We live in a world where everything is documented. Go to a sporting event, not only can you watch it back in hi-def from the BBC or other news / sports channel, you can watch the same event (or plenty of snippets) from 1000s of other viewpoints on YouTube from the budding spectators. No one wants to miss an opportunity to show their friends a tiny screen video of their favourite sports person whizzing past at 50 mph.
Then step forward and let’s bring the new generation of point of view photography and videos. It is now common practice for a race brief for the marshalls to request ‘no selfies’ while riding. But for video enthusiasts bike and head mounted cameras bring the ‘action’ in full hi-def to our excited audience to view once we get home. There are lots of motivational ideas behind wanting to film your riding but the Virb gives you even more excuses to get one.
Firstly get yourself a micro SD card. Without it nothing will happen. No playing with this device at all, unless you enjoy the charging experience. (32Gb will give you 3hrs 30 mins of video recording at hi-def 1080)
The RAW files are of course MP4 video files and the do not contain all the exciting info. This is added ‘in the mix’.
Quick download from the App Store from Apple.
So you need to connect your phone to the Virb. THe Virb actually makes its own WiFI network and you connect to this network. Pretty nifty. First message (of course) update the software on the camera. (hop to the software step, download, install, etc then come back). It was actually Garmin Connect that updated the software but only once a micro-sd card was installed.
On the app, don’t forget to go into settings and de-Americanise your units. Remember, metric units sound better for speed! Eject your Garmin Virb, then let’s get back to the app. Power up the VIrb have your phone in hand… software updating… almost time to play! Switch mobile phone back to the wireless network created by the Virb (no doubt it will have switched back to you office router). Bingo.. My phone is now displaying the view from the Virb. A nice wide angle view with the fisheye effect. In settings you can change the field of view between Wide, Zoom 1, 2 and ultra Zoom. In video mode you can also flick between 1090p (your standard Hi Def) and a bunch of other modes including Time Lapse, I am sure useful for the long rides TBC. Now what’s happened? Arrr, the cheeky camera has gone to sleep while I read through the settings in the app. It’s at this point I realise, OK I have a video camera in the office. Now what can I do that is a bit more exciting with it? Tip… Once WiFi is on all the settings as outlined in the Quick Start guide can only be changed via the app on your phone.
Media Library. Quite annoyingly it has a messages saying “Your VIRB ELite Camera is connected, but it does not support the display of photos and clips in the mobile app.” Bring on the next generation of camera I guess.
Download from garmin.com/virbedit for Mac or PC. So for our testing we will use the Garmin edit software and not Adobe Premier so we can compare this also.
First thing you need to do is import your clips. Easy enough.
Import video clips into Garmin Virb
Two things.. The units are all wrong. miles etc. Not meters as set-up in the app. Also, the date / time is incorrect and I could not see how to update this in the app…. but to update this, disable WiFi on the Virb, and then you can scroll through the menu to change the units etc.
The software is very straight forward to use, especially if you have previous editing experience. Feature like speeding the clip footage, slowing it, and changing how the dials look. All good fun. Some basic features that are missing as far as we can tell. Drag out the edges of clips. Once you have cropped some footage on the timeline expanding the edges there is no easy way that we can tell do do this.
Changing units in the software. It’s impossible… Well it is not actually but I had to refer to uncle Google who directed me to a Garmin forum.
How to Change Units in Garmin Virb Software
If you have loaded clips into the software, when you restart the application it will not be as quick. In fact it may take several minutes to open if you have not used it for a while. But after it has opened it is fairly quick to close and open.
To spice up your video you will want to use the overlays, and this feature is really what makes the software. Choose from a wide collection of overlays, or change the subject (e.g. to cycling) to see what overlays are available. If you are not happy with the options you can create your own. The overlays are basically the data from your ANT+ devices and GPS along with other data captured by the Virb. Once you have selected them, you can drag the position around until you are happy with their placement. Under appearance you can also change their colour transparency.
The overlays from Garmin can be customised in colour, data and pre-set examples make it very easy to locate the fields you are likely to use
You may be considering a VIRB for a variety of reasons. We will test for cycling. Built-in GPS and the mapping mixed with the video is something on my personal list.
The Lens in Wide angle or standard. Wide angle is selected by default.
Garmin Fenix / Remote Recording
The app on the phone is pretty awesome. You can use this to remote record. You can also use your Garmin Fenix (smart watch), but the button is so sticky to press while you are cycling for example, it is hard to know if you have activated it or not.
A short fun video we created with the Garmin Virb Elite. But we had to use Adobe Premiere to circle the obstacles!
Garmin Virb Elite Photos in Wide Angle
Anyone into photography knows how much a wide angle lens costs. You can part with +£1000 for a fish-eye lens, so it is great when a video camera takes crisp, wide angle photos.
The original photos are 4608 px wide, so more than high enough resolution by today's digital age. And the pics have a nice contrast and deal with shadows and most outdoor lighting conditions we tested.
Editing - Garmin Virb Software
The software does not have a save feature. It is in constant save mode. You can not drag out clips to extend a crop or trim but these are things you will only be used to if you have used Adobe Premiere for example. If you extend the time or speed up the video the audio file is removed. But overall this is a really easy piece of software to get stuck in with.
Adding text and data is fairly straight forward. Before the day is out you will have a video that could have been sliced together by a professional.
The camera does a lot more than we have told you about. If you are buying it for cycling you will need to buy a cycling handlebar mount. Not included by default. And it is pretty chunky.
Next we bring you the updated review of the Garmin Virb XE.