Action Cam for bike - GoPro or Garmin Virb?

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veloman21
veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
Yesterday I had a glorious autumn ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though I stopped many times to take photos, at the end of the ride I couldn't help but wish for a video cam to have recorded the wonderful scenery, great climbs and thrilling descents.

The GoPro looks like the market leader but the Virb seems to be better suited for cyclists perhaps? I think I like it's form factor better too.

Anyone with experience with either unit?
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Replies

  • cloggsy71
    cloggsy71 Posts: 2,208 Member
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    Not experienced with either, both high quality units, that's for sure! I have a Sony AS- 10 which records at 1080p, 60fps & has an awesome bit of image stabilisation software on board too! The thing I hate about the GoPro is the lack of mounting options; if you put one on your helmet you look like a Teletubby!

    Drift Ghost HD's are good too; I know a few bloggers who use them on YouTube!

    You pay your money & make your choice I guess???
  • TheBigYin
    TheBigYin Posts: 5,682 Member
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    Again, I've no direct experience of either of the two cameras you quoted. Early this year I bought a cheap and not particularly nasty one, the SCV200, as a "toe in the water" experiment. While it was pretty good, it had a couple of issues, mainly with wind and road noise. Mostly this was addressed by sorting out mounting the camera better, and making it actually fit closer in the waterproof housing.

    I enjoyed using it, and messing around with the resulting files so much I was at the point of getting something better, and relegating the SVC to a "rear facing" or "helmet" role, and allowing me to actually "mix" and play "director" with a 2 camera shoot :D Then I entered a competition to win a iON Adventure camera and bagged the prize... if you look, you'll see it's somewhat similar to the Garmin Virb in one way - i.e. it actually records a GPS track automatically synched to the video. Sadly, it's gps accuracy is more on a par with the first generation smartphone chipsets than the fancy stuff that Garmin are rightly famous for. It also doesn't have the ANT+, so won't record your cadence or power figures.

    After playing around with them both for a while, I've come to a number of conclusions.

    1) Get something with exchangeable batteries, and buy a couple of spares.

    nothing worse than getting 3 hours into a fantastic ride, just at the really scenic descent, and seeing the led flash saying the power is nearly out. Or, in the case of the GoPro, around a hour.

    2) Get something with as many mounting options as possible.

    One of the BIG pluses for me against the GoPro is the amazing cottage industry (and chinese cloning factory) that's sprung up around the mounting system. Even Garmin acknowledge that the GoPro has that side of things sewn up, as they include a GoPro to Garmin adaptor mount in the Virb box!.

    3) Consider HOW you're going to use the camera.

    As Clive said, the GoPro when helmet mounted makes you look a complete twatt. Even More so if you use one of the "out front, looking back at the rider" booms

    fun-helmet-extension-arm-self-arm-mounts.jpg

    However, either under the stem, or under the saddle, they're fine. One trick you CAN do with the GoPro that works well for MTB stuff is to use a "chest harness" - it has the entire mass of your body to stabilise the camera, and avoids the "whip pans" you get with a helmet mount. Because of the "form factor" of the Virb, the nearest you can do is use a shoulder mount which makes you look either a) like a unsuccessful pirate who's had to trade his parrot in for something smaller and economical to run or b) kewl, like the Predator... Guess what my moneys on :)

    Also, think of HOW you're going to frame the shot and start/stop the camera - The GoPro Black uses either your mobile/tablet to preview shots/framing OR has an add-on screen. I think that the App can also be used as a remote stop/start for filming (in case the camera is mounted somewhere inaccessible (like on the front bumper of your car for example...) - The Virb has its own screen in-built, and can be controlled (well, stop/start and "take photos") from a Garmin 510/800/810 which is already conveniently on the handlebars - so you could have the camera under your saddle, or mounted down by the bottom of the front forkblades or somewhere else inaccessible while you're actually in motion( not sure if the 500 does the same or not - I doubt it somehow)

    4) Consider the End Results

    At the end of the day, people who sit and watch your footage aren't going to care what it was shot on, only that it's watchable, entertaining, and of a decent quality. One trick that the Garmin has going for it is the software that you get with it - which allows you to mix the GPS data and other ANT+ stuff into a "dashboard" type affair - speedo, power output, cadence, moving map things... it all can be a little gimicky, but is certainly interesting "proof of cojones" for descent videos... when the km's get into 3 figures its surprising how peoples eyes widen ;)

    You can do similar tricks with the GoPro and third party software and the data from your Garmin of course, but it's an extra step and more extra money...

    5) Budget for extras

    A recurring theme all the way through this has been that buying the camera isn't the end of it. A quick list off the top of my head would be...
    • The Camera
    • Memory Cards - probably 2-3 32gb cards for starters
    • Extra Batteries - enough for the longest ride you'd intend to shoot. Work on 1 hour/battery for the GoPro, maybe 2 hours for the Garmin
    • Mounting Hardware - the stuff that comes in the box WON'T be enough if you start getting Creative. And you'll still probably end up needing some gaffa tape as well.
    • Storage on your computer - If you come home with a 32gb card full of data once a week, that's 1664gb of raw files a year. Edit them, and have extra overheads for intermediate and final cuts and you're well into a 2Tb disk a year.
    • Software - Editing Software, DVD Mastering Software, different Codecs and Format Translators... They all take up space, and some cost real money too...
    • Your Time - it's an immersive thing, playing with video editing.

    FWIW, having done the research myself, and with everything considered, I couldn't split the Virb Elite or the GoPro Black either. They both have good points and bad -

    I like the "self contained" nature of the Garmin, no waterproof case to worry about, all the GPS data etc. included AND automatically synched to the video, and the fact that I could use my Garmin 800 as a remote trigger for the camera. On the other hand it's heavier than the GoPro, and hasn't got the same "eco-system" of add-on stuff around it that the GoPro has.

    The GoPro at the end of the day has one big thing going for it... it's the one that all the pro's use - half of the stuff on the BBC outdoorsy programs is done on them for example. It's got the market share, and gets properly supported and updated firmware wise - because they know that the Pro's that use the kit demand this. On the other hand, it's expensive - you're definitely paying for the name on the box - though the third party mounting hardware can be much better value. The other thing is the battery life. Should you wish to actually record a whole 5 hour ride somewhere "once in a lifetime", it's a pain to be carrying half a dozen batteries with you... it's bad enough stopping twice to swap those faffy little SDHC cards (and not lose the "exposed" ones).

    Honest answer is, both of them are great cameras - and you'd not go far wrong with either.

    When it comes together though even a cheap £100 wonder like the SVC200 can produce something half reasonable...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olmWckzPKVI




  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
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    Thanks chaps, lots of great info.

    Mark, all good points and definitely grist for the mill.

    I totally understand the time aspect as I've spent countless hours working with massive RAW files from my DSLR. Fortunately time is a commodity that I have :). Storage is not an issue for me as I have many TB's available. I should be able to get about 7hrs of video on a 64Gb card which would be fine for me.

    I've been doing some research and I'm definitely leaning towards the Virb. My reasoning being:-

    1. I'll mostly be using it for cycling and the easy overlay of all GPS and ANT+ data is a big plus.
    2. Weight is a concern for me but you pretty much have to use the GoPro with the plastic case which makes weight a wash.
    3. As Garmin includes a GoPro mounting adaptor, that seems a wash too. Plus I can fashion any special one-off mounts I may need.
    4. Battery life. Huge issue for me and a big plus for the Virb. With the Virb battery lasting over 2 hrs, swapping batteries when I stop to refill water bottles would sync up well for me.
    5. 'Viewfinder' Big plus for the Virb, especially if I mount it on the bars which is likely.
    6. Really like the separate photo button on the Virb, something I will probably use a lot. Plus 16MP vs 12MP
    7. GoPro has a much better frame rate but I think I can live with 960p/60 or 1080p/30 on the Virb
    8. Value: GoPro Black is about $350 and i can get the Virb Elite for about $230
    9. Really like the the one-handed ease of removing the Virb from the mount. Again a big plus when riding.

    I plan to decide shortly so that I have it with whichever adventure bike I go with :)
  • TheBigYin
    TheBigYin Posts: 5,682 Member
    edited October 2014
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    Sounds like with your particular list of priorities the Virb's looking the favourite.
  • bugsplatt
    bugsplatt Posts: 13 Member
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    I own a GoPro and a bunch of accessories, for use in my work, but plan to buy a Virb to hang off the bike. While the GoPro can give you great results, it's a pain to work with: no viewfinder, tiny, cryptic interface, terrible battery life. But it's higher def, if you really need it, and does higher frame rates which makes for much better slo-mo. If you don't really need those two things, the Virb should serve you well.
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
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    I have the GoPro Hero 3+ Black and a bunch of different mounts. I never put it on my helmet. It is always mounted on my bike or on my chest mount. The Hero 3+ has a wifi interface for android so you can adjust all settings and see what the camera sees, so it's easy to get setup. You can even pull down video and photos to your phone or view them after they are recorded.

    I love it. However, the biggest issue is the time involved in editing and storing all the video after the fact. I can eat up more time than I actually rode goofing around with the video.

    Here is a time lapse put together into a video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5lNsBTzdHw&list=UUcH8Ef7XVcIlOqNLr4l6euw

    Here is some actual video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQEJ9KP7ttY&list=UUcH8Ef7XVcIlOqNLr4l6euw
  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
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    Thanks for the info Kenneth, cool videos!!

    I received a special offer for the Garmin so pulled the trigger on an Elite model. Should be here tomorrow. Now all I need is to buy my adventure bike to get the party started :)
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
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    Awesome. Post up some videos after you get it up and running. :smile:
  • KaktusJaque
    KaktusJaque Posts: 141 Member
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    I just came across this camera, looks to be a real nice one.

    http://shimano.camera/us/
  • ntnunk
    ntnunk Posts: 936 Member
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    I own a GoPro Hero3 White and a Garmin Virb Elite. In my opinion, and keeping in mind this has to do with the Hero3, not the new Hero4 since I have no experience with it, I'd go with the Virb every time.

    First, the ability to link sensors (power meter, HR, speed/cadence) to it takes the videos to a whole new level. The Garmin video software isn't the best in the world, but it's good enough for most things, it's getting better pretty quickly, and it's a far, far, far cry easier than using Dashware or similar products to obtain similar results.

    Second, in terms of video, to my eye there isn't much to choose from between them. The Virb will use all the same mounts the GoPro does, so that's not really an issue.

    Third, one small detail takes the Virb even more over the top: The slider switch on the side to turn recording on or off. With the GoPro it's really difficult to know when you're recording and when you aren't. I've had several occasions where I killed the battery recording when I didn't realize it, and other times when I've missed stuff I wanted because I thought it was recording when it wasn't. With the Virb it's really easy, even with full gloves on, to reach down and flip the slide switch forward or back to start or stop recording. Or just feel it if you can't remember whether you're recording or not. It sounds like a very basic thing, but when you're on the bike trying to capture something it makes all the difference in the world.

    Just my 2 cents.

    If anyone cares to compare, here's a vid shot with my GoPro:
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=95C_a_LxBZw

    And here's a couple shot with my Virb:
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=_NzzSt2zlNA
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=p0-YlcQ43nY
  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
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    ntnunk wrote: »
    I own a GoPro Hero3 White and a Garmin Virb Elite. In my opinion, and keeping in mind this has to do with the Hero3, not the new Hero4 since I have no experience with it, I'd go with the Virb every time.

    First, the ability to link sensors (power meter, HR, speed/cadence) to it takes the videos to a whole new level. The Garmin video software isn't the best in the world, but it's good enough for most things, it's getting better pretty quickly, and it's a far, far, far cry easier than using Dashware or similar products to obtain similar results.

    Second, in terms of video, to my eye there isn't much to choose from between them. The Virb will use all the same mounts the GoPro does, so that's not really an issue.

    Third, one small detail takes the Virb even more over the top: The slider switch on the side to turn recording on or off. With the GoPro it's really difficult to know when you're recording and when you aren't. I've had several occasions where I killed the battery recording when I didn't realize it, and other times when I've missed stuff I wanted because I thought it was recording when it wasn't. With the Virb it's really easy, even with full gloves on, to reach down and flip the slide switch forward or back to start or stop recording. Or just feel it if you can't remember whether you're recording or not. It sounds like a very basic thing, but when you're on the bike trying to capture something it makes all the difference in the world.

    Thanks for this, it really reinforces what I thought and makes me feel good about my decision to go with the Elite (which should be here today!! :) ).

    I agree totally about the easy way to start and stop recording and hooking up ANT+ sensors etc and also the dedicated photo button to snap a shot even when recording video. The GoPro may well be the superior choice for other sports but for cycling it seems to me that the Virb is streets ahead.

    Two other features I just learned about and really like are:-

    The ability to control a second camera as a slave to the first. So I could buy a basic Virb to mount on my seat post and capture rear facing video but the start/stop and syncing would all be controlled by the forward facing Elite mounted on my bars. Makes perfect sense for a bike.

    Also, I really like the fact that the Virb(s) can be used with the auto pause feature just like my Edge computer. So every time I stop, recording will be paused automatically until I resume pedaling again. Another great practical cycling feature IMO.
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
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    veloman21 wrote: »
    The ability to control a second camera as a slave to the first. So I could buy a basic Virb to mount on my seat post and capture rear facing video but the start/stop and syncing would all be controlled by the forward facing Elite mounted on my bars. Makes perfect sense for a bike.

    This sounds like a really cool feature!!!

  • patrickblo13
    patrickblo13 Posts: 831 Member
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    Here is a video I shot this past May from Moab, UT using my GoPro Hero 3. I used the chest mount. I readjust the angle of the camera about a minute into the video


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0oBWo6DkGs

    Kenneth, what do you use for editing for videos? I tried downloading the GoPro software but I had issues installing so I gave up.
  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
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    The Virb Elite is in da house!! Shake down ride tomorrow :)
    fgbvvt6pgbl3.jpg
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
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    Kenneth, what do you use for editing for videos? I tried downloading the GoPro software but I had issues installing so I gave up.

    I use Vegas Movie Studio Platinum. It's less that 100 bucks and it gives you some nice features with clipping, transitions, multiple video and sound channels, etc. It's not the most user friendly software but I over look that because it does what I need.

  • TheBigYin
    TheBigYin Posts: 5,682 Member
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    veloman21 wrote: »
    The Virb Elite is in da house!! Shake down ride tomorrow :)
    Looking forward to seeing the results
  • bsexton3
    bsexton3 Posts: 472 Member
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    I have put this on my present to me list. It isn't for trail riding. I don't want to watch myself and I don't think others want to watch me. I have been reading about the need for video while riding. It looks like good insurance. And, when I get yelled at, or things thrown at me for being on the road, I have something to show the police.
  • ntnunk
    ntnunk Posts: 936 Member
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    bsexton3 wrote: »
    . And, when I get yelled at, or things thrown at me for being on the road, I have something to show the police.
    This is exactly what my wife uses my GoPro for these days. She had some bonehead throw a saw blade(!) at her on an all-female charity ride a couple of years ago and has used the cam on long rides ever since.

  • veloman21
    veloman21 Posts: 418 Member
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    TheBigYin wrote: »
    veloman21 wrote: »
    The Virb Elite is in da house!! Shake down ride tomorrow :)
    Looking forward to seeing the results

    Ask and ye shall receive :smile:

    Just a quick down and dirty of a local climb. The downhill bit comes at 3:17-ish up till then it's all pain of climbing mostly 10-15% grade.

    The VIRB is terrific, super easy to use and setup. Pairing with all my ANT+ devices was cake. Picture quality is very good (until Youtube compresses the hell out of it)

    Haven't really played with the VIRB Edit software but it seems easy to use and I REALLY like all the gauges and graphs/maps you can add, very cool. Only issue with this download to Youtube was that my transitions got all messed up. I'm guessing it's because of Youtube's compression algorithms but I'm not sure. The vid looked nice before the upload :/

    http://youtu.be/DhlMfbNDcOg
  • TheBigYin
    TheBigYin Posts: 5,682 Member
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    looks good for a first attempt, certainly better than my shakedown rides did, and the gauges work well (if a little depressingly on the MPH uphill - needs the gradient next to the speed display to explain the single figures IMO ;) )

    I know what you mean about Youtube munging the video quality though.

    Another handy place for upload of videos with moving maps is Kinomap... I've dropped a few videos on there - this one shows off the capabilities well - it's not actually on a pushbike - I loaned the camera to a mate who was out for a tour of europe on the motorbike... but it gives an idea of what could be done... (gps goes a little "tits up" in a couple of places - think it lost coverage under an "avalanche shield" and didn't quite pick up straight away)