Action Cameras on a Budget

Action Cameras on a Budget

Paying board for two horses means I’m broke broke broke. That doesn’t stop me from wanting cool gadgets, thoughβ€”it just means that I have to think about my budget when I get the urge to splurge on a new toy. When I realized that an action camera might be a good arrow to have in my quiver I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy a top of the line GoPro, but the nice thing about it being 2017 (almost 2018!) is that there’s literally 1,000,000 GoPro knockoffs to choose from on Amazon.

So many options… TOO MANY OPTIONS πŸ™ƒ

Right off the bat, I knew I wanted my camera to film in 1080p at 60fps. Those 60 frames mean that if you add slow-mo to your videos in post-processing the video stays over 30fps. I also wanted a 170Β° wide angle lens. Action camera’s have about 90 minutes of battery life and I wanted a model that came with two batteries. I wasn’t picky about megapixels, but I did want the camera to be able to connect to my phone via an app (and it was a huge bonus if it produced .mp4 videos that were compatible with my Android). On top of all of those nifty features, it also needed to come with a good set of mounting hardware.

Oh, and I wanted all of that for less than $40, if at all possible, sooooooooo… πŸ˜…

After a few hours of watching camera footage and comparing specs, I settled on the Campark ACT74.

a cool $50 purchaseβ€”slightly over budget, but worth it

The Campark came with a whole case full of accessories, half of which I have absolutely no clue what to do with (and it’s a Made in China camera, so the instructions are a strange mixture of almost English and diagrams). There’s a lot of parts and pieces to sort through, but now that I’ve owned it for a few days I’ve got a good sense of which ones are most helpful for pony pursuits.

The easiest way to attach the camera to my helmet is by using one of the nylon straps and one of the little platform-esque gadgets included in the Campark bundle. I’ve got the platform cinched down on top of my helmet so that I can clip my action camera into it whenever I want to use it.

The first day I got the camera I didn’t have time to figure out the helmet situation, so I set it on a ledge at the edge of the arena instead. The angle of the lens makes it so that the camera can cover about half of the arena (around the size of a twenty meter circle) without turning us microscopic.

Those videos were filmed in 1080p at 60fps (though I’m pretty sure my video editing software exported it at 30fps πŸ˜•). Quality wise, I’m super happy with what I got for my $50! My only complaints are 1) The camera splits videos into ~3GB chunks that I have to edit together later, and 2) The videos come out just a smidge on the dark side. But luckily both of those things can be addressed in post-processing!

Top/Left: Directly off of the Campark, Bottom/Right: Slight brightness and contrast boost

The audio quality of the camera’s recording isn’t spectacular (though it would probably be better without the waterproof casing, which has to be on in order to use the mounting system), so if I want to have clear commentary on my rides I’ll probably want to invest a little extra cash in a separate microphone system.

I got the right helmet mounting configuration figured out on Sunday (AKA the windiest day known to man), so I recorded all 25 minutes of our ride. Here’s the uncut version for your viewing pleasure:

There are a few choice moments in that video, but if you don’t want to spend the time to watch it all (can’t blame you, most of it’s a snoozefest πŸ˜…) I picked out a small handful of clips to share on my Instagram.

Anyways, I’m excited to have this nifty new angle and I think I got a great value for my money! 😎

Bless this Beautiful Horse

Bless this Beautiful Horse

Guys, I can’t put into words just how much I love this hard-headed horse. πŸ’“

A very lovely mother/daughter came out to look at him yesterday! The mother used to ride when she was a teen and now has eleven year old twins that want their own horses for 4-H. She warned that the daughter that would be riding Ezhno was a little bit timid, but that she’d been taking lessons for a couple of years and that she could ride walk/trot/canterβ€”and they were coming with a trainer, which is a huge plus!

Saturday afternoon I gave Ezhno a pep talk, took Raglan for a ride, and then greeted Ezhno’s potential leasers as they pulled into the barn. Twenty minutes later Ezhno was tacked up (hunt seat!) and I was cavorting around the arena, showing off Ezhno’s paces (he was a Very Good Boy!).

And then the girl got on and he was… well, obstinate is a good word for it. It didn’t matter how vigorously she fluttered her tiny little eleven year old legs, he alternated between drifting off to sleep and staring at me from across the arena with an expression that can only be described as “seriously?”. Despite the trainer’s vigorous encouragement and the crop I handed over from where it was buried in my tack trunk, Ezhno treated her kicks and taps like they were just a gentle tickle on his ribs. He flicked his tail in annoyance and ultimately walked a couple of sluggish, non-circular laps for her before they called it quits. πŸ˜…

The moment they were gone I lost itβ€”legit cracked up. Something about the combination of the futility of that little girl’s struggles and Ezhnos strange mixture of patience and annoyance had me in hysterics.

Sometimes I forget that one of my favorite things about Ezhno is how stubborn he can be. 😊

Of course, then I got on and put the fear of god into him by making him practice figure 8’s and sloppy (but quick) simple lead changes. I had to apply the Wand of Motivation a couple of times since I was riding without spurs, but once his engine was revved up he did a good job. And then, because he owed me recompense for his silliness, I made him take me over some tiny jumps a few times. 😁

I’ve got another exciting possible lead on a leaser, so hopefully I’ll have an update on Ezhno again soon!

Looking for a Leaser!

Looking for a Leaser!

There’s a certain amount of relief that comes with making the decision to let go. I felt it back in June when I decided that I should sell Ezhno. Once the emotional exhaustion wore off I realized I wasn’t ready to rush into a sale, but I’ll never forget that initial feeling of coming up for air. I’d finally given myself permission to acknowledge that Ezhno had taken my education as far as he couldβ€”and that was okay.

The aftermath of Ezhno’s almost-sale left me in an awkward limbo. I fumbled to try and find a new purpose for Ezhno in my life. Should I keep working on his western? Or maybe we should try some dressage? Some days I was happy to ride him and other days I was frustrated. Our relationship had changed.

Getting a glimpse into what Ezhno’s life would be like if someone were to lease him made me feel better. I liked that he was appreciated and taken care of without me having to micro-manage his day to day life.

When I put Ezhno back into training, I did it with the intention of taking him off of my plate for a month. With Raglan back in working order and my schedule on the verge of hectic (I picked up a side gig to help pay for boardβ€”more on that later!), I needed to find a way to keep him busy while freeing up some of my time. But more than that, I wanted to have a chance to really bond with Raglan without having to swallow down feelings of guilt and nostalgia every time I switched back and forth between him and Ez.

I’ve hopped on Ezhno a few times over the past month and it’s been… hard. Every time I tried to ride I wanted him to be stronger, faster, bigger, better, etc. I found myself turning what should have been a good ride into a borderline angry set of trot to lope transition drills. I’d ask him for more effort, deem his attempts “not good enough”, and then feel horrible for being so unhappy with a horse that I owe so much.

Something needed to change, so I took the leap and listed him for lease on Facebookβ€”and there it was again: inhale, exhale, relief. Suddenly we can both breathe again.

Knowing that Ezhno’s training will continue with someone else takes a huge weight off of my shoulders. The day after I posted the ad I went out to the barn, tacked him up western, and was finally able to cavort around the arena with him with a light heart and a grin on my face. It felt so good to finally be able to enjoy my horse again without having to quietly worry about what his future holds.

I can stop trying to do double duty as his trainer and just be his friend/owner instead.

Ezhno’s ad has drummed up a good amount of interest without me really putting much effort in (there’s something to be said for having a horse with unique coloration; as much as people act like it doesn’t, color matters). I’ve got a family coming out to look at him tomorrow (with their trainer in tow, fingers crossed!) and if things don’t work out with them I’ll cross post to Craigslist/DreamHorse.