Saturday, 26 April 2014

Kayak Filming - iON Air Pro Waterproof Action Camera

Back in November 2013, I decided to start making videos of shore and kayak fishing trips along with some how to videos.  I started with my standard cheap £50 compact digital camera that shot videos in VGA or HD 720p.  That was fine to start with and as a taster however, not suitable for the long term mainly because the camera was not waterproof and a camera on a kayak that is not waterproof will not and did not last very long!  Clearly, if I was to continue making videos I needed to upgrade my equipment.

I decided to purchase a waterproof HD action camera, and based on my limited experience to date, my criteria was as follows:

  1. Waterproof without the need for an outer case.
  2. Capable of shooting HD 1080p @ 30fps.
  3. Remote control.
  4. Decent battery life.
  5. Wide angle FOV (field of view).
  6. Lightweight.
  7. A head mount for my shore fishing videos.
  8. Capable of shooting stills.
  9. Tri-pod thread.

Research suggested the most popular waterproof action camera is the GoPro however, when filming, I like to talk about what I am doing and the GoPro is only waterproof within its waterproof housing and my research suggested the housing muffles the sound.

Next, I looked at the Drift Ghost-S, which ticked nearly all of the boxes except the head mount.  I could get a helmet mount, or ski goggle mount, or shoulder mount, but I did not fancy going shore fishing with a crash helmet or ski goggles!  In addition, I felt a shoulder mount would be unsuitable due to too much movement when fishing for example, when casting or playing a fish.

I then considered the Kodak Playsport zx5, which again nearly ticked all of the boxes except no suitable mount for my shore fishing.

Finally, I looked at the iON Air Pro-Lite.

This ticked all of the boxes and the features are as follows:

  • Lens Type: Fixed Focus (2ft/.6m), glass
  • Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations)
  • Field of View: (Degree of Angle) 1080p/30fps = 127 degree, 960p/30fps = 170 degree, 720p/30,60fps = 150 degree, WVGA 30fps = 150 degree
  • Video HD Resolutions: 1080p: 1920x1080 (16:9), 30 FPS. 720p: 1280x720 (16:9), 30 FPS/60 FPS (Slow Motion). 960p: 1280x960 (4:3), 30 FPS
  • Default Switch Settings: Full HD-1080p/30 FPS/127 FoV OR HD-720p/60 FPS/170 FoV
  • Sensor Type: 1/2.5" HD CMOS, 2.2ìm pixels
  • Light Sensitivity: Super low-light sensitivity (>1.4 V/lux-sec)
  • Video Format: H.264 compression, saved as MPEG4 (.mp4) file
  • Exposure Control: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Microphone: Built-in, mono with AGC (automatic gain control)
  • Audio Format: ADPCM
  • Photo Resolution: 5MP
  • Capture Modes: Single Shot
  • Memory: MicroSD card, up to 32GB capacity (Not included)
  • Average Recording Times: 1080p/720p: 8min/GB
  • PC Connection: USB 2.0 (data connection and battery charging)
  • TV out: HDMI + Composite
  • WiFI: Included with Wi-Fi models
  • G-sensor (Auto-rotation): Yes
  • Vibration sensor (Shaketrigger): No
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable 1100 mAh Lithium-Ion
  • Battery Life: Approximately 2.5 hrs
  • Charging: Via USB to computer or optional power adapter
  • Charge Time: 80% capacity after 1 hour with optional power adapter, or 2 hours with a computer's USB port
  • WaterProof: IPX8 (30 feet)
  • Construction: Metal + Plastic
  • PC Compatibility: Windows® Vista and 7; Mac OS® X 10.4.11 and later
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 37x107mm
  • Weight: 130 grams
  • Dual File recording: Yes
  • App Support: iON
  • Low Battery indication: Yes
  • Slide to record: Y

I decided to purchase the basic iON Air Pro-Lite at £99.00 and add the accessories to suit my needs for example:

The iON Remote PODZ, which comes with the remote control.

The head mount for my shore fishing.

Based on the videos I have made to date and considering the cost of £99.00, I am impressed with its performance.  The picture quality at 1080p/30fps is sharp and the sound is good.  The camera is solid and robust and the main thing for me is that it is waterproof to 30 feet without the need for a waterproof housing.  iON do supply higher specification cameras such as the iON Air Pro 3 however, for me higher specification is pointless when YouTube limit specification when processing uploaded videos and the quality on YouTube is never as good as the original.

The only settings you can change manually on the camera are either for full HD 1080p/30fps = 127 degrees FOV (the default setting) or HD 720p/60fps = 150 degrees FOV, by removing the rear casing which exposes a FHD or HD button.  Access to the full settings is via the iON App accessible when you plug the USB lead into your computer or via Wi-Fi.

The picture quality of a GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition is arguably the best however, for the price of one Hero3 Black; I can purchase three iON Air Pro-Lite cameras making it more affordable to have more than one camera on the kayak in different positions.  At present, I mount the single camera using the YakAttack Dog Bone Camera Mount however, future plans are to add more mounts and cameras to give a wider choice of shooting angles.

Below are links to example videos shot with the iON Air Pro-Lite at 1080p/30fps and best viewed in HD.

Fishing the Wreck of the SS Stanwood
Inshore Reef Fishing for Pollack
Fishing for Gilthead Bream
Kayak Fishing for Shellfish 
Creek Fishing for Grey Mullet
Plug Fishing for Sea Bass
Kayak Fishing: The Unexpected Catch - Fish Finders Do Find Fish
Rough Ground Fishing for Cod with Weedless Lures


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