Look back just a year ago and the action camera world was very different. GoPro were struggling after a surge of hi-spec’d and feature-packed competitors who managed to increase their share of the market at GoPro’s expense.
We’ve seen an interesting fight to the top with TomTom, Garmin and Olympus all chasing motion sensors and the premium price bracket, whilst Olfi and a few others held the quality mid range.
In the background we all knew that GoPro would fight back with something big, and that arrived with the Hero5, a premium priced product that packs in tech and features and demands GoPro’s usual high price tag.
The mid-price action camera sector is where the real battle starts, and it’s where many who would previously have bought GoPro and are now experienced with what they want and expect from a camera are looking for their next upgrade. Although GoPro is still the go-to brand it is no longer the go-to camera, and with the likes of the Olfi it’s easy to see why.
At £200 less than the Hero5 the Olfi one.five is a camera for the true extreme sports enthusiast. As with its predecessor it has been designed tough and features a waterproof casing that keeps the camera safe and secure whatever the conditions.
Although the waterproof housing may seem overkill when compared with the latest housing-free designs, there’s no doubt that it protects the camera – simple peace of mind for the moment.
It doesn’t pack in the features that many cameras are now trying to cram into the small form, but instead it just gives you exactly what you need to shoot great footage.
The new Olfi has refined what was on offer in the original and supports the resolution and frame rate options with great image quality.
Shooting in bright day light conditions at 1080p Full HD at 60fps there really is very little to tell between the Olfi and the GoPro Hero4 Black. The Hero packs in a few more mbits/s and a higher frame rate, but when you talk to users these features are really only used by the professionals anyway.
Out on the track the camera is easy to use, the new button layout is easy to remember, and the small screen on the back makes finding and checking settings exceptionally easy.
Concerns over the additional height quickly disperse after the first use, although I’ve yet to venture into the sea to see if it is easily knocked when surfing – for that I’ll wait for the summer. In our tests it seemed no less likely to be knocked than the more standard GoPro-style design.
The housing design sees several changes and one design change that did standout was the slight bevel around the lens. As a fan of completely flat lenses, especially in the British weather, anything but flat for me can cause an issue.
Sure enough the lens as with any got caked in mud and although easy enough to clean that small bevel around the edge did make it slightly more difficult to clean, compared with the original version. However the issue is so small it’s no great drama and just a small niggle.
Looking at the video quality at 4K the 24fps is just enough to create smooth usable footage although the 4K is interpolated.
Gyro Stabilisation is another feature that is increasing in popularity and the Olfi one.five’s built in Gyro does a great job, again the small screen and easy navigation make it exceptionally easy to locate and activate when needed for a downhill.
The Olfi as with almost all action cameras is Wifi enabled. At present the app available for both iOS and Android is limited in features, but Olfi have stated that an update will be following soon.
Although the camera isn’t directed at professionals, a nice new feature for videographers is the ability to switch to a flat colour profile in order to make the most out of the captured dynamic range and images tonal graduation. This is also a great feature if you’re editing together footage from several Olfi’s or mixing and matching.
The Olfi one.five might not have all the motion sensors and voice activation of the latest generation of action cameras but it certainly packs in quality.
If you’re looking for a great solid performing action camera then the Olfi one.five is an ideal choice.