Best Camera for Motovlogging 2018 – Buyer’s Guide
Now, if you are reading this you obviously are looking to get into motovlogging right? Well, you are lucky to have found an ultimate guide to get you started right way. That said, there are several equipment that go into making the ultimate Motovlogging setup. However, the primary concern for many, as was mine, is getting the best camera.
Motovlog cameras are specifically designed to capture video at high speeds. A high quality camera will provide your viewer with the best possible experience. It will also provide great details of your ride. If you intend to run a professional and successful vlog, you absolutely need the best camera.
I have taken the liberty of testing different cameras and sorting them out for you. In this piece, I share the knowledge and guide you in your choice.
The reviews are objective and feature specific pros and cons meant to shed light on individual products.
GoPro HERO5 Session
Ultra HD 4K
Ultra HD 4K
Ultra HD 4K
GoPro Hero 6
Ultra HD 4K
YI 4K Action
1920x1080 Full HD
Ultra HD 4K
GoPro Session 5 Camera – The Perfect Multi-Shoot Camera
GoPro has been the leading motovlog camera brand for the longest time. Their cameras are top tier and are loved by many. However, this GoPro Session 5 Camera’s take off was rocky. Being the smallest motovlog camera ever made by the company, it received a lot of praise for the compact design while on the other hand receiving a bashing for its middle level video quality and reduced features. But these shortcomings are soon forgotten when you have a look at the affordable price.
The Hero 5 session appeals to many courtesy of its small form factor compared to its predecessors. Its compact and small design makes it easy to mount in otherwise tricky positions. It as a result proves to be a great secondary camera for Motovlogging requiring different viewing angles.
But aside from its size, the GoPro session design has barely seen some changes from the Original Session. It still comes in an attractive cube-shaped camera.
The Hero Session 5 is waterproof. It does not need an external housing for this feature. It can sink 10m in water and still remain intact.
GoPro Session 5 features a dual microphone on its front and rear ends. It can dynamically switch between the two microphones based on the prevailing external conditions including wind noise. Given the lack of an external housing obstructing the microphones, it provides better sound recording. In addition to this the camera features an advanced sound reduction.
On top of the camera is a sliver of the LCD panel. It is right next to the shutter button which is programmed to support one-button quick recording. On its rear end is a power button with multiple functionalities. Coupled with the shutter button, the unit is used to scroll through the basic menu. With these buttons, you can quickly change the capture modes and settings on the camera.
Speaking of camera settings, you can affect the resolution; turn the electronic image stabilization on and off, and the field of view.
Image quality and Performance
GoPro as a brand has a great reputation for delivering the best video as well as still images. The Hero 5 Session does not let down in this regard. With the ProTune feature, users can comfortably adjust the color settings, shutter speeds, ISO limits, EV compensation setting to achieve desired results.
The down side is that all these have to be done through the app which can prove to be quite time consuming more so when the camera is not connected to a phone through Wi-Fi.
The unit also comes with a burst mode which fires off some pretty amazing 30fps at 10MP. This feature should prove to be invaluable for motovlogers looking to capture a perfect shot at high speeds.
That said the videos recorded are in 4K and at 30fps. They are smooth and remarkably detailed. The camera comes with a non-removable 1000mAH battery. It is charged though a Type C USB port in approximately one hour.
Though lacking in a touch screen camera, the Hero 5 Session more than makes up for it with its small and compact design. It is without a doubt a major upgrade from the Session 4.
Sony FDR-X3000 - For High Quality Video Recording
Sony is a tech giant brand. Its products are known for their high quality. Sony FDR-X3000R is the latest gadget from this company and it lives up to the brand’s name and quality in all aspects.
While other motovlogers cameras are basically a small box containing a lens, the FR-X3000 strays away from this design. Instead, it is more like a shrunken camcorder. The body is finished to be splash and dust proof. However, the camera is not water proof without its exterior waterproof housing.
Sony loves doing things a little differently. This is with regards to its form factor. It may not fit in with the normal workflow given it cannot be squeezed into tight spaces like the Hero 5 Session can, But it more than makes up for this with the standard tripod stand it comes with. The Moto Vibration Absorber is also quite a great addition to the camera as it steady’s it through all the vibrations of bike riding.
In the FDR-X3000, the stereo microphone and the lens are placed at the front together with the power, Enter/Record button on the front top of the camera. On the right side is a small monochrome LCD designed to display the settings and the menu along with its menu buttons for navigation.
Features, performance and Video Quality
The FDR-X3000 records 4K videos. This is complemented by the XAVC S compression at a 100Mbps bit rate. The video quality it clear and crisp and features pretty strong details. The camera’s dynamic range is courtesy of the lower contrast. This feature aids it in capturing detail both in shadows and in highlights.
The stabilization of this unit is optical. As such, as a user you benefit from steady effects when it is at full resolution as well as widest field of view. The result is that the videos taken with the FDR X3000 are smoother and more stable. Yes, you will experience an occasional jostle , but overall, the video quality and stability is great.
The camera can record video at 4K at 30 or 24fps. It can however crank things up to 1080p at 120 or 100 fps. With these variations, you have versatile HD video captured.
The sound quality from the stereo microphone is through the roof. It picks up voices with great clarity. This makes it a perfect choice for a serious and professional project.
While the video is impressive, the photo and image quality can be quite disappointing. While it boasts of having a whopping 12MP resolution, the details of the image appear fuzzy and the photo aspect ratio is only at 16:9.
This small tiny cam has a great image stabilizing technology. The 4K videos recorded at 30fps is quite impressive. We should point out that it is however, unreliable with regards to live view remote.
Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 – The Scene Stealer
This is a top-end action camera from one of the leading brands in the industry. It has many features aside from its high quality that makes many weak to its charm.
Starting with the appearance, this camera features a more protective design unlike its predecessor the Virb XE. The unit is waterproof to a whopping depth of 40m
In comparison, the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 has a lot in common with the GoPro Hero 4 Black. The layout, dimensions and weight are all identical.
Using this unit, you will want to keep the Virb Ultra 30 in the casing at all times especially when riding. The casing is not only waterproof but also is designed for mounting to the handlebars. While the case has a great design, it comes with a mechanical switch for starting and stopping recording. On the bright side, it better accentuates the camera through magnets and as such has fewer moving parts meaning lesser chances of breaking down.
The casing comes with an audio waffle built in. this waffle is made from soft rubber. The camera’s grille is prone to picking up dirt. But this does not in any way affect its audio performance.
Specs and features
The one quality that stands out with this action camera is the quality of the footage. The camera records video at 4K resolution and at 30fps. Compared to the GoPro Hero 4 black, the quality of the video is sharper and far more detailed.
Garmin ViRB Ultra 30 also features a voice control. This does work pretty great for tagging highlights. Its visual stabilization works great while using the camera on the handle bars or on the chest mount. It makes the videos considerably smoother even when riding in a rough terrain.
The Garmin Ultra 30 comes with several wireless connectivity dependent features including heart rate sensors and GPS. These sensors can be controlled through a smart watch or a PC. With Garmin smartwatch and the Garmin app, you can live stream the footage to your YouTube channel without any hitches.
As for its battery life the Garmin ViRB 30 can last for a whopping 1hr 30 minutes while taking 1080p footage at 30fps and while running the GPS. Without GPS functionality, it can run for 2 h 15min.
For individuals looking for detailed 4K footage with sharp quality while riding, Garmin ViRB Ultra 30 makes for a perfect choice. One has to make due with the average battery life.
GoPro Hero 6 – For Better Image Stabilization
With regards to its physical design and look, there are no changes from the Hero 5 Black. They are so identical that if you own the two, you will have to have markings to tell them apart.
Like its predecessor, GoPro Hero 6 Black features a 2-inch touchscreen on the back. However, the display on the Hero 6 has more color. The touch responsiveness has also been improved. Hero 6 responds to swipes and touches faster.
As for the voice controls, there is a new function; the wake-on-voice function. Tuning off the device with your voice switches it into low-power listening mode for about 8 hours. This enables you to turn the device back with your voice and start recording.
Hero 6 comes with a GP1 processor. This processor allows it to capture higher resolutions as well as frame rate combinations in comparison to the Hero 5 Black.
The Hero 6 black provides 4K video quality at 60fps. With these specs, Hero 6 now provides an incredibly smooth 1080p video resolution at 240 fps.
In the past electronic image stabilization was only available from the one frame rate setting including the 1080p/60fps. This was not available in the 4K video resolution. But the Hero 6 takes things a notch higher. It provides image stabilization at 4K video quality and 30 fps and still is able to provide it at 1080 p and 120fps.
Now, the videos take, the 4K/60fps and the 1080p/240fps will use the H.265 HEVC file format. While these eat up almost half of the space than before, they present compatibility issues.
This is the very first camera from the GoPro brand to feature a custom GPI image processor. With the double video frame rates, Hero 6 is a slow-mo lowers dream. The manual exposure and the improved image stabilization make it best for more demanding users.
YI 4K – A Low Cost 4K Action Camera
The Xiaomi-backed Yi Technology has taken the Motovlogging industry by storm with the Yi 4K+. The camera is dubbed by many as the GoPro killer. Question is, does it live up to the hype it has created?
Design and Features
Overall, this unit comes with a shape meant to give the GoPro a run for its money. It has a boxy design with a flat bottom and top. The sides are curved wich adds to its aesthetics as a 4K+ Motovlogging camera.
The f/2.8 lens is located to the center left and slightly protrudes. The unit has ample protection from bumps owing to the integrated and a subtle hood. The camera features a Type C USB port on its side and on its bottom is the 1400mAH battery access door and a MicroSD card slot. It also features a standard tripod mount.
Unlike the GoPro, the 4K+ is not shockproof, waterproof or even dustproof not unless is in its housing which makes it look slightly larger.
Inside is where all the juicy stuff is hidden. At its core, Yi 4K+ features a Sony Exmor R 12-megapixel CMOS which features a backside illuminated sensor. It is powered by a quadcore ARM Cortex 64 bit processor and to top it all off, comes with 2GB of RAM.
While there are many cameras offering 4K video quality, only Yi 4K+ offers it at 60 frames per second. This beats other flagship performance of 30 fps. But if watching 4K videos at 60fps does not impress you in the least, this camera provides you with the option of using high framerate for crystal clear slow motion playback at the normal 30 fps without dropping in resolution as is the case with other action cameras like GoPro.
While in ample lighting, the image quality provided is impressive. Yi 4K+ comes with a dedicated Auto Low Light mode which adjusts the settings to give more details while shooting the dark.
It also comes with an integrated lens distortion correction which works wonders with both videos and stills, adding to this, the electronic image stabilization works great as well. While it does not exactly smooth out every bump while riding on a rough terrain, it does significantly reduce the shakiness.
Having a 4K video quality at 60fps is an impressive feat for the Yi 4K+. However, the unit does have some annoying bits that tend to detract from the overall camera value.
TomTom Bandit Action Camera – a Fun and GPS Capable Motovlogging camera
TomTom impresses many with its GPS navigation system. When the band ventured into providing action cameras, it warmed the hearts of many.
Controls and Shooting
As far as bullet cameras go, the Bandit is quite heavy. It however, is reassuringly robust. The LCD screen sits at the top like in the Garmin ViRB and only shows the status information. The power button is on the rear end.
The LCD menu proves easy to use and navigate. The action camera provides 16 megapixels of still and impressive 4K video quality even though the latter is only available at 15 fps.
The TomTom Bandit is an action camera and does not have a lot to offer with regards to manual settings. The unit features no scene and no zoom modes. it is basically a point and shoot action camera.
But it does feature built in GPS. With this feature, the device can record photos, videos and location
The TomTom Bandit is well made and is rich in features. It however may not be enough to tempt you away from other great models.
Buyer’s Guide FAQ
Is there a difference between action cameras and Motovlogging cameras?
No there isn’t. As a matter of fact, most use these two terms interchangeably. Compared to ordinary cameras, they are small and compact and feature-filled to improve their performance and resistance.
To help you better understand, think of it this way; Motovlogging cameras are action cameras used for Motovlogging.
Which is more important in Motovlogging? Image quality or image stabilization?
They both are important when it comes to professional Motovlogging. But question is, which among the two can a motovlogger not do without?
Well, let us put it this way. Image quality is important. If you are looking to run a successful YouTube channel, you need to have images and videos your viewers can make heads and tails of. And with high quality videos out there, low quality images can greatly affect your success. It is recommended getting a Motovlogging camera that records at the very least, 1080p or full HD stills and videos. If you are on a really tight budget, you can get a 720p motovlogging camera. That said, in this piece, all cameras have 4K video resolution capabilities.
With regards to optical image stabilization, it is just as important. But while getting a Motovlogging camera, you can get away with a lower quality image stabilization technology. Why? Well, for starters, there are lots of ways to ensure that you get a reasonably smooth video. You could avoid rough terrain. In addition to this there are lots of easy to use video editing software that help to stabilize the footage.
So, if you were to choose, prefer a Motovlogging camera with state of the art image quality.
Is it possible to get great recording sound from the listed cameras? Does a motovlogger need this?
Well, yes, and yes. The GoPro Session 5 camera for instance comes with a dual microphone - one at the back and one at the front. Their use shifts depending on which provides better recording against the wind and other external noises.
Without proper sound recording, viewers will be listening to the wind and car engine sounds as they zoom past you or vice versa. They will hardly make out the message you are trying to pass across.
Autofocus and balance – is it possible to get a good one when riding?
Yes, with the right Motovlogging camera, it is possible to achieve balance and focus.
When someone types Motovlogging in Google what is he or she really searching for?
He wants to shoot extreme rides or touristic chopper rides across the country commenting what he can see and his experience? So, do they need different cameras?
No they do not need a different camera per se. Motovlogging cameras are simply action cameras. What they do need to do however is determine their needs depending on their sport or indulgence. If they will be riding through rough terrain, they need a camera with great stabilization. If the ride will be smooth but with lots of noise in the background, they will need a camera with enhanced recording capabilities.
What about cameras clips and accessories, are they important?
Yes, they are important. Motovlogging is not all about the camera. Accessories, including a helmet, backpack, mounts, and microphones also contribute to a great Motovlogging experience.
Battery lives differ greatly with action cameras. Their life also depends on the functions you have working. GPS for instance tends to drain the battery a great deal. Use it if you only have to.
With the increased popularity of motovlogging, the market for the best camera is pretty filled. As such, finding the best unit can prove to be a bit of a tough task. It is for reasons such as these that a guide like this one exists. This guide was prepared with the motovlogging beginner and pro in mind.
Hopefully the list was of help and you get a device within your budget and meeting your needs.