Nilox's new HD camera might have a foolish name but you'd not be a fool to get one. If you're looking for a high quality camera for more than just the commute, this is certainly one to consider.
The UK spec of the Nilox camera is slightly different to the two listed on the Italian parent website. For your £199 you get the camera, the removable LCD screen, two waterproof cases (one for the camera with the screen, one without) and a mains charger; ours was European 2-pin although we just charged the camera from the computer most of the time. There's a remote control available too, but it's not bundled with the camera in the UK. It should be available separately though; it looks the same as the one that comes with the Veho Muvi HD10. Our Veho remote didn't work with the Nilox though.
You'd be forgiven for thinking the Nilox looks a lot like a GoPro. In fact, the camera sans LCD is exactly the same size as a first-generation Hero, near as dammit, and a similar weight too. Layout is slightly different with the lens right in the middle and two buttons on the top, one for stills and one for video.
Like the GoPro you can change all the camera settings by cycling through them all on the small black and white LCD screen on top, but plugging in the 150,000 pixel LCD viewfinder gives you a full visual menu that's much easier to work with. Even if you're not planning to use the viewfinder when you're shooting it's handy having it around, just to fiddle with the menus. The camera will shoot in 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, and that goes up to 60fps at 720p which is handy for slo-mo. Stills go up to 8 megapixels.
Mounting the camera is easy enough: there's a standard tripod screw in the base of the camera and both cases, and the Nilox comes supplied with a flat and curved surface mount. It uses the same mount standard as GoPro and Muvi Veho cameras, so there are masses of different options for mounting out there. We used a chest harness and a bar mount during testing, both Muvi branded, with no problems. The camera can easily be mounted with or without its waterproof case; both of those are rated to 60m rather than the more usual 30. There are two buttons that connect to the video and still buttons on the camera.
Making the camera point in the right direction can be a bit hit-and-miss with units like this. But the Nilox has not only the LCD but also a laser pointer that fires down the middle of the frame when you tell it to, which is dead handy for getting things framed just so. The laser is visible in most conditions although it goes missing in bright sunlight; at night it's very visible, and probably not suitable for use on the public highway.
Annoyingly you can only have it on while recording, or off. There's no option to fire it just to line things up, or a setting for it to be on for, say, ten seconds when you start recording. That'd be really good. As it is, you get a red dot in the frame if you use the laser, not the end of the world and only really visible in HD.
UPDATE: thanks to Peter Bascheck who emailed to tell us that you can engage the laser independently by holding the record button down for three seconds. I missed that!
So what's the picture like? It's good. Take a look at our little showreel of various shooting conditions - it's available in 720p on YouTube. The camera captures a very wide angle of view; mounted on the bars it still manages to pick my hands out on the hoods, just. There's a fair bit of distortion of the image, especially around the edges, and the picture is noticeably less sharp there too compared to the good definition in the middle. The waterproof casings take the edge off the crispness of the image and also make flare from the sun a deal worse; we had a few issues with fogging inside the casing too, but that's not specific to Nilox. Low-light picture quality is on a par with the other HD cameras we've tested, and the frame rate doesn't seem to suffer even when it's really dark.
Mostly I shot in 720p/60fps which gives good video definition and also allows you to slow the action down with no loss in quality, if that's your bag. The filesizes aren't ridiculous either. Connecting the camera to your computer allows you to drag the files off the 8gb micro-USB card for editing; you can watch the clips on the viewfinder, or a telly courtesy of composite A/V and HDMI outputs on the camera.
Audio capture is acceptable rather than good. recording handheld it picks up a good range, but put it in the case and things understandably get muffled. Out of its case on the bike there's a lot of wind roar and not a great deal else. Audio's never been a very strong suit of cameras like this though.
Battery life is decent rather than great. With the camera in standby I got about 2.5 hours of life out of it, and recorded nearly half an hour of footage. Only having the camera on when you're recording improves things, although it's a faff if it's in its case; fitting the LCD screen unsurprisingly doesn't help matters. I tended to use the LCD screen just for reviewing footage and fiddling with the settings.
Overall there's a lot to like about the Foolish. It shoots good quality footage, has some neat options for framing your shot and is easy to use and decent value. Better options for using the laser would really help, but for £200 you're getting a fair bit for your money. It's overkill for recording the commute, but if you're into making movies and looking at GoPros, Muvis and such, this is certainly another one to have a look at. Image quality is comparable and the feature set may suit you better than the more established options.
Silly name, nice camera. Stands up to competitors and has lots of functions for the money, too.
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Make and model: Nilox Foolish HD camera
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Nilox foolish is a professional action camera capable of filming in FULL HD (1920p x 1080p) with 4 x digital zoom.
* Simple to use: with one button for filming and one button for stills (8MP).
* Easy to set up: a laser pointer helps you set up the camera in the right direction or use the LCD screen.
* Easy to review: the LCD screen enables you to watch what you have just shot and also makes adjusting settings in the menu easy.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
What's in the box?
* Foolish HD camera
* LCD display
* Waterproof case standard
* Waterproof case big
(for LCD back screen)
* 8GB micro SD
* Flat holder
* Curve holder
* USB cable
* AC adapter
* AV cable
* Lens protector
* 1 x small mount
* 1 x longer screw
* 1 x extra mount
* User manual
* Video Mode: 1080p (1920x1080), 960p (1280x960), 720p 1080x720), WGA (848x480), QVGA (320x240)
* View Angle: 175 degrees
* Photo Resolution: 8 MegaPixel
* Image Sensor: CMOS
* Frame rate: 1080p/30fps, 960p/30fps, 720p/60fps, 720p/30fps, WGA/60fps, QVGA/30fps
* Waterproof standard (of case): IP68
* Waterproof depth (of case): 60m
* Laser power: In accordance with EU Standard 1MW
* Digital zoom: 4x
* Audio/ Video outputs: Support NTSC/PAL
* PC interface: USB 2.0
* Power consumption: 400mA @ 3.7V (MAX)
* Lithium battery: 1000mhA
* Run time: 2.5hrs
Good generally, switchgear and port covers don't feel quite as sturdy as I'd like
Good performance in all conditions.
Well made casing and mounting options.
Like the GoPro, it's noticeable on your head, less so on a chest harness and not at all on the bars.
You get a fair bit for your £200.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well: good picture, acceptable sound, solid casings, neat features.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Removeable display, laser sighting.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of an auto-off laser setting, sound reproduction when in case
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.