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Scuba Diving : Articles : Underwater Photography : The Best POV Cameras - A Comparative Review

The Best POV Cameras - A Comparative Review


Submitted by admin on 2012-11-12

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The use of POV (Point of View) action cameras in outdoor adventure sports have become increasingly popular in recent years and this is no different for scuba divers trying to attain underwater footage. In prior years the only real options for good quality underwater footage would be to invest in large and expensive underwater housings, similar to that used by DSLR cameras, or to find specialized video cameras that were made specifically for underwater recording, these were both expensive and generally out of reach for the average diver. Lately however there has been a whole new world opened up with the increased popularity of brands such as the GoPro, which offers great underwater high definition recording in a small, practical and essentially affordable device. There are now a series of these POV action cameras that provide underwater housings and the opportunity for underwater recording at a price you are able to afford.

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With the price of computer storage too becoming ever more affordable , it allows for the progressive development of higher resolution video and at the same time creates an environment where the average consumer is able to store and manage video content of large sizes. At the same time advances in online video hosting and broadband services means that these same consumers are able to share their content with others online in a few simple steps.

Dropzone.com, the internet's largest skydiving community recently decided that it was time to settle the debate as to which action camera is the best, and what better environment to test an action camera than to have it moving through the air at speeds in excess of 150 mph, mounted on to a skydivers helmet. The review saw six prominent and popularly used POV cams pitted up against each other in a series of tests and challenges. The cameras used during this review were the GoPro Hero 2, Sony HDR AS15, Replay XD, JVC Adixxion, Contour Roam 2 and the Drift Innovations HD. A total of 11 cameras were mounted on a single Bonehead Flattop Pro skydiving camera helmet for the review, with a single wrist mounted camera for documentation.

The test would focus on the key performance aspects of the cameras:

  • Overall quality in a normal lighting environment
  • Quality in a low light environment
  • Audio quality
  • Features and flexibility
  • Ease of ease, setup and out-of-box experience
  • Slow motion/over-crank quality
  • Third party support
  • Codec/Post-Production

The first test of overall quality was done on the ride up in the aircraft and allowed for comparison on the way that the camera handled the indoor lighting conditions, the amount of detail captured, as well as the general color and saturation. Next up in the quality test was the reviewing of the distortion and how wide the field of view was with each of the cameras, as well as an extra comparison on the detail present from each of the cameras, this time in a harsher natural light environment. Review of sharpness, distortion, detail and contrast were also the key points of focus for this set.

The low light tests were next and this is where the newcomer, the Sony HDR AS15 started to show that Sony's first attempt to break into the action camera market looks be an impressive one. The final presentation display varied quite a bit between cameras, with each cam handling the low light situation slightly differently - but there certainly was a winner to come out of this test.

Next up were the audio quality tests. Audio quality is something that is at times overlooked, but when editing video where the original audio track is required, the vital importance of high quality audio with sufficient noise cancellation becomes apparent. With action sports there is often a lot of noise that can be picked up on the camera mics from movement through the air, and this case is exacerbated when skydiving, so this would be the ultimate audio quality test.

What makes this comparative review unique is that there were several cameras used in the same environment, and unlike most other comparative reviews, the cameras were able to be compared accurately while in action. The review contains side by side still images displaying each cameras strength and weakness when compared to it's competitor, though also offers split screen video footage where one is able to compare how each camera performed compared to it's rival in the video itself.

In the end the results were not really what were expected. The GoPro, which has been the 'go to' camera when it comes to POV cameras was simply outperformed and in the end it looks as though a certain major electronics company has jumped right into the action cam market and impressively made their intentions clear. A heated showdown between GoPro and Sony may well be on the horizon.

For the full detailed review with video and image comparisons between all six of these cams you can visit dropzone.com

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