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Unexpected Perspectives: Small, Portable POV Cameras Enhance Imaging Options

Today’s action camera models are all quite small so it’s in the feature sets that the cameras express their individuality.

With burst recording, still photography capabilities, time lapse and 4K shooting, the newest generation of POV cameras offers an array of attractive production options. Today’s action camera models are all quite small, with some as tiny as a simple lipstick case, so it’s in the feature sets that the cameras express their individuality, from cameras with immersive wide angle recording modes to those with waterproof housings and the ability to be remotely controlled by a radio controller.

Blackmagic Design

Mini is mighty, according to Blackmagic Design, which used its April appearance at the 2015 NAB Show to introduce the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, a miniaturized Super 16mm professional digital film camera that may be operated wirelessly with common model airplane controllers. Channels in the radio model aircraft remote controls may be mapped to any camera or lens setting, including iris, focus, audio levels, and start and stop. The benefit of the Micro Cinema Camera, the company says, is that it can capture action anywhere, whether mounted on a quadcopter or helmet, or set up at a more traditional vantage point.

Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera

The same expansion port that allows remote control of the camera also includes composite video out with overlays, so a customer can use a lower-cost video transmitter to get real-time feedback from the camera for framing and to confirm camera settings. The camera features built-in 12-bit raw and ProRes recording, a global shutter and an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount. It shoots 1080 HD video with 13 stops of dynamic range.

“Customers will be able to get incredible action and point-of-view shots that look better than anything they’ve ever seen before,” says Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “It opens up entirely new shooting possibilities that will let customers shoot things they’ve never been able to shoot before.”


Already known for its extensive arsenal of action cameras, GoPro upped the ante in July with the introduction of the HERO4 Session. Fifty percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than GoPro’s HERO4 Black model, Session has a new low-profile form factor that’s waterproof up to 33 feet without a separate water housing.

GoPro HERO4 Session

“We challenged ourselves to produce the smallest, lightest, most convenient GoPro possible,” says Nicholas Woodman, GoPro founder and CEO.

Video modes in the HERO4 Session include 1080p (1920 x 1080) up to 60 fps, 720p (1280 x 720) up to 100 fps and WVGA resolution (848 x 480) up to 120 fps. The camera also shoots 8 megapixel photos in single, burst and time lapse modes. Recording options include Auto Low Light recording mode and SuperView, which allows users to capture an immersive wide angle perspective.

HERO4 Session offers simple one-button control. It may also be operated by the GoPro App on a smartphone or by its included Smart Remote.

Sony Electronics

Sony FDR-X1000V

Sony’s 4K Action Cam (model FDR-X1000V) applies the company’s expertise in 4K video production to a compact, splash-proof POV camera design. The camera is able to shoot UHD video (3840 x 2160) at 30p, Full HD video at frame rates up to 120p and lesser resolutions at up to 240p. It offers clean HDMI output for recording to an external device. On the audio front, the Action Cam adds wind noise reduction that minimizes wind interference with the stereo microphone. The FDR-X1000V features a Zeiss Tessar lens with a 170 degree field of view, a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, BIONZ X processor and the same full pixel readout technology as in Sony’s a7S camera.

“I’m thrilled to bring the unmatched clarity and sharpness of the Sony 4K experience to our Action Cam line,” says Patrick Huang, director of the camcorder business at Sony Electronics. “The innovative design and impressive technology in the new X1000V reflect our strong 4K background and intense commitment to the POV camera market.”

The X1000V camera features an updated version of Action Cam’s SteadyShot stabilization technology, adding electronic image stabilization that is approximately three times more effective at suppressing high-frequency motor vibration, allowing users to capture clear, vibration-free aerial footage. The camera features live streaming capabilities through the Ustream platform and built-in GPS.

Marshall Electronics

Marshall CV200-MB

Marshall Electronics added two mini broadcast cameras to its POV Pro-Series broadcast camera line earlier this year. The CV350-5XB 2-megapixel HD-SDI/HDMI camera has 5x optical zoom aided by a Canon auto-focus system to maintain a clear, crisp picture while zooming from 4~20mm focal range. The CV200-MB is a compact lipstick camera with multiple Full HD formats and an IP67 weatherproof body.

Marshall’s POV camera line excels because of its combination of small size and high-resolution capabilities, according to Tod Musgrave, product marketing director for the POV Pro-Series Cameras at Marshall Electronics. “In a POV camera, you’re looking at a 3/4-inch camera that can do 1920 x 1080p, 1080i and 720p, all Full HD resolutions,” he says. “Because of the broadcast-quality [imagery], users can match it up with the big beauty cameras” during HD broadcasts, he says. “For a POV camera, it’s very powerful.”

Literally the size of a compact lipstick, the CV200-MB includes a 1/3-inch 2.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and 3.6mm 3-megapixel M12 mount lens. At 19mm in length, the CV200-MB is designed for hidden camera television shows, reality TV, sports broadcasts and other applications requiring a small broadcast-quality camera. HD recording options include 1080i 59.94 fps, 1080p 59.94/29.97 fps, and 720p 59.94/29.97 fps.


Nilox F60 MM93 camera

Distributed in the United States by Manfrotto, the Nilox family of cameras includes Nilox EVO 4K and the Nilox F-60 Reloaded. With Wi-Fi capabilities and a removable LCD touchscreen, the Nilox EVO 4K records 4K and HD resolutions and may be controlled via Android and iOS apps. The Nilox F-60 Reloaded is capable of recording up to 1080p at 60 fps.

Explains Paul Zakrzewski, marketing director at Manfrotto Distribution, “Nilox is an important player in the European action camera market and we are eager to introduce it to the ever-growing market in the United States. The high quality and innovative features of Nilox products will give the U.S. consumer a great option for their action needs.”

AEE Technology

AEE S71T Plus

AEE’s S71T Plus action camera offers a 2-inch detachable LCD touchscreen that may be used to compose shots or access the menu; alternately, the camera may be controlled remotely (up to 300 feet) via Wi-Fi and an iOS or Android app. It can capture Full HD 1080p video at up to 60 fps, 2.7K (2704 x 1520) at 30 fps and UHD (3840 x 2160) at 15 fps, as well as 120 fps 720p video.

Other features include a selectable viewing angle up to 150 degrees and 10x digital zoom. The S71T Plus can capture 16-megapixel stills in intervals of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 30 seconds for time lapse, and burst shooting at 8 fps. The camera is waterproof up to 328 feet inside the waterproof housing. Battery life is up to 150 minutes for video recording.

What sets the AEE S71T camera apart, according to Jason Rabuy, e-commerce digital marketing manager for AEE, is how quickly the camera’s capturing mode can be changed. The user can go from recording video to photo stills with the press of a single button.

Kodak / JK Imaging Ltd.

Kodak PIXPRO SP360

Providing users with a wider view was the goal of the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K, the company’s newest handheld 360-degree camera that can capture video up to 2028 x 2028 at 50 fps. An update to the SP360 camera, the 4K version offers higher-resolution video and a 720p 120 fps slow-motion capture mode. Both cameras support 360-degree spherical video via YouTube’s 360-degree channel.

“The unique single lens of the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 Action Camera enables you to capture a spherical image, easily creating a highly interactive 360-degree video,” says Paul Meyhoefer, vice president of marketing for JK Imaging Ltd., which is the global licensee for Kodak PIXPRO digital devices.

Companion software allows users to create 360-degree images, which the company calls the “next generation of interactive video,” without users being required to stitch together video from multiple cameras.

In addition to the features found in the first generation camera, the unit features a videoconference feature, LiveView Internet streaming, and Flat Magic Mode, which allows users to view a scene without distortion.


Panasonic HX-A1

Panasonic’s HX-A1 wearable POV action camcorder is compact (3.3 inches long) and lightweight (1.6 ounces). The waterproof (down to 5 feet), shockproof (drops up to 5 feet), dustproof (IP6X compliant) and freezeproof (to 14° F) camera is able to shoot in total darkness when combined with an IR light source. Uniquely shaped, the cylindrical camera can be attached in numerous positions to suit a variety of shooting opportunities.

The 3.54-megapixel A1 action cam can record 1280 x 720 resolution at 60 fps/30p or 848 x 480 at 120 fps/30p, while a 1/3-inch MOS image sensor improves shooting in low light. The camera includes a multi-mount and tripod mount.

RED Digital Cinema

RED Raven

Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, RED Raven is RED’s lightest and most compact camera, making it well suited for use with drones or gimbals. RED Raven is equipped with a 4K RED Dragon sensor. It is capable of recording REDCODE RAW (R3D) in 4K at up to 120 fps and in 2K at up to 240 fps. It features the ability to record REDCODE RAW and Apple ProRes simultaneously.

“RED Raven is a new category in our lineup,” says Jarred Land, president of RED Digital Cinema. “It’s a younger, hungrier, more ‘spirited’ member of the RED family with a bit of a chip on its shoulder, ready to take on the entire sub-$10K market with images that users will be incredibly proud of.”


ARRI Alexa Mini

A very high-end offering, Alexa Mini combines a compact form factor with the same ALEV III image sensor found in all other ARRI Alexa camera models. Designed for specialized shot-making, Alexa Mini features a lightweight carbon body and titanium PL mount, frame rates of 0.75 to 200 fps, in-camera recording of ProRes (including UHD resolution), and integrated and environmentally sealed electronics. Nimble in use and hardy on set, the Alexa Mini is a go-anywhere tool that’s easy to transport in backpacks or as carry-on luggage.

The camera may be operated in a number of ways: by wireless remote control, as a normal camera with the ARRI MVF-1 multi-viewfinder attached, or with an onboard monitor and controlled via the user button interface on the camera body. Light enough to be comfortably held at arm’s length in a hand rig, its compact size and quiet operation make it ideal for tight shooting conditions.

The body design is optimized for use with brushless gimbals, UAVs and other specialized rigs. The camera’s strong low-light performance makes it appropriate for underwater work; dedicated underwater housings are currently being developed.