Olfi action cameras are a Welsh based company and have an excellent following and reputation for producing solid cameras.
From the outset Olfi sets itself apart from the mainstream, arriving in a semi-hard case, of the type you’d buy anyway to store the camera, and it’s designed by action camera users for action camera users.
The camera design stands out, choosing a portrait orientation as opposed to the more familiar landscape. The camera itself, now with the large illuminated Olfi logo across the front certainly looks the part.
Adopting the older style waterproof housing with the slightly annoying secondary lock is a bit last generation. But when the Olfi is tightly packed inside it stays protected from everything the Britsh winter can throw at it.
Spec’s wise the camera seems a little behind the times with 4K (Interpolated) at 24 fps and 1080p at 60fps. But then this is where Olfi differs from the crowd; it’s all about how this camera performs out in the field rather than just wowing you with specifications.
The Black spec’s wise doesn’t look that much different to the One.Five, but tech enhancements see the improved low light performance, the ability to plug in an external mic, extended time-lapse features and a few cosmetic changes.
Performance from the One.Five Black is good. 4K footage at 24fps is a touch too slow to be used for action sequences but is fine for scene setting and vlogging.
1080p, 60fps is perfect for capturing the action with smooth footage full of colour and detail. As ever the low light performance while better than the One.Five still struggles as with most action cameras.
However at £150 the Olfi One.Five Black is a solid action camera that will work and last, providing you with years of use.
The updated tech inside and features now mean you can plug in an external mic, and the specially adapted case that retains the waterproofing is a considerable benefit.
Although in many ways the Olfi One.Five Black seems on paper, at least, a little behind the times, when it comes to use its way out in front for the price.
Olfi is one of the few companies aside from GoPro to look carefully at their user base, and aim to fulfil the needs of those people using their cameras.
A first look at the specifications and design elements and you might think that this is an older model, there’s something distinctly last generation about the Olfi One.Five Black.
However, quality is at the heart of the camera, and a balance of features and cost has been made, let’s not forget that this is a £150, not £350 camera.
But in a crowded market where high-end specs are bartered about such 4K at 60fps, touch screens and voice control, can a camera with a more traditional approach still gain traction?
Hell yer, this is after all Olfi, it’s not a camera designed from a spreadsheet, instead, its grown from feedback from users and those in the company.
Olfi have passion for the products that they produce and the Olfi One.Five Black shows this from the outset.
Still, it’s hard to call, some of the high-end specifications are nice to have, but the true quality of the camera will only come out when given an in-depth test.
Take a look at the spec sheet, and the Olfi instantly seems slightly behind the times when it comes to the big numeric resolutions and framerates.
4k (Interpolated) at 24fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps – This isn’t too far off what we’ve come to expect from an action camera, and the most critical factor here is the 1080p at 60fps.
Behind the 166º field of view lens, there’s a Sony Exmor-R sensor that enables video and still captures. Those stills are captured at 16mp, and there are lower resolution options if you want them.
Where the One.Five Black differs is in its design. Rather than copycatting the older style GoPro matchbox size, shape and orientation the Olfi sits vertically.
If it were painted bright yellow, it would probably pass comfortably as a minion.
Weight wise it’s close to the GoPro at 57g for the camera, battery and memory card and 54g for the 30m waterproof housing free of any mounts. This brings the total weight to 111g, to save you the math.
Size wise its measures 54x40x24mm in height without the case and 78x61x37mm with.
One of the significant new features for the One.Five Black is the external mic plugin. This uses an adapter that plugs into the micro USB port, and there’s a special case available that enables the Olfi to retain its waterproof ability.
At present, the big feature in the action camera world is image stabilisation and here the Olfi features a digital version that can be quickly switched on and off in camera.
On the back of the camera is a large LCD screen, it’s not the largest or touch screen but is clear and bright.
Alongside the essential video and photo modes, the Black also features an extended time-lapse mode which enables you to set the camera to take one frame every hour. This might seem like a small feature for an action camera, but it’s pretty unique.
There’s also a dashboard cam mode and with the external power plugged in it’s a nice additional feature.
The Olfi also comes with its app, this enables a clear live view for both video and stills and allows you to change a good selection of options and settings, although not all.
In the semi-hard case along with the camera come a host of accessories including connectors, screw, curve base, flat base, USB cable, frame housing, short clip, J clip, Anti Vibration plug and stickers.
Finally, the camera comes with a free 12 month warranty, so if you break it within the first year of use Olfi will replace it for free.
There’s no doubt that a cursory look through the specifications and it all looks a bit last generation. But then I’ve tested some of the latest 4K 60fps cameras out there, and while some offer excellent value for money like the SJCAM SJ8 Pro, others are just not worth the cash despite the features.
The Olfi One.Five Black is a balance between build quality and features.
Build quality and handling
From the outset the Olfi One.Five Black feels like a quality product. The semi-hard case that the product arrives in is of excellent quality and ideal for storing the camera and accessories while in transit.
The 30m waterproof housing while of the older design with the annoying secondary lock is also of high quality. Surprisingly the optional housing with the ability to screw in the external mic has a single release lever and is excellent.
Housings often say a lot about the quality of the product within. If you ever see screws around the lens, for instance, leave the camera well alone.
Here the housing is solid, and there are small details that set this apart from the majority of other housings. When the camera is set in place, there is little if any movement and when the housing lever is clamped shut there’s no movement at all.
This ensures there’s no internal vibration when the camera’s in use.
In the box is a small vibration rubber, this sits between the camera mounts quick release and the mount. For example, when fitted to a handlebar mount, this small bit of rubber does a surprisingly important job and helping to reduce vibration.
There’s also a cage housing in the box, this is for use when vlogging and enables you to use the onboard mic without the muffling effect of the waterproof housing. Or, you can plug in the external mic.
One aspect of the camera that I like is the rubberised feel to the exterior; it’s tactile but also enables a better grip on the camera when wearing gloves.
The rest of the camera feels solid and well made, there’s no plasticy feel about the exterior, and the battery tray is nicely hinged, and MicroSD card slot is the exact right size for the card.
Switching the camera on the illuminated logo on the front is a nice, the fact that this logo flashes when recording is an excellent feature and enables you to easily see if the camera is or is not recording in all but the brightest conditions.
Flicking through the interface and everything makes sense. Switching between options and setting is easy, and although there is a slight lag when pushing the buttons between modes, it’s not a worry.
When the camera arrives setting the time and date is all straight forward, but after the first use, I did find a couple of additional options that should be changed from the default before the camera is used.
These options are the Bitrate, Quality and Sharpness. It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the image stabilisation and distortion correction. I’ll cover these more in the performance section.
As ever the One.Five comes with an App. This is simple in design, and the main interface enables you to switch between Photo and Video. Other modes need to be accessed directly through the camera.
In the top right corner of the app is the ability to adjust the settings, not all options are available here, but enough for the basic operation of the camera.
In use, the App is robust, throughout the test the connection was always easy to set up and the signal between the camera and an iPhone 7 seemed strong. There were some occasions where the signal broke up slightly, but nothing more than any other camera.
Fitting the camera to my bike was as easy as ever due to the GoPro style mounts on the base of the waterproof housing. This meant that any mount I usually use with the GoPro’s worked just as well here.
I say just as well, in the case of the bar mount it was better. One of the issues that I have had with the GoPro cameras is the height distance between the mount and the lens, as the Olfi sits upright that extra height sees it peaking over the top of some cables and the edge of the underside of saddles.
Once fitted and out on the trial, the Olfi was easy to use. As ever with this style of waterproof housing while there are markings on the camera it’self on the case there’s nothing.
You do of course get to learn which is the power on and which is the shutter over time, but as I switch between multiple cameras it is often a pain to remember.
Although the casing and button layout is of the older style, there’s no doubt that it’s easy to understand and the cold weather doesn’t render your fingers useless like some touch screens.
You can almost always push a button however cold you are, a touch screen can’t always detect your fingers in your core temperature drops below what it deems as alive.
Settings and options made and the camera once out on the trail is easy enough to navigate and use. If you use the App, then an extended press on the up button will activate WiFi, and then you can connect your phone and the app.
On the first ride out the footage from the camera looked good in bright conditions but then I noticed that the shadow areas showed plenty of chroma noise. The image in the lowish light of the British Winter also didn’t look as good as I thought it should and comparing the footage against that taken on the Olfi One.Five something didn’t look quite right.
Delving into the setting and boosting the BitRate to High, Quality to Fine and Sharpness to Low and then I tried again, and there was a significant increase in quality,
As I used the camera, I soon got to learn the settings that enabled the best quality. As the light dropped, I could activate the LowLightMode. This makes a big difference to the quality especially on dull cloudy days when the camera struggles with the lack of light.
Image Stabilisation was the feature that I switched between the most, and the effects of it on the quality of the handheld footage was excellent. Not quite HyperSmooth but still very good.
Looking at the quality of the footage and once the settings were adjusted to boost the video quality it was all very good.
Shooting at 1080p 60fps and the video quality was superb. Checking the settings and it shows that video is being captured at a respectable 30MB/s.
Across the frame, there’s plenty of detail. I took the sharpening down to low as I like to boost that in post later, however, the footage showed plenty of fine detail and the tonal graduation was excellent.
With all settings increased to high the dynamic range also proved excellent with the high contrast conditions down at the beach showing plenty of detail in the highlight and shadow areas of the frame.
As ever the small 166º FOV lens distorts the footage, I like the look, but if it bugs you, then the Distortion correction does an excellent job.
Remembering the lens is small the edge of the frame are very slightly softer in focus than towards the centre of the frame, but this sharpness is far better than most other action cameras.
Likewise, there is minimal chromatic aberration along the high contrast edges of the frame.
Colour is as ever vibrant, and there’s plenty of options to tone this down in the settings.
Overall video quality is excellent – not entirely up to the GoPro Hero 7 Black but on par with the best of the rest.
Harking back to the last generation aspects of the camera, while it has both iOS, Android and Apple Watch compatible apps there’s no social integration or live streaming ability for the camera.
At £150 the Olfi One.Five Black offers excellent value for money. The build quality and package provide you with an action camera that offers everything any true action camera user could want.
It’s tough, well made and offers the features that you need. It doesn’t offer the latest tech and features but rather balances the essentials with price and quality.
It is a shame that it doesn’t offer 1080p at 60fps and 4K at 60fps, but then most computers struggle to edit 4K video anyway and do you want to wait for your 4K footage to upload to YouTube/Instagram/FaceBook anyway when 1080p uploads in a fraction of the time.
Olfi has also added two significant new features which make this camera stand out. The ability to plug in an external Mic vastly improves the audio quality and makes this an excellent solution for vloggers.
The other big feature is the extended Time-Lapse. Being able to plug in the camera into an external power supply and then just let it run for days, weeks or even months, with that 60 minute time interval a feature few other action cameras can offer.
The Olfi One.Five Black is an action camera designed for those who use action cameras whatever the conditions. This is a camera you would comfortably take anywhere.
It may not have some of the latest features and specifications that excite the tech-loving elite, but what it does offer is solid performance.
Video quality is excellent, and overall usability is as good as they come.
Would I recommend the Olfi One.Five Black, absolutely and I have. It’s a surprising camera that does what it’s been designed to do and an awful lot more.