Monthly Archives: May 2015

Garmin VIRB – annoyances

This is not a product review, as there are plenty of those around the internet, especially the in depth DCRainmaker review, this post is really just a few little niggles that annoy me with the Garmin VIRB after a couple of days of usage.

The Screen:

The screen on the VIRB is listed as a ‘chromo display’, when really it should be called ‘practically useless’.
There is no backlighting on the display so cannot be seen in the dark. Even when it is light out, the screen has to be held at a certain angle to the light, just to be able to make out what is on there.
Using the screen to take a photo, you can get the general idea of the composition of the shot, but not at all accurate.

Loop:

Whoever designed this feature, seriously needs to find another job, as I find it useless.
If I were to set it to ’30 minute loop’, I would imagine the camera would record 30 minutes of footage, then start a new file, and save another 30 minutes of footage, repeating these 30 minute blocks of footage until the memory card was full, and then ‘loop’ back and start overwriting the first 30 minutes.

Not the VIRB! Set it to ’30 minute loop’, and it in fact records 6 files, each 5 minutes long, So the most footage you will ever have is 30 minutes total.

Only way to record a full ride (30 minute loop is the longest allowed) is to disable loop completely, though this still does not record a ride to one file. For some reason (maybe card size or speed) the VIRB records files to 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds, so you will still end up with multiple files for longer rides.

Auto Pause:

The VIRB can be connected to certain other Garmin devices to be used as a remote control for the VIRB. I have my Garmin Edge 510 connected to it. When I press the start button on the Edge, the VIRB automatically starts recording. Similarly when I push stop on the 510, the VIRB stops recording.

This all falls down badly when ‘Auto Pause’ is enabled on the Edge 510 (which we all have enabled, just to keep that average speed up that extra 0.2 of a mph while we are sitting at traffic lights).

When the 510 auto pauses, the VIRB continues to record.

This is fine until you upload the video to the ‘VIRB Edit’ software, and then attempt to overlay your GPS data from the Edge 510 onto the video.

Imagine you have a 10 minute ride with a traffic light stop for 30 seconds at minute 4.
VIRB records 10 minutes of footage
Edge 510 records 9m30sec footage.

Sync these up on VIRB Edit, and your speed etc will be correct for the first 4 minutes. At 4 minutes and 10 seconds, you are still sat at the traffic lights according to the VIRB, but you are on your way again according to the Edge 510, so the GPS data and the video are no longer sync’d correctly.

Really when the Edge 510 goes to Auto Pause, it should set the signal to the VIRB to also stop recording, then resume recording once the Auto Pause is resumed. This however will cause the VIRB to create multiply files rather for each Start / Stop, which will cause further problems as detailed below.

VIRB Edit – Multiple files:

If your ride has multiple video files, be it you have loop enabled and have 6 x 5minute files, or you have loop disabled and have a couple 1hr files, you will run into problems when overlaying GPS data within VIRB Edit.

You load up the files, load up the GPS, sync the position, and you think all is good. You play the multiple file video expecting the GPS data to be synced, but once the movie reaches the second file, the GPS overlay disappears. So you need to upload the GPS data once again for the second file, and the third, and the …..

I’ve found no way to join up these multiple files, so you only need to upload the GPS data once and sync position. Obviously you can join the video files is some different software first, but really the VIRB Edit software should allow you to do this also.

Photo Mode:

I have my VIRB attached via a K-EDGE combo mount, therefore the VIRB is upside down with the display pointing down. You can change the settings so when the camera is mounted this way, the video records in the correct orientation. The downside is when you want to take a quick photo, so turn over the camera to compose the photograph, the image on the screen is upside down.

I guess the solution is to leave the VIRB recording in the normal orientation, and flip it over once uploaded to VIRB Edit, then when using the photo mode, the image on the screen will be the correct way up.

Here are a few photos taken with the setting on 16mp which I think look pretty decent.
No edit or filter has been added to these shots.

VIRB Picture VIRB Picture VIRB Picture

And a couple of things to be aware of, if you are new to HD video recording (like I am myself).

Card Speed:

The MicroSD card I am using (one doesn’t come supplied with the VIRB) is an old Class 4, 16mb card. When trying to record at the full 1080p, the video becomes very stuttery, however when recording at 720p the recording works perfectly fine.
A Class 10 card is on my ‘to buy’ list so I can record at the full 1080p

File Size:

I just made a 9 minute 22 second clip on VIRB edit of my first test ride, and the file size of that 9 minutes is a staggering 1.04GB (at 720p)

I have a seriously poor upload speed on my Sky broadband (which is soon to be cancelled)

Speeds

To upload this short video to youtube, via the Garmin VIRB software, it took the following time:-

38 minutes to prepare the file ready for uploading
1hr 46 minutes to actually upload the file

This is the final video, editing in VIRB edited to add some fancy overlay charts and gauges, and some cheesy music (be sure to change the quality to 720p).

Update 21.2.16
Recently, the Virb battery has not been lasting long. When fully charged, on 720p mode, it was lasting just 80 minutes before it would power off. Turning it back on showed the battery level at around 30-40%, before it would power off once again.
Charging until the light turned green, then setting it to record again gave a recording time of just 80 minutes.

So I tried a longer charge. After the green ‘charged’ light came on, I left it on charge for several more hours.
A further test after this extended charging gave the following results:-
Low battery warning – 2hr 25min
Virb powered off – 2hr 55min

It seems like the unit has got confused as to when the battery was actually fully charged or empty. Giving the battery an extended charge seems to have corrected this, and the unit is fully functional once again.


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