Seabird 4K Snap Verdict
Seabird is one of a new emerging set of action camera manufacturers. They’ve seen the market grow and adapt, taking on board design and features that many action camera users have been calling for. Now they launch the Seabird 4K.
Available in a selection of bright colours the Seabird 4K instantly stands out, and this isn’t just because of the fluoro orange adorned by our review sample.
The cameras controls are beautifully simple with just two buttons, one to switch on and toggle through the modes, the other, the shutter button on top to start and stop recording.
All other interaction with the camera is made through the large touch screen or through the app.
In use the camera works well and the cameras interface is similar in style to the excellent Yi camera range.
Video quality is also good, with a good amount of detail tone and colour, it also adapts well to changes in light and in tricky lighting situations where the subject is cast in shadow with a bright background the camera is able to compensate well.
Motion is also well handled with 1080p resolution being captured at a very respectable 60fps enabling the smooth motion capture of action.
In low light the Seabird as with allmost all action cameras does start to struggle with noise and slight pixelation, but the level of this is far better controlled than with other cameras in this price bracket.
At the price there are presently few other cameras with similar image quality and features, throw in the bright colour and beautifully designed app and the Seabird is well ahead of the compition for a camera at this price
For Seabird 4K
- Decent 4K video
- Good touch screen interface
- Amazing range of colours
Against Seabird 4K
- Accessories all at extra cost
- Slow start-up
- Some pixelation at 1080p
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It’s been a while since an action camera arrived that felt different, but from the moment the Seabird contacted us here at camera jabber we could see that those involved we’re passionate about the product they’d produced.
In essence, the Seabird 4K is much like any other action camera out there at the moment, but there’s a big difference, it’s been designed with a touch of love.
When the camera arrived and looking through the specs, which I’ll get to in a moment, it all looks a little run of the mill, chipset, resolution etc are all as I’ve seen before.
But then, open the box and there’s this bright orange camera looking back at you. The colour and simplicity instantly appeal. The colour especially is something that I’ve been keen to see with GoPro for a while and here it is, although not two tone,
OK, it’s still a box with the same kind of form factor as many other action cameras but it feels oh so different and as the review continued the feeling was reinforced that the Seabird was outstanding at the price.
As mentioned the Seabird 4K comes in a variety of colours, our review sample is bright orange but there’s a blue, green and of course black for the more conservative amongst you.
On the front is the usual fish-eye perspective lens and with an f/2.6 aperture and 155.5º field-of-view and 2.35mm focal distance.
When the camera arrives the default mode is set to photo and will take images with a maximum resolution of 12MP.
Switch the camera over to video and along side the usual 1080p at 60 and 30fps you can also shoot a respectable 4K at 30fps. This video is captured in either the H.264 or the newer H.265 codec.
As ever Bluetooth and Wifi are built in enabling you to connect to a variety of accessories and of course the app.
The camera is powered by a 4.35V 1050mAh battery which provides a good hour of use and further batteries can be purchased to extend usage time.
Size-wise the camera is as ever nice and compact measuring 59.2 x 41 x 29.9mm and weighing in at 54.5g for the body only and 77g with battery and MicroSD card fitted.
The camera has been designed for use with MicroSD Storage and a decent SDHC U3 class card is recommended.
Like the Yi cameras the Seabird comes naked, just the camera and all accessories need to be purchased in addition. I like this approach as it means less bits of useless plastic lying around. The packaging is also made from card with no plastic so everything, aside from the camera, can be easily recycled.
Build quality and handling
The pricing of the Seabird places it in the action camera entry level and this is reflected in the build.
The outer is made from a tough plastic which is tones in one of four colours, it also has a slight leatherette texture which gives it a slightly tactile feel. It doesn’t have the highly polished feel of the likes of the GoPro, Garmin or top end GoXtreme cameras but it’s still better than the majority of other entry level models.
However, the only removable part which is the door through to the battery compartment is solid enough and a small lanyard connects the door to the body to help avoid it getting lost.
On the exterior of the camera the top houses the shutter button, front the lens and power/mode button, side features the MicroSD and USB port and base the battery door.
The base of the camera is flat, so no 1/4-inch thread or GoPro style mount, these can all be added with accessories.
Our kit features just the camera, so all accessories need to be bought in addition.
As the size and shape of the camera is pretty standard, it didn’t take me too long to find a case that fitted perfectly. And trying the camera out in the Removu R1 showed that it was ideally suited for use with a gimbal and fitted perfectly.
Finding your way around the Seabird 4k
Action cameras need to be easy to use and the Seabird shows just how far cameras like this have evolved.
Once started up which takes around five seconds the camera is ready to go. Oddly the camera by default is set to photo mode, it’s easy enough to change by tapping the touch screen and selecting the large video icon.
If you then want to switch resolutions or adjust any of the other settings then just tap the screen to bring up the menu, tap the settings cog and all options for video are laid clearly out in front of you.
Having the camera start in photo mode each time I switched on did become a little annoying, however, delve into the menu and it’s easy enough to change the default start-up mode from photo to last used.
Once selected the camera boots into whatever mode was last used. This made sense to a certain extent, but I use video most of the time and occasionally use photo and time-lapse, but there’s no option to set video as the default mode just photo.
Changing resolutions and frame rates is easy enough, just a couple of taps and again all the options are there ready to be adjusted. As I quite often see these options are displayed in a list with the resolution and frame-rates tied together rather than being able to adjust them separately .
All other settings such as date time, shooting modes and manual settings can be quickly adjusted through the menu.
When it comes to using and handling the touch screen makes things exceptionally easy.
As I had the bare kit, handling was a little tricky, as it is with any action camera due to the size, but as soon as it’s placed into a selfie-stick or other mount it becomes far easier.
The simplicity of the design with the two buttons makes using the camera very easy and this coupled with the touchscreen and app makes the Seabird 4K one of the easiest cameras to use on the market.
Seabirds app is beautifully laid out and finding your way around really couldn’t be easier. There’s obviously been a lot of thought in the design and the robustness of the connection between the camera and app was one of the best that I have seen at this price.
The speed of the connection is also fast with only a minimal amount of delay.
Our Seabird 4k review sample arrived early, and through the test I have seen the camera evolve from something interesting and pretty decent into an outstanding all rounder.
What has given me confidence behind the makers of this small camera is the commitment to get things right.
Early on I found a small issue with the audio sync, an issue that I have now seen on quite a few new action cameras, especially with the Hi3559 processor. I popped Seabird a message and within hours I received a reply saying that they were aware of the issue and an update was on its way.
That update applied and the cameras quality and features have advanced by a huge leap.
Starting with the setup and control of the options directly through the camera.
The Seabird’s touchscreen interface looks a little familiar and isn’t to dissimilar to the one seen on the Yi cameras.
This ultimately means its clear and easy to navigate with the modes and options easy to find and select.
Swapping through the modes is easy enough as is changing the resolution and frame-rates you want for the video.
In use the camera responds well and in our test I mainly used the camera handheld but did find a waterproof housing that fitted the standard size of the Seabird 4K well.
Getting home and reviewing the footage the 155.5º field of view lens just takes off the edge of the fish-eye look and makes the image more complimentary to users wanting to use the camera for vlogging.
It also cuts down on the usual amounts of distortion.
Visual quality is good with excellent amount of detail, tone and balanced colour.
Looking carefully at the detail and you can see it’s definitely a level-up from cameras around £100 and the lens doesn’t suffer from the flaring and vignette issues that are common with entry level cameras.
When it comes to motion the image is well controlled, there is a little pixelation at speed but nothing that you would complain about.
Taking the camera from shade through to light and the camera adjust quickly to the exposure change.
Using the camera out and about, rides, walking and general messing around and I was really impressed with quality. Detail, tone and colour was excellent and put the camera into 4K for general use proves just how good this camera is.
At 4K the level of detail is phenomenal picking out fine detail and balancing colour and contrast well.
Colour is also bright and vibrant with good overall tone. As I’m starting to find with many entry level cameras there is a slight over saturation especially when it comes to skin tones.
One feature that is available on the Seabird that isn’t available to such a degree on the majority of other action cameras is the ability to change the image quality.
I spent some time playing around with the options and found the saturation, sharpness and exposure compensation sliders could be used to incredible effect to get absolutely perfect colour.
Taking many of the settings down also helped balance exposure in tricky situations, and while the camera still maintained automatic exposure control it utilised the compensations perfectly.
I also noted in the settings a shutter speed option although at present this seemed to be greyed out in all options. This could be an interesting addition for a future update and something that would elevate this camera well beyond the abilities of many cameras twice it’s price.
Overall the video quality is excellent, well above that of an entry-level camera although not quite up to the quality of the GoPro Hero, but not far behind.
However, while the video quality is close to the GoPro the features far outstrip the entry level model.
The Seabird 4K is definitely a camera of interest, it has more going for it any entry level camera I’ve looked at recently.
The brightly coloured design and product feel match the price point and obviously, that bright orange makes it stand out a mile.
The user interface is intuitive and finding the options and setting you to want is all easy enoug.
Video quality is good, but not quite GoPro Hero, but the ability to adjust settings and image quality enables you to tailor the image to your style of shooting.
However, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a very competent action camera. What really makes the Seabird 4K is the ease of use. That touchscreen as with other cameras makes the world of difference.
Reinforcing the fact the Seabird 4K is a camera made with love is the app. It’s finely tuned and one of the best apps I’ve seen with any action camera even the GoPro.
The launch price for the Seabird 4K is quite amazing for a touch screen action camera. Even if the price rises to $129 after the initial launch it still a good deal.
For more details on the Seabird 4K check out indiegogo.com/projects/seabird-the-most-affordable-true-4k-action-camera