Cameras like the GoPro Hero brought the world of action video to the masses, combining high-def capability and lightweight durability in an affordable package. Because they're small, they can be placed almost anywhere on a car, making it easy to get that perfect shot.
Location, Location, Location
TAKE AIM AND FIRE
With a little forethought, you can produce pro-quality video of your amateurish antics. Here's what you need to know to capture your own track heroism or back-road tomfoolery.
FRONT AND CENTER
Mount a camera inside the car's grille. The lower you go, the greater the sensation of speed. As a bonus, this position won't be visible by you or other cameras. For your safety, do not wave into this camera while driving.
READ MORE: How fast must you go to beat a speed camera?
Make the most of the GoPro's wide-angle lens by hanging the camera near the passenger-side A-pillar. It's a great way to show off your love interest or, in the case of our model (your humble narrator), total lack thereof.
WATCH THE WHEELS GO ROUND AND ROUND
Capture the view from behind a front wheel, a few inches off the car, to highlight wheel motion, especially if slides are your thing. Then tell everyone you held the camera in one hand while driving with the other. If you're using sticky, stone-slinging tires, prepare to regularly replace the housing's front lens.
TWIST AND SHOUT
The steering wheel is a favorite "second camera" position. Try adhesive putty if you need the camera where gravity doesn't want it to be. This is also a great place to capture sound; to improve it, connect an inexpensive mic and stick it on the windshield. (Dashingly trimmed beard and Jackie Stewart impression optional.)
EAT MY DUST
Capture the chaos in your wake with a shot over the trunk lid. It's well-suited to track action, where you'll be dicing for position.
DEPTH OF FIELD
Foreground and background are your friends. Put a badge or other cool detail in the frame and use the wide-angle lens to capture it and the road in the same shot.
SNEAK UP ON YOUR CAMERA
Now that there's a tally light on the rear of the camera, there's no excuse for starting a video with a close-up shot of your face peering into the blinking red eye.
A forward-facing camera mounted high between the front seats gets you a bit of everything: hands on the wheel, scenery you pass, Ride of the Valkyries on your stereo, your shrieking passengers begging to be let out. Mount the camera to a roll cage or hang it from the sunroof with a suction cup.
Add-Ons and Alternatives
MORE WAYS TO SPEND MONEY ON CHEAP VIDEO.
THE ORIGINAL, UPDATED AND UPGRADED
The is the latest evolution of the original cheap digital-video camera. It starts at $200. At $400, the top model includes the ($80 when sold separately), which mirrors the camera's status screen and controls. The ($80) is a huge help framing shots. If you're cheap but have a fancy phone, the (free for iPhone and Android) lets you control the camera and see what it sees. For long-term documenting, pick up a ($50) and double the camera's battery life.
THE INTERLOPER The ($400) is a compelling GoPro alternative. With plenty of resolution and a quality lens, the Ghost needs no external housing to be waterproof and includes features like Wi-Fi smartphone integration via a free app. Glove-friendly buttons and a built-in 1.5-inch monitor make setup easy.
HOLD MY CALLS Pull the iPhone out of your pocket and stick it in an ( for iPhone 5/5S, and for iPhone 4/4S). The waterproof case maintains the touch screen's usability and adds a 175-degree, wide-angle lens.
EYE IN THE SKY The ($300) carries a 720p video camera and is typically piloted through a smartphone app. The GPS-enabled Flight Recorder accessory due this summer is capable of autonomous flight along a programmed course. The possibilities are endless, from capturing a fantastic pass at the track to tracing your favorite back road.
MOUNT UP Bin the factory suction cup in favor of one with more flexibility, like the ($70). The ball head is quick and easy to adjust, which means you'll have more time to rig different shots. It requires an adapter to go from a standard tripod bolt to the GoPro.