Kit Review: Chilli-Tech Mk II Bullet Cam

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.

Update

If you’re in the market for a decent helmet camera, I have a pleasant surprise for you, but you’ll have to wait a week or so. As a result, I’d suggest holding off buying one of these for now.

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.

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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.

The Good

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.

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The Bad

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.

Comparison

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.

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VTIN Action Cam

Chilli-Tech Mk II Bullet Cam

Overall

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.

12 thoughts on “Kit Review: Chilli-Tech Mk II Bullet Cam”

  1. I have a mark 1 Chili camera. Date stamp has never been any use as it keeps resetting back to somewhere in 2017, always an issue everytime I charge or change battery. Lots of wind noise or bike rattle (handlebar mounted)
    Can’t identify number plates from footage but OK generally for recording where you went. And yes

    Reply
    • Even on the Mk II, the date and time will reset every time you remove the battery. There’s a little .bat file, which updates the date and time, but you need to connect the camera to a PC to run that.
      The video quality on the Mk II is meant to be a bunch better than the Mk I, but don’t expect anything remotely close to HD, broadcast quality.

      Reply
    • whenever you remove the battery the date stamp will always reset to its default of 2017, it does say that in the user manual

      Reply
    • I think it’s important to point out that the Mk II is effectively a completely different camera to the Mk I, and that this review is only for the Mk II.

      Reply
  2. I have a mark 1 and have had issues on numberplates in poor light. In good light it is generally possible to find a frame or two with the plate clearly readable. I have two, one on helmet, one on bars. I find the bar mounted camera seems to give better image quality. I spin the mount so that the camera points out under my arm pit towards the rear to capture close passes clearly – this is pretty effective and has led to action by the local police.

    Agree with conclusions – good camera for the price, but don’t expect amazing quality.

    Reply
  3. I and my cycling friend both have Mark II Chilli cameras, and I have to say that they are not good at all. There is no image stabilisation so on potholed roads the images quickly become unviewable. This is true whether the camera is bar or helmet mounted. Worse still, both our cameras will at times simply stop recording for non-battery related unknown reasons, which we discovered after a couple of close passes. The camera is difficult to operate and the flashing led which is supposed to show you its recording is very hard to see in daylight. The date/time stamp which is pretty crucial for evidence must be reset manually every time you take the camera out. Support is poor. Basically, save your pennies and buy something better.
    Unfortunately the only camera that comes close to being functional in this genre (dashcam not action, for battery life reasons and format) is the Cyclic which is wildly overpriced and also has a light, which I’d rather it didn’t. Definitely a gap in the market here.

    Reply
  4. I am looking for a cheap camera so I can record wildlife treks in my wheelchair and provide good info to other people with disabilities. Does this fit the bill? how long does it record continous footage for and can you save and edit footage and take stills?

    Reply
    • Hi Sammy,
      That’s a good plan. Just so you know, the Chilli-Tech cameras don’t have built-in image stabilisation. That means if you attach the camera directly to your chair, the video might be rather bumpy, depending on the route surface. Provided you have a large enough memory card (I use a 128GB card) it can record for around six hours off a single charge.
      I’m sorry, but I’ve no idea how to take still images with it, as that’s not something I do.
      Kind regards,
      Will

      Reply
  5. Does the mkii overwrite files when the card is full? Or would I need to manually delete them? With a 32gb card how many minutes can be recorded. Thanks

    Reply
    • You can set the camera to do circular recording, and keep over-writing older files. I don’t do that though. I’m afraid I don’t know how many minutes of video you can get on a 32GB card, as I use a 128GB card with mine.

      Reply
  6. It’s been interesting reading these comments. It appears I have exactly the same camera, a Sport DV model mass produced in China and badged up by various companies and sold at various prices. The common issue or fault is the date/time stamp which always reverts back to 2017, so probably all from the same source. That literally renders them useless as evidence gathering devices.

    Reply
    • I’m afraid I have to disagree, on several accounts:
      1) There’s a difference between the firmware controlling a camera, and the overall camera. Many cameras share the same firmware, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same
      2) More importantly, a) the date & time reverts to 2017 only when the battery is disconnected, or somehow run beyond flat. When you insert a memory card, the camera creates a .bat file on it, which (when run on a Windows computer) sets the correct time and date
      b) the camera has the ability to turn off the time and date stamp, and c) just because the date and time may be incorrect on any camera doesn’t render them useless for evidence gathering at all. I’ve no idea who told that that, but I can assure you that claim is absolute nonsense.
      If you look at Devon & Cornwall Police’s Op Snap portal, they explicitly ask if the date & time on the video is correct, or if they should go by the date & time from your statement.
      Please don’t spread untruths?

      Reply

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