New action cams offer anglers versatility during on-water adventures.
Updated: March 6, 2015
Capture the Moment
By now, if you aren’t aware of the quality, affordable high-definition cameras available to anglers, you might still be watching VHS tapes. In the January 2015 issue of Sport Fishing magazine, I highlighted in the Game Plan column how to take engaging video of your fishing adventures but didn’t lend much insight into which video camera to use. You’ve probably heard of GoPro — for good reason, because it continues to blaze a trail among action cameras. But other options are available too, each offering different features to fishermen. Most quality video cameras incorporate impressive specs, including waterproof protection, high 1,080-pixel-resolution video, live viewing modes, 10-plus-megapixel sensors for photos, and Wi-Fi capability. Storage on most cams is massive too, ranging from high-capacity SD and micro SD cards to cloud storage. Beyond that, manufacturers specialized and differentiated engineering versatility into their products according to the user’s needs. Check out some of the innovative capabilities action cameras incorporate into their designs so you can make the right choice when purchasing your next fish cam.Zach Stovall
Ultra HD Video
Today’s superior video resolution in hand-held cams teeters right around 1,080. Many quality cameras offer 1080p (progressive) or 1080i (interlaced) scan modes, coupled with 30 to 60 frames (or interlaced fields) per second. For example, 1080p 60 fps means the cameraman is shooting a 1,920-by-1,080-pixel image at 60 frames per second. All high-definition video features a 16-by-9 aspect ratio. But GoPro’s new Hero4 Silver and Black editions take HD video to a whole new level. The Silver edition, which includes a built-in touch display, is capable of shooting 2.7K30 (2,704-by-1,520-pixel image at a rate of 30 frames); the Black edition handles 4K30, 2.7K50 and 1080p120 video. “4K is considered ultra HD, a truly professional camera,” says GoPro’s Kelly Leggoe. “The image size is 3,840-by-2,160 — double that of 1,080 HD video.” Take it one step further, and a still photo pulled from 4K video is 8 megapixels. Besides resolution, GoPro updated its Hero4 Silver to include HiLight Tags (which allow fishermen to push a button and mark key footage for editing), QuickCapture (to power on the camera and start recording with a single button), Night Lapse (custom-exposure setting up to 30 seconds to capture ultralow-light imagery) and Protune (to help make photos pop in the edit phase), explains GoPro’s Ryan Chuckel. “A GoPro sensor performs quite well, and our camera’s firmware features allow flexibility and adjustability” when shooting still photos, says Leggoe. “Hardware is only as good as the software that exploits it.” Caption: The GoPro Hero4 shatters the 1080P HD threshold by offering 2.7k and 4k on specific editions.Zach Stovall
Although popular shooting speeds often comprise 30 and 60 frames per second, cameras such as the Garmin VIRB Elite now offer faster frame rates to 120, even 240. The higher the frame rate (think of it as more images recorded per second), the slower a video clip can be played and still maintain fluidity. Lower frame rates, like 25 or 30, are limited to crisp captures only during live action. Bumping up to 60 fps allows an angler to slow down his video somewhat for a smooth, cinematic effect. But 120 allows for total slow motion. “It can be pretty cool for anglers,” says Maddie Estrada, a media-relations associate at Garmin. “Imagine hooking a fish, capturing a fish jumping on film, or even fighting a fish in slow-mo — what a dramatic effect. Built-in GPS in the VIRB Elite also allows fishermen to track the route the boat took before hooking up.” The one drawback: With an increased frame rate comes a decline in resolution — it’s an undeniable inverse correlation. Still, most new cameras are capable of shooting at least 720 with higher frame rates, enough resolution to meet high-def standards.Zach Stovall
Manufacturers such as Shimano have tied in the use of a phone app to control a video cam remotely. The Shimano Sport Cam app is available for smartphones with iOS 6.0 and above, or Android 4.2 and above. “Once they learn all the operations, anglers definitely appreciate the simplicity and viewing capability through their smartphone with our app feature,” says Shimano’s David Muir. Shimano’s cam shoots 1080p at 30 fps and 720p at 120 fps. “Thirty frames per second is what’s used for TV, and we wanted to give the angler the ability to be the ‘star’ of his own TV fishing show,” he continued. “We also wanted to give the user options that would not eat up all the memory while out fishing all day.” Liveview mode on the app allows anglers to watch the cam’s point of view, a nifty function if the camera is mounted in an out-of-the-way location. “One angler tied the camera to his fishing line and recorded video of himself casting,” Muir said. “It provided an amazing visual of the cast from rocketing up to the sky to the splashdown in the water.”Zach Stovall
Consider a Camcorder
The majority of HD cameras aimed at fishermen are small and compact to allow for creative mountings to the T-top, kayak, forehead, fishing rod, dredge, or even trolling lures. But if you don’t expect to utilize one of those unorthodox points of view, a waterproof camcorder offers pro features not readily available on smaller action cameras, such the ability to use remote lighting and microphones. A prime example is the JVC Everio, a lightweight camcorder that floats but is also waterproof to 16 feet. Practical specs include an optical 40x zoom, a zoom microphone, true autofocus for rough sea conditions, and a 3-inch LCD screen. JVC markets the cam as all-weatherproof because it handles 4-foot drops to a hard surface, temperatures of minus 10 degrees C, sand, and salt water. “A huge advantage is the ability to get a close or wide shot in any situation,” says Chris Deutsch, with JVC. “Maybe even more important is the ability to get exactly what you want in the frame by adjusting the zoom. Maybe you don’t need 40x? Sometimes 3x or 6x is plenty.” Everio’s f/1.8 lens handles night conditions when there’s little light available. Plus, a zoom microphone adjusts the gain and the pickup patterns of sound and voices, based on where the zoom is set. “Think of it as ‘sound focus,’” says Deutsch. The max frame resolution is 1080i, but it’s not 60 frames per second. “It’s actually 60 interlaced fields per second,” says Deutsch. “The easiest way to explain this is that it’s an exact match to the video quality of the best live broadcasts.” Caption: The JVC Everio offers zoom lens and focused sound pickup, while still waterproof to 16 feet.Zach Stovall
Under the Sea
Some HD cameras don’t fit the traditional mold. One good example is the Water Wolf, a bullet-shaped camera that ties directly to your fishing line. It can be cast out, bottomfished or trolled, and the video quality is 720p at 30 fps. “The main way the camera is used is in line, right in front of the lure,” says Brandon Cotton of Water Wolf. “We’ve also seen it used as part of a dredge, although it does not troll well at high speeds.” The Water Wolf has captured amazing videos of sport-fish strikes up close. Use a lighter leader below the camera for the hook and weight; in case you break off on a snag or fish, you won’t lose the camera, says Sport Fishing’s Pacific Coast Editor Jim Hendricks. “If you’re curious about a spot, put the Water Wolf’s micro SD card in a compatible mobile device and view it on the boat,” says Hendricks.Christopher Balogh
Review the KEP Marine HD Sport Cam’s video files on its 12-inch LCD display.Zach Stovall
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