There has been a massive rise in small action cams over the last ten years, with GoPro arguably dominating the market, but are the other cameras worth looking at and can they be used for wildlife filming? Today, I'm testing out the iON Airpro 3.
I went for fairly easy subjects to test the camera out on, due to limited time and to get quick results from the camera, but it has multiple uses for filming wildlife. Its small size makes it ideal for putting into hard-to-reach places and makes it much less threatening to wildlife, like these siskins in the peak district above. It has a 12 million mega pixel sensor with a fisheye-like view, meaning you're unlikely to miss the action of any animal going by. It shoots 1080p a 30fps/6fps as well as 720p. I found the footage crisp, clear and it caught the action.
Now, my main interest was its underwater capabilities and, to keep it short, they're not that great. Because of its domed port, the underwater images are not sharp or clear, so are of little use to divers or for filming underwater wildlife. It can go down to 15m but I envisage it more as a brilliant surf-action camera or for other watersports near the surface, but for now, it's not suitable for underwater filming.
The stills on the camera were a very pleasant surprise, as more often than not, action cams tend to have great video and just average stills, or vice versa. However, the Airpro 3 was a good compromise with crisp, clear stills, just like the over-water filming. The downside is that you can't view what you're shooting, as it has no screens, but it's very user-friendly with an on/off switch for film and a camera button to take stills, which you can do while you're filming. You do, however, have to download an App so you can view what the camera is shooting.
It takes a micro SD and has a battery life of 2.5 hours, so I could see it being used for short-term remote wildlife filming, such as leaving it on a branch and waiting for something to land. It also has excellent low light sensitivity, which is always handy for early mornings and late evenings.
Overall, it's not the best camera for wildlife but to be fair isn't built for that, and I can see it being a perfect camera for water sports and cycling. That being said, there are multiple opportunities where this camera could be used for wildlife and you could get some really unique and different shots.
More info on the camera here