One of my fave things to do is watch videos made by Ultra Marathon runners and videographers. The views are always stunning and instantly make me want to go out for a run. My first attempt to do similar in Run Forest Run was a bit of a disaster as the rain killed my phone.
We’ve had an action camera for a few years that my bro-in-law kindly gave us. It’s a Contour GPS. I love the GPS aspect of it but the lack of a screen, the weirdness with the bluetooth and the inability to use SD cards bigger than 2GB meant we didn’t use it much.
I wanted to get something new but didn’t want to dish out $499 for a GoPro Hero 4 (and now 5) when I might not use it that much. I was very impressed by the reviews of the Yi 2 but that’s still $279. There are a ton of <$100 ones on all of the Chinese sites with SJCam probably being the best known, but the video quality in general looked horrendous.
Then 2 weeks ago whilst checking out some recent ones on Gearbest, I found the Elephone Explorer Pro. Unlike most of the other brands, these seem to be a serious company with a range of phones too. The various review and unboxing videos I found all looked pretty good and if they are telling the truth, they are using a Sony sensor with a Novatek NTK96660 chipset.
Of course I’m not clueless and ignored the 4K claims. It’s just 1080p scaled up. But I was happy to go for 1080p60 on a device that cost less than $100 and came with all the bits you’d want like a waterproof case.
I made the rookie error of using DHL delivery, so of course it got caught in Irish customs and I had to pay VAT and Import duty of more than €30 but it’s still good value.
Today it had it’s first outing as I ran the lovely route from Timoleague to Courtmacsherry and back. I took multiple video clips and photos.
- Damn it’s small! I love that
- No problem taking a 32GB SD Card
- The remote control is great and has different buttons for video and stills
- I zip-tied the remote control to the selfie-stick (the stick makes video less wobbly)
- The screen is rubbish so it’s hard to see in sunlight whether video is recording or not
- There is a status led but it’s tiny so it doesn’t help
- The waterproof case seems great but I haven’t tried it properly
- The bunch of adapters is also great but the back-mount is strange since it has a camera mount, not a GoPro one
- It seems to be roughly the same size as a GoPro Hero 3⁄4 and I could 3D print a case for it
- I hope I forgot to charge the battery fully since it barely did 20 mins of recording before dying (will test more)
- Images aren’t bad
- 170 degree view is good
- The video below was taken with it in the waterproof case. I don’t know how much of an effect that has, apart from all the JJ Abrams lens flare. You can decide yourself if it’s good enough. I had the “gyroscope” feature enabled which seemed to help with wobble.
Music is Path of no return by Lobo Loco. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.
However, comparing to the source, that generated file is much lower quality. Most of the pixellation seems to have been caused by Pinnacle Studio, rather than YouTube.
One of the source files for comparison.
UPDATE 1: I did another run on the Lusitania Trail this morning and it’s proven that the battery is a bad joke. From full charge I got 10 minutes recording time whilst it was powered up for one hour, before it shut down with low battery. That’s completely useless. I’ll be asking for a replacement battery from GearBest now as hopefully it’s not a design flaw in the camera. I’ll post the video footage later.
UPDATE 2: Looking at the video quality from today’s run, it’s pretty rubbish, even before Pinnacle pixellates it. Everything is either burnt out or too dark and its all blurry. I just compared it to some footage I took of the same location on the old Contour GPS a few months ago and the 5 year old Contour kicks its ass.
So do I have a dud camera or are my settings wrong or is this as good as it gets for <$100?