We are all stars — at least in our own minds. And Facebook, Google+ and Twitter prove we love to tell the stories from our point of view. It’s that point of view for which these hero cams have been nicknamed POV cameras. Tackle and marine stores have sensed our conceit, so now it’s common to find their end caps stocked with popular POV cams.
But how do you know which features are necessary and which are just fluff? What are the most important attributes of a point-of-view camera?
POV cams are designed to shoot with a very wide angle focal length. That lets you mount them on a windshield, Bimini frame or wakeboard tower and record a panoramic view of all your boating fun.
How We Tested
We rated these five features on a scale of 1 to 3 for a total possible score of 15.
Close Focus: We pushed the lens to within inches of the target and noted the distance at which crispness diminished.
Lens Aberration: All lenses exhibit declining sharpness toward the image edge. We set cameras at 2-foot distances from a navigation chart, noting degree of blur at the edges.
Field of View: We shot video of a grid sheet from 2 feet. The lenses with 170 degrees at 1080 pixels had the widest FOV and received high scores. The CamOne offered that field of view only in 720 resolution. Contour+ got stuck on a narrow lens setting, giving a low FOV score. (That was responsible for its poor ease-of-use score.)
Video Clarity: We compared side-by-side clips of test panels, noting crispness of detail.
Ease of Use: Part judgment call and part reflection on features that worked sporadically — like the Drift housing buttons or the Contour Connect app — entered into this score.
Be sure to check back for detailed specs of the four cameras that were tested.
Tips and Accessories
You can get good video by guestimating the camera’s aim, thanks to the very wide angle lenses, but viewfinders are essential to being sure. We think they should be standard.
Remote triggers are a top-notch accessory. They are optional on all but the Drift. They give more control over what you shoot and save gigabytes on your microSD card.
MicroSD cards are the norm in POVs. GoPro uses a handier SD card. Buy high-speed, high-capacity cards for best results.
We like suction cup mounts but don’t trust them on applications where the camera could fall overboard. Tie a safety lanyard to the back of your camera and secure it to the boat.
RAM mounts offer aftermarket POV mounts that are rock-solid and a great choice for steadier shots on the boat. RAM made its nut selling laptop and radio mounts for military Humvees. They are solid.
You can jury-rig rail mounts with padded hose clamps.