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Does GoPro have the best action camera on the market? With the new GoPro 7 with stabilization, probably. Before the GoPro 7, though, we strayed from the GoPro brand to a Garmin Virb. After two GoPros, we left the brand. Read on to find out why.
Best Action Camera? Garmin Virb
So, why did we switch from the industry standard GoPro to the Garmin Virb? Well, it started with a review of the Garmin from an outdoor film producer that compared the GoPro to the Garmin. The Garmin outperformed the GoPro in almost every category. Remember, this was before the GoPro 7.
As I started to research the Garmin, I learned that it could do a LOT more than the GoPro. Let’s take a look at some of these advantages.
Garmin Virb Advantages
- Data measurement — The Garmin Virb, coming from a GPS company, has the ability to capture performance data like speed, elevation, heart rate and G-force, when connected to other Garmin devices, including GPS enabled watches
- Stablization — The Garmin has 3 axis stabilization, which was better than the stabilization offered on the GoPro Hero 5 (current GoPro at the time of our purchase)
- Live streaming capability — the Virb has live streaming capability, whereas the GoPro didn’t come with that ability until two models later in the GoPro 7
Best Action Camera?
Now, the funny thing? We have never used the GPS functionality of the Garmin Virb (even though it seems really cool — like recording our speed during our Moab off-road adventure would have been).
We have never used the live streaming option, although that was a big selling point for us, as we had just started doing a lot of live streaming on YouTube.
We were happy with the stabilization. It’s great in that department.
Garmin Virb Disadvantages
One of the big things we’ve been really disappointed with on the Virb is the waterproof case.
The GoPro 5 (current model at the time) came standard in a case that was waterproof. It was built in to the camera. The Virb’s is more like the GoPros of old — a separate, hard plastic case.
We’ve had to warranty the case (and camera), once due to water leakage and our current waterproof case is now broken, as well. New cases are $50, which seems a bit on the steep side, to me.
Video quality was also not we expected. Decide for yourself. Check out this video from Castaway Cay where we used the Garmin for some snorkeling footage.
It’s not terrible, by any stretch, just not as good as we had hoped. It’s probably very hard to get good underwater footage from any action camera.
Best Action Camera Conclusions
So, was the Garmin Virb the best action camera available at the time? Probably not. If we had it to do over, knowing we wouldn’t use many of the extra features and the issues with the waterproof case, we would not have bought the Virb. Our next action camera will likely be back to the GoPro brand.