I have been using GoPro’s since the HD version of the camera was released late 2009. I had heard of many different new HD cameras on the market but never came across one I wanted to try until my friend Mike Koenig (class 6 racer out of Sacramento) told me about the Drift Innovations HD170 Stealth. He had been using them for a few races and said it was the best camera he has used. Talking with Mike about it convinced me it was about time to try something new.
I spoke with Drift Innovations and they sent me a HD170 Stealth camera to try along with the optional suction cup mount. The camera comes with a couple of flat and curved helmet mounts as well. Next step was to buy a 32gb SDHC card and then I headed north to the VORRA MasterPull USA 500 race. I mounted the camera in Rick Massie’s Trophy Truck for the first test of my new onboard camera.
The camera has a standard 1/4” mount on the base which makes it easy to install since there are so many different mounting options for 1/4” mounts. I already had a good roll cage mount that I bought from ORW so it was easy to set up. The built in LCD screen makes it really easy to get the perfect view that you want to film. And to make it even easier the lens rotates so you can put the camera in any position and rotate the lens where you need it to be.
The camera gets over 2 hours of battery life on a full charge so I started the camera about 10 minutes before the start of the race. As luck would have it (for me anyway) the truck had to stop for a flat about 100 yards before a jump I was filming at on the third lap. This was my opportunity to grab my spare battery and SDHC card and I swapped them out before they finished changing the flat.
After the race was over the camera was still exactly where I mounted it. (not the case with some other cameras and mounts) But I did notice that the lens had been rotated and not level any more. After watching the footage you could see when the co-driver wiped the lens it slightly rotated it each time. After doing that many times throughout the race it had turned about 40 degrees. He must have been pressing really hard when wiping it because there is allot of tension in the lens when you rotate it. You can correct this in editing programs but you have to zoom in to crop out the black corners which lowers the resolution.
Next up was the SNORE Midnight race at Primm. This was the perfect chance to test it out at night. I set the camera to night mode and ran it in Wayne Lugo’s 1450 truck for a race. The footage came out good overall. The dash lights and GPS had a slight blur but the view through the windshield opening looked to be more in focus. Overall it films good quality night footage with not much noise that you would see in other cameras at night.
The third time I got to use the camera was during a test with Jason Rodriguez and his new 7200 truck. I mounted it in about 3 different suspension locations and got some great footage for Dezert People 9. The LCD screen made a huge difference while setting up the perfect angle.
The Stealth HD170 also comes with a wireless remote that you can use to start and stop recording. This is key for saving battery life and storage space. My friend Mike uses the remote with two cameras at the same time on his truck and it makes for allot less footage to sit through at the end of a race.
You can also power the camera by the USB port to get longer record times. The only limit is the 32gb SDHC card size. You will also have to put a dust boot over the end of the camera and USB cable since the USB port is at the end of the camera where the back cover opens.
Note: While writing this review I just found out that Drift has a new Drift HD camera coming out this October. It looks similar to the Stealth HD170 but it’s smaller with more features. I will list the upgraded features below.
Drift Innovations HD170 Stealth, Pros & Cons:
- Price $269 ($30 cheaper than the GoPro HD but with more features. The new Drift HD will be $369 which is similar to the GoPro price with the add-on LCD screen)
- Easy to mount.
- Durable housing.
- Resolution up to 1080p HD. 720 has 60fps option.
- Mic input so you can record from an intercom.
- Remote control to start and stop, works with multiple cameras at the same time.
- 1.5” LCD screen makes changing settings and adjusting to the perfect angle a snap.
- Lens rotated during the VORRA race from the co-driver wiping it clean. I think he was just pressing to hard causing it to rotate so I don’t see this as a big issue. There is allot of tension on the lens and maybe someway to lock it down once you find the right angle would improve it in future models.
- The lens is not replaceable. (it is in the new Drift HD model)
- Does not come with a dust cover / case. They do offer an aftermarket cover.
Stealth HD170 Features:
- Maximum Video Resolution: 1080p High Definition
- SD Memory Capacity: up to 32GB
- 25 / 30 / 50 / 60fps in 720p or 25 / 30fps in 1080p
- Still Photo: 5 megapixel with Photoburst Mode
- Digital Zoom: Digital x4 (in 720p/30/60fps & WVGA mode)
- Lens Angle: 170° Fully Rotatable Wide Angle Lens
- LCD Screen: 1.5″ Colour TFT
- Water Resistant
- Remote Control: Wireless RF (5m range) Hands Free Video and Photo
- Mounts: Multiple Mounting Design
- Audio: Built-in Microphone & Speaker
- Menus: User Friendly Control Panel in 15 Languages
- Sensor type: CMOS
- Water Resistant
- Video resolution: 1080p, 720p & WVGA
- Video format: H.264
- File format: .MOV
- 25 / 30 / 50 / 60fps in 720p or 25 / 30fps in 1080p
- Video format: 16:9
- Lens Rotation: 300°
- Recording Angles: 127° in 1080p, 170° in 720p & WVGA
- White balance: Auto
- Exposure: Auto / Manual (advanced users)
- Zoom: Digital x4 (in 720p/30/60fps & WVGA mode)
- Remote range: 10 ft. range
- Built-in Microphone
- Inputs: Optional External Microphone
- AV Output: HDTV out (cable included)
- Battery: 1110mAh rechargeable lithium-ion/ Optional 1700 mAh Li-ion rechargeable.
- Power-Save option saves batteries by powering down the screen
- Built-in memory: 32 MB
- SD memory capacity: Supports memory cards up to 32 GB
- Photo resolution: 5 Megapixel
- LCD screen: 1.5″ colour TFT
- Lens focal range: 0.5m to infinity
- Dimensions: Camera – 133 (L) x 50 (D) x 33 (W) mm / Remote Control 52 (L) x 40 (W) x 13 (D) mm
- Power: Camera – DC 3.7V / Remote control: DC 3C, 1x CR2032 battery (included)
- RF: Receiver (Camera): 433.92MHz ISM band / Transmitter (Remote): 433.92MHz ISM band
- Weight: Camera – 138g / Remote control – 19g
- Operating Systems: Compatible with Windows 7, XP & Vista; Mac OS 10.2
The new Drift HD camera specs (available October 2011)
- Full HD for creating crystal clear footage
- More compact housing, 4.1 inches and 4.23 oz., 25 percent smaller that its predecessor
- Replaceable lens
- Second rear cover to protect the camera when using an external mic or a USB charger
- A playback LCD screen for lining up shots and the ability to play back the footage right away
- Micro HDMI connector for HDTV playback
- A remote control to enable you to film what you want to record, not the boring stuff in between
- New goggle strap in addition to curved and flat adhesive mounts, paired with a universal clip for multiple mounting options
- Standard 1/4″ 20 mm thread for use with most tripods
If that isn′t enough the camera also has the following :
- A rotating lens so you can mount the camera at any angle and any position to get that shot you are looking for
- It can take 9 MP photos. Put it in the photo burst mode and you can take pictures every few seconds for as long as your memory card and battery lasts
- You can pair the remote control to your camera or any number of additional cameras.
- A digital zoom function so you can get even closer to the action or your friend in front
- A 2.5 microphone input for external microphones
- Night mode so you can record in darker and duskier conditions
- Waterproof case accessory offering
- External power pack accessory offering (20 hrs. record time)
Visit them on the web www.driftinnovation.com