Liquid Image 305G XSC-Xtreme Sport Cams LIC Hydra Series 12MP Mask Waterproof Video Camera with 1-Inch LCD (Black/Green)
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- Wide angle video camera embedded into a diving mask captures what you see for easy Hands Free photography while snorkeling and diving to a depth rating of 130ft or 40m
- Video Mode records HD 720P Video 1280x720 up to 30 fps
- Photo Mode records 12.0 MP interpolated images through a 135 degree lens
- 4GB+ micro SDHC card recommended (expands up to 32 GB) a 4GB card records approximately 2 hours of video Camera records approximately 700 or more images or 30 minutes of video per 1GB of memory added
- 4 x AAA Energizer Lithium Batteries or Rechargeable Lithium Batteries recommended
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The Liquid Image Hydra Series is an Underwater Camera built into a dive mask, making underwater photography "Hands Free" for safer swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The camera mask takes a 4GB+ micro SDHC card and can expand to a 32 GB card. A 4GB card records approximately 2 hours of video. Camera records approximately 700 or more images or 30 minutes of video per 1GB of memory added. It works well with the Model 347 - underwater 60 degree side torch.
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Another thing that's just inherent with this design is that when you're looking at something of interest in a more or less vertical position & shooting movies, the bubbles from your regulator pass in front of the lens unless you remember not to breath. Obviously the same thing would happen with a mask mounted Go-Pro or similar camera. This is just something to consider versus a hand held camera.
Finally, why bother recording sound??? All you'll hear 99% of the time is your regulator.
The mask itself worked fine, no leaking or anything like that, so, on balance, for the money, it's a reasonably good product, just be aware of some of it's limitations in considering your purchase.
My wife got me the Hydra HD 720p for Christmas with the idea we'd be able to use it on our trip to Mexico in January – THANK YOU! Order was shipped promptly and everything was as expected. Based on other reviews I played with it some before we left to get used to the different settings but for me all I really needed to know was how power up, power down and how to cycle between the 4 camera modes (HD video VGA video, still photo and continuous photo). Each mode causes the LED indicator to change to a different color. Realizing that toting the paper manual around on the beach wasn't going to be practical AND with a Mexican vacation often comes plenty of tequila so it was very likely I'd forget what each colors meant by the time I got to the reefs. I solved this by taking sharpie and made myself a cheat-sheet of LED color to mode on the back of the mask before we left. This proved to be very useful while on the water.
I used the mask with a blue filter several hours a day for 6 consecutive days tooling around various reefs. I am impressed and the photo and video quality were fantastic. Had no issues with durability, no leaks, putting it on, taking it off was easy as was adjusting tension while in the water. And, based on observations of the “Go-Pro” setup absolutely prefer a fully integrated camera over a top-mount (reason mentioned below). Constructive feedback (below) aside I rate this a 5/5, would buy this again and plan to soon for my wife.
With that said there is definitely room for some engineering improvements. Not sure if any of this would be possible but here's what I'd change:
Camera: The primary reason you get this is for the camera. Since it is mounted basically on your forehead when used for snorkeling the camera will bob in and out of the water even though your lenses are submerged. This made for some pretty shoddy video until I realized what was happening and adjusted my swimming to be more “look down”. Still, you have to look ahead at times to see where you are going and can pretty much assume the camera is out of the water when you do. I'd suggest moving the camera down and I'd say directly over the nose cover would be about perfect and wouldn't impact vision.
Batteries: I did not find getting the batteries installed nor the memory as difficult as some have but it could be easier. This mask does burn through batteries pretty quickly in video mode (pretty much all I used). Given the space allowed I'd vote to replace the two side AAA battery compartments with two side 9v batteries like we use in our smoke detectors. Would take up about the same space but give much longer life plus would solve the issue some have with installing.
LED: The LED is a great way to quickly know what mode you are in and seemed promising in my living room but when you are submerged it was not even remotely possible for me to see whether the light was on much less what color it was. I didn't have a problem popping up, pulling off the mask to check and adjusting as needed but the light needs to be moved. I'd suggest somewhere prominent like between the eyes so it'd slightly illuminate the rubber and you could even dim it down some then. Also, printing a quick-reference that maps LED color to camera mode on the mask itself seems like a no brainer. Including a water-proof card with some additional quick references might also be a good idea.
Not sure if any of that would be possible but I'd be willing to pay a little more for those few options.
Hope someone finds this useful!
A set of four AAA batteries barely lasts two dives so bring extras. The status lights are hard to see, so practice shading the corner and finding the dim light. I could never tell the difference between blue and purple underwater, so I had to count the beeps as the colors changed, since I could see green, red, and two blueish lights. Worked okay that way.
My biggest complaint is that the audio cut out several times, so half my videos start out with sound and then devolve to loud static. I have to post-process my videos to remove the sound so I can share them. But it was super cheap, and it worked. So I'm happy enough.
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