Action cameras are well and truly here to stay. It seems every second person has a GoPro, Sony Action Cam, Contour HD, or other, and an edit from their latest (insert sport here) trip to (insert not so exotic destination).
These tiny cameras allow everyone to capture their greatest airs, tricks, and most importantly crashes, in ultra high definition. However, when the sun goes down, small lenses and even smaller sensors limit low light performance. The Qudos is an external light designed for the current crop of action cameras.
On paper, the Knog Qudos seems to tick all the boxes for a bike specific light. But, as our testing proved, it’s most definitely a lamp best kept for the filmmaker. Frankly, the Qudos lacks the battery life, and beam shape to serve as a standalone riding light.
Video of the Qudos' various settings. Note: All GoPro HERO action cameras use automatic exposure control, meaning the camera tries to adjust the exposure settings to create the best quality footage with available light. No processing has been applied to this footage.
The light weighs 115g, and measures 70mm tall – just a hair taller than the standard GoPro housing. Packing a punch on paper at least, the Qudos uses a combination of three Cree LED’s capable of putting out a widespread 400 lumens.
The Qudos integrates well with our GoPro Hero 3
The outer body is made from a mix of die-cast and CNC-machined alloy and features built in heat sinks that prevent the unit from overheating. Waterproof to 40m (131 ft), the Qudos is built to survive anything from a dawn patrol surf to an after dark bike ride.
The Qudos uses a 1/8in mounting thread, making the included side-by-side mount compatible with the GoPro Hero, Sony Action Cam, Shimano Sport Camera, Garmin VIRB and the mounts and other accessories you already own.
The Qudos should not be mistaken for a bike-specific light
To test its capabilities we used the included side-by-side mount, paired with a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition set to 1080p 60fps wide-angle.
All up, our testing setup including the mounts and GoPro weighed 356g. An extra 300g may not look like much, but it’s enough to shift your helmet uncomfortably and it’s hard on your neck too.
The Qudos has three output modes each with two brightness settings to accommodate a range of situations. Despite this we found in each mode the footage had a low budget horror film vibe – think Paranormal Activity. In addition, we out ran the beam in each mode at a relatively low speed.
Action Sports mode uses all three LED’s and provided for the best footage, throwing a wide and bright beam, and illuminating the GoPro’s full range of view.
The Target Spot setting uses only the bottom LED and provides a beam more similar to what you would expect from a bike specific light. For lighting up a rider in front of you or filming a friend this setting would be ideal, as the bottom LED provides for a spotlight type beam.
Finally, the Wide Ambient mode lacks the intensity to light your surroundings. Using only the top two LED’s, this setting would be best used for filming interviews or used pointed towards the rider, as it would limit the dazzling effect of a bright light in the eyes. That said, turning a light toward you in the dark, no matter its brightness, profoundly affects night vision.
The Qudos is built tough, and can survive the same abuse as your action camera
In combination with a cycling specific light, the Qudos may be able to illuminate areas the other light doesn’t. The shorter and wider reach of the beam will fill in the area which the longer reach of the bike specific light is not designed to - this is ideal for avoiding the tunnel-vision films often take on at night.
Along with the limited-reach beam and a short battery life of about 40 minutes on the bright Action Sports setting, the Qudos won’t be replacing your regular cycling light – especially given the lack of a flash mode. For such a short battery life, the 5-6 hour charging time is less than ideal too. Extra battery packs are available, but we can’t see ourselves stopping mid ride to swap it out.
With that in mind, as a camera light, mounted on the end of a pole, the hotshoe of a DSLR, or as an off camera light source is where the Qudos shines. It has enough power to get the shot, but is compact and durable enough to stand up to drops, crashes and whatever else you can throw at it… just don’t expect to see too well with it.