There are certain things you come to accept as the norm in modern life. Your friend, who isn’t a Bruce Anstey fanatic, has grown a beard. Everyone has an iPhone 6. That Audi A3 in ‘Glacier Ibis’ is about to change lanes without indicating and over on the internet Todd has dropped another rad edit of him and his action cam jumping out of a helicopter onto an avalanche.
It was always obvious to me when I started making video content for my site that I would have to include onboard footage. It’s much easier to show someone what a bike does rather than just try to describe it. Onboards look great on track, however, on the road it’s even harder to make that footage enjoyable and informative whilst not showing the world you riding like a bell-end and inviting a knock from the local 5 – 0. Fun fact for vloggers. Did you know that covering your speedo doesn’t hide your speed from the authorities? Using video frame rate, lamp post and road marking spacing it’s a simple job to calculate someone’s speed. It’s also unwise to upload everything you film on rides. Everyone is probably aware of this genius.
I’ve used all the major players action cameras professionally for years now. The constant thoughts I have had was that they were never as good as they should be and they never sat well in an edit with ‘proper’ camera footage. And they definitely were not worth £409. This hasn’t stopped the relentless rise of point of view footage online though. From helmet POVs to the wonderful opening shot gracing thousands of bike videos; a mans arse in leather at a petrol station.
I digress. We are now at a point where action cameras are offering broadcast quality footage. The Hero 4 Black is the one that everyone, everywhere will know of. 4K quality with genuinely flexible settings for professionals needing more control. But still £409 smacks of greedy shareholders to me. Remember, after their share price plummeted, GoPro overnight trimmed their lineup and dropped the price of the Hero 4 Session from £330 on launch to a more palatable £159.99. The problem for us as consumers is the lack of competition.
Enter OLFI. I heard about them by complete chance when mentioning I was looking to replace my GoPros to a cameraman friend. He mentioned them in passing and after a quick look online I discovered their pre-order site. The specs looked good: Sony Exmor sensor, 4K, 24FPS cinema frame rate, 1080P 60FPS, enough image control for professional grading, ability to record at a higher data rate… oh and 3 axis gyro stabilisation. Then I saw the price £119.99 if pre ordered before the end of April. I got straight on the phone to OLFI to find out more and get my hands on one.
It turned up within 48 hours and I was instantly impressed. It came with minimal packaging in a nice hard travel case with it’s mounts and housing. Very similar in shape and size to the GoPro Hero 4 black it uses identical mounts to GoPros. For what the Olfi costs (£149.99) and based on my first few weeks using it, it is outstanding. Consider you could buy 3 Olfi’s for the price of one Hero 4 black! One thing it does lack is a mic input. However, don’t let that put you off as Olfi have said that a firmware update and micro usb accessory mic are something in the immediate pipeline. There is also an app coming later this month that will offer all the live preview and setting control you could need. The app will work on apple watches and android wear so you should be able to control it from your wrist. I wonder if they will include a quick delete all button? Just in case you should need to, ahem, quickly erase your card.
Last, but not least 4K. Do you need it? Yes!! Never mind that you don’t have a 4K TV/monitor/phone screen or that your computer might struggle to edit it. The reason you need 4K is that it is four times the resolution of 1080P. As well as 4K UHD video, 4K mode gives you the flexibility to crop and move the frame, then export at 1920 x 1080. All whilst not losing resolution and overall quality. It’s immediate use that many people don’t seem to grasp is this: You nail that series of awesome bends, pull a stinker of a wheelie out of the final one, get home and when reviewing the footage, feeling like an absolute legend, you notice there’s a horse having a turn out in the field on the right. No worries! You shot it in 4K, just crop Seabiscuit out in the edit.
OK less talkie more watchie. Here is a short clip shot onboard my 1299 to show how the 4K looks straight out of the camera and then after some grading. Beneath that is a video where I explain how I set the Olfi up for onboards.
Check out Olfi online