F68 / ODRVM 4K Action Camera Review
Video - Day8/10
Video - Night4/10
What I Like
- Decent daytime video
- True 1080p 60
- Great feeling buttons on waterproof case
- My copy included a hard case
- Can take C30 firmware
What I Don't Like
- Poor night video
- Quiet audio recording
- Gyro not very effective in low light
Summary: If you’ve been following my channel for a while today’s video may give you a sense of Deja Vu because I’ve reviewed this camera before. No, it wasn’t this exact design or accessories included, but the internal hardware in this camera is nearly identical to one of my previous recommended cameras. To prove it, I went ahead and installed C30 firmware onto the camera, and as you can see it’s still turning on and recording. Unfortunately I don’t have a C30 to put it beside and do a proper comparison any more, but once the C30 firmware was installed on the camera the results are identical to what I expected from a SooCoo branded cam. I will discuss installing the SooCoo firmware later in the video, including the risks and the rewards of doing so.
Where to buy:
Build Quality & Appearance
I’m going to be very brief regarding the hardware of this camera. It’s pretty much the standard same-old same-old. The camera is plastic and lightweight. It’s a little bit more solid than some other cameras I’ve tested, as the buttons have a nicer click to them with more feedback. The screen is bright and easy to read in daylight. The copy I got from Amazon included a real nice hard case, but this will depend on the seller.
Video Quality – Daylight
Out of the box, this camera comes with a generic firmware that is branded depending on seller. Mine is branded ODRVM, but if you purchase it elsewhere this will be different. Since it’s a generic firmware, not much tweaking has been done to video quality. The result is a sort of protune-like appearance: colours are dull, there is a lack of contrast, and even in bright sunlight everything looks a little bit bland. There’s nothing really wrong with this, per say, but if you’re the kind of person who wants bright vibrant video without editing the out of the box firmware does not deliver that. The gyro stabilization also does not work well, and when the camera is in the waterproof case audio recording is a dull hiss. The 4K footage, as is typical with this grade of camera, is not real 4K. It’s a weird cropped resolution, 2880 x 2160 resolution at 24 frames per second. In almost every situation you’ll be better off using 1080p60 or 1440p30, both of which have more detail and a smoother frame rate.
Video Quality – Night
Night video is not great. There’s no other way of putting it. At night, your best results will be in one of the 30 FPS modes, and you’ll need to have some source of light. Street lighting isn’t enough. Turn off the gyro, because it causes blurring issues. With all that done, it’s passable, average really. The blurring issue extends to mixed lighting such as in the forest and indoors – again, same thing, use a 30 FPS mode and turn off gyro for best results. If you don’t expect miracles, the low light video will be passable.
Still photos are shot with a real 12 megapixel sensor so they have a decent amount of detail. It’s not as good as many of the real 4K cameras that have been released recently but for the average consumer it will be acceptable. There’s a little bit of haze caused by the waterproof case but this can be alleviated by taking the waterproof case off when it is not needed.
In terms of battery life, well, this thing includes a spare battery for a reason. I saw just 50 minutes of constant recording in 1080p60 with the screen turned off, in what I would say are fairly ideal conditions. This is below average for a camera in its class.
C30 Firmware: Warnings and How To Install
If you’re thinking about installing the C30 firmware, note that there is no going back. Do this at your own risk. I have not been able to locate the original firmware for this camera from any vendor, so if you do this you’re stuck. Installing the firmware is simple: download the correct .bin file – v2.0 for standard or R if yours has a remote, put it in the top directory of an empty memory card, put the card in the camera and turn the camera on. The camera will flash for a minute or two then reset itself. Of course make sure the battery is full before doing this, and be sure to format the memory card after or the firmware update will install itself every time you turn on the camera.
If you’re willing to do this, it is worth it. To me, the C30 firmware includes some notable improvements in colour. Saturation is increased meaning everything is more vivid. Green grass is actually green instead of greyish and blue skies are brighter. Gyro stabilization is improved. This is more the kind of video that you would expect if you wanted to do less of your own tweaks. Unfortunately, the C30 firmware does not improve on the audio quality or the battery life and you’re still stuck with the low light issues that are typical of this grade of camera. Like I said, if you do it, do it at your own risk, and maybe do it during your return period so that you can send it back if you mess up…
In conclusion, if you can buy the C30, get it over this camera as you’ll have better support and updates that are more guaranteed to work, but I know that lots of you are located in Canada or overseas where the C30 is unreasonably expensive but this camera is available for cheap, so it is a viable alternative, since it’s more or less identical with all the same issues.