I’ve been buying gadgets since the day I got my first paycheck. Which means I’ve got tonnes of old phones, VCRs, cameras etc. sitting in my cupboards. Not too long ago I bought myself a GoPro rugged action camera, and thought it might be interesting to compare my new gadget to one of its ancient ancestors. (Ancient being a relative term.) 🙂
How far has Action Camera technology advanced in the last decade? I test an old action camera against a similarly priced GoPro to see how much has changed. In the process I check out the Birmingham canals and their wildlife, mountain bike along a towpath, and visit the site of the forthcoming HS2 railway station at Curzon Street.
GoPro Hero5 Session: https://amzn.to/2XfeReU
Hero5 Session Light Mod Case: https://amzn.to/3djs2Rt
Fujifilm Finepix XP100: https://amzn.to/2Xff8OY
Olympus Tough TG-6: https://amzn.to/2TW1vC2
GoPro Hero5 Black (refurb): https://amzn.to/2TUhqRm
GoPro Hero8 Black: https://amzn.to/3eAcadM
Whatup Nerds? I’m Jay Shareef.
I love nothing more than tech and travel.
And today I’m talking about Action Cameras.
I’ve been buying new technology since
the day I’ve got my first paycheck.
I just love that feeling of owning
a new gadget that nobody else has.
As a result, I’ve got cupboards
full of old tech and new tech.
Which brings us to today’s video.
A lot of people think the whole concept of rugged
action cameras started with GoPro and the Hero range.
But that’s not even close to being true.
I’m going to go through my drawers and find
the oldest action camera I own – that still works –
And we’re going to test it next to a modern GoPro.
So is the old tech better than the new stuff?
Nope! Of course it isn’t.
But how big a difference is there between the two?
Let’s find out.
The old camera we’re going to be testing in today’s
comparison is the Fujifilm Finepix XP100.
I’ve had this about eight years. Now Fujifilm
launched the XP range of cameras in 2009.
Back when HD video was still a bit of a novelty.
At the time the XP cameras were
very much at the cutting edge.
And were advertised as having quadruple protection.
They were waterproof, shockproof, dustproof
and freezeproof straight out of the box.
Just for context, this was more than five
years before GoPro launched their own
properly rugged, out of the box, waterproof cameras.
Let me tell you a little bit about this XP100.
I bought mine brand new. At the time it
cost about 200 pounds or 250 dollars.
And it was available in a whole load of funky colors.
Presumably to appeal to people who were both
extreme sports enthusiasts AND fashionistas.
Now I’m not a fashionista. I’m a nerd.
So I bought a black one,
because it’s less likely to overheat.
So that’s our old action camera.
Now, for the sake of a fair comparison, I
need to use a modern-ish action camera
that’s in the same price bracket as the XP100.
There’s no point comparing it to a $500 or a
$1,000 camera because that would be ridiculous.
That’s not a fair fight.
I did want to compare our old action camera to one
of the new rugged and waterproof GoPro Heroes.
The problem is that all of them were priced
at the $400, or even $500, mark on release.
But I did find something that’s in
the same price bracket as the XP100.
And that camera is….
The GoPro Hero5 Session.
If you’re new to action cameras then
you might not even recognize this one.
The GoPro Hero5 Session was
launched a few years back.
And it was a scaled-down version of the GoPro Hero5.
And look at it! Genuinely, this is one of the
most beautiful gadgets I’ve ever owned.
It’s so small and yet incredibly powerful.
From the outside it looks really simple.
Just two buttons and a tiny LCD screen.
It weighs less than 75 grammes.
And yet it’s almost as powerful
as its bigger brother, the Hero5.
So that’s our new-ish action camera.
By the way, GoPro…
Why you no make this camera no more?
Seriously this is a fantastic little machine.
People love it. And it’s really
popular in the second-hand market.
So please, please, PLEASE GoPro, bring
out a new version of the Session. Please.
Now, when judging cameras there are
five criteria that I always consider.
Those are, in my humble opinion, the most important
factors to consider when buying any camera.
And I’m going to be giving scores out
of ten in each of those categories
to decide which of these is the superior machine.
First, let’s talk about the tiny form of the GoPro.
which is a cube less than 4 cm by 4 cm.
Because of its minuscule size the Hero5
Session has been hugely popular with
extreme sports enthusiasts, flying
drone film-makers and vloggers.
Think about it. If you’re wandering around
with this tiny cube, it’s so inconspicuous
that people won’t often realize
that they’re being filmed at all.
Therefore, it’s quite a stealthy little camera that
doesn’t intimidate people when you’re out and about.
You could even turn the beeps off and the flashing light
Attach it to your jacket, or a backpack,
and you can go around recording without
attracting any attention to yourself whatsoever.
The XP100 is, of course, significantly bigger
and weighs 100 grammes more than the GoPro.
It’s a standard old-school camera shape.
Reasonably thin, as you can see, and
and it’s less than 10 cm across the
widest side, so by no means unwieldy.
It even has a quarter inch hole at the bottom,
so you can connect it to a standard tripod.
That’s something that GoPros never have,
and they usually need to be put in a cage or a frame
before you can attach them to anything.
The XP100 does have an LCD screen at the back.
It’s not a touchscreen, and you need to use
these sturdy buttons to make any adjustments.
They do work underwater, however.
Now you can use this screen
to see what you’re shooting,
review the footage you’ve already
taken, and adjust the camera settings.
Obviously, the GoPro doesn’t have a built-in screen.
But, if you connect it wirelessly to your smartphone,
then you’ll be able to do all of that
and more with the GoPro app.
While it’s technically possible to
use your GoPro just on its own,
I personally recommend you do connect
it to your mobile phone as that allows you
to access the ProTune features, which let you adjust
the image and video settings in various useful ways.
The XP100 doesn’t have ProTune,
of course. That’s a GoPro app.
But you won’t believe how many different
shooting modes they’ve included.
More on that later.
A few practical differences worth mentioning.
The XP100 uses old SD cards and I’ve
got a 16 GB card in there at the moment.
The GoPro’s far too small to use normal SD cards.
Instead, you’ve got to go with micro SD
cards and I’ve got a 128 GB disk installed.
However, it’s really, really fiddly
to get that card in and out.
Luckily, you could download your images and
video wirelessly, which is what I always try and do.
The GoPro is charged via a USB-C cable
and has an internal 1000mAh battery
that will last more than 90 minutes
when you’re recording in standard HD.
It’s really easy to recharge it on-the-go
if you’ve got a USB power bank handy.
Meanwhile, the battery in the XP100 is,
theoretically, exactly the same size (1000 mAh).
But, it’s removable and you can’t really
charge it when you’re out and about.
You have to plug it into the mains recharger.
Sadly, the XP100’s battery life is only
about half what you get from the GoPro.
But, you could just carry around some spare batteries,
which you can’t do with the Hero5 Session.
That’s exactly why many people
who bought this particular GoPro
actually bought one or two extra
ones to carry around with them.
That is a much more expensive option
though than just buying more batteries.
Overall, in terms of usability, I’m going
to give the old XP100 a 7 out of 10.
But the GoPro is much easier to use so it gets a 9.
It would have been a 10 if it had a removable battery.
The first feature that these devices have in
common is that they’re rugged action cameras,
and have been created specifically for that market
They’re both waterproof to about 10m (33ft).
Can survive a 2m (6ft) fall, and they
are dustproof and freezeproof.
Of course, if you know anything about batteries,
you know that they will perform much,
much worse in colder temperatures.
So, all those things I said about
battery life earlier – halve that.
I’ve personally tested both of them
underwater and they work just fine.
I’ve accidentally dropped both of them, and they
survived, so I can vouch for their ruggedness.
If you have kids then you know ruggedness matters.
Little brats will break anything
they can get their hands on.
Now let’s talk lighting.
Decent lighting can make a huge difference
to the image quality of any camera.
However, action cameras in particular are renowned
for poor performance in low-light conditions.
And the good news is that
the XP100 has an in-built flash
that will help you take better pictures.
Sadly, you can’t use it while recording videos.
I’m not surprised about that, because
that would be a huge drain on the battery
and severely restrict recording times.
However, there are several low-light
and night-time modes you can select.
In fact, there are about a dozen different
modes to choose from, including:
landscape photography, snow mode,
beach mode, macro mode,
sports mode, for fast-moving
action, and underwater mode.
There’s even a mode called “underwater wide-angle”.
Which I was really excited to see.
And then really disappointed.
Because all it does is crop the
top and the bottom of the image.
That’s not how wide-angle works!
The GoPro obviously doesn’t
have a flash. No GoPro does.
However, if you’re interested, you can get an
aftermarket light mod for the Hero5 Session.
It’s a case that lets you attach a light to the top.
There’s a link in the description if that’s
something that might appeal to you.
Both devices can be linked to
your computer with a USB cable.
In addition, the Fuji camera even has a micro HDMI
slot so you can send videos from the camera
directly to a monitor or TV screen.
I’ve not directly attached a camera to my TV
in more than 20 years, so would never use that.
Another feature that I’d never use but
some of you might like is Voice Control.
The GoPro can respond to voice commands and
you can tell it to take a picture
or start recording and it will.
That’s mainly for sports enthusiasts, so
they can operate the camera hands-free.
It’s something I’ve tested but I personally don’t need.
In fact, I keep Voice Control turned off always,
because it drains the battery even
when you’re not using the camera.
Overall, for features, I’m giving the XP100 a 7.
Because I like how many simple
shooting modes it offers.
While the GoPro gets an 8.
It doesn’t have as many gimmicky features as the Fuji.
But does have Voice Control and one-touch recording.
Click once to start. Click again to stop. Perfect.
The XP100 is basically a compact camera.
It has 28mm lens with 5x optical zoom.
And then 7x digital zoom on top of that .
And it can autofocus with in-built face detection,
which works pretty well in good lighting.
The GoPro, meanwhile, has fixed focus
with a massive depth of field.
Basically, it’s designed to have almost
everything in focus, all the time.
Now compare that to the camera I’m using right now.
I’m in focus, but the background isn’t.
That’s due to the depth of field,
and it’s also how our eyes work.
We focus on one particular thing and then
everything in front of and behind that is blurry.
The GoPro doesn’t have a zoom, of course, of any kind.
However you can choose
from four different image settings.
Personally, I like to stick to Linear mode,
because that doesn’t have the fisheye distortion
that people normally associate with GoPros.
Medium and Linear are pretty similar,
but in Medium mode, straight
lines always show as slight curves
as you can see with the lamppost in this image.
Oh and if you’re wondering what this
same image looked like in the XP100
… it’s not great!
Both cameras were about 20 yards,
or 20 metres, from the building and
the XP100 couldn’t fit the whole thing within the frame,
simply because it doesn’t have a wide-angle lens.
Now, according to Wikipedia, both of these
cameras have exactly the same size of sensor.
One over 2.3 inches.
Wikipedia is wrong.
While most GoPros do have the same sensor
size as the XP100, the Hero5 Session does not.
Because it’s so small, the Hero5 Session has
to have a slightly smaller sensor inside it.
How big a difference does that make?
When it comes to still images the Hero5
Session takes photos at 10 megapixels.
Surprisingly, the much older XP100 trumps that,
and is able to record HDR images
at more than 14 megapixels.
The Fujifilm also has macro modes, and low-light
settings, as well as a special selfie mode,
that aims to get good photos
of faces in bright conditions.
On paper the older action camera wins this one.
Will that be true in reality?
Here you can see an image of a beautiful
Birmingham canal taken by the GoPro.
And here you have a similar scene shot on the XP100.
Neither of these looks terrible but, at the same
time, neither of these is particularly good.
Espcially once you zoom in.
I would say a modern smartphone would probably
do a better job when it comes to taking photos
than either of these, and for that reason
I’d give them both 7 out of 10 for image quality.
When it comes to video, the XP100
shoots a Full HD resolution (1080p).
Whereas, the GoPro can do four
times better, as it tops out at 4K.
Generally, however, I have mine set to 2.7K,
so I can use the built-in stabilization.
Because, in this GoPro, you can’t run
stabilization when filming at 4K.
If you’re wondering whether the 8-year-old XP100
camera has image stabilization the answer is…
Yes. Yes it does.
However, that’s only for when you’re taking still images.
If you want stable video footage, then you can either
use a tripod, walk slowly and carefully, or buy a gimbal.
So that’s the stats. But, how do
they compare out in the real world?
Here’s some side-by-side footage in bright sunlight.
Both cameras are set to Auto, and I would say
the GoPro is performing a little bit better.
The XP100 footage is perfectly usable,
but the image is a little tight because the
camera doesn’t have a wide-angle lens.
When we switch to indoor lighting
I think the differences are much bigger,
And the GoPro is obviously superior.
Our old action camera is struggling to deliver a
clear and focused image and it’s looking quite grainy.
Finally, here’s a chance to see whether
the GoPro’s electronic video stabilization
makes much difference to the video quality.
Obviously it will never be as good as gimbal stabilization but, as you can see,
when comparing the two cameras here,
it’s definitely better than nothing.
So, when it comes to video quality, I’m
giving the old XP100 a lowly 6 out of 10.
Meanwhile, I’m going to give the
GoPro a whopping 8 out of 10.
It delivers great video. It has in-built image
stabilization. And you can even record up to 4K.
I am genuinely impressed by how good the
video coming out of this tiny GoPro can be.
Especially given the minuscule size.
It’s truly astonishing and I love it.
As counter-intuitive as it might seem,
when it comes to making videos, sound quality
can be more important than video quality.
That’s especially true when it comes to vlogging.
Audiences will generally tolerate “ropey” video
if they can clearly hear what you’ve got to say.
There are vloggers on YouTube who
have racked up millions of views
and the quality of their video has been awful.
But, they’ve put a nice clean
voiceover on top, and it works.
So let’s hear what these two
cameras sound like in vlogging mode.
Now one of the most popular uses for these
action cameras is as vlogging cameras
Over the last few years that’s become a big deal.
A lot of people do all their vlogging entirely on a GoPro.
And I’ve seen many very successful YouTube channels
that have been produced entirely on this
particular GoPro – the GoPro Hero5 Session.
However, are these cameras really up to snuff?
So I thought I’d come out here to the beautiful
canals of Birmingham, to see how they fare.
However, are these cameras really up to snuff?
So I thought I’d come out here to the beautiful
canals of Birmingham to see how they fare.
OK, so that was a bit of a surprise.
The XP100 sound was… I would say “adequate”.
And the GoPro wasn’t that much better.
Both of them really struggled with the wind noise but,
at a push, I’d be happy to use the sound
from either of them if I was vlogging.
Personally, I’d pick the GoPro which does have
some wind noise reduction capability built in.
But it’s not even close to the sound quality
you’d get from a separate external mic.
Overall, this category is almost a dead heat
and I’m awarding the XP100 a 6 out of 10.
While the GoPro gets a 7 for being marginally better.
So what’s the final score?
Well, as you might expect, the modern
camera has trounced its elderly predecessor.
Our old action camera, the XP 100
gets a respectable 66% rating.
Not bad for a device that’s a decade out-of-date.
When new it was well ahead of its time and
it could still serve as a backup for your main device.
I definitely wouldn’t be buying a new one though.
If you wanted a rugged compact camera nowadays,
then you should consider looking at something
like the Olympus TG-5 or TG-6 models.
They have 4K video capability and bigger lenses.
But they also come at a much bigger price.
As for our newer action camera,
I’ve given the GoPro Hero5 Session
a 78% rating.
Basically, it’s fantastic.
Yes, there are limitations,
like the inbuilt battery and sound issues.
But they’re forgivable because of the portability,
and the great video quality.
It’s a comfortable winner.
What’s interesting is that, even
though they don’t make these anymore,
you can still buy both of these cameras online,
and they’re both similarly priced at about £150 or $175.
If I had to buy an action camera, and I
was forced to choose between these two,
then I would most definitely choose the GoPro.
I love this little beast, and I really wish GoPro
went back to making cameras in this cube form.
Would I buy another one today?
However, I’d be much more likely
to pick up a GoPro Hero8, which
has far better video, sound, stabilization, everything!
That’s the current flagship model and market leader.
But this has been fun.
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Like and Subscribe and blah blah blah.
You know the drill.