ODRVM OD9000R 4K is a good action camera with some issues [Review]
There are lots of affordable action cameras on the market today, many of which have similar specs and features. In fact, save for a couple of design tweaks here and there, you could be forgiven for thinking they are identical.
In practice, however, action cameras that appear to be the same on paper will produce different results. The WiMiUS L1 that I tested last month, for instance, is not on the same level as the SJCAM SJ5000X Elite, which is underpinned by the same chipset, and neither is on the same level as the ODRVM OD9000R, which I've been testing for the past couple of weeks. The OD9000R is a more attractive proposition, despite costing basically the same as the L1.
What's in the box?
ODRVM ships the action camera in a textile case, which can also be used as a carrying case for the OD9000R and the accessories you need.
Inside the case you will find the camera itself, a waterproof enclosing, two batteries, a remote control, a couple of joints, some mounts, a different back panel for the waterproof case (with holes on the side to let more sound in) and some other bits and bobs.
The OD9000R is not the only affordable action camera to ship with two batteries, but it is the first that I have tested that comes with a remote control in the box. That's pretty handy; it lets you switch between photo and video modes and take photos and start and stop recording.
Design and ease of use
The OD9000R is pretty similar to other affordable action cameras in its design. There's a power button on the front, which lets you turn the camera on and off and toggle between the modes (photo, video, gallery and settings).
On the top, you will find the OK button, which lets you validate changes in the settings, take photos, and start and stop recording. On the side, there are two navigation buttons, which let you move up and down through the settings and quickly turn on the Wi-Fi.
The camera also has two status LEDs, but none of them is on the front. So if you, like me, use the camera on a helmet, you won't be able to tell when/if it's on by looking in a mirror. This hurts usability in these scenarios.
It is not necessarily a problem if you want to start it, but it is a problem if you've been recording for a while and want to know whether the battery still has charge in it.
And there is something else that is worth mentioning here: there is no way to rotate the video in the camera if you have it upside down. This shouldn't be a problem in most cases, but personally I am forced to install it like that because that's the only position that my helmet mount allows, so all my videos have to be rotated after the fact.
What is strange is that, for some reason, the time stamp appears where it's supposed to and it's oriented correctly. So, after the video is rotated, you end up with the time stamp reverted.
This is not the first action camera to lack this feature or exhibit that time stamp behavior, but I am surprised that manufacturers still ship them like this nowadays. It's something that can be easily fixed with a firmware update, though.
In terms of UI, it is pretty much identical to other cameras in this price range that are powered by a Novatek NT96660 chipset. That means that everything is where it is supposed to be, and the degree of customization is rather good.
There is something to be said here as well, however: there is no way to adjust the bitrate for the video, which means that you are stuck with the default setting.
It does come with an interesting feature: voice alerts for when you start and stop recording. That comes in handy if you are not wearing earplugs, for instance, as it somewhat makes up for the fact that there is no status LED on the front to let you know what the camera is doing.
Nope, the OD9000R, like any NT96660-based action camera, is not capable of native 4K video recording. It's advertised as such, but the video that you get when selecting the 4K option is actually upscaled from a lower resolution.
Because of the above, the camera has been tested in 1080p 60FPS mode. This works best when you want to track faster-moving subjects or you're moving fast yourself. The video appears more fluid than in modes using a lower FPS, and the amount of space that you need is kept in check, compared to higher resolutions.
The fact that there is no way to adjust the bitrate reflects itself in the quality of the videos produced by the OD9000R. What's up close looks really good, but in the distance there is not as much detail as I would prefer.
It does a decent job considering what it is, which is an affordable action camera, but it does not impress. This would probably be different with a higher bitrate (like 30FPS), but since we do not have that option there is not much that can be done here.
The gold standard, at least based on my experience, in this segment of cameras, using the NT96660 chipset) is the SJCAM SJ5000X Elite, which delivers significantly better quality in the same mode. It is, however, much more expensive.
The samples are that embedded below are straight from the camera, trimmed in QuickTime, but they are compressed by YouTube. This degrades the quality to some extent, so keep that in mind. All the videos are recorded with the gyroscope functionality disabled, as it narrows the field of view and can negatively impact video quality.
After receiving the OD9000R, I contacted ODRVM to find out whether there are any firmware updates available for the camera. And, as I have come to expect, there aren't any. The firmware that's on the device is dated August 19, 2016, so it's nearly a year old.
The fact that there is nothing newer leads me to believe that this action camera will not get any new software features nor will it get any bug fixes (in case users report some).
The OD9000R is good value for money, and one of the better options in this price segment, if you can ignore the negatives mentioned above. It's available for $59.49 on Amazon at the time of writing this article, which is significantly less than what you can expect to pay for other cameras powered by a NT96660 chipset, like the SJ5000X Elite.