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The Elmo SUV

The Elmo SUV is a miniature ?lipstick? camera tethered to a cigarette pack size recorder By David Hague

No not an off-road monster to rival a HumVee, the Elmo SUV is a miniature ?lipstick camera tethered to a cigarette pack size recorder that uses an SD card as the storage medium. This makes the Elmo SUV absolutely perfect for those into extreme sports such as skydiving (why you would jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane has me stuffed), rock climbing, BMX biking or motor sport for example. However, the Elmo SUV would be equally at home in a professional environment say law enforcement -  or where video needs to taken inside tight places.

Unlike many such ?gadgets, the Elmo SUV is a serious bit of kit this is no toy folks.

Lets look at the camera first. Only 84mm long and 20mm in diameter, the 3.8mm focal length lens has a horizontal field angle of just over 53 degrees and a vertical of 40 degrees out of its CCD. This gives a shooting range of metre to infinity. The effective number of pixels is an impressive 440,000 and resolution is 480 TV lines by 420. While white balance is fully automatic, manual adjustment as you would expect from this sort of device to minimise electronics (and therefore weight and dimensions) is fully manual. Low light capability is not that good at 2 lux, but it would generally be expected this sort of camera would not be used in low light   even if caving, external light would generally be available one thinks. As a bonus, waterproofing of the camera is up to IPX8 standard (allegedly 8 feet for 30 minutes or 12 feet for 3 minutes).


The extension cable from the camera head to the main body is around 1.5 metres and is standard coax cable. Its attached the main body via a screw on BNC connector.

The Elmo SUV recorder unit contains a 2.2 QVGA LCD monitor, a built in mono mic and the slot for an SD card. This is not supplied, but the unit is said to be able to support up to a 2GB card.

The recorder is NTSC / PAL switchable and has an A/V out port as well as an external mic in. Data is transferred to a PC or Mac via USB 2.0. Total weight is a miserable 130g with battery (rechargeable or run off mains / 12v) installed.

In operation, the Elmo SUV is a snap to use; there are only 5 buttons menu, enter, up, down and record. The screen is bright and clear and very readable. Very bright direct sunlight blows the image out of the water, but that is an endemic problem of most LCDs in the shade it is eminently watchable.

The recorder comes with a belt attachment, but sadly, there is no universal mount for a helmet available as yet (due in March we are told with other accessories such as battery packs, optional lenses and more) so the makers of gaffer tape need not shut shop just yet ? In a race car it would be a breeze to attach the camera to say the roll cage, the handlebars on a BMX bike or a guard rail on a boat however, if you cant wait.

Testing the unit in my car saw it perform perfectly with clear images being recorded to the SD card in MPEG4 format. Playback quality on the LCD screen was excellent.

At AUD $1399 the Elmo SUV is not cheap, but if you have a specific task for this sort of camera, this is a very good choice.

For more info, see

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David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.

Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.

David can be contacted via

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