only main problem is lack of proper screen, but at this price this would be hard for the manufacturer to deliver. However the lack of screen does make the unit a little bit hit or miss when it comes to days out. Not being able to review your clips means that getting the camera aligned properly (helmet mounted) is very important, but quite tricky. The camera seems very sturdy and survived a drop form bike on concrete with only a few scratches on the metal case. As such, for the low price, I would recommend the unit to anyone into action sports.
Supplied by: Swann Security