Shimano is entering the action camera game and has been developing what looks to be an impressive little POV device due to be released in May. On paper the Shimano Sport Camera boasts impressive stats against it’s two main competitors, GoPro’s HERO3+ Black Edition and Garmin’s Virb Elite.
It has a very large 16MP backlit CMOS sensor, matching Garmin and besting GoPro. Of course simply jamming more pixels into a sensor doesn’t automatically mean a better picture quality. If the sensor is the same size as that of the Hero 3+ Black Edition and the Virb Elite, at 1/2.3″, then this may result in a poorer low light performance. However the f/2.0 lens of the Shimano Sport Camera is very bright, allowing in much more light than the Hero 3+ Black Edition’s f/2.8.
The Sport Camera is also extremely lightweight, at 86 grams (the Virb Elite is 177 grams and the Hero 3+ Black Edition is 136 grams). Furthermore no bulky external case is required to waterproof the device, which Shimano say can be submerged to 33 feet (10 meters), which is a lot deeper that Garmin’s camera can manage at only 3 feet. The Shimano Sport Camera also matches Garmin’s Virb Elite on it’s peripheral connectivity; Shimano designed their Camera with ANT+ capabilities so it can connect wirelessly with heart rate monitors, power meters, and other training devices. This lets data geeks overlay their performance stats within the video.
The Hero 3+ Black Edition has a neat feature called SuperView, which stretches the 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9, useful when viewing footage on a widescreen display. While the Sport Camera may not have this feature it does boast both a standard wide angle of 135 degrees and extreme wide angle at 180 degrees as well as an auto image rotation feature to keep the picture oriented with the horizon no matter how you hold the camera.
Shimano, like Garmin, is a big and well established brand with a stable of fans. GoPro’s dominance in the action camera market is difficult to compete against though, made even more so my GoPro’s ever-expanding roster of sponsored action sports events. However a new POV camera, bringing new features to the table and improving existing ones is always welcome, so the Shimano Sport Camera will definitely be worth looking at in May. Currently the Sport Camera is priced at $299.