“These sunglasses sure do take nice video.” [Pause for effect.] “Really they do!”
Indeed, they shoot HD video, too. Meet Pivothead, one of the weirdest yet practical hybrid products I have yet to experience.
On one hand, the $349 glasses are pretty good-looking, albeit slightly large, shades with nice lenses. On the other, they are a powerful video tool capable of capturing 1080p footage and 8-megapixel still photos.
A tiny lens sits between the eyes. You control functions via little buttons on the frame. The glasses record audio, too, and they have 8GB of internal storage to save a day’s worth of point-of-view footage in the woods or on the slopes.
Can you say spyglasses? Seriously, the technology inside these babies is remarkable. They capture sharp and vibrant video and do it unobtrusively.
They also record sound pretty well, something that may not always be the best thing when the user is breathing hard during physical exertion.
All this summer while exploring the mountains of Colorado (my new home state) and while training for the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run I used the company’s Durango glasses to record clips. The video and photo recording features are easily controlled with three buttons on the frame.
Initially, it takes a few minutes to figure out which button does what. But instructions on the inside of the included hard case are easy to follow.
In use, the front-weighted glasses are not so great for running. (See my rough video here taken during the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run.) They bounce a lot on the bridge of the nose.
This painful problem is easy to fix with a strap that holds the glasses tight to the face. (Strap not included; buy your own.)
Once strapped on tight, the glasses stayed on the bridge of my nose. The video of running is fine for remembering the moment but too bouncy for anything more. It’s clear that these glasses are better suited to something a bit smoother such as snowboarding or mountain biking.
Seeing as we’re still a couple months away from Colorado powder, I did what any red-blooded ‘Merican would do; I wore the glasses for a test on a rollercoaster at an amusement park! See the video here; I think it speaks for itself — the footage is “helmet-cam” quality, with some wash-outs and pixilation, though fine for capturing the moment and posting online. (For more footage, the company posts user videos on this page.)
I tested a model called the Durango Chameleon, which uses photo-chromatic lens technology to change darkness in varying degrees of sunlight. I like the lens but on the brightest days wished they would get a little darker.
Pivothead currently sells four styles of its shades and several different lens types.
They all use the same camera tech. Prescription lenses are available.
The video produced by these sunglasses is good and comparable to GoPro or other action-camera footage. Pivothead will be a great tool in the hands of skilled videographers or amateurs looking for no-fuss footage recorded on a whim or at any time.
—Sean McCoy is a contributing editor based in Denver.