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October 6, 2015 Comments (0) Reviews

Garmin Virb XE Review

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A couple of Garmin VIRB XE‘s turned up in the post the other day, and from what I’ve been reading, these things look pretty exciting!

One of the biggest differentiators that the VIRB XE has over the competition is the G-Metrix System. What this system does is it allows you overlay a hell of a lot of data over your video. When partnered with a Garmin heart rate monitor, it can record your heart BPM that can be shown, when say hooking up at a big surface strike or 45mins into a fight with a big Marlin! Or pair it with a capatable Garmin sounder and you’ll get water depth, or using the built in GPS show how fast you had the boat at wide open throttle and how far you travelled to find those fish!

Garmin have provided their own video editing software, so you can make use of the G-Metrix data and add gauges and graphs to show the information you have recorded on your video.

Another great feature of the VIRB XE is that they are able to dive to 50 meters without a case, allowing you to capture cleaner and clearer video and audio.

Or if you have a compatible Garmin sounder in your boat (GPSMAP 7400/7600 series or 8000 series), you can even connect the camera (upto 5) via Wifi for a live video feed! Overlay depth, temp, engine data and control the recording and take photos. Check out this video from Garmin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y9YJ476nU0

Check out what Matthew from Garmin had to say about them at this years Sydney International Boat Show.

 

 

So, what’s in the box? Let’s have a look!

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Apart from the most important thing (the camera) you get a whole range of mounts (flat and curved), adapters, thumb screws, charging cable, manuals, a sticker and some anti-fog inserts.

Now one of the great things is that if you do already have a heap of mounts from other action cameras like poles, suction mounts, head mount, chest mounts etc that feature the 3 pronged attachment, the Garmin VIRB XE will fit them! If you’re new to the world of action cameras, Garmin have a whole host of mounts available for purchase.

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So what can this camera do? It’s capable of shooting 1080p HD footage in 60fps, which is great for smooth, half speed slow motion footage, or if you want to slow it down a little more, film in 720p at 120fps (4x slow motion). It has an awesome feature with its  one-touch record switch on the top of the camera and a dedicated shutter button for still photos in the same place. Even if the camera is off, the camera awakens and begins recording when you flip the switch. This means you should capture more of the important moments as they happen!

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The camera is able to be put into “Pro Mode” which gives you manual camera controls like white balance and exposure biasing unlock, for even greater flexibility in your video. If you don’t know what you’re doing with those things, just leave Pro Mode off and let the VIRB do all the work.

The VIRB is capable of taking 12mp stills, and you can set it to take photos while you’re recording video too! Here is a example photo we took while fishing for Bass yesterday afternoon. This is straight from the camera and unedited.

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VIRB XE features Wi-Fi, ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity. Using Wi-Fi, the VIRB connects to the VIRB App on your apple or android device so that you can watch live video, control and view multiple cameras, playback and edit recorded footage. ANT+ allows wireless connectivity to compatible Garmin devices/sensors so you can connect to things like heart rate monitors to record for G-Metrix data. Bluetooth connects wirelessly to headsets or HD microphones, or even an OBDII device plugged into your car to record RPM etc.

You can also purchase an optional VIRB remote control which allows you to control the camera from up to 10 m away using ANT+ wireless connectivity. Instead of a rechargable battery, it has an easily replaced CR2032 battery that is quoted to last up to one year, and features an automatic sleep mode to save battery life. Green LED light indicates when the remote has recognized your VIRB camera. Red LED light indicates VIRB is recording.

The VIRB remote comes with some straps for wrist mounting, or handle bar mounting and an lanyard if you prefer to wear it around your neck.

The VIRB XE does not need additional waterproof housings, and is ready to dive to 50m straight out of the box but also has an exposed microphone that records clean and clear audio, something that cameras in cases can’t do. The VIRB has hydrophobic, flat, glass lens, so underwater shots are very clear while transitions in and out of the water stay unobstructed by droplets, which is something that I did notice during testing.

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Charging is very simple. There is no need to remove the battery or open the camera. Just connect the supplied charging cable to the camera and off it goes. This is the same for transferring footage and images to your computer. It is a usb cable, so plug it into your phone charger or computer for charging, or charge on the road using a 12v USB connection in the car.

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I usually use Final Cut Pro X for all my editing, but if you don’t want to splash a heap of cash on an editing program, Garmin offer VIRB Edit for free that you can download from their website. Trim clips, create transitions, add music, add G-Metrix overlays and export the finished product in HD, ready for direct uploading to YouTube or save the file to upload to Vimeo, Facebook and Google+!

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So what’s the footage look like? I created this quick demo in the Virb Edit software, using the “Pro Mode” and “image stabilisation” settings on the camera, so there’s no colour correction and the footage is straight from the camera. It took me all of 10mins to piece together this edit, the software is a breeze to use. The fishing was pretty bad, but the camera’s work really well! Watch in 1080p HD.

 

So if you’re impressed with what you see and you’re thinking of buying the Garmin VIRB XE, their RRP is AUD$529.00 and you’re best checking the Garmin website for local stockist.

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