Over the next weeks, I will be reviewing several action cameras. In recent months many companies announced or released new generation cameras which will feature 4K Video. The Action camera market is one of the fastest-growing and evolving markets, and it’s very exciting to see how much power companies can pack in very small packages.
There are many things that you can do with action cameras, however, my reviews will focus on everyday usage, and using it while exercising to demonstrate the ease of use for someone that has little experience with these cameras. I will not focus too much on the technical details as the company websites have you covered there.
So why would you want an action camera? This is a question I asked myself when I started seeing the GoPros everywhere. I couldn’t imagine someone that would go home and review the footage and then create a video. Now that I’ve owned one of these cameras, I see what the benefit is as I can relive the experience with amazing details. The main attracting feature is that these cameras are small, they have big buttons that are easy to push, and don’t require you to take out your smartphone. All these cameras can also be mounted to just about anything; a bike, snowboard, surfboard, your head, and even your dog. Although most of these companies come up with their own accessories, there are brand new companies that only provide adaptors to mount the cameras to pretty much anything. Another great feature of these cameras is that most of them have at least 160-degree viewing angle. What does that mean? It allows you to see more of what’s close to the camera. Think straight arm selfies. If you grab your smartphone you won’t be able to take much of the background, but with a camera that has 160 degrees or more, you will see a lot more.
The generation of cameras I am reviewing all have 1080p resolution on the video and shoot 12 Megapixel pictures.
My first review will be of the Intova Edge X, this is a small boutique company out of Hawaii. My first impression of the camera was that it’s perfect for underwater video and photography. It looks like most enclosures that are designed for DSLRs but is a much smaller package.
In the box of Intova Edge X:
Below you can find the contents, I created a video so you can see the unboxing of the product.
When you open the box you will find:
- User’s manual mini CD
- Lithium ion battery
- Mini USB cable
- Float strap
- Anti-glare hood
- Silicone grease
- Quick Start Guide
- Optional Accessory brochure
Make sure you have either a coin or a screwdriver to take off the Intova Edge X from the box.
What you need to use the Intova Edge X
First of all, you need to charge the battery of the Intova Edge X. You will also need an SD card to store all of the videos and pictures because the SD cards are not included. I wish that the camera had some internal memory, maybe just enough for a couple of pictures and a 5-second video, in case you didn’t have an SD card or if you run out of memory you could at least take emergency shots and a short video. None of the cameras that I know of have this feature.
A little more information about the SD Cards:
- Not all SD Cards are created equal.
- In order to get full 1080p you will need a specific card, you can’t just go to your local electronics store and pic up the cheapest SD Card
- Make sure you get a Micro SD Card class 10. This is the most important detail, it has to be class 10, otherwise, the camera can’t record in 1080p. The picture below shows the Class 10 circled.
- Why Class 10? Any other cards don’t read/write fast enough to record such high-quality video.
Compatibility of the Intova Edge X with 1080p
It is amazing to be able to take full HD 1080p video on such a small device. What’s great is that you can play, edit, and share afterward. Intova Edge X doesn’t come with any software to edit the video, so you do have to find your own. I work on a Mac so I use iMovie or Final Cut Pro, and all videos imported and are playable. I did try to import some video on the PC and I was able to get it to work on Movie Maker just fine.
Intova Edge X Construction
Size: dimensions are: (2.8 x 3.3 x 2.4) in / (84 x 70 x 60) mm
I really wanted need to see how it compared to other cameras in order to get an idea of the size, so below you will find pictures that show exactly that.
GoPro Hero 4 Silver on the left, Intova Edge X middle and Sony Actioncam as100v on the right.
Features of the Intova Edge X
- Video Resolution:
1080p@60fps, 1080p@48fps, 1080p@30fps, 1080p@24fps
960p@60fps, 960p@48fps, 960p@30fps, 960p@24fps,
720p@120fps, 720p@60fps, 720p@48fps, 720p@30fps, 720p@24fps,
(WVGA) 848x480p@240fps,848x480p@120fps,848x480p@60fps, 848x480p@48fps, 848x480p@30fps, 848x480p@24fps
VGAp@240fps, VGAp@120fps, VGA Full (60fps), VGAp@48fps, VGA (30 fps), VGAp@24fps
- Photo Resolution:
12MP, 10MP, 8MP and 5MP
- Waterproof to 200 feet or 60 meters
- 1.5” / 3.8 cm LCD 480×240
- 1150mAh battery
- Video Rotation Mode 180 degree (for when camera is mounted upside down)
- Picture in Video
- Motion Detection
Usage of the Intova Edge X
The first thing I liked about the camera is that the buttons are large, I mostly used it when it was really cold outside to I was wearing gloves the whole time. With gloves you need large and distinguishable buttons to know what you are pressing without having to look. At the top of the camera is the ON/OFF button, the Menu/WiFi button and the Shutter button. On the side there are 3 more buttons. These are mostly used when recording, during menu navigation, or taking pictures while recording a video.
Startup: One of the most important things for me is not to have to miss any of the action, so the time it takes for the camera to be ready to record is very important. From the time that I press the power button to the time that I can press the record button it takes about 10 seconds. I think the main issue it takes longer is because Intova plays a little animation every time you turn the camera on or off. This makes it a little slower to turn on, and because the animation that plays has sound and uses the LCD it could drain the battery quicker.
Every time the Intova Edge X is turned on you will start at the video mode. There are 3 modes you can toggle through once the camera is turned on.
- File Viewing
You can toggle through these options by pressing the same ON button. You get a beep every time you toggle except from File Viewing back to Video. That’s when I couldn’t hear the beep, so sometimes I pressed it twice thinking I hadn’t pressed it the first time. And because there is a 1 second delay I always ended up at the Photo mode again. Once you get used to not hearing the beep, you press it only once and wait for the camera to be ready to record video.
Once on the main screen, you can see small icons that give you information about which mode you are in and if you have certain features activated. I didn’t care much for these icons because they are not sharp, which means that it’s hard to make out what they mean as they look like little blobs, especially when the camera is not looking at a black background. Once you have learned what the icons mean, it is really nice to see all of the features on the LCD. The picture below show what the video screen looks like:
Recording with Intova Edge X
Once the camera is powered up and you press the RECORD button a red LED will flash to let you know that you are recording, the Intova Edge X has 1 red LED in the front and 1 on the back of the camera. As mentioned in the “features” section, the camera does have the ability to take a picture while you are recording, this can be done by pressing the middle side button, which sticks out so you can differentiate it from the other two. The other two buttons are for digital zoom. I won’t talk much about this as I didn’t even activate it. If you must use Digital Zoom it does go all the way up to 60x with stops at 16x, 10x & 4x. I am not a fan of using digital zoom, and for those of you that don’t know the difference between digital and optical zoom, I’d like to quickly explain it.
Optical Zoom: The lens itself is zooming in and out, which means that you will get the same quality of picture no matter what zoom level you have the lens.
Digital Zoom: Software zooms into the picture itself to give you a digital zoom. This essentially will show more pixilation the more you zoom in. I have not used digital zoom with any of my cameras since I learned the difference and wondered why my pictures with “zoom” were so much worse. Luckily this feature has to be turned on in a menu in the Intova Edge X. If it’s off, the bottom button turns the LCD off, and the top button turns it back on. A nice feature to save battery life.
Now that I have talked about the operation of the camera, let’s get to the most important question, how does the video look?
I have taken several videos with the camera, I have not enhanced the video at all, this is how it comes RAW out of the camera:
The video quality is good for 1080p, especially if you don’t have anything else to compare it to. One problem I did find with having the camera housed into the rubberized enclosure is that the microphone is also in the enclosure which gives you a muffled sound and you can barely hear what’s happening. For example in the first part of the video above, when I was doing the sound test you can’t hear the crunch of the snow which we had that day and it sounded amazing. Unfortunately, you can’t hear it on the video. The last-minute of the video I added some music, and you can see the difference it makes in terms of sound. The waterproofing may play a role here, but I did want to point it out.
The Intova Edge X also doesn’t have image stabilization, so you have to run your video through an image stabilizer, if you don’t you can see how much the video shakes. I was holding the camera with my hand for all of the videos and walking at the same time. This is not really a problem, it’s just that it takes longer to get to a point that you are happy with your video. Most video editing software packages come with some type of image stabilization module. As a last resort, once your video is on YouTube, the video will be analyzed and if it detects some shakiness, YouTube will give you an option to stabilize it.
Underwater with lots of daylight:
I wasn’t surprised when the Intova Edge X performed really well underwater. You can really hear everything that’s happening around the camera. If you pay attention at the beginning of the video when I’m holding the camera facing towards me and I’m doing underwater butterfly kick, you can hear the kick in the background. That is pretty amazing since I had never heard that before. Also going in and out of the water happens seamlessly. After all, this camera was designed first and foremost for underwater photography and videography. Since the Intova Edge X is good for up to 60 meters underwater out of the box, it’s a great companion for any diver. As it is with most cameras the video looks a little green. Intova is aware of this so they include a free 30-day trial to a Software that will correct the color.
Where the Intova Edge X struggled was with low light. I created a time-lapse video of a beautiful sunset, you can see in the video that even with plenty of light the clouds start to get pixilated. What is nice about the time-lapse feature is that you can set the interval and then the Intova Edge X creates the video automatically. If that option wasn’t available, you have to create the video yourself with all the pictures the camera takes, which is very time-consuming.
The Intova Edge X comes with a 3.7V / 1150mAh battery. The documentation says that it has a 1.5 hrs (LCD on), 1.5 hrs (WiFi on), 2 hrs (LCD off) battery life. From my tests, the battery lasted quite a bit less than that. I mostly used it in the cold, but as soon as I stopped filming I always turned the camera off. I couldn’t get it to last me for a day of skiing. I would say that it can record about 30-45 minutes of video before the battery starts dying. This, however, is a problem with all action cameras. There isn’t one in the market that has an amazing battery life, especially in cold conditions. It takes a little over 6 hours to completely charge the battery once it’s dead.
Once you need to charge the battery and you plug in the included USB cable, the camera doesn’t automatically start charging. It gives you 3 options:
MSDC, CHARGE, OPEN
MSDC means that you would like to use the camera to transfer videos or files. You can simply drag and drop your files to the computer. This is a very nice feature as you don’t need to be carrying around an extra SD card to micro SD card adapter.
CHARGE will obviously charge the camera when charging a red LED indicator will light up, when charging is complete this LED will turn off
OPEN with this feature you can use the camera and have it open simultaneously. Why would you want to do this? Well, if you are doing a time-lapse video or if you have the motion detection option enabled and you want to make sure the Intova Edge X doesn’t run out of battery this is a great option for that.
If you forget to select any of these options the camera will go into MDSC mode after 20 seconds and will also charge the battery.
Pictures of the Intova Edge X
I didn’t test anything other than the best quality pictures, which is 12 Megapixels. I always take pictures at the highest quality possible, I can always decrease the quality in software but I can never increase the quality after I’ve taken the picture. All the pictures I took with the Intova Edge X are of the highest quality possible.
Some examples below:
As a reminder, none of these pictures are edited. You can notice that all of the pictures are a little soft, and I think they need a little more sharpness. The lens specification is a F/2.8 f=3.5mm with a 160 degree viewing angle.
Self Capture and Burst
The Self Capture feature is great if you want to take a selfie and you have a tripod or if you simply don’t want to move the Intova Edge X because this could cause the picture to come out blurry. You have an option of 3, 5 and 10 seconds for this feature.
Intova Edge X has a burst mode which can shoot 3, 5 or 10 bursts per shutter button press. This is not per second however, if you are taking the 10 bursts it will take between 2-3 seconds to acquire the 10 pictures.
The only downside is that you cannot use both of these features simultaneously. It is either one or the other.
Mounting the Intova Edge X to other devices
Most Action cameras come with a couple of adhesive adapters, so you can attach them to curved or flat surfaces out of the box. The Intova Edge X doesn’t, luckily it has a standard 1/4” – 20 mounting thread, which is standard for most cameras. Any tripod that you currently own is compatible. I have one that I used in the past for my mountain bike, and it fit perfectly (see photo below)
In the box you can also find a list with pictures of all the adapters that Intova sells as well. It’s a big list to choose from.
Smartphone Application of the Intova Edge X
If you don’t want to use the LCD, you can also download their Android or iOS App, I only have an iPhone so that’s what I downloaded. Once you have the App, all you have to do is press the middle button and hold for 3 seconds, this is the shortcut to turn WiFi on, this is very handy, instead of having to go into the menu to turn on. On your Smartphone you can then select the SSID of the Camera and connect with the password provided in the Quick Start Guide. Once connected you are supposed to be able to see a live view of the camera. However, I was unable to get this feature to work. You can also change all of the setting from the app, this was my favorite feature. Last but not least you can start recording or taking pictures. This also worked for me but there was about a 4-5 second delay. The best feature of the App is that you can transfer your pictures and videos through WiFi, this is very important if you are between dives, for example, and don’t want to break the water seal. The transfer does take a little bit of time though, so it’s mostly designed to view the pictures and maybe transfer just your favorites if you have to share or edit any of the content before getting home.
I think overall, this is a great camera. If your main goal to use this camera is underwater, I think the Intova Edge X a seriously good option for $299. There are some limitations when it comes to action sports, and other options are available (at a higher price t) especially if you would like to capture sound. If you plan on never wanting to hear what has been recorded and plan on always using music, this camera can deliver. The idea of the camera is great, the size is slightly bigger than its competitors, but this also allows for easy to find buttons.