Garmin recently announced the release of the VIRB Ultra 30 action camera. They have actually finally done it and the camera is amazing. It may actually be the very first GoPro competitor that has all the same features. I know that I have featured the Sony FDR-X3000 as the best action camera but the Sony and GoPro don’t have the same features. Which is why I have chosen the GoPro Hero5 Black as the best overall. So this time we might actually see the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 push GoPro from the throne. But more about that when I compare the two action cameras. Now onto my Garmin Virb Ultra 30 review.
- Dimensions: 57.5×45.9×31.3mm / 2.3×1.8×1.2″
- Weight: 88g / 3.1oz
- Video resolutions: 4K 30/24fps; 2.7K 60/48/30/24fps; 1080p 120/90/60/48/30/24fps; 720p 240/120/60/30fps; 420p 300fps
- Bitrate: 60Mbps
- Photo: 12MP
- Modes: Single Shot, Burst, Time-Lapse, Continuous
- Features: WiFi, GPS, 1.75″ LCD screen, Digital Image Stabilization, Voice Control
- Ports: MiniUSB, MicroSD card slot
- Memory: MicroSD with Class 10 and SDXC cards, up to 128GB
- Battery life: 1 hour of 4K at 30fps
- Price: $400
In The Box
- Garmin VIRB Ultra 30
- Waterproof case up to 50m / 164ft
- Flat and Curved adhesive mounts
- Standard and vertical mount adapters
- Short and long screws
- Short and long extension arms
- Anti fog-kit
- MiniUSB cable
Design & Accessories
Garmin has kept the VIRB Ultra 30’s camera design pretty simple. It follows the same GoPro rectangular style. The only difference is that it looks way more rugged and fit for extreme sports. It’s design just screams for downhill snowboarding. The body has actually been made out of rubberized material that feels super nice and strong. Like it could fall and nothing would happen. They have also used black and red colors to make it look more interesting.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 action cameras front has the lens that actually sticks out quite a bit. A little bit more than on the GoPro Hero4 Black. The back side of the action camera holds the 1.72″ LCD touchscreen. You can use that for changing settings, viewing captured footage and even live view. The touchscreen is a nice addition as you don’t have to mess around with buttons to change anything. Makes life much easier. The top side holds a microphone, a power button, a WiFi button and a switch for recording. On the left side you will find a microSD slot and a miniUSB port. Quite surprised that they have gone with the mini over the micro.
What I like about the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is that the action camera has all the accessories you need. It comes with a special waterproof case and even some basic adhesive mounts. Those are perfect for getting started. Also receiving a waterproof case means that you’ll be able to attach it to any other 3rd party accessories as well. Just get yourself a GoPro adapter and even use their mounting options. Basically endless options thanks to the waterproof case. Thumbs up most definitely.
Video & Features
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 has definitely got the technical specifications of a very good action camera. It can capture up to 4K resolution videos with 30 frames per second. That is pretty standard for action cameras at the moment. What is pretty great is the 1080p resolution with 120fps. It basically means that you can record slow-motion Full HD videos. The videos are also recorded with a 60Mbps bitrate. That is exactly the same as on the GoPro Hero5 Black. The only other action camera that supports higher bitrate recording is the Sony FDR-X3000.
As you can see from the video above, the quality is pretty good. I do have some problems with colors. Everything looks pretty flat, like there grass is somewhat weird green. This can also be caused by the sun, which is shining into the camera the entire time. If that’s the case then it is actually performing really well. There is also some blur if you take a look at the edges of the footage. Well it’s more to do with the trees and grass. I’ll let it slide as most action cameras have trouble handling them. Especially when moving at a high speed. As you can see, the bicycle parts are sharp and clear the entire time.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is actually perfect for underwater. The colors actually look amazing and everything just feels so natural. So it must had definitely been the sun in the previous video. Also look how sharp and clear everything is. There isn’t a single blur object anywhere. It’s basically made for underwater recording, I’m really surprised.
As far as features go, the Garmin action camera is packed with plenty. Starting with GPS, as you saw in the 1st video. GPS is a pretty neat feature that let’s you make your videos more “informative”. You can display speed, altitude and little maps of the distance you traveled. It basically saves all the data around you. Another thing is WiFi, that lets you connect the action camera to your phone. Garmin has their own App that is available for both iOS and Android. It’s really easy to use and functions well.
Another good feature is the Digital Image Stabilization system, which I’m always really happy about. It’s just a shame that it isn’t the same on the Sony FDR-X3000 that works with 4K as well. The system on the Garmin and GoPro only work up to 1080p resolution mode. And the final feature is Voice Control, which is also featured on the newest GoPro Hero5 Black. I’m not sure how useful it is but still good to have. You can basically give voice commands to the action camera to start recording and stop.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is yet another well built action camera that is definitely in the same category as GoPro and Sony. I’m really happy with how well the action camera works underwater. In my opinion, it is actually the best underwater action camera available at the moment. My previous favorite was the GoPro Hero4 Black and I feel like the Garmin is so much better. I’m going to compare the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 to other action cameras as well soon. But for now, it is definitely my favorite underwater camera.
The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is currently available for $399. It’s in the same price range as the Sony FDR-X3000 and GoPro Hero5 Black. It’s a pretty good option for those who don’t like Sony or GoPro for some reason. Either way, Garmin won’t disappoint you.