Depending on what mount is being used, set the preferred tilt angle by sighting down the camera body, and then rotates the camera body until the alignment lines on the lens are horizontal to your field of view. The power and record buttons always point to 12 o’clock. Since you don’t have an external display device you’ll need to guesstimate the proper lens rotation and tilt, and using the above method seems to result in proper footage.
To turn the camera on, press and hold the front power button (i.e. On/Off) for 2 seconds and release, and the camera will vibrate 3 times and the rearward LED by that button will turn blue. The vibration is pretty distinctive and strong, and you can easily feel it through full faced and XC/AM helmets. To begin recording, press and hold the rear button (i.e. Record) for 2 seconds and then release, and the camera will vibrate three times, and it will begin recording in the chosen resolution and mode, in either videos or photos. To stop recording, press and hold the record button for 4 seconds and then release, and it will vibrate once to announce that the recording has completed. If you hit the record button quickly, it will stop the current recording and start a new one, and it will vibrate 3 times to inform you that it’s clipping and saving a file (they call it “Quick-Clip”). To turn the camera off, hold the power button for 4 seconds and release, and it will vibrate once and shutdown. If the camera is recording, hitting the power button doesn’t accomplish anything, as this prevents accidental loss of footage.
To change the video resolution or photo intervals of the camera, you remove the rear screw cap, and use the FPS and Mode buttons to make alterations, and a set of LEDs will indicate what the results are. Depending on what the last chosen video resolution or photo interval, hitting the Mode button cycles the settings from 1080p, to 960p, 720p and Photo, etc., ad nauseum. If the 720p and Photo modes are highlighted, then the FPS button can be used, altering the 720p between 30fps and 60fps, and the Photo between 3, 5, 15 and 30 seconds.
The back of the screw cap has a list of the menu options (a.k.a., the cheat sheet) that can be initiated from the rear of the camera, but it’s tough to read the small print. The manual for the camera does explain the resolution and mode changes for video and photos, but the colors in the LED diagram are extremely difficult to discern. Fortunately, once you have played with the Mode and FPS buttons and understand the LED color pattern, it’s pretty simple to make the proper changes.
Although the camera’s global default mode, features and settings are pretty decent and robust, you may need additional fine tuning for specific requirements. You can alter those global camera settings, which includes video, audio, lighting and other customizable feature settings, by updating a text file that resides on the root directory of the microSD card. You can set the parameters for bit rate quality (high, medium, low), white balance (auto, 2800K – 10000K), sharpness (1-5), metering weighting (spot, center, avg), exposure (-4 to +4), contrast (1-255), and saturation (0 – 127), etc. I always left the bit rate high and sharpness at 4-5, since I didn’t worry about resource issues (battery and memory), and I wanted the highest quality output possible. I left most everything else as factory default, unless I played with the lighting settings, for dealing with the dimmer light conditions or when the ride was going to be predominantly in the deep dark woods.
To alter the settings, you mount the microSD by any method desired, open up the XD1080.txt text file, edit it as required (set the Update Flag to Y), and then close it. To load the new settings into the camera, power it up and then press record button to propagate the settings. I created several microSD cards with different global settings, and I can change the camera operational aspects by swapping the different ones in and out. It’s not the most eloquent method, though it works just fine and its particular useful when you want to switch the camera for low light usage.
The camera comes with the HeimLock adjustable and LowBoy fixed mounts, plus two stick-on flat and curved base SnapTrays. The SnapTrays can be used at various locations, dependent on personal requirements and helmet shape and design, and they’re especially useful for non vented or low vent count helmets, such as ski, full faced, skateboard, BMX and some All Mountain designs. Unfortunately, some sort of vented helmet mount system is not currently available, which would be comprised of a strap and an attached SnapTrays, which is a big bummer for the average mountain biker, who typically wears a vented helmet.
The optional handlebar or seatpost mount works decently once it’s set up properly, and the rugged aluminum system, which uses a separate handlebar and camera clamp, lets you point it just about anywhere, and since it directly attaches to the camera, no SnapTrays is required. The mount comes in several different clamp diameters, so it can cover bars and seatposts from 1/2″ to 2″, although it does require getting a different clamp since they are size specific.