When you think action camera, a GoPro is probably the first thing that pops in your head. Actually, there are many good action cameras out there from other manufacturers, with features and capabilities that vary, ensuring there’s always something to suit each person’s individual taste. It may come as a surprise to you, but wearable tech maker Garmin happens to produce action cameras as well. Two of its offerings that hold their own against GoPro’s best action cams are the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 and Garmin VIRB 360, which are both enjoying awesome discounts on Amazon.
The VIRB Ultra 30 looks almost exactly like a GoPro camera. It’s even compatible with GoPro-style mounts and accessories. It has a quick-to-respond touchscreen that works consistently both in and out of the case, even when wet. This camera is not waterproof by itself, though, but requires a housing, so never dip it in the water on its own. Its physical buttons are smartly laid out if you prefer pressing over swiping and tapping. There’s a dedicated video switch to start and stop the recording, a still photo button where you can normally find the shutter button, a power button, and a Wi-Fi button. One great feature that this action camera has is you can control it through voice command. Start with “Okay, Garmin,” followed by your command to record a video or take a picture.
This is the first Garmin action camera than can shoot in 4K Ultra HD, and the footage it captures is good, with sharp details and vibrant colors. This camera is also equipped with electronic image stabilization and distortion correction which are sadly not very good. Extreme sports footage that we captured still looked rather too shaky for our liking. Much like Garmin’s smartwatches, this camera has lots of built-in sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, and, naturally, a GPS. All of these give useful information on speed, position, g-force, hill grade, and much more.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 normally sells for $400, but right now you can get it on Amazon for $310 – that’s a huge $90 worth of savings. You can also get an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, cutting the price further down to $260.
Something significantly pricier but decidedly more feature-packed is the Garmin VIRB 360, a camera that has gotten the Digital Trends Editors’ Choice stamp of approval for its quality and performance. This is simply one of the best action cameras that money can buy, with features not normally found in other 360-degree cameras.
The VIRB 360 is designed for action. It is fully waterproof to depths of up to 32 feet without additional housing. This camera is very small though, measuring just 1.5 x 2.3 x 2.75 inches. You need to screw a small grip to it as there’s no way you’ll be able to shoot while holding it on its own. Since it’s so tiny, the LCD screen at the top only displays battery life and recording time. It does have three physical buttons that let you take a photo, access the menu, and power the camera on and off. There’s also a switch to start and stop a video recording. Controls and settings adjustment is best done using the smartphone app, which is very easy to use. Just like the VIRB Ultra 30, you can use voice command to control it.
This action camera is equipped with two 12-megapixel sensors and a pair of fixed f/2 lenses that capture 4K 360-degree footage for a fully immersive view. Unlike other 360-degree cameras, straight lines in real life also appear straight in recordings and not curved. Plus, the stitching line in the footage that gets captured is seamless and unnoticeable. The VIRB 360 has four built-in microphones that capture even the slightest of sounds, like a bird chirping, and is packed with sensors for recording environmental data, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, barometer, and GPS. Lastly, the image stabilization of this camera is mind-blowing, capable of reducing vibrations no matter how shaky things get, while keeping the horizon level at all times.
The Garmin VIRB usually retails for $800, but with Amazon’s deal, you can take it home for a whopping $100 less. You’ll need to shell out only $700 for this premium action camera.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 and VIRB 360 are great action cameras that can capture spectacular images in ultra-high definition. The VIRB 360 has way better image stabilization though, is completely waterproof, and has the added bonus of recording 360-degrees action in all directions.
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