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GitUp Git2 WiFi Action Camera

posted Sep 19, 2016, 4:12 PM by Jason Gibson   [ updated Sep 25, 2016, 11:32 AM ]

Back in December 2015, GitUp provided me with a review unit for their new Git2 action camera.  I put it through its paces and I liked what I saw.  If you don't feel like reading the full review, I will be posting a video review with some sample footage.  Remember that YouTube compresses video and makes it look terrible, especially during fast-motion scenes like action cameras often produce - download the raw files to judge the true quality yourself.


If you're like me and would rather read a written review with more detail than a short video can contain, then you're in the right place.


The Git2 is GitUp's followup to their successful Git1 action camera.  The original Git1 has WiFi, 1080p, an excellent Sony image sensor, supports external USB microphones, fits in GoPro 3+/4 cases, and does pretty much anything a GoPro will do for way less money than the GoPro.  


So how can you improve on the Git1?  Well, GitUp found a way.  Lots of ways in fact.


I won't bore you with a specs sheet - you can find that on GitUp's website.


Here's a few highlights from the spec sheet though:

  • 1920x1080@60fps
  • 2880x2160@24fps (4:3 resolution)
  • Interpolated 4K: 3840x2160@24fps (16:9 resolution)
  • Digital Image Stabilization (aka "Gyro")
  • WiFi
  • Wireless wristband remote (optional)
  • Color LCD screen

The Pro package comes with a waterproof case, some mounts, and other accessories, pictured below.


GitUp Git2 Pro Pack Contents

The standard pack basically only comes with a camera and a battery - no mounts, no cases, no extras. For the small price difference, there's no reason NOT to get the Pro pack, especially when it comes with this nice waterproof case.  It uses the same waterproof case as the Git1, which has a lock knob on the left side which I really liked.  It feels much more sturdy than the flip-top latch on other camera cases.  I found that I was even able to open and close this case with my thick snow-skiing gloves on when it was time to change the battery.  I couldn't remove the battery with my gloves on, but the case opened just fine.


The outer chassis of the Git2 is the same as the Git1. In fact if you put them side by side, the only way to tell them apart is the label on the front panel.  Turn them on though, and the Git2 clearly has a higher resolution screen.  Menus look sharper and icons have more detail, which helps them be more descriptive.


Inside the camera, the changes are much more dramatic.  GitUp added a 6-axis accelerometer similar to what smartphones, tablets and video game controllers (like the Wiimote) use to determine orientation and movement.  You can turn this on in the menus (or set the right button to toggle gyro on/off) and it will help reduce or eliminate shaking from your videos.  It's all digital and done completely inside the camera with no moving parts.  The only downside is slightly lower battery life, and a slightly narrower field of view (FOV).  Without gyro stabilization, you'll get about 90 minutes of recording time in 1080p60. With it enabled, you'll get around 80 minutes.  Still pretty good considering how small this camera is.


The next big feature that you can't see from the outside - a faster processor and a higher resolution Sony image sensor.  This helps enable the Gyro function above, but also lets you record at up to 2880x2160 at 24fps, as well as 1080p at 60 fps.  However, my monitor is only 1080p, so can't fully test the quality of these higher resolution video settings.  That said, 1080p60 is REALLY smooth and much nicer to look at than 1080p30, even with the gyro turned off.  When trying to get screen-grabs from video to use as photos, 60fps gives you twice as many frames to choose from - great for posting a killer action shot to facebook or whatever. The higher framerate also reduces motion blur.


Framegrab from 1080p60 video - camera attached to snowboard while riding a trail through the trees

(blur at top center is snow on the lens)

As if that wasn't enough, GitUp has released multiple firmware updates to directly address customer feature requests and bug reports.  User-requested features include 4:3 resolution for video (not just photos); custom ISO and shutter speed options; image tuning; quick-start options; microphone sensitivity (which by the way they also added to the Git1 - if you remember, that was my only real complaint about that camera); custom bitrates; color saturation options; even little things like a more accurate battery meter in the on-screen display!  GitUp is even promising to allow image rotation in the 1.6 update, expected some time in October 2016! Firmware updates are free, so it's like Christmas every time one is released, with new features each time.  Some might try to read into this and say that GitUp is releasing firmwares so often because they released an unfinished product.  I disagree - I used the original 1.0 firmware for 95% of this review and had no real complaints.  Check out the Git2 firmware thread on the DashCamTalk forum for change logs for all the recent releases.


So how about durability?  I unintentionally "dropped" the camera from about 100 feet (30m) up while attached to my then-new 250mm racer quadcopter.  The camera was in its waterproof case, zip-tied to the quadcopter.  This was basically the second time I had ever flown any quadcopter at all, not counting practicing hovering 2 feet off the ground in my back yard.  When the wind picked up, I didn't give it enough throttle to compensate, then I lost sight of it behind the roof of the house, and since I had no idea where it was pointing (and thought it was much lower), I just cut the throttle and let it fall.  On the way down, it hit the railing on the porch and bent 2 props before landing in a snow drift about a foot deep.  I was done flying for the day since snow got down into the quad's motors and other electronics, but the camera was fine - all I had to do was wipe snow off of the waterproof case.  It kept recording through the entire crash, which you'll see in the review video!


Moments before the quadcopter crashed

So most of the time when you think about action cameras, all you think about is intense action videos from a new perspective - attached to a surf board, multi-rotor (or "drone" as some people call them), mountain bike, race car, underwater, someone's helmet, that sort of thing.  But the Git2 actually makes a pretty decent still camera, too.  Simply tap the front power/mode button and it switches to still photo mode. It'll capture true 16 megapixel shots with a very wide angle.  It's not just a one-trick pony though - there are semi-pro camera settings available to you such as shutter speed, ISO, self-timer, and RAW mode for those of you who love Photoshop and Gimp.  You can even have it "hold" the shutter open for very long exposures - up to 1 minute.  Some folks on the dashcamtalk forum have used this feature to capture some really amazing astronomy photographs including the International Space Station passing overhead (the long exposure made it look like a white line in the sky).  I haven't got anything quite that spectacular with it - just a nice sunrise at the beach, and a few other random things.  The hardest thing to get used to when using this as a still camera - you have to get CLOSE to the subject if you want it to fill the frame because the lens is such a wide angle.  It's also very easy to accidentally have your finger in the frame when taking a photo, even though your finger isn't very close to the lens.  This is especially true when wearing gloves.  You'll see a little bit of that in my photos.  You can click the photos to see them full size.


Date was obviously set wrong since that's before the Git2 even existed.  This was taken on a very snowy Christmas Day, December 25, 2015.  It's still snowing in the photo.  The black on the upper corners is from my gloves.


More Christmas Day snow in Colorado


Seems three-year-old Houstonians who have never seen snow before will shovel it UNDER the car.  :D


Sunrise on Galveston Island, Feb 13, 2016


Check the level of detail with all the posts supporting the store, and the Pleasure Pier, visible behind them all. (and my finger at lower right)


Hotel Galvez, sunrise, a seagull, ...and my finger again.


This was taken at about arm's length, if not closer. Having a screen really helps frame the photo.


Galveston seawall info plaques, and the Pleasure Pier

GitUp is taking their entry into the crowded action camera market very seriously.  They don't seem to be interested in simply making a cheap product that's "good enough", dumping it on the market, and then moving on to the next shiny thing. They have to be making a profit, but I'm not sure how since these cameras are being sold so cheap.  This camera has a Sony image sensor, and one would assume that Sony's own action cameras use Sony image sensors too.  Yet Sony's cameras are still significantly more expensive than GitUp.  GoPro sells cameras for 3-5 times as much as the GitUp cameras, and yet in some cases, the GoPro is actually INFERIOR.  For example, I don't think any of GoPro's current offerings has digital image stabilization.  Sure, it's possible to do that afterwards in software, but that software is very expensive, and can take quite some time to learn how to use properly.  And yes, "shaky camera" is a "thing" right now, and some software actually has plugins to ADD shake to video, but much like Michael Bay's "destroy everything" films, JJ Abrams-style lens flares, and bell-bottom pants, I think shaky camera is just another fad which will pass in time, and image stabilization will be the norm.  There's a reason Hollywood spends so much on gimbals - to give you smooth video that doesn't induce motion sickness!


I've been using this camera for quite some time now, and I'm trying really hard to find any downsides.  Right now the only thing I can come up with is that since there are only 3 buttons on the camera, it's a little weird trying to watch videos right on the camera.  Also there's no speaker in the camera (only a piezo beeper to help confirm button presses or other operations) so there's no sound when you do watch videos.  But the camera has WiFi, so you can download the videos to your phone or tablet and watch them there.  Or put the SD card in a computer/phone/tablet and watch them there.  Or plug the camera into a TV via HDMI and watch them there.  Or plug the camera into a computer/phone/tablet via USB and watch videos THAT way.  All of these on a screen way bigger than the Git2's own built-in screen.  So I have a hard time complaining about something this small.


Maybe one other potential downside:  The new Sony sensor they use doesn't support image rotation. The image rotation function is expected to be available in the 1.6 firmware, expected to be released some time in October 2016!  


Another minor complaint, which should come as a surprise to no one - video in low light isn't as good as daylight video.  It's still pretty good thanks to the Sony image sensor, but it's not the best I've seen. GitUp continues to tweak and tune the firmware with each update, which could potentially improve night video.  However, if you're serious about getting excellent quality video at night or deep underwater without any external lighting, maybe you should consider the Git1 instead.  The Git2 has a 16MP image sensor and the Git1 has a 2MP sensor which are both the same physical size, so the pixels on the Git2's sensor are smaller than the Git1.  Thus, the bigger pixels on the Git1 have an easier time collecting what little light there is in a dark situation, which results in better low-light video.  The difference is small though, and since most of us do our action-camera-type stuff outside in the daytime, this won't be an issue.  The Git2 handles rapid light transitions really well, such as flying through intermittent shadows snow skiing/boarding, on a quadcopter, or mountain bike, and with the gyro stabilization, it takes most if not all the harshness and shaking out of your videos. Even when I mount the git2 directly to the frame of my quadcopter (no silicone dampers!) there's hardly any vibration or "jello" effect.  


Pros:

- Same shape/size as Git1 (and GoPro 3/4) so all cases/accessories fit/work perfect

- 1080p60, 2k, and higher FPS lower resolutions for smooth slow-motion effects

- GYRO STABILIZATION!  get rid of annoying shaking!

- WiFi for downloading videos and controlling the camera remotely

- Available wristband remote if you don't/can't use wifi

- Handles light/dark transitions such as shadows/trees/clouds quickly and without blowing out the image

- ~90 minutes recording time per charge, even in freezing environments like snow-skiing or snowboarding

- durable - handles big drops really well in the waterproof case

- same clever cam-lock on the side of the case as the Git1 - more secure than GoPro's top flip-lock

- excellent support from GitUp via forums and firmware updates on their website


Cons:

- Playing videos is a bit tricky directly on the camera

- No image rotation function built into camera so you have to use software to do it Coming w/ 1.6 firmware!

- Low light sensitivity isn't as good as the Git1, but that's the tradeoff for higher resolution, higher framerates and gyro stabilization - I'll take it!

- Firmware updates reset everything to default, but that's kind of a good thing - it forces you to go back into the setup menus and discover the new features they added


Verdict:

Would I buy this camera?  Absolutely! All the good stuff that GoPro offers (and then some - gyro!) for WAY less than the price of a GoPro?  At this point you really are paying for the name if you insist on buying an authentic GoPro camera.  The cons I've come up with here are honestly pretty trivial and will never even affect most users.  Low light quality is something you'll need to determine for yourself.  If you'll never be filming at night, then it's not an issue.  I had no trouble filming at dawn or dusk - quality still looked great to me, and I don't expect to use the camera at night.  If you want to record at night, you probably already know you'll need external lighting and/or a very expensive image sensor.  This type of camera is all about having fun and being able to share it with the world, and this camera certainly delivers in that area.  

GitUp Git1 WiFi Action Camera

posted Sep 19, 2016, 4:08 PM by Jason Gibson

Originally posted December 9, 2015

The GitUp Git1 is a solid action camera with WiFi, a high quality Sony image sensor that delivers sharp daytime videos and pretty good night video.  It has an available wristwatch remote control, and FPV and external microphone support via the mini-USB port.  It can use all GoPro mounting accessories, even cases (gopro 3 and up), so your options for mounting are just about unlimited. The included mounts and cases work with official and generic GoPro mounts as well.


GitUp provided me with a review unit of the Git1 Pro pack along with a couple extra accessories.





The video review covers some of the highlights and has video samples, but for the full details, read the full article below.





GitUp Git1 SPECS

  • Novatek 96655 CPU
  • Sony IMX322 image sensor
  • 950 mAh battery - about 90 minutes of recording time (wifi off) from a full charge
  • Able to format and use 64gb microSD cards directly in the camera, even if they aren't formatted as FAT32 beforehand

Weights (approx)

  • Camera, no battery: 46g/1.6oz
  • Camera with battery: 64g/2.25oz
  • Camera in waterproof case w/ flat mount & screw: 150g/5.25oz
  • Waterproof case, flat mount & screw: 87g/3oz
  • Waterproof case, no mount: 67g/2.35oz
  • Battery: 16g/0.6oz

Video menu options

(with October 2015 firmware)

  • 1080p@30fps (16.6Mbps)
  • 960p@30fps
  • 720p@60fps
  • 720p@30fps
  • WVGA@60fps
  • Loop recording for use as dashcam
  • time/date stamp on/off
  • time lapse: 1, 5, or 10 fps
  • self timer: 5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 seconds
  • FOV adjustable in menu settings - wide or narrow angle view (useful for FPV or just if you don't need/want wide angle)
  • Wide Dynamic Range for better colors and contrast
  • Exposure and white balance both manually adjustable, or auto white balance
  • Configurable Multifunction button: off, exposure lock, white balance lock, EV+WB lock, Mute Audio
  • Motion detection
  • G-sensor (mostly for dashcam, not very useful for most action camera uses)


Photo Mode menu options


  • 12, 8, 5, 3 megapixels  (note that the sensor is only capable of 2 megapixels so all of these resolutions are interpolated)
  • time/date stamp on/off
  • Time lapse: off, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 seconds
  • Exposure and white balance both manually adjustable, or auto white balance
  • Color: Normal, Black & white, Sepia


System Menu options


  • Set time/date
  • Language: English, French, Spanish, Portugese, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese (simple, traditional), Polish, Czech
  • Image rotation on/off (180 degree rotation)
  • Beep on/off
  • On Screen Display Info on/off
  • Screen Auto Sleep: 1, 3, 5 minutes, off
  • Auto power off: 10 sec, 1, 3, 5, 10, 30, 60 minutes, off
  • Car Mode Auto-Start (for dashcam or FPV use) on/off
  • Frequency 50/60hz
  • TV Mode: PAL/NTSC
  • RF Pairing (for wristwatch remote control)
  • Format SD card
  • Default settings
  • Version (GIT1_V1.20_20151013)


My Evaluation unit came with the following accessories

Outside the main Git1 box


  • FPV (First-Person Video) Cable for racing/flying RC vehicles (plugs directly into Boscam VTX)
  • Additional battery in anti-static bag
  • Short monopod/selfie-stick with gopro-type tripod adapter and wrist strap
  • Open non-waterproof mount bracket (GitUp has since released a newer and better open mount)


Inside the Git1 Pro box (which is REALLY hard to get out of the sleeve!  super-tight fit!)


  • Camera & battery in waterproof case, on flat mount clip
  • Note card about GitUp Android and iOS apps coming soon
  • Lens cap
  • Wristband controller
  • External lapel type clip-on mic with braided cable and foam wind cap
  • USB data/charge cable (cable only - you must supply charger)
  • Quick start guide
  • Handlebar mount
  • 2 Adhesive mount plates (one flat, one curved)
  • 2 Thumbscrews (one short one long)
  • 1/4" Female threaded tripod adapter (in addition to the one included w/ the selfie stick)
  • 2 90-degree mount brackets - one short, one long

Media Info (1080p30 video)

General

Complete name                            : 2015_1004_150311_002.MOV

Format                                   : MPEG-4

Format profile                           : QuickTime

Codec ID                                 : qt  

File size                                : 605 MiB

Duration                                 : 4mn 35s

Overall bit rate                         : 18.4 Mbps

Encoded date                             : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46

Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46


Video

ID                                       : 1

Format                                   : AVC

Format/Info                              : Advanced Video Codec

Format profile                           : High@L4.1

Format settings, CABAC                   : Yes

Format settings, ReFrames                : 1 frame

Format settings, GOP                     : M=1, N=15

Codec ID                                 : avc1

Codec ID/Info                            : Advanced Video Coding

Duration                                 : 4mn 35s

Bit rate                                 : 16.6 Mbps

Width                                    : 1 920 pixels

Height                                   : 1 080 pixels

Display aspect ratio                     : 16:9

Frame rate mode                          : Constant

Frame rate                               : 30.000 fps

Color space                              : YUV

Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:0

Bit depth                                : 8 bits

Scan type                                : Progressive

Bits/(Pixel*Frame)                       : 0.267

Stream size                              : 544 MiB (90%)

Language                                 : English

Encoded date                             : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46

Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46


Audio                                                                           

ID                                       : 2                                    

Format                                   : PCM                                  

Format settings, Endianness              : Little                               

Format settings, Sign                    : Signed                               

Codec ID                                 : sowt                                 

Duration                                 : 4mn 35s                              

Bit rate mode                            : Constant                             

Bit rate                                 : 512 Kbps                             

Channel(s)                               : 1 channel                            

Sampling rate                            : 32.0 KHz                             

Bit depth                                : 16 bits                              

Stream size                              : 16.8 MiB (3%)                        

Language                                 : English                              

Encoded date                             : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46              

Tagged date                              : UTC 2015-10-04 15:07:46              

mdhd_Duration                            : 275233       



Since YouTube compresses video, you need the raw files from the camera to see the true quality. Download those files here:

http://gibson99.com/download/RawVideo/Git1/


The Review!

Now that all that stuff is out of the way, on to the actual review!  A new company calling itself GitUp has released a line of budget action cameras to compete with GoPro, SJcam, Xiaomi and other action cameras.  Their first offering, the Git1, seems to be a pretty solid entrance into what's quickly becoming a crowded market.  While some of the budget cameras are using cheap image sensors, GitUp thankfully did NOT join the race to the bottom.  They installed a good quality Sony Exmor sensor with glass lenses to give you good image quality, which is obviously the most important function of a camera.  They also included wifi in this camera, which is handy for aiming and framing the picture, as well as remotely controlling start/stop with a smartphone or tablet for when the camera is mounted out of your reach.  A wireless wristband remote is also available, so you can still remotely start and stop the camera even if you don't have a smartphone, or in cases where using WiFi would cause problems, such as when the camera's mounted on a RC vehicle using a 2.4GHz controller (hint: WiFi also uses 2.4GHz).  The wristband remote is only waterproof to 2 meters (about 6 feet), so you can't take it scuba diving, but it should be fine for snorkeling or a swimming pool.  GitUp says it's ideal for surfing, such as when the camera's mounted to your board.


The camera is pretty easy to take apart if you ever need to.  I noticed that it has an RTC battery inside (part of the main circuit board, non-removable).  This is basically a small watch battery.  Having an RTC battery means it won't lose the time/date and other settings when you swap out the main battery, or when the main battery simply runs out of juice.  The last action camera I reviewed (Discovery DS200) didn't have an RTC battery, so every time the battery ran out or I removed the battery, it lost all settings, which was REALLY annoying.  This camera won't have that problem.  I've verified it by removing the battery for several days, and the time/date were still correct when I powered it back up.  The lens is only secured with one dab of glue, so if you ever wanted to change lenses or refocus, it shouldn't be too hard.  In terms of build quality, it's good that all 3 buttons are mounted flat on their boards rather than on the edge.  This will make them more durable and less likely to break off from people pressing too hard.  They also paid attention to small details such as angling the front LEDs to match the openings on the front case, and including foam around the LEDs to prevent light leaks.  They didn't have to do that, but they did.  It shows that they aren't cutting every last corner they can find, and instead, they're focusing on making a polished, refined product.










The wifi chipset used is the Realtek 8189ES, which is a B/G/N single stream chip capable of 54MB/sec in G and 150MB/sec in N mode. So the wifi chip should not be the bottleneck if there are any data transfer speed issues. 


OK, now for the wireless wristband remote. It's a one-way communication device, similar to a garage door opener. However, the camera has to already be turned on before the remote will work. Then once you press a button, you see the red light flicker for a second or two as it sends the command, and then you just hope you can hear the camera beep to start whatever command you sent, or that you can see the camera's LEDs. 


The remote is also easy to take apart.  Its face is all rubber, and the body is hard plastic with rubberized coating. strap looks and feels similar to the straps used to adjust my backpack - not as tightly woven as a seatbelt, and slightly thicker. It's not itchy when when it's hot outside and I'm sweating, and does not catch/pull the hairs on my wrist. The looser weaving allows air to circulate, which is good for an action camera accessory!






I really like the waterproof case's latch system.  It's much easier to use than the top-mounted flip-latch style that gopro and most others use.  I've bent my fingernail (OUCH) trying to open the flip style latches because some of them are so tight.  The Git1 has the lock on the side.  It's a simple knob with an easy-to-squeeze lock at the top.  Turn it 90 degrees to open or close the case.  The camera fits snug inside and does not rattle during use, but it's loose enough that when you open the case and tip it over, the camera falls easily into your hand.  The buttons are easy to press through the case, and because there are only 3 buttons on the camera, you can access all functions while it's in the waterproof case. The screen is easy to read through the case as well.  Having the lock on the side also makes it so the waterproof case isn't as tall as others, so it could give you more flexibility when mounting it.


When you start recording you have 3 LEDs flashing to let you know - one on top next to the shutter button, one on the back, and one on the front.  The front one is visible in direct sunlight, but the top and rear ones tend to wash out in the sun, so you have to shade them with your hand to see if they're flashing.  I wish they would flash faster so I could simply glance at them real quick to check if it's still recording, but this is pretty minor - lots of cameras, GoPro included, have slow flashing indicators.  The LEDs also blink red while charging, just like when it's recording. When it's done charging, the front LED turns solid green and the rest turn off.


So far my only real complaint is that the built-in microphone is overly sensitive to bass and low sounds, especially when it's NOT in the waterproof case.  I went autocrossing and had the camera in the open frame on my helmet and on the inside of the windshield of the car I drove (Mazdazpeed Miata with a fairly quiet aftermarket exhaust - I didn't have to yell to be heard by my passenger).  Even at idle, the bass of the exhaust overdrove the microphone and made everything sound horrible.  I didn't have the waterproof case with me that day since there was no chance of rain, plus I didn't know the audio had been overdriven till I watched the videos at home.  My goal was to have good sound by using the open frame mount, since waterproof cases always cover up the mic and block most sound.  GitUp apparently tuned the mic to be really sensitive so it can actually hear something while inside the waterproof case.  I also read that GitUp is using a higher quality mic on their new model, the Git2, and that if things go well, they may start using that mic in the Git1 as well.


When testing the internal and external mics, it seems that the external is not as sensitive to bass, and the internal mic has a surprisingly good amount of wind resistance.  We went on a neighborhood bike ride to the duck pond on a windy day (20mph/32km/h), and the internal mic did OK as long as it wasn't in direct wind.  The external mic rejected a little more wind, but not much, even though it has a big foam wind cap.  Still, if you want better audio quality, it's best to use the external mic.  Having the option for the external mic is pretty neat as it gives you a lot more flexibility.  You could put the mic inside your helmet with the camera outside, so if you like to do moto-vlogging or like to talk through your motions on the track (perhaps as an instructional aid), this will let you.  The cable on the external mic is about 6ft/2m long so you could potentially have the camera mounted on the outside of a car and still have the mic on your body/helmet or somewhere inside the car.  The alligator clip itself would allow the mic to break away if you had to make an emergency escape from your car, so that's handy.


GitUp also offers an FPV cable for use with multi-copters, planes or other RC vehicles.  I haven't been able to test it yet since my quadcopter is still on its way here from China, but hopefully it will be a true live feed without any lag, so it could be used for actual FPV racing or piloting a craft beyond your line of sight. From what I've seen others do with their Git1, it seems the Git1 automatically powers on when you turn on your VTX when connected via FPV cable.  If you also have the auto-record option enabled in the Git1, it'll also start recording right away, just like a dashcam.  I haven't tested it with a VTX to see what kind of quality you get, or whether it lags while recording.  But since you can change the FOV (wide or narrow angle) in the menu rather than having to change out a lens and worry about getting it focused right, that right there might be worth the extra weight compared to a tiny board camera.  It all depends on how you use the camera.


Obviously you can't use the external mic or FPV cable while the camera is in the waterproof case.  I ordered a generic GoPro 3 case for about $10 on Amazon, and I plan to drill holes in the side for cables.  Notice I said that it was a case for a GoPro 3. That's not a typo.  This camera fits in GoPro3+ cases just fine and you can still operate the buttons. It should be useful when mounted to my helmet when I go riding on trails through the woods on my mountain bike, or when I gokart racing or autocrossing again.


The Sony image sensor in this camera provides very sharp video both day and night.  I mounted the camera on my dog's back and let him out in the back yard at night.  Even before the motion sensor light turns on, you can make out the trees along my back fence and a few other details.  Once the light does come on, video quality is great, even when facing directly into the light - it does not overdrive the sensor or wash out everything else.


The camera is light, even in the waterproof case.  I mounted it on my 6-year-old daughter's head and let her do her "American Ninja Warrior training" by climbing across the swingset.  She accidentally banged the camera against the swingset a few times because she forgot it was there, but no damage to the camera.


I also tried hanging the camera from my dog's collar, but that didn't work out so well - it bounced around too much as he ran around the yard.  They make actual dog mounts for action cameras, but I probably won't use it enough to justify even a cheap $12 mount.


Playing back the videos directly on the camera is a little odd but that's just because you only have 3 buttons to work with.  You tap the power button to change modes till you get to playback mode.  Tap the top shutter button to move to the next video, and press the gear/wifi/menu button to get to the play/delete/lock/slideshow menu.  Tap power to move between options, then press shutter to perform that action.  One other thing about video playback - there's no sound on the camera when playing videos.  Looks like the only noise the camera can make is beeps.  This is pretty minor though - I expect most folks will play them back on a smartphone via the wifi app, or on a computer.


Since the official GitUp mobile app isn't available yet, they send a helpful little card that says to use FinalCam (Google Play or Apple App Store).  FinalCam strangely asks for your GPS location, which I did not appreciate. Hopefully the GitUp app won't do that.  I found another app from the DCT forums called FN Cam by FusionNext. So you have options till GitUp releases their official app.  I won't review the other software here since they aren't provided or supported by GitUp.  I will say that I much prefer the FusionNext app over FinalCam.  FN Cam has more options, and feels more like a finished product (except for the yellow FN logo in the middle of the screen in viewfinder mode), whereas FinalCam has plenty of bugs. For example, when you look at files on the camera in FinalCam, in order to get back to live preview, you have to completely quit the app and re-open it.


In terms of support, GitUp is very active on the DashCamTalk forum.  During the time I've had my eval unit, they've released TWO firmware updates to address user requests.  Things like turning off the screen while charging a battery, for example.


So let's go over the pros and cons of the camera.

PROS


  • Same form factor as GoPro3 so accessories abound
  • Side lock mechanism on waterproof case is superior to top latches
  • Sony Exmor image sensor provides excellent video quality day and night
  • Built-in WiFi 
  • Optional wristband remote
  • Optional FPV cable
  • Optional External Microphone
  • RTC Battery to keep settings when main battery is removed or dead
  • 90 minutes recording time on a single charge (WiFi off)
  • Has dashcam (auto-record when power connected) mode
  • Excellent support via website and forums

CONS


  • Internal microphone is oversensitive to bass such as some car exhaust, or rumbling from bicycle tires
  • Official WiFi app not ready yet, suggested app is buggy and wants your GPS location
  • Doesn't come with a charger; only a USB cable
  • Slow flashing recording status LEDs
  • Top and rear LEDs wash out in the sun
  • Wifi isn't fast enough to watch recordings over wifi - must download files first then play locally. This is a limitation of the Novatek chipset, not just this camera.  Other Novatek cameras have the same issue.


Conclusion

In a market becoming crowded with budget action cameras, we're quickly learning that you really do get what you pay for, except maybe GoPro, where you're paying for a brand name.  There are some cameras claiming to have 4K resolution for only $50.  Surprise - it's not true 4k and even on an overcast day the video quality isn't very good.  The Git1 camera costs around $100US depending on which package you get, so it's not the cheapest one on the market.  It won't give you 4k or even 2k, but it will give you excellent quality 1080p in almost any lighting conditions at a cost MUCH lower than a GoPro.  The waterproof case claims to be good to 30 meters (I can only test it at 2 meters, and then only when the neighborhood pool opens again next summer), and the wristband remote is waterproof to 2 meters also.  You can hook up an external mic, and even use this camera as your main FPV camera on a multicopter or other RC vehicle.


Would I buy one?  YES!  The microphone is a little too sensitive to low frequency sounds when it's out of the case, but that's the tradeoff for being able to record some sound when it IS in the waterproof case.  That's not going to stop me from continuing to use this camera, and who knows - it may be fixed in a future firmware update!


Thanks again to GitUp for providing me with this review unit.  Be sure to visit their website at www.GitUp.com


Discovery Adventures DS200 WiFi Action Camera

posted Sep 19, 2016, 4:01 PM by Jason Gibson

Originally posted September 8, 2015

This post was copied from the original on DashCamTalk.com and then slightly modified to fit the blog post better.  Future posts will not be as disjointed as this as they will be posted here first, and to forums later.


Here's my video review, but you still might want to read this thread since I can go into a lot more detail when it's written down. 





Skip ahead to the parts you're interested in:


INTRO AND REVIEW:

0:10 - What's in the box

1:55 - A look back in time

2:42 - Exterior views, button explanations

4:06 - Menu options/settings

12:57 - Android App


SAMPLE FOOTAGE:

21:58 - Dashcam

25:37 - Neighborhood bike ride

28:55 - Indoor go-kart racing

34:22 - Quadcopter

41:38 - Water test


CONCLUSION:

43:39 - Summary

44:14 - Pros

45:00 - Cons

45:50 - Conclusion


Sorry the video ended up so long. In my last video, people said I rushed through a lot of it, so this time I took my time.

Raw files: http://gibson99.com/download/RawVideo/DS200/


ieGeek provided me with a sample unit of the Discovery Adventures DS200 action camera for review. This is the first action camera I've reviewed, but I've used a GoPro in the past and have read/watched reviews on things like the SJx000 series and the Yi.


A few key features:

  • WIFI
  • 1080p @ 30fps
  • removable battery gives about 70 minutes of recording time (screen and wifi off)
  • can be used as dashcam (loop recording, g-sensor, auto-record when power applied)


What's in the box:

  • Camera (in waterproof case)
  • battery (in camera)
  • USB-A to MicroUSB cable
  • 2 adhesive slide mounts with strap slots, one of which has a 1/4" tripod hole
  • 1 "J" clip mount
  • 1 flat clip mount
  • 2 velcro straps
  • 2 adjustable straps
  • 2 90-degree turn brackets - one short, one about 1cm longer
  • 1 straight riser bracket to raise the camera about 1cm
  • 1 2-pc 1/4" tripod adapter - lets you mount the DS200 on a tripod or mount any device with a tripod hole on a gopro mount.
  • 1 bike seatpost/handlebar mount
  • warranty card
  • quality certificate
  • English owner's manual


The camera came with firmware "21050723v02 DISCOVERY". I'm hoping there will be an update soon because I've found some annoying usability things that seem like they could be fixed in firmware. I have contacted ieGeek about them but a new firmware is not available at this time. If a new one does come out, I will edit this post with a link to the new firmware.


That said - the camera still works great as-is. Video quality is already very good so my suggestions for firmware updates are purely about usability, not to fix something that's broken. Just wanted to be clear on that.


The camera uses a Novatek processor, because that's how it shows up when I plug it into my PC. When plugged in to a computer, the camera turns on and asks if you want to use Mass Storage (acts like a thumb drive), PC Camera (webcam), or "Video", which presumably acts more like an MTP camera device - similar to when you plug most android phones into a PC.



I haven't been able to pin down exactly which processor or sensor it uses thus far. I may open up the case to find out later on. The media info in VLC is almost entirely blank. It has the same startup and menu button sounds as my A118/A118C dashcams, and the menus look nearly identical.


From my use so far (at my desk, in the car, and on a bike ride with the kids), I've come up with a few Pros and Cons.


PROS:

  • Waterproof case is compatible with GoPro mounts, so your mounting options are only limited by your budget
  • tiny, light weight
  • Box and manual says up to 32gb max for the SD card, but I formatted a 64gb card in the camera and it works perfectly!
  • Full HD with good picture quality during the day, even with the sun shining straight into the lens (haven't tested at night yet)
  • Surprisingly good battery life from such a tiny battery - about 75 minutes of actual recording time (with screen and wifi both off)
  • Main buttons easy to operate through waterproof case
  • Waterproof case does not cause any vignetting (doesn't cover lens) and remains waterproof even while spraying directly with water. Also provides a good clear picture underwater.
  • WIFI for aiming the camera (so that it's framed perfectly), controlling start/stop or downloading videos to phone via Android or iOS app - very handy when the camera is mounted somewhere you can't reach it (such as on the front bumper of your car).


CONS:

  • Automatically turns on and starts recording when plugged into power. This is good for a dashcam, but on an action cam, I just want it to charge, not start recording. This can probably be fixed in firmware. My workaround is to remove the SD card before plugging it into the charger. It still turns on, but at least it doesn't start recording.
  • No way to set a blank "license plate" number. So if you have the date/time stamp on, you'll also have a useless license plate number in the video. This isn't a problem if you leave the date stamp turned off. This can probably also be fixed in firmware
  • If you DO want to use the plate number, there's 7 characters, but the first character can only be a chinese character. the next 6 are the normal 0-9 and A-Z (no spaces). so I couldn't put my 7-digit license plate number there even if i wanted to.
  • wifi only good for aiming camera, starting/stopping recordings, and downloading videos to the phone. it's way too slow for watching recordings.
  • thumb screws on mounts are a little too short - they end up very close to the waterproof case, making them hard to tighten, even with a gopro mount wrench.
  • the two adhesive mounts included with this camera do NOT accept GoPro clips, but the included clips DO fit in gopro mount plates.
  • back buttons are a little hard to press (with case off of course).
  • menu option for image rotation is buried way down in the menus - i think (my opinion) that it should be easier to get to it since it's a feature that will be used often. again - this can probably be fixed in firmware. Maybe they could make it so you could just press left or right while in video camera mode to toggle image rotation without having to go into the menu at all. currently left/right will zoom in/out, which i honestly don't expect to use - ever.


I know that sounds like a lot of negatives, but really they're just annoyances, and you can still easily use the camera. 


When the g-sensor is turned on, it saves the locked files in a separate folder named RO. Many dashcams do the same - put the locked files (from when you press the lock button or something triggers the G-sensor), in a separate folder. But for some reason, the RO folder is inside another folder called Test:


The G-sensor also seems to mess with the numbering of the files, so I just turned off the G-sensor so all videos would end up in the same folder and be named consistently. the g-sensor triggered for almost every single file on my sedate little bike ride around the neighborhood on august 30, and one of the files for my dashcam test on august 28. I've also turned off loop recording since the 10+ hours of recording time I get out of a 64gb card is more than enough for an action cam. and just like my a118 dashcam, when the DS200 is set to loop recording, it has a 1 second overlap at the beginning of each new file. so using the 3-minute-long files above as an example: the first second of 2015_0830_172544_016.MOV will contain the exact same footage/audio as the LAST second of 2015_0830_172244_015.MOV. so if you're editing several of these back together, you'll have to trim every file to make it play smoothly. With loop recording off, it just records one giant file until it hits the 4gb file size limit of the file system. at that point if it's still recording, there will also be the 1 second overlap, but since each file will end up being about 30 minutes long, this will be rare and in most cases, not an issue. and for an action camera, i would think you wouldn't want it to overwrite anything without warning you, so IMHO, loop recording should be turned off by default (but it isn't).


One other niggle... the waterproof case blocks almost all sound from getting to the camera... except when it's actually under water. This is not exclusive to this camera - ALL action cameras in waterproof cases, gopro included, have that problem. The way gopro gets around that problem is to have different backs that you can snap onto the case. one is solid and waterproof. another has slots which make it NOT waterproof, but allow sound into the case to get recorded while still protecting the camera from bumps and scrapes. The DS200 doesn't come with a different back or even a different case. so it's the waterproof case or nothing - there's no other way to mount the camera without the case. Thankfully, the gopro accessory kit I bought DOES come with a different sort of case - one that's basically a flexible black plastic ring that holds the outside edges of the camera, with holes for the buttons and microphone. It doesn't provide any protection for the camera, but at least it allows sound in. Granted, the wifi button and mic holes do not line up right, but that's fine - this isn't a gopro so I'm honestly surprised it even fits at all! I drilled new holes in the bracket to fix that minor issue. Fit isn't perfect either - apparently the discovery camera is a few mm narrower than a gopro, so there's a tiny bit of slop in the case. I added some foam tape inside the bracket to prevent vibrations and keep the camera securely in the mount.



So here are a couple screengrabs from me using the camera.

First, using it as a dashcam. it was hanging upside down so i used the image rotation function in the camera. I didn't have to rotate the video to watch it on my PC, so image rotation works as expected.

First is the DS200, and second is my A118 dashcam (which you can see in the time/date/plate stamp), for comparison.



The A118 seems to have a slightly wider angle lens, and has a bit of a lens flare from the sun (red dot under the car ahead of me), but the DS200 has a sharper image and seems to handle the brightness from the sun a bit better. It lets it wash out the sky but still shows decent detail on the cars, signs and even just the reflectors in the road (and unfortunately, dirt and rock chips on my windshield). And no, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you - my car's hood/bonnet is not shiny. My car needs a bath (and a paint job).


The DS 200 works well as a dashcam. In fact it almost seems to be made primarily as a dashcam due to the way it defaults to loop recording, automatically starts recording when you plug in power (or start your car if it's already plugged in), and many of the menu options. It was a little shaky on the suction cup mount I used, but that's not the fault of the camera - that's the cheap, generic suction cup mount I bought.  And since it was in the waterproof case, the only sound in the video is vibrations that came through the chassis of the car. You can't really hear the music on my stereo or anything else beside bumps in the road and engine vibration.


With it mounted on my bike handlebars, the quality is good.  Not very shaky even with knobby tires on pavement.  With the sun behind me, the quality is good. not super sharp but not dull or fuzzy either.



For now, that's all I have in terms of samples. This weekend I plan to go indoor go-kart racing at K1-Speed, and I'll have the camera mounted to the chin bar of my helmet, and will be using the open bracket, not the waterproof case, because I want sound! Should give a pretty good view:


note that on the helmet, i used the generic gopro mount plate from the kit i bought so that it fits the curve of the helmet better.


As luck would have it, a buddy of mine built himself a quadcopter and wanted to show it to me. Once I told him I was reviewing an action camera, he was super excited about putting it on the quadcopter. so how's that for a thorough test?  :D



I have been emailing back and forth quite a bit with @ieGeek about some of the issues with the menus as well as the android app. Seems the 2.4ghz wifi caused some interference with the 2.4ghz controller for the quadcopter, and caused it to just drop out of the sky without warning.  Thankfully no damage as it landed in the grass, but it's worth mentioning. Once we turned off wifi on the camera, there were no more issues with the quadcopter, and we got some great footage.


Sunny said: How's the video quality?


Similar performance to my a118 dashcam (the a118 has a novatek 96650 processor and aptina ar0330 sensor), though I haven't exactly filmed much indoors with the dashcam so can't compare there... but the kart racing turned out great. Even though it was bumpy as hell (karts have no suspension) the video is still great and you can sometimes make out enough detail to read the leaderboard as I fly past it, as well as read signs and other stuff on the walls there. As I said, it's VERY bumpy on these karts, so it's hard to get a perfectly clear screenshot from when I was at speed. The actual video looks fine though.


This is me sitting in grid, waiting for the current run group to finish before starting my race.


and here's us out on course, at speed.


And this is most definitely NOT a go-kart. notice the dog trying to catch it.  :p


Thanks again to @ieGeek for providing this camera for me to review! :D



I've finished the video review - it and the link for raw footage have been added to the post.


I did test the waterproof case, but not at the neighborhood pool like I wanted - they weren't open last weekend even though they should have been (what am I paying HOA dues for again?). So i put it in the bathtub with some of my son's toys. seal was good - no water inside, even when held directly under the faucet. clarity underwater is great. light was a little low due to how deep the garden tub is, but it's good enough for this test.


when mounted on the quadcopter (no gimbal), even with the waterproof case, the props/motors were quite loud. but the camera held up just fine even through several crashes. the first crash was caused by the camera's wifi (wifi runs at 2.4ghz) and the quad's 2.4ghz controller interfering with each other. once we turned off wifi on the camera, the quad behaved normally. the other crashes were simple pilot error - he hasn't had it very long and is still learning how to fly it. the wifi signal to my phone was lost a few seconds after the quad took off, so even though it was still close enough to have gotten a signal (ieGeek says within 15 meters), the motors and quad's 2.4ghz controller just drowned it out and it lost the signal.


on the kart, it was very bumpy. i mean seriously bumpy. karts have no suspension other than chassis flex and pneumatic tires, and my helmet was shaking a little, which shows up in the videos. even still, the videos turned out pretty good. sound could not have been better with the open case i used. these karts can supposedly do 45 mph, and if you drive it right, you can top out the kart right as you cross the start/finish line, and carry that speed through a big sweeper. yet there was no wind noise - only the whine of the electric karts, tire squeal, karts bumping, and people yelling. i did not add any kind of foam near the microphone - it just has an open hole in the plastic bracket. and even though i was wearing a full face helmet with the visor closed, you can easily hear me talking. that's partly because there's a vent in the front of the helmet right in front of my mouth, right behind the camera. but still, my own voice was surprisingly clear, even when i wasn't yelling - when that kid ran me into the wall ("shoulder check fail" in the video), i said "dammit" but it wasn't very loud, especially compared to when i yelled "EYES OPEN!" at him a few seconds later. i dunno what they were thinking letting those kids out there with experienced racers. yes, you gotta learn some time, but not in a crowd that aggressive. might as well put a first-day driver on the autobahn. ok, off my soap box.  :p


the bike ride brought a lot of vibration and mechanical noise to the camera, especially when using the waterproof case. my mountain bike's knobby tires made a lot of resonation and humming/buzzing, sometimes making the video wavy, but that's because we were riding on concrete. brake levers, the freewheel, and when i'd pedal backwards to get the pedal up to a good starting point all made bangs and thumps in the video, not to mention noises from the child bike trailer i was pulling. with the open case, audio is great - you can hear both kids laughing when we go over the small hills in the first part of the video. offroad, you don't get the vibration/resonation from knobby tires unless you're on dried clay or something, but then that's never smooth anyway, so...


I never did end up testing the camera at night, but if someone wants me to, I can try to do that (edit Nov 2015: I can't do this anymore as I gave the camera to my father, who lives several thousand miles from me). It'd probably just be another dashcam video if i did test it at night, although maybe i could try putting it on the fender of the car with the suction mount (and a tether in case the suction cup lets go), and see how it does there in terms of both audio and video quality.


i also didn't test the photo capabilities. again - this is a video camera. i don't expect many people will be using it to take photos. and it's easy to get a screengrab from videos you may record, so there's not much point in having a separate camera function, IMHO.


Final verdict: Would I buy it? As I said in the video, probably not. There's nothing wrong with it other than the slow wifi - video quality is good and audio (outside the waterproof case) is excellent. having a screen is indeed quite handy for when you're not using wifi to start/stop/aim it. the menu quirks are just that - quirks - and they might get fixed in a future firmware update. you can still use the camera just fine. but for the same amount of money, personally i'd buy a xiaomi yi and some accessories. no, the yi doesn't have a screen, and doesn't even come with a waterproof case, but it does have wifi. and a better image sensor (sony). and a tripod hole for mounting without a case. and a huge following here on the forums and probably other places too, for custom firmwares, scripts and utilities.


then again, i'm a power user. i run linux on my home pc, i root my android devices the moment i get them, and usually run a custom ROM as well. My day job is to tweak the heck out of windows to optimize it for firm business, and automate the entire build process, so you can start with a blank pc, press 4 buttons, and 2 hours later end up with windows and all the software we need, all completely configured for the user so they can just log in and start working without having to tinker with anything. i'm NOT your average user. I even went so far as to modify how the daytime running lights work in my wife's SUV (now it uses the fog lights for DRLs instead of the low beam headlights - needed because I converted the headlights from halogen to HID). so this isn't the camera for me, because i'm a tweaker. that's not the camera's fault, it's just my preference. I'll continue using the camera until I get something different I gave the camera to my dad now that I have another action camera.  The fact that I gave it to a family member (whom I actually like!) shows that I don't think this camera is junk.


I do appreciate @ieGeek sending me this evaluation unit, and i will continue to work with them if they have any updates for the camera firmware or the android app, and i'll keep this thread updated with anything new on that front. 


iegeek sells the camera on amazon and ebay, here:

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