Thursday, June 12, 2014

Product review: Pyle PSCHD90BK eXpo Hi-Res Mini Action Video Camera with 20 Mega Pixel Camera

This tiny camera has some very interesting features and the video quality is quite good. My video includes video shot by camera as well as the video of the camera itself.

♦ The unique feature that none of my other cameras have is an option to have video capture activated by motion. Since the camera comes with a waterproof case this is a neat feature for capturing wild life by leaving the camera outside. If you want to leave it on for a long time, you need to set "auto shut off" setting to off (the options are 3 min, 5 mins, 10 mins, off). This camera also has an opton for time lapse photography.

♦ The camera has a wide angle fixed size lens. There is no ZOOM capability. Because the lens is pretty wide the resulting video has a lot of distortion. What I mean by distortion is that the lines that were in reality straight and parallel may now look curved and converging. In the video you can see pictures taken with a 1" grid as a background which will give you a good idea of the lens distortion. This distortion happens in any wide angle lens so this is not a problem with this camera, I am just setting the expectations.

♦ Expo camera is very small, it is only 2.25"L x 1.75"W x 1"H (body only) or 1.5" (including the lens) in size. It weighs slightly over 2 oz.

♦ The camera requires an micro SD card to run. The Micro SD card is not included and needs to be purchased separately.

♦ The screen of the camera is not touch sensitive. To control the camera you have 4 buttons on top of the camera, and on button on the side. The function of each button changes depending what mode you are in. The button on the side is on/off as well as OK to select menu items. The buttons on top the right select camera or video, or navigate up and down the menus. The two buttons on the left allows you navigate through the menu, and a long push on left button puts you in the settings mode. The manual does not include any information on how buttons work, but there are fairly easy to figure out and the defaults are pretty good. I typically change many settings of the default settings on the cameras I buy, but I was happy with most of the default choices on this one. The buttons respond well and they fairly reasonable in size and well spaced out.

♦ The initial boot up is also not documented in any detail. I ran into an issue with the camera displaying blank screen when I selected either camera or video. Turns out this happens until the camera gets a chance to initialize the micro sd card. The documentation states that the micro sd card should be blank when you intially insert into the camera. I formated a micro sd card and inserted into the camera. The first time I inserted the card I received no prompts, saw an SD card logo without a red X (which is shown where there is no micro SD card in the camera), and then 0G (number zero and letter G) displayed next to the micro SD logo. When you see 0G it is a sign of the problem that the camera did not initialize the card. I took the card out, reinserted it, and this time I was prompted "Format SD?". I selected "OK" and then I saw 7.6G displayed next the SD icon. Now the camera recognized the micro SD. However the screen remained blank when I selected camera and video. After I powered off the camera and restarted it one more time after the format, the blank screen issue did not re-occur.

♦ Another glitch I ran into is that at one point the camera became unresponsive. None of the buttons responded, and I could not even turn it off. The solution to this problem was to remove the battery and then put it back in. Then the camera started normally. I do not know how I got into that mode, and it has not happened again.

♦ Speaking of the battery, the battery compartment cover is the front of the camera. To open it slide it away from the camera lens. The cover has two small hindges that hold the cover on the edge of the camera.

♦ The package comes with a lot of accessories. The package includes a remote control, a waterproof case, a charger for the battery, and a variety of mounts. The video contains several shots that show everything included in the box.
Note that I recharge the battery while it is in the camera by using a regular USB cable. The separate battery charger seems to have a loose fit with the battery and there is no documentation to guide me on how to make it fit better.

So what is the bottom line? The quality of video is quite good, especially in the bright light. Even though it is not as good as my full size SLRs camera the quality is impressive. The size of the camera is remarkably small and it is very light. The camera comes with a lot of mounts so it can be used in a lot of situations. I have tried several small cameras and I always found the controls somewhat awkward, the controls on this camera are very good, responsive and well spaced out. The motion sensor works well and it is a very cool feature.

The weakest points are that LED screen becomes very difficult to see in the sun, shooting video direct into the sun got a lot of flares. The documentation is very weak, be prepared for doing a bit of experimentation. I hope my experience with the boot up issues will save you some time.

I hope pluses and minuses of my experience as well as the video will help you get a better idea of what to expect.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

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