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Action Cameras: Night Performance

The Sony HDR-AS30V camera takes surprisingly good pictures in low light conditions, at least if you’re not too fussy about details like license plates…

At dusk, on our way to the City of Poughkeepsie’s Independence Day fireworks show:

Night Ride 2015-07-04 - AS30V - 0

Night Ride 2015-07-04 – AS30V – 0

Returning in full dark:

Night Ride 2015-07-04 - AS30V - 1

Night Ride 2015-07-04 – AS30V – 1

A light fog set in as we got out of the city:

Night Ride 2015-07-04 - AS30V - 2

Night Ride 2015-07-04 – AS30V – 2

The Cycliq Fly6 faces a major challenge from in-its-face headlights, even with some background streetlighting:

Night Ride 2015-07-04 - Fly6 - 1

Night Ride 2015-07-04 – Fly6 – 1

In full dark, it’s enough for mood-setting:

Night Ride 2015-07-04 - Fly6 - 2

Night Ride 2015-07-04 – Fly6 – 2

That ride marks the annual exception to our general Don’t Bike After Dark rule. We set our blinky taillights to the legally required steady mode, although I think a low-power blink mode would be more conspicuous. Perhaps an occulting light (constant bright with dim pulses) would be better, but I’m not sure that’s legal.

Yeah, checkitout: I’d be occulting in the dark on my ‘bent! Them Wiccans ain’t got nothing on me…

We have reflective tires, tape along the inside of the wheels, retroreflective packs, brilliant LED taillights, mediocre LED headlights (admittedly behind scuffed fairings), and look like UFOs in the dark.

A roadie on a fancy bike, riding dark without lights and reflectors, passed us. Watching him dodge a car that entered an intersection without seeing him once again demonstrated that cyclists are, in general, their own worst enemy.

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  1. #1 by Daniel B. Martin on 2015-07-14 - 09:55

    “That ride marks the annual exception to our general Don’t Bike After Dark rule.”

    That’s such a good rule that it deserves NO exceptions.

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-07-14 - 11:17

      If it wasn’t such a dumb idea, we’d do much more late-evening and early-night riding: cooler, quieter, much more pleasant. Much later than that, though, would bite into my (desperately needed) beauty sleep.

      On those rare occasions when we’re out after dark, drivers give us absurd amounts of clearance…

  2. #3 by Mike on 2015-07-14 - 12:12

    We set our blinky taillights to the legally required steady
    mode, although I think a low-power blink mode would be
    more conspicuous.

    Any idea as to the lawmakers thinking? Could you have
    both?

    Locally (left coast) one friend of mine who rides a regular
    format bicycle (not a recumbent) has steady red LED
    lights on the rear at the axle level, and a blinking bright
    red LED light just under the seat.

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-07-14 - 13:27

      After dark, bright blinky lights tend to confuse your vision in ways that bright steady lights don’t. For me, at least, trying to figure out exactly where a blinking light is, in relation to everything else, is harder than with a steady light. Plus, of course, blinking light = turn signal; it’s hard to tell whether that thing ahead is a car with a dead tail light or a bike.

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that drunks target blinky lights, probably because they steer toward anything that attracts their attention.

      So an occulting light should work better: mostly steady to help locate the bike against the background, with brief dim “pulses” to attract the eye, and no bright flashes to dazzle onlookers. But that’s just me, not anything I can cite…

  3. #5 by Red County Pete on 2015-07-14 - 13:37

    When I rode a lot a long time ago, I used two LED blinkies on my panniers and a couple of headlights.The prime, a 5/20W Nightrider, and a low-wattage one with much longer duration. I’d do a long ride after work on Fridays, and it got pretty late. Got caught without lights once or twice before that setup.

    When I had the trike, I mounted two halogen lights on the frame, powered by a 12AH gel battery. I think that one had a steady tail light, too. I tried to limit my night riding to roads that had something like a bike lane, or were just quiet. The sketchier roads were for daytime.

    I’d guess any blinking red light ban is to prevent [nah, reduce] confusion with emergency vehicles. [HTML5, why’d you kill my strikeout tag?]

    • #6 by Ed on 2015-07-14 - 13:48

      Good point about emergency vehicles.

      That said, the number of flashing lights on most of them make me look like I’m riding dark; there’s no way anybody could mistake me and my blinky for a meat wagon. Yeah, right.

      FWIW, the WordPress editor does strange things with HTML tags it doesn’t understand. I don’t know if the Markdown editor works any better, but flat text seems to be the least prone to random breakage.

      • #7 by Red County Pete on 2015-07-14 - 20:11

        It depends on the blood content of the driver’s alcohol stream. I had to work a couple of crashes in a former life…

        According to the info, HTML5 deprecated the strikeout tag, in favor of something fancy with css coding. Sigh.