Saturday, April 15

Review of the Sena Prism Tube Action Camera for Motorcycle Helmets

It is that time of year again when the call of the road is loud and relentless. Jesse Owens II is home from winter camp and itching to take me far and wide. So far, however, all we've done is ride back and forth to school. But that brief ride is enough to start the day with a heart full of joy.

This season I will ride with a new toy after finally acquiring a Sena Prism Tube. As the owner of four previous helmet action cameras, I'm liking this one the best. Yes, even better than the renowned, popular GoPro that I once owned; I like it better than the Drift Stealth that I traded the GoPro for and still own; and, even better than two other helmet cams whose names I've forgotten and never even used on the ‘cycle. That makes a total of five helmet cams I've owned. Only the Sena and Drift have inspired me to try my hand at moto-vlogging.  

So, for those looking for a simple, snap on helmet mounted action camera, I offer this review of the Sena Prism Tube. 

What I like: It's no nonsense; simple to set up; no tiny window to scroll through to access features; no pairing with a phone; unburdened by multiple mounts; and, did I say, "easy to set up." Of the helmet cams I've owned, this one is intuitive and seems the best design for snapping on a helmet and going! Mounting on a helmet is quick and simple. A sturdy clip can be screwed to helmet and the camera inserted in the mount. This works well if the helmet is devoid of a lip or flap that goes underneath the helmet. This method did not work securely on my Nolan modular helmet but worked fine on my full-face Scorpion. However, even on the Scorpion I was never able to adhere it so securely that the screw-on mount didn't move a little when adjusting the camera or turning it on and off. However, the stick-on mount works great on the Nolan, which is my preferred helmet. Moreover, I like the camera's 125-degree wide angle lens and its ability to adjust to light variations quickly. It records in full HD 1080p at 30FPS—so some the 30FPS is unacceptable. To me, it is not.  I have yet to try the camera at night, but when driving into a dark garage the camera's eye adapts quickly. 

What I like most is that everything you need to get going is included in the box. No need to buy a microphone because a wired mic is included as is a USB cable for the speaker and microphone. You will need to supply a micro SD card up to 32GB. In addition to a microphone, the Sena Prism Tube comes with a speaker, which is a bonus because it removes the guesswork from wondering if the camera is recording. When turned on, a voice prompt will announce: "Camera on, recording." When the camera is turned off the voice announces, "Camera off." Sweet! I can recall many times I rode thinking a camera was recording only to learn later that it wasn't. Not with the Sena Prism Tube. I read that there is also a warning of low battery but I can't confirm that as I've not gotten that far yet. 

What I don't like: Actually, not much. I'm not looking for professional quality video. I'll be okay with good enough. If I venture into moto vlogging, I'll up grade if necessary. The Sena did take some fiddling to get the camera angle straight on the helmet. For the first few test rides the camera was a bit cock-eyed. With the help of YouTube, I learned from other users how to solve the lop-sided perspective. My preferred method is putting the helmet on and looking into the mirror and straightening the camera. I can then test the angles out and play back on my computer to check. Easy-peasy.  I read also that using a bubble level with the helmet and camera mounted and placed on a flat surface also works. Once mounted on the helmet, the Sena can be moved back and forth as well as inward and outward from the helmet, giving the rider considerable range in camera angle.

The wind has been an unpleasant challenge. I don’t blame the camera. It’s more a mic issue I’m guessing. The Nolan has a wind curtain that fits under the chin of the helmet. I need to find that to see if it will cut down on the wind noise. One some YouTube videos the wind is awful, on others, using the same camera, the wind is almost nonexistent. Weather conditions surely matter and we’ve had some truly windy days. Helmet style and quality surely matters too. Still, I’d like to get the wind interference under better control. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

Loving the Sena Prism Tube--and being back on two wheels...


Steve Williams said...

Thanks for posting the review and the video. I've been looking at the specs on the Sena for awhile and wondering if it might not be an easier tool that the GoPro I have. Would really be nice to have a voice confirmation of the thing recording and not recording. Like you, I've been caught a few times with it not doing what I thought it was doing.

What's kept me from doing much is the challenge of audio while riding, and the monotony of endless wide-angle POV shots. I confess to a certain degree of uneasiness watching them -- I feel like I'm waiting for a crash to happen since they all look so much like the crash videos I see on YouTube.

I'll keep an eye to see whether you enter the moto V-logging world with both feet!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

RichardM said...

If you have a couple of other cameras running at the same time, you can switch between them in post but still use the single audio track from the Sena. This would eliminate the wide-angle POV monotony that Steve mentions. Especially if you still have the other cameras. For any video the audio is the trickiest part.

I thought about doing this but never have much to say. I've occasionally added another audio track in post.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks Steve,

I know that "uneasiness"...I stay as far away as possible from those motorcycle crash videos. They literally give me nightmares. I hear you on the "monotony" of the wide-angle. My Drift allows some manipulation of that--if I'm remembering its features correctly. It ends up being a trade off for me. The simplicity of the Sena won me over. I don't want to fiddle with anything while riding--even activating the wrist watch-like device for the Drift bothered me. That I can turn the Sena on before mounting the bike and hear the prompt that it's working and turn it off whenever I happen to stop--and it's relatively cheap price--made it a no-brainer to try out. Yes, I'll have to deal with the wide angle tedium should I actually decide to make this leap into the great unknown.

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks Richard,

I admire those of you who run multiple cameras. I certainly have amassed the cameras to do so. But, at the moment, I lack the will. Perhaps it's due to a lack of knowledge/patience. I found using the other cameras rather frustrating, which is why I abandoned each. Besides the Sena, I have three other cameras (traded the GoPro). I might try to ease into using one more camera but it sounds like more work than I might want to do. You're right. It was always audio and excessive fiddling that did me in...I'll be checking in on you to see what I might be able to learn. Thanks!

redlegsrides said...

Something's up with the video, says "not available"?

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Hi Charlie6,

Yes. Something to do with YouTube permissions and verification that I am who I say I am? I've been waiting on them to activate the upload AGAIN! So far, I've heard nothing more. Rather frustrating. Thanks for dropping by.

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