Every once in a while you are doing something that you wish you could record, but you don’t have the money for a proper camera, or just don’t dare to bring it out into the wild. I for one am a snowboarder and try to go on a snowboarding trip once a year. Since it is really expensive I try to make the most out of it every year, and every year again I wish I brought a camera, but then again I’m afraid it might break or get wet. That’s when I started looking for something small, something cheap, and something that shoots decent video. I found something called a Mini DV MD80.
The mini DV MD80 camera
At first it looked as if several different types of the mini dv MD80 existed. They all seemed legit and official, but they all looked the same. This struck me as something odd,since these cameras are all from different brands. Quickly I found a comment saying that these things are offered on E-bay as well for even less money! Ichecked it out and what do you think? Literally tons of ‘fake’ MD80 camera’s are offered on E-bay, shipping from china to all across the globe. I Decided to just go for it and ordered my Chinese MD80 which was just under €20,- including shipping from China to the Netherlands. It took about two weeks, and then a small packet was delivered to my doorstep. No extra costs had to be paid, the packet was there, just under €20,- and that was that. Time to unpack!
The Mini DV YS80 Camera?
As I ripped open the packaging I saw a little box with the MD80 featured on the front, but it turned out that this was not the mini DV MD80 that I ordered, but mini DV YS80 which I never heard of before. Oh well, no harm done, it looks exactly the same. The packet however was badly bruised all over. Dents as big as my fist were applied on both sides of the box. This promised to be interesting! I unpacked it further and sure enough there was a little camera inside the box with several attachments to mount it on different things. It didn’t feature a microSD card though, and the camera does not have any onboard memory, so I couldn’t test it quite yet. I bought myself a brand new microSD card and was ready to go. This did however up the cost a bit, and the camera no longer seemed as cheap as I hoped. It still wasn’t expensive though, and was still expendable enough to take it with me on the mountain.
Before we try to capture anything on video it was time to check out the gadgets that came with the small and fake mini DV MD80 camera. First we had a small clip that could be attached to the camera in order to clip it on to anything. This seemed solid enough not to break anytime soon. Further we had a leash to strap it on to your wrist and a clip that should enable you to run a sort of band through the camera in order to strap it to, let’s say, a helmet. The funny thing however is that I did not receive band to use it with. As far as attachments go, the only useful thing was the clip, but this didn’t enable me to hook it up to my helmet! The best thing I could think of was attaching it to my scarf, but then the camera would be in front of my nose the entire time. Not the best place for a camera to be, but it would do. Another gadget that came with the packet was a silicone protection cover, which seemed nice, but when it is pulled over the camera youcan no longer use any of the other attachment gadgets since the camera has then become too big to fit into any of them. Interesting move on a designer level there! I also received a manual, with one part in English featuring the most important features, and another part in I guess Chinese which also included a description of all the added gadgets of which some weren’t even in the box!
On to the testing phase of this review! For the first few tests I just held the mini DV YS80 camera in my hand, as I did not have any other major options besides clipping it on something. It was evening and I filmed inside the house using regular lights that one would lit in the evening. The results were not as good as I hoped. The frame rate was a bit under the level that I expected and the film itself was very grainy. I hoped this was because of the low light in the house and decidedto not judge the fake mini DV MD80 camera yet.
Shortly after that we went on vacation to the mountains, and so the following test was on the snow. The camera was clipped to my scarf, without the protection of the silicone cover and was dangling in front of my nose. I can assure you, this was not ideal. I switched the camera on and pressed record, but in the bright light of the great outdoors it was very hard to see what color the light was, or even if the light was on or off. I had to cover the camera with my hands in order to see whether the camera was on at all. Of course the tiny buttons were impossible to press with my gloves on so I had to take them of whenever Iwanted to use the camera. After a bit of a struggle the camera was presumably recording and was clipped to my scarf. We were all ready to go. I recorded a couple of descents and wondered how the footage would look. At the end of theday I tried to watch it on my phone, but my phone did not have native support for .AVI in which the camera records its footage. I had to download another app to run it, and found out that the only thing the camera recorded were my feet and a lot of snow. It appeared that the camera was dangling from my scarf and thus recorded nothing useful. If it would have been secured to my helmet, it would probably have shot some awesome footage, but now everything was lost. I must say though, that even though I only saw my feet and snow, the footage did seem pretty sharp and decent. Sadly, the next day I got injured on the slopes and was unable to continue snowboarding. I therefore have zero usable footage of the descents. I shot one more video in the apartment and tested the camera a bit indoor during the daytime.
In the apartment I pressed the record button once again and this time it shot some decent video. The image is shot at a resolution of 720×480 at a steady 30 frames per second. The bitrate however is low and the image continues to look grainy. This was to be expected however due to the cost of the camera. Basically it shoots video like an older model phone. The image appears to be zoomed in a bit, but I don’t know for certain if this is the case. In addition, the aim of the lens seems to be a bit off. Either that or I am very bad at aiming a camera without a screen. I suspect the first one though, since the lens seems to be placed at an angle a bit into the body. The audio is pretty decent, but that is not necessarily what you buy a camera for. I can only conclude that the video is okay. Not that bad, but certainly not great either. it is hard to aim and you will probably shoot your videos a bit at an angle. If attached to a helmet it should be alright, I guess.
I made a little sample video, but I have the strange feeling that the quality is even lower than the other videos I shot with the camera. It may also vary with different microSD cards.
In the end I would necessarily recommend this mini DV MD80 camera to anyone. Maybe the official one is better, but it can’t be much better due to cost and size. If you just want to record some of your extreme sports without worrying about damaging your equipment I guess this is a pretty safe bet, but don’t expect great videos. You may want to buy a roll of ductape as well to properly attach your fake mini DV MD80 camera to something.
PS: the clip, the only useful part to attach the camera to other objects is starting to show signs of use, although it was hardly used. The clip is becoming more ‘flexible’, something you do not want to happen. Oh well….
If you are interested in the mini-DV MD80 Camera you can take a look here —>