[nextpage title=”Introduction” ]
The action camera market is in a stage of transition; the small go anywhere cameras are still creating a buzz and are as desirable as ever but the features of the top flight cameras are beyond what many people need. It seems that the emphasis has switched to improve ease of use.
The market has also diversified from just extreme sports enthusiasts to the families and vloggers.
In this period of transition, innovators such as Removu have leapt forth with new all-in-one camera and gimble systems that offer true action camera quality at an affordable price.
Admittedly DJI has already been in this market with all-in-ones for a while, but until now the Osmo has been unchallenged in the mass market.
The Removu K1 is £80 cheaper and offers much the same features and video quality as the Osmo, but packed into a far smaller and more convenient package.
For Removu K1
- Lightweight build
- Feature packed
- Decent App
Against Removu K1
- Can calibrate slightly in use
- Slightly cheaper-feeling build than the DJI Osmo
The popularity of gimbals has been steadily increasing as the price and size of the technology drops.
Despite the rising popularity, manufacturers still face the challenge of explaining why of earth gimbals are needed.
For those of us who use motorised gimbals regularly, there’s no discussion to be had, we know the effect that they will have on our handheld footage, and we know that we need one.
If you’re unfamiliar with gimbals, their function is, in essence to stabilise footage. They remove camera shake and wobble that’s inevitable when you’re filming handheld.
You could use the built-in image stabilisation offered in most cameras, but the effects of the digital stabilisers pale into insignificance against motorised devices such as the K1.
The effect on your video is staggering and it will transfer what might be regarded as amateurish footage into something altogether more professional.
Removu has been exceptionally canny with the release of the K1 and produced one of the highest spec’d, small and lightweight gimbals on the market.
Not only that, the company has paid attention to what people need and to what existing gimbal users are doing with their devices.
The K1 packs in the features, but features are never the whole story, it’s how everything works that matters.
If the stabilisation good and the video and audio quality is mediocre, we have a problem. Looking through the spec’s, however, it seems Removu is well aware of what’s needed and has packed in the tried and test quality of the Ambarella processor and Sony Sensor.
Feature-packed sums up the K1’s specs list, and to be honest if you’re going up against the Osmo then you can’t cut corners.
Ambarella and Sony have had long been the dream team when it comes to action camera processing and sensor technology, so it’s no surprise that they feature in the K1.
Removu has gone for the Ambarella A12S75 and 1/2.3” CMOS 12MP (Sony IMX377). The sensor is the same as that used in the Yi 4K a camera that defeated the GoPro Hero 4 Black when it came to absolute video quality.
Fronting this combo is a f/2.8 101º field of view (FOV) lens. This lens choice is far narrower than the usual 160º/170º adopted by most action cameras and it has a minimum focal distance of just 50cm, making it an ideal choice for direct to camera work.
The available video resolutions and framerates are impressive with 4K at 30fps and 1080p at up to 120fps; it can also shoot 720p at an incredible 240fps if you feel the need.
As well as video the K1 can, of course, capture stills at up to 4000×3000 pixels (12Mp) and has; single shot, burst, time-lapse and panorama modes built in.
Other modes include slow motion and time-lapse video both well worth a look.
In a departure from many cameras at the moment, Removu has properly spec’d the MicroSD card compatibility, and the K1 can accept cards up to 256GB.
Moving on to the gimbal, it’s a 3-axis model. In the last year, I’ve been sent several 2-axis gimbals which are frankly pointless.
This gimbal provides a good range of movement with a tilt range of between -48 and 108, Pan of -75 and 255 and roll of -60 to 60.
In the past weight and size has always been a bit of an issue with gimbals, but the K1 weighs just 340g including the battery.
Finally, size-wise the whole device measures 5.8 x 7.0 x 21.6cm, that’s small enough to comfortably fit into a Billingham Hadley lens pocket without issue.
[nextpage title=”Build & Handling” ]
Build quality and handling
The K1 is a nicely put together piece of kit. It’s well finished with the detail and design that you’d expect at this price point.
If I were to be brutally honest, I’d have to say that it doesn’t quite meet the material quality of either the GoPro Karma Grip or the DJI Osmo, but it’s not too far behind.
Importantly, it all feels solid. And part of the discrepancy between the Removu‘s build quality and the competition can be put down to the smaller weight and size.
We also can’t really compare the K1 with the GoPro Karma Grip as that is a completely different style of product. Like many other gimbals, it’s an accessory for the GoPro or other action cameras.
The K1 and Osmo are in far more direct competition, but again I see the Osmo as a premium professional product with the iPhone carrier and additional bulk and weight, whereas the K1 is slender, sleek and all-inclusive.
As you start to use the K1, you see how well adjusted it is to the intended use. For one reason or another, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to it, trying to do the review.
It has to be said that while the K1 was always ready, sharp and precise my presenting was not.
And for this reason I got to learn the button layout pretty well: how tapping the trigger three times would switch the K1 to selfie mode, twice to reset to the standard position and once to switch between following and pan.
Usually, with a new device it takes a while to figure out all the ins and outs, but with the K1 everything is pretty self-explanatory. It also has one major advantage over the Osmo.
The Osmo doesn’t feature a screen and therefore it requires you to attach your mobile phone to the bolt on holder. That starts to increase the size, weight and complexity.
The K1 is complete, you can connect and use a phone, but equally, you use the device in isolation.
When you do connect the app, then you can take complete control over the K1. Not just to start and stop recording but also to move and control the gimbal itself.
This makes it incredibly versatile enabling you to pole mount the K1 and then control it directly from the mobile device.
In test, the integrity of the connection was excellent with no dropouts in use.
[nextpage title=”Performance” ]
There are two areas to delve into when it comes to performance: the gimbal and image quality.
Starting with the gimbal, there’s no doubt about the responsiveness of those small motors.
As you walk they adjust quickly to movement, keeping the small camera steady and ultimately smoothing out the footage.
Where the K1 excels is in the ability to control the head’s position with the joystick and trigger. With just a quick triple click of the trigger you’re in selfie mode, and then use the joystick to compose, using the small screen to guide you and then you’re ready to start filming.
The workflow and ease of use of the gimbal is excellent, and if you feel the reaction time or speed of the gimbal is to fast or slow, then there’s plenty of scope for adjustment in the settings.
The gimbals potential is huge, but that will come to nothing if it didn’t support a decent camera.
As previously mentioned, the small camera packs in a proven processor, sensor combination and sure enough in testing they prove an ideal partnership.
Firstly the camera is fast to respond when it comes to starting and stopping recording.
Switching through the various options shows that there is plenty of choice with the all-important 4K and Full HD resolutions.
The video quality captured by the K1 is excellent, and even in the dull overcast conditions of the test, the camera collected plenty of detail and tone.
Looking at the footage, the first thing that strikes you is that the gimbal at work smoothing out the motion and making the camera glide through the air when handheld. Quite a difference from the usual wobbly handheld footage.
Next, there’s good tonal gradation along with plenty of shadow and highlight detail in footage captured at both 4K and 1080p.
There is some sign of noise in footage captured in overcast conditions, but this is to be expected with this type of camera.
Checking over the image frame confirms the 101 FOV f/2.8 lens is ideal for direct to camera work. It cuts out much of the distortion that’s common with action cameras and supplies a quality of footage that will appeal to vloggers.
The addition of a 3.5mm mic port hammers home this appeal and again reinforces the feeling that Removu has listened to what people want.
Distortion and chromatic aberration are both handled well, no doubt due in part to the reduced FOV.
[nextpage title=”Verdict” ]
I am a bit of a gimbal fan – OK a huge gimbal fan – and over the last few years they’ve evolved beyond all recognition.
The Removu K1 is at the top of the list when it comes to features, ease of use and affordability.
It’s smaller and more convenient than competition such as the DJI Osmo. It’s also an all in one system which means that all you need to do is power on and go, no faffing around with additional connectors.
On board, audio is good but does suffer from the usual wind noise issues. But the addition of the 3.5mm jack it means that if you need good quality audio, then a separate mic can be added.
The Removu K1 is an impressive piece of kit, ideal for vloggers, families or anyone wanting a lightweight camera to capture superb handheld footage.
As a movie maker, member of a family that likes to film holidays, someone who wants to start vlogging or if you have any other need for a video camera, you’d be a fool not to check out the K1.