The Ultimate POV Camera Shootout:This is an impressive blog post by Doug Spotted Eagle of Sundance Media Group, originally posed on Creative Cow. He tested POV camera image quality, wifi, water use, mounts and more. We’re re-posting a general overview.
POV cameras aren’t merely changing the production world, they have become a staple of the production world. Getting the inside shot is simple with action cameras and the number of choices in this niche world is broad and perhaps daunting (POV cameras are also referred to as ‘action-cameras’). Action cameras are inexpensive and provide a simple means of additional camera angles to any production.
In this review, I’m going to tackle all of the “name-brand” cameras available out there. This article will not provide the answer to “which camera should I buy?” The range of criteria is so broad that the question is beyond the scope of a single review. This review will provide information about which action-camera is best suited for specific criteria and provide information that may help you make informed purchasing decisions.
Selecting POV cameras for the shootout was reasonably simple.
THE CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION:
- Price point (150.00-400.00 USD)
- Bit-rate (16Mbps or higher)
- Codec (must be non-proprietary)
- Nod for ‘professional’ features
I’ve gathered what I believe to be the most viable options for most “extreme” sport enthusiasts for shooting broadcast-quality video. During this review, each camera is set to 1920×1080, 30fps (except where otherwise noted).
- GoPro 3+ ($399.00)
- GoPro 3 Black (349.00)
- Sony AS100 ($399.00)
- Sony AS30 ($299.00)
- JVC Adixxion ($299.00)
- Midland XTC400 ($249.00)
- Polaroid XS100 (169.00)
- ReplayXD Mini ($179.00)
- Liquid Ego ($179.00)
- Drift Innovation Ghost S ($399.00)
- Garmin VIRB
With the criteria determined, participants selected, I created a scoring sheet that could be used as a reference throughout the process. The goal is to be as objective as possible in a subjective conversation.
A panel was selected, four people who would review images from the cameras and choose the best image when image quality was relevant. Other factors such as battery life, wireless functionality/reliability, audio features/quality are objective. Scores are based on how these functions are implemented and may be relied upon.
Most of the cameras have tweaks and settings that allow them to be the best they can for specific situations.
For example, in the battery life test, the Liquid Ego went for nearly 5 hours of record time, blowing through a few cards, while the Garmin VIRB and GoPro 3Black barely reached 50 minutes of record time. The Liquid Ego nets a score of “5” while the Garmin VIRB and GoPro 3+Black earn a score of 2. The Sony AS series weighed in at just over 2.75 hours earning a score of “4”.
Had it not been for the curve-altering record times of the Liquid Ego, the Midland and Polaroid cameras, Sony’s AS100 would have won this category. Regardless, with a linear scoring value of 0-5, the weighting may seem unbalanced from time to time. Please note that the score card contains two scores; one based exclusively on image quality, and the other score relevant to the overall product experience.
Most of the cameras have tweaks and settings that allow them to be the best they can for specific situations. Rather than setting each camera to its best settings, all cameras were used exactly as they come out of the box. In other words, once the box was opened, the battery was charged, a card inserted into the camera and formatted, it was put to the test.
Sony, GoPro, and ReplayXD all have internal tweaks accessible via either proprietary software or .txt files. Each allow for an optimized image even though I’ve avoided using any of these optimizations.
The waters of Ocho Rios Jamaica, Mystic Mountain for snorkeling, bobsled, and zipline testing, Lake Elsinore California for skydive tests, Virgin River Gorge for road/motorcycle testing, and Toronto, Ontario for slow motion and other comparisons.
THE FINAL OVERALL SCORES IN ORDER:
- Sony AS100 — 74 points
- GoPro 3+ — 60 points
- ReplayXD Mini 1080 — 58 points
- Sony AS30 — 53 points
- Garmin VIRB — 52.5 points
- GoPro 3 (Black) — 51 points
- Drift Ghost S — 49 points
- JVC Adixxion — 45 points
- Midland XTC400 — 41 points
- Liquid Ego — 34 points
- Polaroid — 34 points
SUMMARY OF VIDEO TESTS:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfMNbBZVll0 (Motorcycle/Road)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXWpQ8v10Go (Motorcycle/Road)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnO_H4GhOz8 (Snorkel)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEMlh4J8c1s (Snorkel)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcjvwM7T3fo (Snorkel)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHH4bGDiGp0 (Wingsuit Overhead)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLFN8A5gMcs (Wingsuit Exit)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtAXSZXOsQQ (Zipline)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldgr-xvNygU (Zipline)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qacVzrqVVgc (BobSled)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxUWWnRU4XY (slow motion/240fps)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahvWnXqjm6Y (Codec Test)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeLBugveVzE (Low Light)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpemPCJkQlI (This Week in Photo)
For the full, amazingly detailed report, check out Creative Cow.