Over the last year I’ve been playing around with a GoPro while out hiking. It’s taken quite a while to work out what accessories are useful for bushwalking and even longer to figure out how to get the best footage. In fact, it’s driven me a little bit nuts trying to find the right settings and I’ve had to even get a polaroid lens cap to prevent blown highlights. As much as GoPro’s are the King of the Action Cam Hill, they are by no means simple point and shoot cameras.
When I was handed the Elinz 4K Sports Action Camera I was keen to put it through its paces and see if there were any areas it could outshine the GoPro Hero 5 that I normally use. At a price point of under a hundred bucks, you might be pleasantly surprised with what I found.
Design & Durability (Rating: 70%)
Features of the Elinz include:
- 4K Ultra HD Resolution
- Built-in wifi
- Sony Imaging Sensor
- Electronic Image Stabilization
- Wrist remote control
- Two batteries & dual battery charger
- Slow motion
- Wide-angle view
- Loop recording
- H.264 video compression
- HDMI output
- A bucket-load of mounts
The Elinz 4K doesn’t have a touch sensitive screen so it deals with menus by including a power button on the front, an OK (multi-purpose button on top) and up/down buttons on the side. The up button also doubles to turn on the wifi connection to the phone app and the down button also doubles to turn on sound recording so you have to be careful because you can turn off sound recording inadvertently (one of the clips I recorded for this test doesn’t have sound).
When it comes to mounting the camera, you have two choices. You can shove it into the waterproof case, attach your mount of choice (floating ones are a great idea) or you can snap the top and bottom threaded back clip-on, attach your mount of choice and you’re good to go.
For hiking, I’ve tried head mounts, chest mounts, telescoping handheld pole and a handheld tripod-handle and found that I mostly use the telescoping pole now mainly for stability and so I can see the LCD. The Elinz doesn’t come with any of these so you would have to purchase separately (hint: Ali Express).
The Elinz package is extremely generous in that it includes a dual battery charger and the dual 1050 mAh batteries. These are under the 1220 mAh that come standard with the GoPro, but it doesn’t necessarily mean lower run time, but I haven’t tested the Elinz long enough to tell.
There are a couple of design/durability issues that do concern me. The entire housing seems to be rigid thin plastic and the entire unit is very lightweight. I would be concerned about drops and falls with this. The battery door doesn’t hinge but comes off entirely and held on by two tabs and you have to get your fingernail into a slot and prise it open. I’m worried that one of the tabs will eventually snap off and there’s your battery door gone. Spare’s might be hard to come by. The other gripe with the design is that the spherical lens domes out slightly from the housing so scratches might become an issue and being that it’s round, lens caps might be hard to find. The GoPro lens is covered by a square flush piece of glass but in my case, I’ve bought third party covers because I’m sometimes hard on my gear in the bush.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 75%)
The menus are easy to follow and downloading the XDV PRO app and connecting to the phone via wifi was similarly a very easy exercise. The phone app doesn’t give access to all camera settings however, so you’ll still have to drill into the camera menus to find all the settings you want.
As far as camera angles go, you only get one choice; wide 170 degrees which does give a slight fisheye effect. The camera records in 4K 60fps, 4K 30fps, 2.7k 30fps and then down to 1080p and 720p at anything from 120fps down which means you’ve got heaps of slow-mo options. The camera does the standard photo, time-lapse and loop recording (good for doubling as say a dashcam which Elinz also make).
The wrist remote was a nice touch and this allows the camera to be operated once it’s powered up from the wrist which has a photo button and a video record button.
So, the big question is, how did it perform? The footage overall was really clear. Where this camera shone is its ability to handle light. The sensor was able to control the iso/exposure surprisingly well. This is an issue I’ve had with the Hero 5. I deliberately tested the Elinz in an area where there were continuous shade and bright sunny light to see how it would cope and it was fantastic. The colours were nicely saturated and stepping in and out of the low light to bright sunlight, it adjusted fast and smoothly.
What I Like
- It’s lightweight, and simple to use
- Comes with a ton of accessories
- 2.7k and 4K footage is excellent. Best footage is 2.7k 30fps image stabilised in Editor
- It handles a range of lighting conditions well and colour rendering is fantastic
- It can be powered while operating
- Love the snap on back clip because it’s a fast way to mount the camera to anything
- What more could you ask for at under a hundred bucks
What I Don’t Like
- The camera is lightweight rigid plastic and feels like it could crack easily. Same can be said for the battery door.
- As the lens protrudes slightly from the housing placing this face down on anything will probably see it develop scratches and then it’s game over.
- The buttons feel a bit cheap and tacky even though they work well
- The image stabilisation isn’t up to scratch so recording while moving just didn’t quite cut it for me and I’m only comparing that to a GoPro Hero 5 (the 6 and 7 do an even better job of stabilisation). You can do some stabilising in high end video editors and this did help
- 1080p Slow Mo footage had excessive temperature and colour control issues