The action cam market has become even more competitive. In the past, GoPro models were considered the best. Nowadays, there are several notable contenders that are very attractive, such as Garmin Virb. In this article, we will help you choose between Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5, two action cams capable of 4K recording and equipped with cool features.
Continue reading in order to learn further about:
- Which action camera that has better build and waterproofing
- The supported frame rates and features on each camera
- The comparison of their image and audio quality
- The compatible mounts and gimbals for these action cams
- The advanced features of Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5
- Which action cam that is generally more recommended
Design and Build
The first difference between these two action cams is about the build. Depending on your needs, you may need a camera that is inherently waterproof. If this is the case, GoPro Hero 5 holds an advantage over Garmin Virb. Otherwise, both cameras are good.
Garmin Virb has a blocky shape which somehow has become the norm for most action cameras. It comes with slotted connectors, and it has been made to be compatible with various mounting options of GoPro. This camera is not waterproof by itself, but the additional housing will allow the camera to dive into water up to 40 meters deep.
GoPro Hero 5 has been designed in a similar blocky shape like previous models from the company. However, this camera comes inside a rubber case that has a special protection around the connection ports, lens, and battery doors. The special protection enables users to take the camera under water, though limited to 10 meters of depth, and to allow the camera to survive splashes, light rain, and light bumps. Meanwhile, with the additional housing, GoPro Hero 5 can go as deep as 60 meters under water.
Frame Rates and Video Quality
Both Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5 are 4K action cameras that can deliver ultra-sharp, crystal-clear images. They both are able to capture every moment of your action and adventure. On either camera, when recording in 4K, the maximum frame rate is 30fps.
In terms of supported frame rates, Garmin Virb and GoPro Hero 5 are similar. The difference becomes noticeable when you compare the features that can be enabled at specific resolutions and frame rates. As an example, Garmin Virb can enable image stabilization only at 30fps, whereas GoPro Hero 5 can enable image stabilization at 2.7K/60fps. This is particularly useful if you often take handheld shots, as the image stabilization can minimize blur significantly. See also: GoPro Hero 7 vs DJI Osmo Action.
Both cameras can record in up to 60 Mbps, which is great. Note that you may need to enable the high bitrate setting manually in some shooting modes. On Garmin Virb, you can do this by enabling the ‘High Bitrate’ option, whereas on GoPro Hero 5 you can do this through ProTune. In general, both cameras can record videos in very good quality. So, the decision depends more on whether you need image stabilization at higher frame rates or not.
The audio performance of Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5 is generally similar. Sometimes, Garmin Virb sounds better, but in other times, GoPro Hero 5 sounds better. There is no real pattern behind the differences, so the differences in their audio performance were mostly because of the changes in the environments rather than the cameras themselves.
Both cameras can connect with external mics. However, the mic accessory of Garmin Virb is much cheaper, and it is also able to connect with Bluetooth mics and headsets. It works really well. It can be used for voice commands, too. On the other hand, the mic accessory of GoPro Hero 5 is much more expensive.
Both cameras sound great inside and outside water. If you want to use your action camera while swimming or diving, you don’t need to worry about poor audio quality. Even when these cameras are placed inside their additional cases, they still capture clear, detailed sound.
In terms of features, though, Garmin Virb does have fewer advantages than GoPro Hero 5. Garmin Virb only has two mics, one in the front and the other in the rear. It has attempted to separate the mic signals into two different channels, but this doesn’t really work well as the separation is wonky. On the other hand, GoPro Hero 5 is equipped with three mics; one in the front, one in the side, and one in the rear.
In theory, GoPro Hero 5 should have better wind noise reduction because of the more sophisticated mic system. In practice, the difference is not really noticeable, as Garmin Virb also works well in reducing wind noise, but the three-mic system is still nice because GoPro Hero 5 can record the mics separately into separate audio WAV files, and the separation is good. You can even adjust what kind of processing that is applied to each file.
Accessories and Gimbals
Garmin Virb has been designed to be compatible with the GoPro mounting adapter, so when it comes to mounting, Garmin Virb and GoPro Hero 5 are similar. Many other accessories are also available, though Garmin Virb’s accessories are often cheaper than GoPro Hero 5’s.
Garmin Virb can work with the Feiyu Tech G5 gimbal, which is one of the most popular in the market. GoPro Hero 5 is also compatible with the Feiyu Tech G5 gimbal, but it does have its own Karma Grip gimbal. Feiyu Tech G5 is better feature-wise and cost-wise. Meanwhile, despite the apparent bulkiness, Karma Grip is very good in terms of stability.
Sensors and GPS
Both action cams here allow you to control common image settings such as exposure, sharpness, and white balance. Garmin Virb has these settings in the Pro Settings section of the control panel. GoPro Hero 5 has these settings in the ProTune setup.
Garmin Virb is equipped with G-Metrix, which is an overlay that provides advanced fitness tracking metrics. The system consists of several sensors, such as barometer, altimeter, gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer, in addition to the GPS sensor. Garmin Virb can record all important metrics while you are working out, including your speed, distance, and altitude.
Furthermore, Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5 works well with other external sensors that use Bluetooth or ANT+, such as heart rate sensor and bike sensor. Through the Edit software, you can incorporate data from the sensors into your videos.
The sensors of GoPro Hero 5 are not as useful. The GPS sensor only has rather basic features, such as the ability to tag the location of your footage. It doesn’t track advanced metrics like what Garmin Virb does. To be fair, though, not all people need such metrics. If you only want to record your adventures, and you don’t want to add an overlay to show things like speed or altitude, GoPro Hero 5 is totally fine.
Cloud Sync and WiFi Configurations
The GoPro company was the king in terms of cloud sync and programmability, but this is no longer true with the release of GoPro Hero 5. Some advanced features, such as the ability to configure the WiFi name of each camera, are no longer available. The said feature is really handy if you have multiple cameras and you need to keep track of them from time to time. Garmin Virb has such features; besides being able to name the camera, you can also copy the settings configuration to multiple cameras in an instant.
Garmin Virb allows you to open your Dropbox account and sync through the camera’s mobile app. As the effect, uploading your videos to the cloud storage is easy and simple. GoPro Hero 5 has its own cloud storage service which is called GoPro Plus, but this is not really good because it will downscale the videos to 1080p/30fps if you shot them at anything higher than that. This is bad if you want to keep the videos in 4K, for example. Though, it is still pretty useful as a general backup.
You can control GoPro Hero 5 remotely from an iOS or Android device, using the GoPro mobile apps. Gramin Virb can also be controlled remotely through the Virb apps, which are available for mobile devices and desktop computers. The Virb apps also allow live streaming to YouTube.
Now, for the programmability and advanced customizations. Both Garmin and GoPro provide APIs and SDKs to allow developers to create programs on their platforms. At the moment, GoPro already has several partners who leverage its platform, whereas Garmin only has Oakley. Then again, they don’t have many things to offer so far.
Garmin Virb vs GoPro Hero 5
These two cameras offer different benefits and advantages. In general, GoPro Hero 5 is more recommended because it has a better build. It is inherently waterproof to 10m. It also supports more features at higher frame rates, including image stabilization. However, Garmin Virb can be your choice if you specifically need to capture fitness metrics or if you want to handle multiple cameras easily.