Garmin Virb Ultra 30 Review
For capturing life’s action in the best possible quality, try this camera.
- Durable, waterproof case
- Comes with lots of accessories
- Sensors are extremely sensitive
- Video footage is phenomenal
- Multiple control options
- No mount without waterproof case
- Menu is difficult to control at times
Some moments are best caught in the thick of the action. For these, you need a durable, sensitive digital camera that can capture life’s motion in as good a quality as your own eyes. Let’s examine one upper-tier action camera in our Garmin Virb Ultra 30 review and see if it’s worth your time.
The Ultra 30 is actually quite small when you remove the protective housing. It features dual ports for both micro HDMI and micro USB cables, along with ports for accessories. In addition, you’ll find that the camera’s integrated microphone has a port that allows it to reach through the outside protective casing to provide you with superior audio.
The camera features a waterproof case that is effective down to 40 m. This makes it an excellent camera for catching graceful motion or watery action even in the midst of it. Unless you drop the camera into the ocean, it’ll be good to go.
Even better, the Ultra 30 comes with integrated antifog packs to prevent condensation from forming around the lens or delicate internal components. This casing is easily removable if you know you won’t be near any water, however.
This allows you to slot the camera in two different housings or if you just don’t want the extra weight. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t come with any mounting point on its main frame. The mounting point is located on the casing.
The Ultra 30 comes with an LCD menu panel for controlling its functions. The menu panel can be contracted with both inside and outside protective case using twin buttons at the top of the camera. However, the touchscreen functionality of the screen obviously only works while the camera is outside the case.
Furthermore, the camera has a voice activation system for further control options. Like the infamous Google Glasses, simply say “OK Garmin” to alert the camera to your presence. Phrases like, “Start recording”, “Stop recording”, or “Take a picture”, area all viable commands and make it easier to catch the footage you need in as smooth a way as possible.
As an action camera, you’d expect the Virb Ultra 30 to perform well in this regard. It uses a 1 2/3 inch sensor that can provide 12-megapixel resolution as a baseline quality. But this camera can also shoot full 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. That’s phenomenal quality for any action camera.
The camera offers further shooting options you lower the resolution quality to some degree. Options include 2.7 K resolution at 60 frames per second, 1080 P at 120 frames per second, 720 P at 240 frames per second, or 480 P at 300 frames per second.
You can also shoot in slow motion at full HD quality. There are a lot of options included with this camera, which boosts its value considerably in our eyes.
Whichever quality setting you choose, we think you’ll be pleased. The footage we caught at both 1080 P and 4K resolution was crisp and detailed. The framerate was stable and consistent, so the Ultra 30’s main functionality can be considered solid all around.
The Ultra 30 offers image stabilization in every quality setting except for 4K. There aren’t quite enough pixels to spare in 4K resolution for the size of the sensor. Still, image stabilization at the other settings is a nice feature.
There’s also a Pro mode you can initiate to gain greater control over the camera’s settings. You can alter the white balance, the sharpness levels of the footage, the ISO limit (up to 800), or the color curve. You can also set the exposure bias with 13 steps between +2 EV and -2 EV. These settings are only recommended for advanced action camera users.
The Ultra 30’s sensor is also equipped with a built-in GPS, altimeter, compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Garmin’s dubbed this the G-Metrix collection, and it boosts the Ultra 30 up to a near must-buy by our estimations.
All of these excellent tools let you gather more information from your footage than most other action cameras on the market.
The Ultra 30 can connect to other external sensors via Bluetooth connectivity or ANT+. You can gather data from bike sensors, car interfaces, boat sensors, or even heart rate monitors thanks to the sensitivity of the Ultra 30’s sensors.
Then there’s the Wi-Fi connectivity, which lets you control the entire camera using your smartphone. Download the Virb app to make use of this user-friendly function. You can even tune the camera’s feed to YouTube streaming via the app, so any content creators out there should give this camera an extra look.
The camera’s battery is removable, so you can carry extra fully charged batteries to swap out if necessary.
Once fully charged, the Ultra 30 can last for a little over two hours if you’re shooting in Full HD. However, the original VIRB action camera lasted a little longer. In addition, shooting in 4K resolution dropped the battery life further by about an hour.
Furthermore, the waterproof casing prevents the camera from being attached to an external power source. So your shooting time is quite limited in a wet environment.
You get a series of mountings included with the purchase of the camera. These include flat and curved mounting options for use with the waterproof case, plus standard and vertical adaptors for traditional mounting options. There’s also a pair of extension arms both long and short sizes.
That’s not all. There’s an included bike mount and rotating ball mount, both of which are excellent for capturing high quality, high speed while on a bicycle. You can also combine the waterproof mounting option with any GoPro accessories you might have already.
All in all, the Virb Ultra 30 is a phenomenal action camera that offers experienced users all of the controls and customization they could hope for. At the same time, it’s user-friendly enough that beginners can enjoy the camera’s quality footage, as well.
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