I’ve been looking at different cameras for a while. I have a dash cam in my car and a web cam for my desktop computer but I really wanted something more rugged that I could use for all kinds of applications such as a on-board camera on our RC cars, for cycling, etc.
I’m familiar with the GoPro. Who isn’t? But those cameras are well outside of my budget. The GizCam GZ10 Plus has a lot in common the GoPro. It’s also significantly cheaper but after using it a few days and being impressed with its decent quality Sony CCD camera chip, it doesn’t seem like a budget camera at all.
The camera ships in a nice, fairly large, sturdy box. The reason for the large box is the many accessories included with the camera. All accessories are individually packed in small zip lock bags. It’s a bit overwhelming at first and I’m still not sure what most are for.
Inside the box, the camera ships in a transparent polycarbonate waterproof case with a battery already installed. The case seems to be of really nice quality with visible seals on seams and behind the three shiny metal buttons. Removing the camera is very simple. You just pull back a tensioned latch that locks the seal on the back of the case securely and then slide out the camera.
The camera itself looks a lot smaller when removed from its case. It has a wider lens than I expected; it’s almost an inch radius which looks huge on the front face of the 2.5 x 1.5 x 1 inch camera. On the left side you have a Micro USB, Micro SD flash storage slot and micro HDMI video out socket. The USB is for hooking up to your computer or simply charging the internal battery. The HDMI will output directly to your TV or video input source with the correct cable. The SD slot is onboard storage for recording your video directly inside the camera. (None of these slots are accessible from the waterproof case.)
On the underside is a sliding panel that gives you access to the battery compartment. You get one battery pre-installed and a second spare battery is included among the accessories.
The rear side of the camera is completely taken up with a small LCD screen which is of decent quality but has to be viewed close to straight on. The controls are simple. Other than the clearly labeled on/off button on the front face, there are up/down arrow buttons on the right side for navigating menus, and an ok button on the top which also cycles through tabs.
There are many and it’s hard to list them all because I still haven’t figured out what they all do. Mostly, they are for various mounting configurations and work with the waterproof camera case. There are several regular camera tripod adapters, straps, and a cradle that holds the camera without the waterproof case. There are also belt clips, helmet and flat surface mounts with double-sided adhesive pads, various hinged arms and connectors, and a handlebar clamp. All the basics come included to ensure you can attach the camera in most situations.
The first thing I tried the camera for was for filming at home. I wanted to see if I could use it as a webcam for my desktop PC. I was pleased to discover that charging the battery by hooking up the camera to my PC via USB, I was offered several options on the camera’s menu: USB mode, Webcam mode and charging mode.
The first thing I tried was webcam since I’m learning guitar and wanted a live video feed of myself playing for future reference. It was here that I got my first taste of how well the camera works. The camera provides a faithful reproduction of the scene in front of it. It doesn’t over-compensate with automatic exposure. So if it is dark, it will not blow out and over saturate the picture and it still keeps a faithful representation of color without excessive pixilation in dark areas. It works great as a webcam with a wide field of view and since it is wired through USB there is no noticeable lag between audio and the recorded image (which is important for guitar). It’s quick and accurate and it worked great with Open Broadcast software. It’s easily the best web-camera I have used. Unlike other camera modes you cannot adjust the field of view with the up and down arrow keys. Only the wide angle view is available in this mode.
The Action Camera mode covers a broad range of applications which might include helmet-mounted camera, dash cam, bike handlebar cam, mounting on an RC model etc. They all make use of the various settings available from the cameras menus. The one thing they all have in common is that they work wirelessly using the internal battery as a power source with the option of monitoring the video recording remotely in realtime via the screen on an Apple iOS or Android phone or tablet.
It supports resolutions from 4K at 25fps, 2k or 1440p (2560×1440) 30fps, 1080p at 60fps to 720P at 120fps.
Recording modes include:
You can choose to disable audio recording.
It can take still photos from 2 megabit through 16 megabit in several modes which include regular photos, timed photos and a mode called drama shot.
There are many other general settings that include manual settings like white balance and exposure compensation, light metering, time stamps and watermarks, driving mode, screen savers and Auto shutdown to save battery etc.
You can also adjust the zoom from wide angle to tele-photo digital zoom by simply pressing the up or down buttons outside of the menus.
WIFI and remote viewing
The GizCam GZ10 also has built-in WIFI support. There is a scancode in the manual but it loaded a Chinese App store that wasn’t in English. However I searched for the app mentioned by name in the manual and found one in the Play Store that works. It’s called XDV by the developer Wisdomplus.
Setting up the camera is dead easy with this app. The camera creates its own WiFi hotspot that you connect to with your phone or tablet. To access the wifi setting on the camera, hold the up arrow. It will display the camera name and password. On your mobile device search for the name ActionCam and type in the network password and you’re ready to go. Now everything your camera sees is displayed on your mobile device screen. This is very cool if a little disorientating at first. The nicest thing for me was that you have access to all the camera settings and menus directly on your phone or tablet. The interface is a lot less fiddly than using the buttons and the small display on the camera. In landscape mode you get to see a high resolution camera view almost fullscreen.