Sport camera

Shimano action camera review: A decent little action camera, but features need improvement – Digital Video – Digital Video Cameras & Camcorders

Fishing enthusiasts and cyclists know all about Shimano reels and gears. Based on this name recognition, the company no doubt hopes that users of its products will also want to check out the action camera it offers. It’s called the Shimano Sports Camera, and it’s aimed at cyclists, as well as those of you who want to record activity near (or over and under) water.

It’s a waterproof camera by default, which means you don’t have to fiddle with any additional housings except for a bundled underwater lens attachment that twists. A door on the back hides the microSD card slot and micro-USB port, and there’s an O-ring in place to keep water out, as well as a lock on the door for the prevent accidental opening. Its rating is at a depth of 10 m, at which it cannot last more than two hours. That’s not a problem, as the battery will barely give you that much endurance when shooting video.

Optics are by way of an f/2.0 lens that has a standard 135-degree angle and a super wide-angle of 180 degrees, and it sits in front of a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor. It can capture video up to 1080p resolution, but there are also a few other modes that can be used: 720p at 120 frames per second (fps) and 480p at 240fps. As there is no setting screen on the camera, you have to make do by pressing the mode button on the camera, listening to the beeps and watching the color of the LED indicators. A word of warning: the camera beeps are loud and can get quite annoying after a while, depending on how quiet your surroundings are.

You can switch modes intuitively after practicing with the camera. However, unless you remember the order of the modes and the LEDs that represent them, it can be too easy to start recording in the wrong mode.

There are two LEDs to watch: one for video recording and battery status, and one for stills. Full HD mode is indicated by lighting of the video LED. Pressing the mode button puts it in 720p mode (both LEDs light up but the still image LED turns orange), another press puts it in 420p mode (both LEDs light up but the still image turns green), and another press puts it into still image mode (only the still image LED is on), at which it captures images up to six megapixels.

Operation is simple, via two buttons, but you must learn to identify the mode the camera is in.

The camera remembers the mode it was left in after turning it off and on again, and you also need to remember this to be able to return to the mode you want. There is another mode that is present on the camera, and that is Wi-Fi. This can be invoked by pressing the mode button for a few seconds while both LEDs are flashing green.

In Wi-Fi mode, you can establish a direct connection to the camera and then use the Shimano Sport Camera app to access features such as a live view of what the camera sees. We didn’t have much luck with this feature through our Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, only getting it to work once, for a few seconds, before the app crashed. Further attempts to use Wi-Fi encountered a message from the app stating that we were not connected to the camera, when in fact we were. An app update might be in order.

The image quality of the sports camera is at its maximum in Full HD mode. The wide-angle lens creates a noticeable angle on straight lines, so you’ll see plenty of bubbles and bounces in the image as angles change as your body or vehicle twists and turns. The definition leans more towards the blurry side of things, and there is chromatic aberration on objects like trees. We didn’t have much luck capturing useful footage in the 720p and 420p modes, as the video stuttered.

Read more: GoPro’s new action camera is smaller than ever

Shimano action camera: wide-angle examples.
Shimano action camera: wide-angle examples.

If you keep this camera in Full HD mode, it will do a decent job of capturing your action adventure; don’t expect stellar quality. It weighs less than 90g on its own, and it is very easy to store in a pocket. A mount and strap come in the box so you can mount it to things like bike helmets, and double-sided tape and a leash are also offered for situations where the strap can’t be used. .

A retail price of around $299 keeps the Shimano sports camera competitive, but that might not be a compelling enough price point to stop someone from considering a consumer GoPro model instead. We like the Shimano’s size and the fact that we don’t have to fiddle with a case to make it waterproof, but we also think it needs some work. The Wi-Fi function did not work for us and the documentation was not clear enough on how to use all the functions supported by the camera – for example, the list of specifications for interval recording of still images, but we couldn’t find a way to invoke this feature during our limited time with the camera.