Garmin is a multi-national company founded in Kansas, originally developing GPS technology for different specialties they are now located in Switzerland. Their mission is to create superior products for the aviation, marine, automotive, outdoor and sports industries that their customers can rely on. They have since branched out to include 360-degree cameras, sports sensors,
personal navigation, and wrist-worn devices for all ages in their arsenal. With innovative technology, Garmin has cornered the action camera market making professionals in the film field take a second look.
Considered an all-inclusive type of camera, the Garmin Virb offers a range of built-in features to make each experience you capture unique. Other than an impressive camera capable of shooting in 4K at the full 30 frames/sec the Ultra 30 acts as a very capable sensor. It includes a barometer, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass. All of which can be overlayed into the corner of video recordings with added text designating the information each feature has collected. Impress friends or colleagues with speed of descent, altitude, g-force, hang time, distance and rotation that simple point-of-view cant convey. It’s good to note that only with the help of Garmin's app and editing software via desktop will filmers be able to do this. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ANT+ capabilities of the Virb extends your use further because it can also pair with a multitude of external sensors that Garmin produces or is at least compatible with. Heart rate monitors;
cycling sensors, even flight and boat computers that this company specializes in all pair with ease to this camera. A highlight user’s loved was the newly added voice command activation feature, simply say “Ok Garmin” and the camera becomes a hands-free device. Use commands such as "start recording," if you’re biking
down a steep hill or "stop recording," when filming jump shots and it’s not your lucky day. "Take a photo" works well for selfies and "remember that" to add a tag to a specific part of the video.
Ease of Use
Even for the non-tech savvy person who just enjoys a high-quality device, this action camera is incredibly easy to operate and builds from its simple base utility to really shine with advanced features gear heads enjoy. To begin with, the standard shutter and power buttons are positioned on top, enabling you to easily navigate using the touchscreen once the camera is on. All you need to do to take a photo is push down the shutter button. However, when it comes to shooting a video, there is a switch near the shutter button that will indicate when it is recording. Easily navigate through the settings using the highly responsive touch screen or voice command feature. The internal microphone has a special pass-through port that connects to the outside, this equipment provides excellent audio capture inside as well as outside of the casing. A rarity considering most action cameras when inside waterproof housings
tend to record rattling of the camera along with a muffled overlay to voices and sound. Editing photos and video is a breeze using the downloadable app for hours of playtime but most users comment not needing this extra software because of the quality of still frames and videos already captured first hand.
More compact than a standard DSLR or point and shoot, one of the main advantages of this action camera is its portability. Small enough to fit into the palm of your hand with 10x the power. If you are staying in one spot wanting to catch everything you can easily prop your camera up with any standard tripod
or mount and not have to worry about carrying it around. Larger hands may have trouble with setup and screen access but with time it’s easily adaptable. Even with Virb's water-proof casing on it’s still lighter than its competitors weighing in at just 87.9 grams. Small enough to take anywhere, throw the Virb Ultra 30 into your backpack or travel bag and head out to film your next adventure.
One thing you would notice straight away from footage taken by this action camera would be that it captures a really wide shot and a lot of details that can be seen from one frame. Its resolution and speed reach up to 4K at 30 frames per second, or 1080p at 120fps, making videos and pictures more immersive than what you’d expect from other cameras or smartphones creating a fun an different way to watch amateur footage. It can be hooked up to Youtube for live streaming through a smartphone and controlled using voice commands that can be edited out when splicing. Thanks to the high quality of the video and images, this action camera can also be used in a professional capacity such as website marketing or daily vlogs on YouTube. It offers numerous frames and resolutions and is compatible with previous Garmin camera accessories
, GoPro devices and even mounts made by third-party manufacturers.
The compact, sleek design adds to the appeal of the Virb Ultra 30. This camera features a full color, LCD touch screen that works and looks great. The Garmin action camera has a waterproof outer shell that is removable. This is good news if you’d prefer to use different housing or none at all. However, if looking to mount on any sort of moveable surface a case or caddy will be required because the action camera itself doesn’t have a built-in mounting point. The textured design of the front of the camera helps reduce noise from the wind, and inside you will find a rubber insert that perfectly inserts within the camera. The small metal speaker
insert improves audio recording quality while inside the case and retains a waterproof seal. Many users note the similarities in appearance to various GoPro models.
First, in the Virb series, the Ultra 30 comes with a waterproof case that will keep the action camera dry to a depth of 40m thanks to its tight double-locking mechanism. Since many competitors such as GoPro and Nikon have now gone shell-less with new versions and some users have been hesitant to “take a step back” with the Virb. However, the Waterproof casing not only protects from water, but it also protects the camera from wear in an action setting. While venturing out to go ATV mudding, cycle down a rocky hill or even just shooting hoops in the park, life happens. No matter how careful you think you are, fragile items
get dropped and break. Most comment on the fact that after use out in the field, wear and tear become more prominent. Even with a high price tag at least you know you are getting your money’s worth with an action camera that will stay intact. The Touch screen still works remarkably well in the hard shell casing with only a slight delay in response which is hardly noticeable.
This camera uses Bluetooth, ANT+ wireless connection, WiFi and HDMI compatibility to allow easy integration to your smartphone and desktop computer to view footage from the Ultra 30. The Bluetooth sync ability enables your smartphone or smartwatch
to act as a remote control so if your camera is out of reach you will still be able to manipulate it. The voice command system has been tested by users online who say they were able to stand as far as 40 feet away and the built-in high-quality microphone still worked flawlessly.
Garmin has a long list of accessories available for a variety of use through Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity. In addition to the built-in G-Metrix, the Ultra 30 connects to a truly incredible range of external sensors
. Various heart rate monitors, bike sensors, car interfaces, and even aircraft or boat sensors are available. Not all these sources of information can be overlaid on the video frames, but the data can be collected alongside it for use in other ways.
Included with the Virb Ultra 30 is a waterproof casing, altimeter door, one flat sticky mount and one curved, several adapters and thumbscrews, anti-fog packets, an Allen wrench, a USB cable for exterior charging and removable battery. Some users did not find the accessory package that accompanies the camera particularly useful and ended up ordering their own extras to supplement on their cameras.
There have been a couple of Virb action cameras before and the Ultra 30 represents a positive rebrand of the line. This camera is the next tier up
from the Virb X and Virb XE and boasts innovative change-ups. It now competes more aggressively today with GoPro and other competitors with its recent price drop. The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 is the first of the Virb series to feature a waterproof housing, in the past, the water protection has was integrated into the design and build of the Virb cameras. The Ultra 30 loses an hour of battery life with this version due to the added sensor capabilities.
This action camera excels in many ways and falls short in one unfortunate way. The most frequent comment and complaint made by users of this camera are it’s less than ideal battery life. The power is supplied by a 1250 mAh removable battery that provides 2 hours when shooting in HD and just over an hour when recording at 4K. The sensors and external connections take a toll on battery life
, such as the voice control always listening for a vocal cue that adds to the strain on the battery. One user noted powering down the camera between shots to try and save battery life but that proved unsuccessful and inconvenient. Turning individual features off and changing the settings will preserve the battery a small amount but it is suggested to carry back up batteries just in case.
-Bluetooth, WiFi, ANT+, and HDMI Capabilities
-Ultra HD Video at 4K/30fps
-G-Metrix - Built-in GPS and external sensors that captures performance data
-LCD Color Touchscreen
-Hands-free Voice Control
-3-Axis Image Stabilization
-Waterproof Casing with Mountability
Garmin has delivered what is easily considered their best action camera to date. If you’re the type of person who is really into the outdoors, trailblazing, extreme cycling, fitness vlogging or off-roading in extreme conditions then the Ultra 30 is the perfect match for you. This version of the Virb lost none of what made the previous models special while adding superior features. The Video quality is exceptional, and although the higher bit rate increases the amount of space consumed in the card, the boost is well worth it. The touchscreen is easy to use even in the waterproof casing which is a plus however once you have everything set up, the voice commands are all you really need to activate the camera. The motion sensors
enabled by GPS do exactly what you expect every time and can be used as overlays for your videos which is a feature enjoyed by many serious athletes documenting progress. Issues with the battery are what’s expected with the variety of use options but carrying back-ups will supplement this. The decreased price tag alone should be reason enough to give this innovative camera a try, we believe you will enjoy it.