Action Cameras: Ion Air Pro first impressions

July 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Ion Air ProIon Air ProAll metal body and easy to operate controls, even with gloves.

Ion Air Pro first impressions

Through the years, I've been resisting the lure to use video. During a long trip in 2010, I tried to use video as a way to document the conditions surrounding the endeavor of landscape photography. I think that effort was a failure. Lack of focus, too long clips, etc. I think I learned what not to do.

 

With my involvement in canyoneering, video re-surfaced as an attractive medium to document canyon descents. Photography cannot capture the whole experience. This time, I decided to leverage my photographer background and treat it as linked photographs: Framing & Panning.

 

 

Framing & Panning: Video taken with Olympus TG-4

 

Another source of great inspiration and experience was my involvement with the American Canyoneering Association's efforts to produce technical "know how" videos like this one.
My involvement in the production of these videos heightened my awareness of the importance of editing and post-production to making a compelling video.

For canyoneering videos, the Olympus TG-4 has proven to be a very capable tool to record footage up to 1080p through the canyons. The main issues that I've found with the TG-4 are:

  • keeping the lens from fogging up
  • zooming introduces motor noise
  • the camera cannot be mounted/operated hands free

TG-4TG-4Great camera for photos or videos.

Initially, I stayed away from "action cameras" like the GoPro to film sequences that require "hands-free" operation. The main reason is that it is very difficult to frame the shot. You just do not know exactly what is in and out of the frame. GoPro and other action cameras have a way to add a small LCD screen for this purpose.

Also, the market got flooded with action cameras taking a shot at GoPro's market. Sony, Olympus, Garmin, are some of the big names that got in. One camera that got my attention was the Ion Air Pro, for the following reasons:

  • It needs no extra waterproof housing.
  • It can connect to iPhone to use phone's screen as a remote / framing screen.
  • It uses vibration to indicate recording on/off (no there's need to confirm for that the red light is flashing).
  • It has a big sliding button to record, so on/off can be operated with gloves.
  • It can be held on hand steady w/o extra attachments.

Ion Air ProIon Air ProUse iPhone to operate, frame and configure camera.

Use iPhone to operate and configure camera

 

Ion Air ProIon Air ProMount for bike or hiling pole

Mount on bike or hiking pole

 

Ion Air ProIon Air ProLight and easy to mount on helmet

Helmet mount

 

Ion Air ProIon Air ProGreat size and shape for hand holding

Great handling without any extra accessories

 

I have been using the Ion Air Pro camera for some weeks now, and I'm satisfied with the results. So far, some of the shortcomings for the Ion are:

  • There's digital noise under low light.
  • The curved housing for the lens does not allow camera to focus under water.
  • For fast moving videos, like Mountain Biking, you need to set the camera to 720p to shoot at 60fps. If you leave it at 1080p, you will get 30fps that results in rolling shutter effects.

 

Video taken entirely with the Ion Air Pro camera

Arizona CanyoneeringSundance & Bear canyons

One other camera that I would love to test is the new Olympus TG-Tracker.


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