The Garmin VIRB Elite in the hands of Joe Average

OK I’ll start by saying I am no photographic expert so you won’t find any in-depth analysis here about the Garmin VIRB’s technical specifications, all the specs are available on the Garmin site. So speaking as Joe Average the quality of 1080p is brilliant and any comparison to a GoPro or other high end device is splitting hairs. What you will find is my opinions on the out the box experience and my thoughts on the initial operations.

Edge_vs_ VIRB

A size comparison. The VIRB next to a Edge 510

So if not for the technical specs why did I choose the Garmin VIRB? Well if you have any other Garmin device such as an Edge 510 or Vector pedals, it sort of becomes a no brainer as the camera integrates with these devices to either make it easier to use or provides additional information. As an example you can use your Edge 510 unit as a remote control for the camera so you can start and stop filming or take still photos safely while riding.

The other reason was the form factor. I wanted lower and flatter rather than the square little box that is the GoPro. That way it doesn’t stick out as much and thanks to the well designed brackets, you will be able to tuck the VIRB away in all sorts of places.

So of the box, well the nice thing is, it just works. You can strap it to your bike and in minutes you can be shooting videos like a pro. One not so nice thing is the mounting brackets that come with the VIRB as standard are pretty useless so you are going to have buy a couple more brackets if you are going to fit it to your bike, which is going to add about $50 to an already pretty expensive camera. The good thing is the brackets are well designed and are easy to get on and off the bike. Besides the standard handlebar mount I would really recommend getting the wrist strap mount. While it may sound a little odd. The short Velcro strap opens up a range a possibilities on where you can mount the camera. Here are a couple of examples

Mounted to my down tube

Mounted to the top tube.

The mounting options are also increased as the camera can be set to invert the picture allowing the camera to be mounted upside down and is mounted in a cradle which makes it really easy to remove from the bike after the ride.

While the user interface may seem a little clunky, if you own an Edge computer, you will be familiar with the menu structure how to navigate  around it. The truth is I found the little 1.4 inch screen a little hard to read but with the aid of the VIRB app which is available on Android and IOS you can edit most of settings from your smartphone. It also streams the image from the camera (while not recording) so you can check you have just the right angle on the camera when it is mounted. Really useful if you have mounted your camera in an unusual spot. My practical experience with the camera so far has been that all I do is switch the camera on and then rest is controlled either by my Garmin Edge and the smartphone app.

Battery life, seems OK and will record for about two hours. No settings I have found so far have been able to increase the life past two hours

Editing software which can be downloaded for free for the VIRB is basic but easy to use. The one feature I really like is it overlays the video on the map making it really easy to capture a particular section of your ride, and you can move the place in the video by moving the location on the map. All the videos in this post have been done using the VIRB editing software.

The image stability of the camera is good as demonstrated by the fast descent on a rough* road,  The second video shows the camera mounted to saddle bag on the rear, which was not as stable as the handlebar mount because of the flex in the saddle bag but still shows a reasonably stable picture

*That’s roadie rough, not MTB rough.

Finally the telemetry overlays are something I think coaches would love. In the past I know some times it is hard to describe to a coach exactly what the conditions where like on a particular training session. Well by overlaying the telemetry on the ride you are provide all the ride data over the video making it easier to explain the ride in detail.

So after two weeks of using the camera I can happily say it is still meeting and exceeding my expectations.

Which best decribes your position when it comes to action cameras like this?

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