Garmin Virb Elite: An Action Camera that Lets You Do the Adventuring While Your Wallet Takes a Break.
We luckily enough now live in a world where you can film extremely high quality video footage from the palm of your hand. From action cameras to iPhones, video camera capabilities are expanding as their dimensions are decreasing. Like many technological developments, the action camera started from one company, which holds the majority of the action camera brand (you know who). However, slowly but surely other brands are coming out of the woodwork (See smart phones, Samsung vs. Apple). One major selling point is the difference in price, the top of the range GoPro sells for around £320 while this, the Garmin Virb Elite retails at £220 , (although I got it for £158.99 from ProBikeKit.co.uk). Now if you were to walk into an outdoor sports shop, and believe me I have many a time, people may turn their nose up at your aero dynamic, glove friendly, integrated slow motion, GPS video camera which connects to heartbeat sensors, has a colour screen and can be controlled from a watch.
Yes the Virb Elite doesn’t film in a ridiculous number of high-definition modes, and no it does not film in 4k. Let’s get one thing straight though, one day in the not so far distant past, we did get by without 4k. Furthermore, in order to really utilise 4k you need a seriously powerful computer on a par with a video editor’s studio, so please, unless you’re Devin Supertramp, shut up about 4k.
Instead I am going to focus on the things that the Virb does do. First off it’s got this nice switch on the side of it, a big thing, that when you flick forward starts filming straight away, even when the device is switched off. There’s a large red light that is either green or red depending on whether you’re filming or not. Additionally, on the small screen you can see what you’re looking at. The zoom-scale, defaulted to a fish-eye-esque wide angle, is another feature that you can edit to your own preferences. You can flick through all of the different filming and photography modes and timelines are also available. Basically it works like a simpler GoPro, until you factor in what makes the Virb Elite so… well, elite: GPS capabilities.
Give it a second (if you’re outside) and it will connect you to a satellite, and you can get all of your speed, distance, altitude, direction, path information on screen. More importantly, once you’ve done being awesome on the ski slopes or surfing or hiking or whatever, when you import the data into Garmin Virb Edit, Garmin’s own video editing software (which is free), you can have a dashboard display of numerous forms of this data on screen. This ranges from heart rate, (collected by Garmin’s heart rate monitor rrp: £44.99) speed, altitude, acceleration, direction, co-ordinates, temperature, and way more. Above and beyond the fact that this is just really cool, it comes in handy for sport training too. The most striking thing about the footage comes when you view these videos on a computer screen, is the tremendous colour and shot quality of the camera, it’s quite surprising.
Much like the GoPro, you can connect to your phone and control the video and photo taking from there. And if you’re addicted to outdoor tech like me, you can connect it to any newish Garmin GPS device (I use the Fenix and the Fenix 3) to control it. For example, on my last ski trip, whilst on the slope, I wanted to take a photo of my little sister skiing ahead of me, rather than take off my helmet, and point and shoot, or take out my phone, I carried on skiing, pressed the down button on my watch and the photo was taken. It is also worth mentioning that the camera has the option to put it into automatic filming mode. Either you can set it to film whenever you move, or in ski-mode, where it senses when you are moving downhill. This saves battery, memory, and editing time, because there are only so many ski lift shots you need to make your edited video fill the song length.
The Virb attaches to all GoPro mounts, including Go Poles but also comes with it’s own (cheaper) accessories like a chest harness, head mount and pole mount, which I use to attach it to my walking pole, killing two birds with one stone.
The Garmin Virb (without GPS) retails at £99. So if you don’t want to spend silly money on an action camera that is pure branding, go Garmin and don’t go back.
Much of LeftRight Repeat 2016 was filmed using the Virb Elite.
Did I mention you can time-lapse too?