Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐
I recently purchased two Chilli-Tech Mk II Bullet helmet cameras – one for me and one for my youngest daughter. For a few years I’ve been riding with a VTIN camera, and I’m quite happy with that, except for battery life. The Chilli-Tech Mk II has a battery life of roughly 4.5 hours on a full charge, which is almost four times better than my old camera.
What’s in the box?
In the box you get the camera itself, a micro-USB charge cable, a velcro system for attaching it to your helmet (it works surprisingly well) and a handlebar mount, which secures to the bars with rubber bands. You also get a second end-cap, which has two holes drilled in it. More about that later.
The camera is very sturdy, with an anodised aluminium housing. The memory card slot, and microphone are covered by an aluminium screw-on cap. There are also two hardware switches: one to switch between photos mode and video mode, and the other to switch between cyclic-record mode, and motion-detect mode.
The helmet mount is a sturdy piece of canvas, with two elastic hoops to hold the camera onto it. Underneath, it has Velcro, and the other piece of Velcro that it attaches to has an adhesive. That piece sticks to the top of your helmet, and you get two of them, making it easy to move the camera between helmets.
You also get a safety cord, with a quick-release catch, and I use that to secure the camera to my helmet, in case it ever somehow worked it’s way loose.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this camera is cheap! If you’re looking for a helmet cam and don’t want to spend a fortune, then this fits the bill.
Chilli-Tech claims the Mk II is waterproof up to a depth of 30 metres. I don’t go SCUBA diving, and I can’t see a scenario where I’ll get to test that claim. My concerns are far simpler: would the camera survive cycling in rain, and in this case the answer is a resounding yes.
I mentioned the battery life above. To me that’s very important. My new commute is almost exactly 15 miles each way. Fifteen very hilly miles. With my fitness currently being far from exceptional, my old camera’s battery would last just long enough to cycle to work, and after charging it at work, just long enough for the ride home.
I tested the Chilli-Tech camera, and managed to get just over 4.5 hours of recording time from it. That’s an enormous increase, and I’m well happy with that.
Switching the camera on is easily done, even with gloved hands, and the camera vibrates when it switches on and starts recording. You can feel that vibration while wearing your helmet.
For those that want a date and time stamp on their videos, the Chilli-Tech Mk II does that be default. It is possible to turn that off though – the online manual tells you how.
Image quality, while not exactly poor as such, is noticeably worse than from my old camera. Additionally, when you’re cycling at speed, there’s a bit of “waviness” to the video, suggesting the camera’s processor is far from top notch. Chilli-Tech claim the camera is an 8 MegaPixel one, but I don’t know if I believe that.
During bright daylight, I can live with the video quality. However, I’m under no illusions: at times this camera will struggle to clearly capture the reg number of close-passing cars, and that’s a problem.
I have a well-established habit of calling out the reg number of cars that close pass me, in the NATO phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, etc) and if you relied on a Chilli-Tech Mk II camera, you will need to get into that habit, too! Then again, it’s an excellent habit to cultivate, no matter what camera you use.
I only tested sound with the end-cap without holes, and it records my voice OK, even if a little muffled. When calling out reg numbers, I do so quite loudly, and that works perfectly fine. If you were in any interaction with another person, you will really struggle to hear what they’re saying on the video.
Chilli-Tech state the maximum memory card size is just 32GB, but you can use a 128 GB memory card, provided you first format it using the FAT32 file system.
The two images below are still from videos recorded on my old VTIN camera, followed by the Chilli-Tech Mk II camera. If you opened each image in a new tab, you will immediately see the quality difference. That difference becomes more apparent in the two videos further below.
VTIN Action Cam
Chilli-Tech Mk II Bullet Cam
Is the Chilli-Tech Mk II worth the money? Yes, it is. Sure, both sound and video is worse than that of my old camera, but let’s compare apples with apples: I paid less for TWO of these cameras than I paid for my old camera.
The video quality is good enough to use for Op Snap reports, but don’t expect anything near broadcast quality. Having tested the Chilli-Tech Mk II camera, I will now use that as my main camera, while my old camera will have a new role as rear-facing camera.
At the time of writing, they’re running a promotion, and you can get a camera here.