Garmin VIRB Elite
For its first foray into the action camera market, Garmin has chosen a flat, almost nautical look, for the VIRB Elite. It looks like the kind of camera that would be at home on a deep-sea dive, perhaps headed by director James Cameron. First impressions aside, the VIRB Elite is a true 1080p HD camera that has a 1.4’’ Chroma display built in and a WideVü lens. Yet at 6.26oz, with the battery, it’s not as light as some of its competitors.
Setting up the VIRB Elite is as simple as setting up an average digital camera. Stick in a memory card, and a battery, charge it up and you’re ready to start shooting (after some tinkering with the settings of course).
Other than the lens and display, the VIRB Elite is packed full of features. It has Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to connect wirelessly with your smartphone or computer. It can also connect with other Garmin devices, like heart monitors and temperature sensors, allowing you to overlay extra data on your videos. You can also use Garmin products like the fenix, Oregon or Edge as remote controls.
For its first attempt to break into the action camera scene, Garmin have produced a sturdy, feature-packed product. It’s a bit weighty and bulky to make any real impact on the market, and is more suited to helmet mounting than for use while running.
GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition
Small, boxy and easy to manage, GoPro’s cameras are easily recognisable and it hasn’t changed the design for its latest and most powerful offering, the Hero 3+ Black. It’s 20 per cent smaller than previous models and looks like a rugged digital device. It’s a powerful Emmy Award-winning camera with video resolution up to 4K, an ultra-sharp fixed f/2.8 lens and it weighs in at a mere 4.8oz, with the housing attached.
To get started, you’ll need a class ten or higher micro SD card. You’ll also need to check that the camera has got the latest software installed by heading over to gopro.com/update. After the camera is charged, you need to pop it into its protective case before you do any filming.
Given the size of the Hero 3+, it’s amazing how much GoPro manage to pack into it. And it’s also good to see that the majority of its focus has gone into improving the quality of the video. Yes, it has Wi-Fi connectivity and it has a great companion app that acts, among other things, as a wireless remote control, but it also has an excellent auto low-light mode and boasts SuperView, an immersive wide angle perspective.
GoPro continues to make its cameras smaller, stronger, more powerful, and generally better. It’s been a steady evolution since it first broke into the market, with the onus being firmly on improving the quality of the end product – the video you shoot. And, because of that, it’s still the best action camera out there.
JVC GC-XA2 ADIXXION
If you laid the JVC’s GC-XA2 ADIXXION down on a piece of paper, the camera would probably take up less space on the page than its ridiculous title. It’s less than 8cm long and weighs in at just over 4.7oz. It shoots in full HD through a wide-angle f/2.4 lens, while a 1.5’’ LCD screen sits on one side.
As with the Hero 3+ and the VIRB Elite, the ADIXXION is simple to set up. Just load the battery into the back of the device and charge (this could take anything up to five hours). Then slip a memory card in and connect the camera to your computer to install WiVideo, the software that allows you to connect the two devices.
The ADIXXION is a tough little critter – it can withstand a 2-metre drop, it’s resistant to freezing and it’s waterproof to a depth of 5m. It has Wi-Fi connectivity (you can also upload videos wirelessly to YouTube) and it allows you to add a number of effects to your films, just for those of you who love a bit of sepia footage.
Stupid name aside, JVC has created a pretty powerful action camera. It’s small, tough and shoots good footage. Like Garmin’s VIRB Elite, it’s built more for helmet mounting, which will put off many runners. That said, its size and weight do make it a good option.
And the winner is…
At the moment, the action camera market is dominated by one name: GoPro. And the Hero 3+ Black doesn’t disappoint. The quality of the camera, its ability to shoot fantastic video, its design and its functionality makes it the best buy around.
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