DBPOWER Action Camera 12MP Waterproof Sports Camera Review
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Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
- Stock equipment
What's in the box?
- Action Camera
- 2 batteries
- Multiple mounting brackets
- Waterproof case
- Hook and loop tape
- USB charging/data cable
- Zip ties
- Lens cleaning cloth
- User manual
- Extra waterproof case latch
- GoPro form factor, fits multiple quadcopters and add-ons
- Multiple video resolutions and formats available
- Waterproof case
- Audio works decently with waterproof case
- Multiple mounting brackets
- Still image support
- LCD power off feature
- Can be used as a computer camera
- Motion activated mode
- Anti-shake option (aka video stabilization)
- ISO setting, white balance, image quality, and more settings
- Doesn't stop recording sometimes
- Zoom really degrades the video quality
- Does not include TF memory card
- No mention of how to upgrade firmware
- PC camera mode did not work for me
- Battery door is hard to remove
- Must charge both batteries in camera
- 1 hour recording time on full charge
All the mounts are in small baggies with zippers. One battery was in the camera, while the camera was in the waterproof case. The extra batter was in a thin, non-sealable bag. All items were packed nice, neatly, and tight. So tight that I have not been able to repackage and close the box fully. The manual is well written and clear. Be sure to read the manual before use.
The batteries charge via a micro USB port on the side of the camera. A computer's USB port or a wall charger for smart devices can be used. I've successfully used both. While charging, the camera will have the blue power on LED and another red LED lit. Once charged the red LED will turn off. I found I prefer to use a wall charger from my Android phone to charge the camera. It takes about three hours to charge one battery, fully charged the battery will last about an hour.
Using the action camera is simple. Press the front button to turn on, press OK to start capture, press OK to end capture. Once turned on, the front button will cycle through video mode, still image mode, playback, and settings menu (in this order). To turn off the camera long press the front button. The side of the camera contains zoom buttons. Unfortunately I found zooming in really degrades the image quality, thus I don't recommend using the zoom.
Image quality can be set to one of three options. I chose to enable Fine as I was not pleased with the middle setting and had no desire to try the lowest setting. The camera can also be set to record in various formats and resolutions. Why someone would want to use anything less than 720p is beyond me, but the options are there. Personally, I prefer to shoot in 1080p and left the camera on this setting.
By default the camera enables a time/date stamp with custom text overlay. I disabled the overlay. I put the camera on my Drocon Bugs 3 quadcopter, and was highly disappointed at first. In hindsight the reasons for my disappointment were twofold: the camera was zoomed in (thanks to my kids playing with it prior) and the internal anti-shake option was disabled. Even with the anti-shake disabled, there was enough vibration that even programs like Mercalli and ProDRENALIN v2+ couldn't clean up the video. I updated the camera settings and tried again. This time with much better image quality.
There are more options such as white balance, ISO settings, face detection, and motion detection available. I left those settings either at default, auto, or off. I'm sure if I was to shoot in low light conditions or use it for filming group activities I'd play with these settings. But in my opinion these are more for the semi-pro user, not the average point and shoot user. Other options include burst mode which takes a burst of still images as defined, timer setting, LCD power off setting, and camera power off setting. The burst mode worked well, as well as the timer setting. I've left the LCD power off setting to the minimum and unit auto power off to never. My primary use for the camera is on my action camera carrying multirotors, which means I don't want the camera to turn off and don't need the LCD screen on the whole time. The LCD screen will turn on when a button is pressed while recording if the screen is turned off.
The waterproof case works flawlessly. When inside the case, the camera is able to pick up and record audio, of course the farther away the audio source is from the case, the more muted the audio will be. I've used the case in swimming pools and a local pond, the camera has stayed completely dry and recorded video and still images with ease. I have found using the camera in the case is easier since the case's buttons are spring loaded and larger.
During my use of the camera I found sometimes the camera does not stop recording video when I think it should. On a minimum of five separate times I've pressed and even held the OK button to stop recording, to which it hasn't stopped. Each time I've had to power off the unit in order to stop recording.
The multiple attachment accessories have come in handy. I've attached the camera to a lamp in order to record opening of birthday presents over a crowd as well as attaching to various spots on pedal cars, bikes, and clothing. Since the mounts, case, and camera are GoPro like in size, they are compatible with other mounts that support GoPro sized cameras. On a full charge with the power settings I use, the camera’s battery was lasting about one hour. The camera also only supports up to 32GB class 10 micro SD cards.
The DBPower 1080P 12M action camera is a decent action camera to consider if one cannot afford a GoPro. I personally cannot comment on how the image quality compares to a GoPro brand action camera. I'm willing to say it's not as sharp, crisp, or accurate as a higher priced action camera.
I find using the action camera to be easy, so easy in fact I let three and five year old kids take videos and pictures with the action camera. I highly recommend turning on the anti-shake software in the camera. Being my primary use is with r/c activities I have not tried the face detection and smile detection settings in the camera. Motion detection seemed to work ok, but I didn't spend much time with that feature.
The fisheye effect is a bit annoying, but there are programs like DeFishr and ProDRENALIN v2+ that can remove fish eye. I'm finding I'm using the action camera in so many ways and scenarios that I wonder why I didn't get one sooner. The ability to connect to the computer and enter Mass Storage mode is nice in order to charge the camera while moving content off the TF card. The camera not stopping recording when I think it should may be user error. If the screen is off and the ok button is pressed, the screen wakes up and turns on. A second push of the ok button is required to actually stop the recording.
Do I recommend the camera? Yes
Is it for beginners? Yes
Can I strap the camera to a multirotor (commonly mis-referred to as a drone)? Yes, if the multirotor supports mounting of action camera.
Do other GoPro attachments work with it? Yes, it is the same size and form factor as a GoPro.
How does it compare to a GoPro? I don't know.
Can the firmware be updated? I don't know. I've searched the web and read all the documentation multiple times, and cannot find anything about upgrading the firmware on the camera.
If you want to see aerial footage using this camera, click the video below (subscribe please) and forward to 6:24. It's pretty decent if you ask me!