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Higher quality action camera? (GoPro replacement)


kye

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Despite having lots of nice cameras, I find that I've used my GoPro Hero 3 consistently over the last 5 years, but I'm frustrated with the quality and looking to replace it.

My critical requirements are:

  • Waterproof
  • Very wide angle (~17mm or wider)
  • Half-decent low-light performance
  • Relatively small form factor (for hand-holding - doesn't have to be wearable)
  • 4K or high bitrate 1080 (lots of movement causes compression artefacts galore)
  • Doesn't have to have a screen

I use it for shooting while swimming and for parties.  The combination of waterproof, wide-angle and small means that people can pass it around and using it as a selfie-camera can still get themselves in shot, it doesn't freak out other people at the beach or whatever (it's still borderline though), and can be used in clubs or private venues without getting hassled by security (security had a couple of good looks at my gopro with "bobber" handle, but probably more concerned with its ability to be used as a weapon).

Here are some issues I have with the Hero 3 - from a shoot about a month ago in a club:

Overpowering flares (I wonder if this is my camera being old and having some coatings fail or something?  if not then this may be common to other cameras though)
vlcsnap-2018-05-05-10h31m08s247.thumb.png.33894852c44ef06e5c137bfa3f32d3da.png

High ISO and bad compression problems (these shots are already processed with with HEAVY NR in Resolve using masks and edge detection etc - original files are much worse!)
vlcsnap-2018-05-05-10h35m35s093.thumb.png.66bd3c44a13ce1269c47357b35bf004a.png

vlcsnap-2018-05-05-10h36m16s546.thumb.png.968b92144763e803d320cc9bb6d0b7f6.png

I still got a good video out of it but it would be nice to have a bump in IQ..  It doesn't have to be a huge improvement but just something that doesn't make me disappointed every time I'm looking at the raw footage :(

The wide-angle and ability to film lots of cool camera angles really suits the style of film.  

Final video:

Candidates I've considered.
GoPro Hero 6 - possible, but I'm not sure if the ISO performance will be much better?  Expensive.
GoPro Hero 5 Session - I like that it's tiny, but unsure about ISO performance? Can't exchange batteries, so battery life might be an issue?  Reasonably priced.
Yi 4k+ - unsure about ISO performance? 
RX0 - not wide angle enough, expensive.

Any ideas or advice?

 

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The quality of the final video is pretty good for a gopro!

The flare is caused by greasy lens, you can avoid it if you are not using the skeleton case, but the frame. Of course in this case the camera is no longer protected against the elements.

Almost all of the action cameras are using the same sensor, the low light performance is most likely the same. With the gopro's you can use a special professional mode where you can turn off all of the precessing.

For this mode you need Protune 2.0 capable camera so Hero3+ at least. Use the usual Protune, Native WB, Flat settings, fix your shutter speed (1/50-1/100) and instead of "max iso" choose "fix ISO" value. In this mode the in camera noise reduction turns completly off. In this case you get a very detailed (and of course very noisy) results till iso1600, but after NR the final footage can look better.

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Seriously, great video!

I consider all the action cams unacceptable for me. What I use mostly (not waterproof) is an old NX3000, an APS-C 20megapixels very very small mirrorless woth the native, tiny amd great 10mm 3.5f fish eye.

The 1" Sony must be great as well, but the other option cost me less, 3 years ago, and arguably the quality is great.

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34 minutes ago, Deadcode said:

The quality of the final video is pretty good for a gopro!

The flare is caused by greasy lens, you can avoid it if you are not using the skeleton case, but the frame. Of course in this case the camera is no longer protected against the elements.

Thanks mate!

You're right that it was in the protective case - in a previous video I did someone kept kissing the lens so it was much easier to deal with.  I tried to be really careful and clean the lens and both inside and outside of the case, but looks like I didn't succeed.  It looked pretty clean though beforehand and during :(

34 minutes ago, Deadcode said:

Almost all of the action cameras are using the same sensor, the low light performance is most likely the same. With the gopro's you can use a special professional mode where you can turn off all of the precessing.

For this mode you need Protune 2.0 capable camera so Hero3+ at least. Use the usual Protune, Native WB, Flat settings, fix your shutter speed (1/50-1/100) and instead of "max iso" choose "fix ISO" value. In this mode the in camera noise reduction turns completly off. In this case you get a very detailed (and of course very noisy) results till iso1600, but after NR the final footage can look better.

This was Protune with Cam RAW WB but I think that's the limit to optimising it.  The Protune 2.0 settings seem useful and having the NR in camera turned off would be an improvement, although I'm not sure if having more noise or NR before the low bit-rate codec would be better.  

I may be the first person to suggest this (but maybe not) - but BM should make an action camera!!!

3 minutes ago, Kisaha said:

Seriously, great video!

I consider all the action cams unacceptable for me. What I use mostly (not waterproof) is an old NX3000, an APS-C 20megapixels very very small mirrorless woth the native, tiny amd great 10mm 3.5f fish eye.

The 1" Sony must be great as well, but the other option cost me less, 3 years ago, and arguably the quality is great.

Thanks!

If I could use a larger non-waterproof camera then my GF3 m43 camera wouldn't be sitting in my drawer gathering dust :)    The Sony seems excellent but it's just the lens isn't wide enough.  Maybe I should see if there's a mod?

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I'd seriously consider a waterproof compact such as the Nikon Coolpix W300, Olympus TG-5 or Fujifilm FinePix XP130. The Olympus TG-870 starts at 21mm and has a flip-up screen for framing. If that's really not your thang. Don't go amature, Go Pro. Stay with the actioncam thing. The Hero3 is relatively old now, things have become a little better since. Indeed the YI 4K+ is a steal as well. SJCAM recently announced their SJ8 series, which is open for pre-order. The Pro runs the Ambarella H22 S85 chipset with SONY IMX377 sensor and uses a six-axis gyroscope for stabilization.

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14 hours ago, Luke Mason said:

There are modified Go Pro 6 available with 19mm all glass, low distortion lens. Better sharpness with almost no glare. 

The PeauPro87 is interesting.  Thanks for bringing it up.

One concern I have is they don't have much good footage demonstrating the results of the mod.  I'll definitely keep my eye out for more footage though.  I'm intrigued.

23 hours ago, kye said:

Despite having lots of nice cameras, I find that I've used my GoPro Hero 3 consistently over the last 5 years, but I'm frustrated with the quality and looking to replace it.

How about a GoPro HERO6 Black?  The image quality will be much better.  If I were you I would look at some comparison videos.  I have NEVER liked GoPros because their image quality sucked.  But I think the tech has finally matured to the point in decent light you can get some good footage.  For the first time I am seriously looking at a GoPro camera.  Which reminds me I need to update my Gopro stock thread.

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On 05/05/2018 at 6:55 PM, Cinegain said:

I'd seriously consider a waterproof compact such as the Nikon Coolpix W300, Olympus TG-5 or Fujifilm FinePix XP130. The Olympus TG-870 starts at 21mm and has a flip-up screen for framing. If that's really not your thang. Don't go amature, Go Pro. Stay with the actioncam thing. The Hero3 is relatively old now, things have become a little better since. Indeed the YI 4K+ is a steal as well. SJCAM recently announced their SJ8 series, which is open for pre-order. The Pro runs the Ambarella H22 S85 chipset with SONY IMX377 sensor and uses a six-axis gyroscope for stabilization.

The gyroscope stabilisation sounds interesting.  I've done tests in the past and found that basically there are two levels of stabilisation required: stabilisation that limits small/fast movement while the shutter is open (creating blur - this can only be solved by OIS or IBIS), and stabilisation that keeps shot-to-shot movement at bay (where gyroscopes, warp stabiliser style stabilisation, gimbals, and to a certain extent OIS / IBIS can help).

I noticed on the above video that there's a need for both levels of stabilisation.

I use Resolve for the shot-to-shot stabilisation, but with these videos fast-paced edits are the norm and so movement isn't as detracting as other styles of films.

On 05/05/2018 at 8:12 PM, Luke Mason said:

There are modified Go Pro 6 available with 19mm all glass, low distortion lens. Better sharpness with almost no glare. 

Interesting, but I think the 1.4x zoom is too severe for me..  Pity!

On 06/05/2018 at 9:32 AM, Carz said:

The sony fdr-x3000 sounds like it has what your after. Better low light than go pro, image stabilization, very nice picture. Only negatives I see are no screen and you need a case for underwater use. Worth checking out though.

I didn't realise that this had a waterproof case - that makes a huge difference.  I've just watched a bunch of review videos on this and I think this is the leading option for me at the moment.  The fact that iPhonedo YT channel continually uses this as part of his run-and-gun setup for reviewing other cameras (including all the major action cameras) speaks volumes about the quality level.  Also the higher bitrate would be excellent because with action cameras you're normally moving them around all the time so the bits aren't just dedicated to a few items in the frame moving, they're spread across the whole frame moving constantly.

The lack of screen doesn't phase me (it's an action camera, so you point it vaguely in the right direction and you're good) but there's a remote screen for it which you can buy.

Any idea if it's about to get an upgrade?  I did some googling but couldn't find much about it, and it seems that sonyrumours has turned into some kind of news site ?

23 hours ago, Damphousse said:

The PeauPro87 is interesting.  Thanks for bringing it up.

One concern I have is they don't have much good footage demonstrating the results of the mod.  I'll definitely keep my eye out for more footage though.  I'm intrigued.

How about a GoPro HERO6 Black?  The image quality will be much better.  If I were you I would look at some comparison videos.  I have NEVER liked GoPros because their image quality sucked.  But I think the tech has finally matured to the point in decent light you can get some good footage.  For the first time I am seriously looking at a GoPro camera.  Which reminds me I need to update my Gopro stock thread.

In terms of GoPro Hero 6 I watched a few reviews where it was worse than the 5, so if I didn't end up with a Sony FDR-X3000 then I might consider waiting for the Hero 6+ which should be out Just In Time For Christmas, I'd imagine.  

Considering that the FDR-X3000 is approaching 1.5 years old (it was also out Just In Time For Christmas) it might be worth waiting in either case.  

If only the RX0 had a wider lens and 200Mbit codec....   (or if BM releases the Black Magic Matchbox Cinema Action Camera 4K.. hint hint...  It would shoot in Prores and have BM colour science and be called the BMMCAC4K.  With an acronym like that I bet they're making it already!)

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13 hours ago, kye said:

Considering that the FDR-X3000 is approaching 1.5 years old (it was also out Just In Time For Christmas) it might be worth waiting in either case.  

Nice video you posted, crazy you're still using a Hero3! I have the Hero Session5 and the FDR-X3000 and the Sony is quite a bit better. The BOSS stabilization is far ahead of GoPro's and the image is cleaner as well. The newest GoPro looks like its less noisy than the Session5, but electronic stabilization is far worse compared to the optical stabilization Sony offers. The FDR-X3000 also has a mic input and the remote app works better than GoPro's IMO.

At some point I'm selling my GoPro, the only reason I haven't is the goofy form factor of the Sony and the waterproof case doesn't play nice with my pole and GoPro mounts as it uses a 1/4"-20. I need to get a solid adapter as the GoPro tripod mount I have doesn't lock in any way. 

Cheers

Chris

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7 hours ago, Trek of Joy said:

Nice video you posted, crazy you're still using a Hero3! I have the Hero Session5 and the FDR-X3000 and the Sony is quite a bit better. The BOSS stabilization is far ahead of GoPro's and the image is cleaner as well. The newest GoPro looks like its less noisy than the Session5, but electronic stabilization is far worse compared to the optical stabilization Sony offers. The FDR-X3000 also has a mic input and the remote app works better than GoPro's IMO.

At some point I'm selling my GoPro, the only reason I haven't is the goofy form factor of the Sony and the waterproof case doesn't play nice with my pole and GoPro mounts as it uses a 1/4"-20. I need to get a solid adapter as the GoPro tripod mount I have doesn't lock in any way. 

Cheers

Chris

Thanks mate!

Yes, still using the Hero 3 because it didn't get enough use to justify paying the entire purchase price again for a newer model that is, maybe, 3% better!  To be honest it kind of sat without getting much usage until recently, when I shot two parties, and on my recent trip we went swimming a bunch of times and got used heavily there too, thus my renewed interest.

Is your pole the GoPole?  If not, it might be worth checking if there's a hidden 1/4-20 in there somewhere - the cheap GoPro accessories often have 1/4-20 with an adapter mounted on top that you can just remove.  Considering the enormous market for tripods / monopods / etc there might be a nice $15 replacement available on amazon?  Or, if you're a bit handy, there are millions of hugely functional accessories and mounts that can be made from practically any hardware store :) 

I made a modular rig for stabilising the GoPro underwater out of something like 20mm PVC piping with a handful of T-pieces that are just friction-fit.  PVC is slightly denser than water so it sinks and I worked out that if I adjusted the angle on things properly I could drop the GoPro from snorkelling depth and it would slowly descend and then settle on the bottom, with beautiful framing of a piece of coral with fish coming and going!  Then you just leave it there for a minute or two and then dive down and go get it, then in post you choose the best moments of fish action :)

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6 hours ago, graphicnatured said:

Get the Hero6. It's a huge upgrade to the Hero3.

Isn't the price kind of steep? 430euros here, and the Peau someone suggested is 600$, and I bet the next Yi will be similar for almost half that money. The Yi 4K+ which arguably is better than the Hero5 is 230euros, 45% less than the Hero6. Imagine you want to buy a car that costs 30.000$, and you got a similar one for 16.500$. That is a substantial difference  for someone still using his Hero3, because of financial reasons and justification of the price.

The aforementioned Sony is an interesting proposition also.

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On 6/05/2018 at 1:32 PM, Carz said:

The sony fdr-x3000 sounds like it has what your after. Better low light than go pro, image stabilization, very nice picture. Only negatives I see are no screen and you need a case for underwater use. Worth checking out though.

Comes with a case for deep diving. Good water resistance without it (splashes and the like). Case blocks the mic pretty well with it on so not something you leave on all the time. The wifi app connection is one of the best I've seen. Reliable fast connection over 8m or so to full screen HD. 

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15 hours ago, kye said:

Thanks mate!

Yes, still using the Hero 3 because it didn't get enough use to justify paying the entire purchase price again for a newer model that is, maybe, 3% better!  To be honest it kind of sat without getting much usage until recently, when I shot two parties, and on my recent trip we went swimming a bunch of times and got used heavily there too, thus my renewed interest.

Is your pole the GoPole?  If not, it might be worth checking if there's a hidden 1/4-20 in there somewhere - the cheap GoPro accessories often have 1/4-20 with an adapter mounted on top that you can just remove.  Considering the enormous market for tripods / monopods / etc there might be a nice $15 replacement available on amazon?  Or, if you're a bit handy, there are millions of hugely functional accessories and mounts that can be made from practically any hardware store :) 

I made a modular rig for stabilising the GoPro underwater out of something like 20mm PVC piping with a handful of T-pieces that are just friction-fit.  PVC is slightly denser than water so it sinks and I worked out that if I adjusted the angle on things properly I could drop the GoPro from snorkelling depth and it would slowly descend and then settle on the bottom, with beautiful framing of a piece of coral with fish coming and going!  Then you just leave it there for a minute or two and then dive down and go get it, then in post you choose the best moments of fish action :)

I have a generic extender pole I bought for about $8 USD in Malaysia. The 1/4-20 isn't the issue - if the mount doesn't have some sort of a lock it can twist or come loose. I just have to get an adapter like the one pictured below. I've seen PVC rigs of all sorts, yours sounds like a cool idea. I wish I would have been able to do that when I was snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and the reef off the coast of Belize, but it wouldn't have been practical the way I travel.

There are a ton of comparison videos with the FDR-X3000 (can Sony have a worse naming scheme?) and GoPros, the stabilization is other-worldly compared to most action cams. Its the main reason I'm keeping it over the Session5, despite the Session being a more convenient form factor. I don't want to use a gimbal and I don't like what GoPro's EIS does to the image. As mentioned the app is much better too, so for me not having a screen is no big deal.

I hear what you're saying about paying for a newer model that offers so little IQ improvements. Since they all basically use the same sensor, year-to-year updates offer marginal improvements in IQ. Its been a few generations since the Hero3, it looks like you'll see significant improvements. Plus if you're doing HD like the video you posted, you can downsample 4k or zoom/reframe in post.

Cheers

Chris

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 9.19.13 AM.png

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9 hours ago, Kisaha said:

Isn't the price kind of steep? 430euros here, and the Peau someone suggested is 600$, and I bet the next Yi will be similar for almost half that money. The Yi 4K+ which arguably is better than the Hero5 is 230euros, 45% less than the Hero6. Imagine you want to buy a car that costs 30.000$, and you got a similar one for 16.500$. That is a substantial difference  for someone still using his Hero3, because of financial reasons and justification of the price.

The aforementioned Sony is an interesting proposition also.

The Hero6 is a completely different beast from all other GoPros from an image standpoint. The 4k/60 and 2.7k/120 H265 clips are beautiful. The Stills are also a big step up. Don't know about Europe, but in America it's $399 and that is a great deal for a camera like this. The Yi 4K+ is a better camera than the one you own, but not the Hero6. Don't scrimp on Image and features and regret it later.

Regarding the OP on low light, check this vid from :40 on. GoPro has never been a low light Camera, but the Hero6 between 400-800ISO is improved over your cam. 

 

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Thanks @Orangenz @Trek of Joy @graphicnatured:)

That takes it down to the Yi 4k as the budget option, FDR-X3000 (what a name!), and the GoPro.

The short version seems to be that the Yi 4K and GoPro do all the modes (4K60 and 2.7K120) but don't have IS and the X3000 has IS, higher bitrates but "only" does 4K30 and 1080p120.  This would mean that I'd have to decide before hitting the record button what I want in slow-motion and what I don't, which I'm fine with.  My iPhone 8 has OIS and 4K60 which I can use for dry shots I'm taking, with the GoPro being for wet shots or when I hand it over to others.  Resolve has built-in Optical Flow frame retiming so I can fake slow-motion for short shots too.

I think that the IS probably counts for more than getting extra resolution at a given frame rate, considering that I am ok with 1080 quality on some/all shots.  IS is especially useful for low-light when the camera decides to use a 359 degree shutter and micro-vibrations blur each frame to hell.  In that situation a 1080 capture with IS will have more resolution than 4K without it.

Now the decision is really when to buy one.  Come the September announcements we'll either get nothing, a new X3000 (yes please!!), or a new GoPro/Yi camera (or the BM action camera... hint hint).  I'm not sure how much use an action camera will get between now and then considering it gets cold down under during this part of the year.

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On 5/8/2018 at 8:06 PM, kye said:

I think that the IS probably counts for more than getting extra resolution at a given frame rate, considering that I am ok with 1080 quality on some/all shots.  IS is especially useful for low-light when the camera decides to use a 359 degree shutter and micro-vibrations blur each frame to hell.  In that situation a 1080 capture with IS will have more resolution than 4K without it.

You know you can decide your shutter on a GoPro with Protune? Gone are the days from the Hero3 where exposure was automatic unless you want that.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 11.41.58 AM.png

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Panasonic just released the Lumix TS7: https://***URL removed***/news/0758644839/panasonic-lumix-ts7-ft7-is-first-rugged-compact-camera-to-have-built-in-evf

Again tiny sensor. Wish that we start seeing at least  1" sensor models soon. 

The RX0 could have been it. It is not the price or lack of internal 4K that bothers me, but the bad quality of 1080p that it offers. They could have downsampled the 4K image to 1080 which would greatly help with the noise and the aliasing. 

I have tried the Olympus TG-5, but the video is really disappointing. I have been using the GoPro HERO6 and the quality is alright. In good light at least you can get decent results. 

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