2015 POV Camera Shootout

Posted by on February 17, 2015

2015 POV Camera Shootout

Photo-John, risking his life on the mountain bike, to find out which POV camera is the best.

I know a lot of my friends and followers indulge in risky outdoor behavior. Regardless of what kind of outdoor activities you enjoy, many of you probably like to document your adventures with video. One of the most popular ways to do this is with a POV camera (“POV,” stands for “point-of-view”). POV cameras are often referred to as GoPros, even though that’s a brand name for just one POV camera maker. The GoPro cameras are the most popular and they are excellent. They aren’t the only game in town, though. There are a lot of POV camera options besides GoPro and some of them are very good – especially if you’re trying to save money or have a more specialized use in mind. To help sort out which cameras are really the best, I recently did a POV camera shootout for the mountain bike Web site Mtbr.com. We chose six cameras we thought were the best for mountain bikers and other outdoor folks, and compared them head-to-head – on the trail, in slow motion, and in a more mundane environment (a bike shop). To see how the cameras compare, check out the POV camera shootout video, below.

For all the POV camera sample videos and my complete comparison and analysis, check out the Mtbr.com 2015 POV shootout article. Although the GoPro Hero 4 Silver came out on top as far as video quality goes (although not by much), my personal recommendation is the Sony Action Cam Mini or Sony’s new Action Cam AS200V (not tested). They both cost far less than the GoPro and offer pretty much the same level of performance with the added benefits of integrated image stabilization and a built-in stereo mic. I also really like Sony’s wrist-mounted wireless remote control unit. It makes setting up the camera, changing settings, and recording a whole lot easier. And you can buy the Sony Action Cam Mini in a package with the remote for just $350 – that’s $50 less than GoPro Hero 4 Silver. Sony has worked hard on their mount options, too. That used to be their weak spot but I think they’ve done a very good job of catching up.

POV Camera Test Helmet

The POV camera test helmet, mounted with six cameras – the GoPro Hero 4 Silver, Sony Action Cam Mini, Drift Ghost-S, Shimano Sport Camera, Ion Air Pro 3 and the Garmin Virb Elite.

Photo-John’s POV Camera Recommendations

Here are my current POV camera recommendations, based on the results from my 2015 POV camera shootout. My top criteria are video quality and price. The GoPro Hero 4 Black and Sony’s new 4k Action Cam weren’t tested and, in my opinion, aren’t appropriate for most people. They’re designed for professional-level video work. However, I do have both cameras right now and I will be doing a comparison. So if you’ve got $500 to burn and you want the very best Sony and GoPro have to offer, keep your eyes on Photo-John.net and my Photo-John Facebook page for updates.

If you see something here that you like and you’re ready to buy, please use the red shopping links. Buying from our partners helps us pay the bills and makes it possible for me to bring you these buying guides. Thanks for your support!

Sony & GoPro – The High Bit-Rate Difference
The Sony Action Cams feature Sony’s XAVC S video format, which, like GoPro’s Protune, offers high bit-rate recording for video with much better color and superior detail. Protune and XAVC S are the difference between the standard, mushy POV footage most of your friends make, and video that actually looks good. Honestly, it’s Protune and XAVC S that really set GoPro and Sony apart from the rest. Other POV camera makers aren’t even competing at the same level – at least not if actual video quality is your top priority. If you’re serious about high-quality POV video, GoPro and Sony are your only options.

Sony Action Cam Mini & Wrist Remote
Sony Action Camera Mini with Wrist Remote – $349
I love the Sony Action Cam Mini – especially with the wrist remote. It’s tiny, cheap, easy to use, and video quality is excellent if you use XAVC S pro mode. The Action Cam Mini is the POV camera I recommend to most people.

  • Maximum resolution: 1920 x 1080 60p full-HD
  • Maximum full-HD bit-rate: 50 Mbs
  • Maximum HD frame rate: 120 FPS at 720p
  • 170° f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens
  • 11.9-megapixel still photos
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Burst: 8 FPS
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • GPS available with wrist remote
  • Waterproof to 15 feet / 3m with supplied housing; weatherproof without housing
  • Battery life: 2.5 hours

Buy It >>


GoPro Hero 4 Silver
GoPro Hero 4 Silver – $399
GoPro is the undisputed POV camera leader and the Hero 4 Silver is the sweet spot in their lineup. It gives you professional-level performance without breaking the bank and it has a new live-view touch screen display that makes it easier to use than previous models.

  • Maximum resolution: 4k at 15 FPS
  • Maximum full-HD bit-rate: 45 Mbs
  • Maximum HD frame rate: 120 FPS at 720p
  • 170° f/2.8 lens
  • 12-megapixel still photos
  • Burst: 30 FPS
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Live view touch screen display
  • Waterproof to 131 feet / 40m with supplied housing
  • Battery life: 1 hour and 50 minutes

Buy It >>


POV Camera Recommendations – The Others:
Here are a couple of alternative POV camera recommendations for people who aren’t concerned about the best video quality:

Garmin Virb Elite
Garmin Virb Elite – $269
Are you addicted to Strava and thinking about documenting you KOM attempts with POV video? Then the Garmin Virb Elite might be perfect for you. The video quality isn’t in the same league as the Sony or GoPro but the Virb Elite combines a Garmin GPS unit and POV camera into one compact easy to use device.

  • Maximum resolution: 1920 x 1080 30p full-HD
  • Maximum full-HD bit-rate: 20 Mbs
  • Maximum HD frame rate: 60 FPS at 960 or 720p
  • 16-megapixel still photos
  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Burst: 10 FPS
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Built-in GPS tracking
  • Live view display
  • Waterproof to 3.3 feet / 1m
  • Battery life: up to 3 hours

Buy It >>


Shimano Sport Camera
Shimano Sport Camera – $299
The Shimano Sport Camera user interface is confusing and the video quality is pretty poor. But if you’re looking for tiny “set it and forget it” camera to document your bike commute, I think the Shimano is perfect.

  • Maximum resolution: 1920 x 1080 30p full-HD
  • Maximum full-HD bit-rate: 20 Mbs
  • Maximum HD frame rate: 120 FPS at 720p
  • 6-megapixel still photos
  • Burst: 1 FPS
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Waterproof to 32.8 feet / 10m
  • Battery life: approximately 2 hours

Buy It >>

If you see something here that you like and you’re ready to buy, please use the red shopping links. Buying from our partners helps us pay the bills and makes it possible for me to bring you these buying guides. Thanks for your support!

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