Garmin Virb Elite

By AG STAFF 12 June 2015
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A tech-packed camera for the budding action videographer

When Garmin announced its VIRB and VIRB Elite (tested here) it was a bit of a surprise: the company is renowned for producing top-end bike/running/GPS equipment, but the VIRB was a definite – and late – step in a totally new direction for the company.

Of course, if you arrive late to any party, it’s best to enter with confidence, and Garmin has plenty of that in regards to the VIRB Elite. The ‘horizontal’ styling of the unit sets it apart for starters, but it is when you flick through the spec list that you get a true idea of how much tech is packed inside.

The VIRB Elite spec list is impressive: 1080p HD video recording (the VIRB uses a 16MP CMOS image sensor); a beefy 2000mAh lithium-ion battery that is claimed to provide three hours of recording at the highest resolution; IPX7 waterproof rating (immersion in 1m of water for up to 30min); Wi-Fi connectivity (you can use your smartphone or even your Garmin fenix watch or Edge bike computer to operate the VIRB); hi-res 1.4-inch Chroma display; and an inbuilt GPS, barometric altimeter and accelerometer (all of which can be recorded concurrently with your footage).

There’s also a handy lens distortion correction feature and image stabilisation. The VIRB Elite has ANT+ wireless connectivity so you can connect your heart rate monitor or cadence senor, making it easy to just load up the VIRB Elite for that training ride, without having to also fit your bike computer to record data. On top of all this, you get to use Garmin’s VIRB Edit software, which allows you to edit video. Add in a pile of different mounts for MTB/cycling, watersports, etc., and it’s a comprehensive kit.

We’ve had the VIRB Elite for about three months now and have been very impressed – especially considering it is Garmin’s first attempt at an action video cam. We’ve shot the majority of footage at the highest (1080p/30fps) setting but have also played around with some of the others; the VIRB also shoots at 960p/48fps; 720p/30 or 60fps; and, for real slo-mo filming, 848×480/120fps. These rates are impressive, but we’d love to see the next incarnation add the 4K and 2.7K HD recording capabilities. 

Operating the VIRB Elite is easy. Once you’ve set up the mode/frame rate via the screen menu you simply push the large slider on the left side until it clicks, and away you go. The Chroma display is easy to view in overcast conditions but does suffer slightly in bright sunny light, though the images are still discernible.

Overall, the VIRB Elite is an impressive first entry into the action-cam market, and one that is competitively priced. The GPS/fitness capabilities – on top of decent video specs and awesome battery life – ensure the VIRB has a unique selling point for budding action videographers.

RRP: $499