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Action Camera Modification - Lens Change.replacement fisheye removal gopro guide zoom diy instructions

Installation of a wide angle lens to make a general purpose camcorder.

We bought a cheap action camera for only £20 that has very good 1080P HD video quality. To make a general purpose camcorder we want to convert the field of view from the fisheye viewpoint to wide angle. This gives a linear image without the curvature distortion at the edges. It also gives a more zoomed in view that is roughly the same as a 28mm wide angle lens in film photography. The video shows the camera before and after the modification, with test footage from both lenses.

Why we chose an Omnivision CMOS Sensor

The Omnivision OV2710 sensor produces clean and sharp video, with bright colours and excellent low light performance. The sensor is native 1920 by 1080 pixels resolution, and is also slightly larger than other commonly used action camera sensors. This means that the pixels are larger. Because it is native 1080P, all of the pixels are used to make the video image. With higher resolution sensors the image must be downsized to 1080P, and there is some associated loss of data. When properly implemented this is no problem, but if it is done poorly there can be extra noise or loss of detail in the video. The sensor is also in widescreen format, so there is no cropping to make the 16:9 video image. You can read more information about the action camera modification sensor here.

The downside of the native 1080P sensor is that the photo resolution is low, at only 2.1MP. However this camcorder is only going to be used for videos, so we don't mind that it does not take good photos. The video shows excellent detail, a stable image with low noise and bright, accurate colours. For a camcorder costing only £20 this is excellent performance. The modified camcorder can be used for many applications, including travel photography, mounting to a drone for aerial videos, helmet camera and action footage for sports with relatively low vibration levels, such as motorsports, watersports, gentle biking, skiing and snowboarding. If you invest in a brushless gimbal stabiliser system, then the modification can be used for full on outdoor sports as well.

White Balance Test with a DSLR

The camcorder does not have white balance adjustment, and operates in auto white balance mode all the time. Whilst this is no problem, it is important that the auto setting works well. We want a picture with neutral colours for filming outside in a range of lighting conditions. We tested the white balance again a Nikon D70 outside on a typical day. The test photos below were taken on a day with some sunshine and cloud cover together. The results show a good neutral colour balance, which compares very favourably to the Nikon.

Nikon D70 with auto white balance.

OV2710 with auto white balance.

The lens angle of the modified camcorder is also coming in very close to the DSLR, which has a lens equivalent to 28mm in film photography. It is slightly narrower than the DSLR.

Motion Pro Vision

Modifying your own camcorder is risky. You can potentially damage the device when you do the DIY lens change. Because of this we developed the Motion Pro Vision camcorder. It has a narrower lens pre-installed at the factory. You can buy a helmetcam with a narrower viewpoint and it works out of the box, without any changes required.

The Motion Pro Vision has a lens with a 120 degree field of view. This is around half way between the fisheye viewpoint (170 degree) and the wide angle view shown here (~75 degree). The Vision has less curvature distortion than other models, and focuses more on what is happening in front of the rider. It works well for both active sports and as a general purpose camcorder. You can use for chase footage of your friends in mountain biking and snow sports, mounted to a drone for aerial photography or simply as a lightweight general purpose model to carry in your pocket when you travel.

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