In recent years, Go Pro Action Cameras have literally become the go-to camera for extreme sports. Due the growing popularity of these cameras, many businesses and even entrepreneurs have decided to bring their own Action Cameras to the market with a much lower price than the Go Pro cameras. I own several of these Action Cameras and love them all differently. Now I have a new one in my collection, the i30 by Thieye. This is a small budget friendly camera that aims to be a great companion for those sporting moments you want to record.
In terms of design, this small camera is really gorgeous. It has a front panel made of strong aluminium. The back panel is home to a 1.5” TFT display which can be used to view recordings as they happen and even to watch and view stored photos and videos all from the camera itself. Next to the screen are four buttons, which are as follows:
- Menu button
- Up button
- Down button
- Return button
On the left-hand side edge of the camera are three ports, which are as follows:
- HDMI port
- MicroUSB port
- MicroSD slot
The right-hand side edge is home to the WiFi button and Wifi indicator as well as the microphone. The built-in WiFi allows you to connect the camera to your phone through an Application. This allows you to use you phone as a screen for the camera.
The top edge is home to the charging indicator and the shutter/select button.
The bottom of the unit is home to the battery cover. The battery is removed using a tab attached to the battery. Unlike the other Action Cameras I have by other companies, this one doesn’t come with two batteries, which is a shame as it always good to have a spare on you.
The front panel is home to the lens, the power/mode button, a loudspeaker and a status indicator.
Despite the small size, each button is easy to get too even when holding the camera with only one hand.
Like most Action Cameras, this one comes with an external skeleton frame that is used to protect the camera during extreme activities. The frame itself is made from a strong thick plastic and is watertight thanks to a seal and each button been covered by a sealed button on the frame. Certain things can’t be done while the camera is in the frame such as data transfer, removal of the memory card and, of course, charging as the frame allows no access to these ports. The frame is rather easy to open and close thanks to the clip lock system in place. The frame is also used to mount the camera to various different accessories such as the car mount, which you will see in my sample video. (Please note: The car mount is a sperate accessory and doesn’t come with the camera).
Talking of accessories, you get the following starter bits with this camera:
- Waterproof skeleton frame
- Additional backdoor for the frame
- 1 X rechargeable battery
- 1/4” Tripod mount adapter
- Quick release buckles
- Curved and flat adhesive mounts
- 2 X 3M adhesive stickers
- A USB cable
- Wiping cloth
- Cloth bag
The included accessories seem more focused on bits that connect to actual accessories, which is a bit of a disappointment as I have had some cheaper Action Cameras that actually come with basic stuff that you can wear to get you started recording without holding the camera in your hands.
Something I have noticed with this camera is that the compact design makes the camera heat up significantly enough to feel the warmth when I touch the front aluminium face.
Using this camera is actually quite easy. Out of all the Action Cameras, I own this is the easiest to use in terms of navigating the menus and choosing different modes. Tapping the power/mode button cycles you through video, photo and viewing mode. Pressing the menu button brings you up different settings for video mode, photo mode and overall general settings of the camera. Starting a recording is easy, simply select the record mode and press capture button to begin your video recording. Taking photos is simply a case of selecting photo mode and pressing the capture button. Finally choosing a viewing mode is a simple task where you get a small menu, select the type of capture you want to view and select it to be taken to a menu of each capture of that type.
There’s also an application you can install to your smartphone which allows you to use the phone a secondary screen for the camera. I haven’t used the app personally as I don’t feel the need to have it, as the screen on the camera is good enough for me. If I did install the application I would pretty much just uninstall it after looking at it anyway.
The photos produced by this camera are ok but not brilliant. At the highest setting of 12 megapixels, you can get a photo is good but not something that will blow the socks off of any photography fanatic. Photos often come out slightly pixellated and in some instances I got some blur. These cameras, however, do have sensors that are setup similar to that of a mobile phone, so photo quality isn’t exactly going to ever be amazing.
Video recording is a lot better although without editing do expect some very unstable recording, particularly if hooking this up to a bike or car. For the test video I did with this I actually used a car mount from a Go pro accessory bundle to mount this to the front of my three-year-olds electric car. I then recorded a few minutes of him driving that car on a private pathway. As you can see from the video sample the quality is pretty good, however, I haven’t edited this video so it is rather jumpy. I will point out that you do need a memory card to record and takes photos with this. You can use a MicroSD card up to 32Gb in size.