Mate Hegyhati

Garmin Virb test

For a long time I was thinking about buying an action camera. I am not doing any adrenaline pumping stunt activities like downhill riding, snowboarding, windsurfing etc. Still, an action camera could be useful in many situations. Whether I'm running around in a beautiful forest or I'm in the middle of 8000 runners on a city marathon, there are always moments, that I'd love to record and share with my family, friends, and You. 

Ovbiously, a mobile phone could do this job, but I really hate taking out my phone from it's case, and play around with a touchscreen. Also, my Doogee X5 max pro doesn't really make good photos / videos. I needed something robust, easy and quick to use, that I can bring with myself on running events. The obvious choice could be a GoPro, but then I came across the simple and basic Garmin Virb. I knew, that this is the first and basic model, so the quality of the recording will not be as good as that of the best GoPro. But I really liked its shape, its simplicity, the fact, that the recording could be started with the push of a big sliding button, etc. It was also charming, that I already have a Garmin Fenix 2, which I can use to remotely start recording or taking photos. Although this will not really be needed for running / cycling, but it could be useful for kayaking in the summer for example. Anyhow, I've found one on a Hungarian e-bay like page for around $120, and bought it.


The box contained the Virb, a USB cable, battery, and a simple mount + papers. There was no microSD card included, so so far I've used a 4GB one, that I took from my phone. 


The software is pretty simple: There is a menu, where several settings could be made, like the resolution of the images and quality of the recorded video. I set everything to the max, and turned motion correction on. With all these settings, my 4GB card is enough for roughly 17 minutes of recording. Based on that I plan to buy a 16 GB card. 1 hour of recording should be more than enough. I don't plan to record long sessions, just short (10-20 second) cuts, that can give You a taste of the run / ride / etc. 

So, today around 2:15 pm I went out running, and decided to bring the Virb as well. I put it into a "pocket" I got for my running sunglasses, and then into the left bottle holder of my Kalenji backpack. This way, I could always easily and quickly take it out and start recording, when I wanted. 

I recorded way too many things this time, although the run itself was not as picturesque. But, the goal was now to test the quality of the recording with good light conditions, during the sunset, and how much it shakes during running or walking. I simply put the clips next to each other and then uploaded the video to Youtube, so enjoy: 



After applying the youtube default stabilization enhancement, the video looks like this: 




So, what are the conclusions? 
  • First of all, I am satisfied. The picture is rather shaky, but that could be expected. If I want to take a nice shot, I'll have to stop,  or at least walk. But that's ok. I'm happy with the image quality, especially for this price.
  • It was super easy and comfortable to use the Virb during running, which is also a big plus.
  • One thing to remember is, that turning on the recording with the big slider takes time, sometimes 5-6 seconds. So it is not possible to catch for example spotted animals in the forest. This time could probably be reduced, if the Virb would be turned on all the time, but I don't want to do that.
  • It is possible to take pictures even while recording. While this sounds nice, I don't really recommend this. As You can see at the ferry port, the video got laggy, probably because of the additional cpu/ i/o operations, which is not really acceptable. Even if it was not the case, holding the camera still looks a bit silly in the video.
That's it, so far I am happy. Here are the photos that I took during recording:







There is probably one more thing to mention. If I were interested in that, the Garmin Virb Edit software is a nice and simple tool to create very nice videos incorporating gps and other sensory data. As my main purpose with this camera is to catch beautiful sceneries, and moments, and put them into a 5 minute video, I don't think that my pace / direction / heart rate is really important to highlight. If I were to record a race in its entirety, I'll probably use that, but that will remain for another post. 

That's all, I hope You enjoyed the pictures, and the video, I plan to decorate the following posts with similar but shorter montages if it is about a race, a new place or something.



And as always: Thanks for reading! Sharing, comments and +1s are always appreciated. You can follow the blog on Google+Twitter, and Facebook. The embedded videos are collected in the RunnerMate playlist on youtube.

Mate Hegyhati

About Mate Hegyhati

Amateur fun runner, geek, hiker.