I first met the Waylens team at Wicked Big Meet 2015 and it was a fantastic idea: take all of the data systems you normally use in a race car and pack it into a portable camera form. I got to help out with a few of their initial focus group conversations, where they asked our opinions on shape, functions and the like. Fast forward to this year and their KickStarter has been funded, the cameras are in production and I got my hands on one of the test versions!
The camera shape and feel is excellent, its a solid little product. I worry about scratching the exposed lens down the line… but I have to remember that this is being sold as an in car/dash camera and not an “action style” camera like some other offerings. Immediately started fiddling with everything, the LCD screen is fantastic and being able to easily change modes and settings because of the touch screen is a bonus. I tried using it with my driving gloves on, but it was the usual hit-or-miss that you get with your phone. I wasn’t phased since once I’m driving, adjusting the camera is the last thing on my list. Bought a new micro SD card and made sure it was a Class 10 for better writing speed. I’ve run into issues with other cards and cameras getting choppy with the lower write speeds. I REALLY liked the camera formatting the card itself, as soon as I plugged the card in the alert came up on the LCD asking if I’d like to format the new card. I’ve ran into issues with other cameras not being able to record because the card isn’t formatted correctly, and having to plug it into a computer to get it to work. Having it format automatically really made me happy.
Mounting in the car:
The suction cup is pretty beefy, and it holds hard enough the casual pull(or not so casual, as I wanted to give it a full test) won’t dislodge it. The suction cup held hard and I was never worried about it falling. The LCD screen gives you a real time preview so getting the shot you want is easy, especially with the very adjustable mount! I hope there will be a roll bar mount released down the line, as I prefer shooting video farther back in the car. Also, most racing organizations require either a hard mount for cameras, or a tether with a suction cup mount. Once suctioned on, the camera does wiggle around on the mount a little. There is foam padding at the base of the connection, I think if that foam was substituted with something firmer like rubber, it would do a much better job of dealing with race car vibrations. This probably isn’t an issue with your average back road blast, but on a bumpy race track with a super stiff suspension… vibrations happen.
The camera comes with two different length USB cables, in car suction cup mount, computer base mount, A/C charger, OBD2 bluetooth reader, recording remote, and small cord clips so you can run the USB cables where desired in the car. The OBD2 reader and the remote(along with GPS and WiFi) all have their own icons on the Waylens itself, and show if they’re connected or not. I’m willing to put this all up to user error… I couldn’t get the OBD2 scanner to connect no matter what I tried and the remote would connect, but it would only stop the recording. Since I would be editing without the Waylens Software as it hasn’t been released yet, getting all of the data and highlighting video with the remote was less of a priority.
Recording and Footage:
Recorded my first two sessions on the battery life alone, and after about 45mins of recording the fully charged battery was running low. The camera is doing a lot more than just taking video and that’s probably the cause of the shortened battery life. So I plugged in the A/C charger and discovered a new feature on the camera: with constant power the camera automatically records as soon as the car turns on. On battery power I was starting the recording manually from the camera but it was rather clunky to start and stop it when I had the camera out of reach. With the auto on/record, I always knew I was getting the video and I could be all strapped in without worry. The screen also displays how much footage the camera has recorded and how much free space it has, a big help to know exactly how much recording time you have left. The option to switch between resolution and frame rates is easily accessed on the screen, I stuck with 1080p at 30fps for the day. As I mentioned, the camera wiggled a bit in the mount and this impacted the footage. The picture was still very clear, but the vibration got translated into shaky footage. The audio is sharp, you can hear passengers talking inside the car(even at 130mph+ with the windows down) and the engine noise is fantastic. I think the mic might be a little too sensitive so it cracks with very loud wind noise. A few of the early action cameras had this issue, it could be a simple programming fix to turn down the sensitivity.
Since I didn’t have the Waylens editing software, I settled for throwing it in Adobe Premiere to trim and edit it. I’d love to be able to transpose the data on there once I get the full App/Program. I uploaded a sample here: https://youtu.be/NPmKO-Odvno
Overall I was really happy with the camera and the video it produced. I know I’m only at the tip of the iceberg in regards to features with this thing. With a few small tweaks this camera could be the perfect answer to the budget video/data acquisition product. Excited to see where they go from here!