Garmin VIRB Elite Review
I’ve now been using the Garmin Virb Elite HD camera on my kayak for the last 6 months. First impressions when I removed it from the box were how neat, compact and robust it felt. It comes with various mounts and brackets so lots of different ways of attaching to your kayak. I use the bracket with a 3M self-adhesive pad to fix to a Railblaza CameraBoom 600 and so far hasn’t moved at all. I do however tether my camera using a leash.
On power up I was away really quickly as it was extremely easy to set up and use with just a menu, up, down and enter buttons. The 1.4” Chroma display is slightly difficult to see in very bright conditions but once it’s set up you don’t really need the screen apart from adjusting the view at the beginning of your trip. There is however, an App so you can use your smartphone as a viewfinder which is great. From the App you can also remotely control the device.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased a Garmin 78s GPS and I discovered this can also be used as a remote control and works well. I also purchased the optional remote control (approx. £40) and I use it on a wrist strap to start/stop the recording and to take stills with good results.
I fitted a 64gb Micro SD card so there is plenty of recording space (7hrs+) and I find the battery will last up to 3hrs on continual record. I use it though with the remote control, and when not recording the unit goes to sleep, then wakes up on command from the remote. This way I’ve had up to 5hrs battery life.
On the first few outings I had a few issues where the unit would freeze and only removing the battery would rectify. I updated the software on the unit and it sorted the problem straight away.
The quality is very good (1080p) as you can see. Some of the pictures are stills taken with the Virb and some are Screen Snipes taken off the video recordings. I found the Virb Edit program very easy to use but fairly basic… Just perfect for a Luddite like me!
It is IPX7 waterproof down to 1m and you can also get a dive case as an optional extra.
All in all I’m very happy with the Virb and I have managed to shoot some excellent HD video and some stills that I wouldn’t have taken with a conventional camera.
I now don’t go on a trip without it….
Use your ANT+ technology Garmin device as a remote control for the Virb.
See more info on our Blog:
Ocean Kayak UK Fishing Team Blog
Ian Pickering- 7th October 2014
06-01-2015: Update on using Garmin Virb Elite. I have just purchased a second unit and have found that my remote control (or Garmin GPS) will operate both devices simultaneously. I also found that if you don't have a remote control, you can use the other camera as a remote.
When you slide the REC switch on one unit, it automatically starts recording on the other device. This also works for taking still pictures.
What Garmin say:
Fishfinding with Garmin DownVü™ Scanning Sonar
The powerfully simple 3.5-inch colour echo 301dv includes an all-in-one transducer that delivers both advanced HD-ID 77/200 kHz and Garmin DownVü scanned images simultaneously on a horizontally or vertically split screen. The images provide the clearest possible sonar picture of fish returns and nearly photographic structure detail under the boat.
Smooth Scaling™ graphics provide uninterrupted imagery when switching between depth-range scales. The 2,400 W peak-to-peak power scans as deep as 1,750 feet maximum¹ — and narrow-to-wide viewing cone angles give you a big picture well beyond the sides of your boat. Includes a quick-release tilt/swivel mount plus transom and low-profile trolling motor transducer mounts to make installation a snap.
Get ultra-clear sonar pictures of objects, structure and fish that pass below your boat with this all-in-one 4-pin transducer.
This 20 ft transducer cable with built-in fast response temperature sensor has a power rating of 500 W; a depth of 1,900 ft (traditional) and 750 ft (DownVü); an operating frequency of 77/200 kHz (traditional) and 455 kHz (DownVü); and a 0 to 70 transom angle.
Transducer comes with transom and trolling motor mounts, and installation instructions. Follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your boat.
Review by Ocean Kayak UK Team Member
I've been using the Garmin 301DV for almost a year now. The DV stands for down vu (view), this gives an almost 3d like view of the terrain beneath you. I fitted this fishfinder to my Old Town Predator MX. A boat that has been used on the sea a dozen or so times but is primarily my freshwater boat.
The unit is easy to fit and adjust with it's rotating swivel mount base, it's simple to remove for cleaning and storing. The transducer is side mounted and the battery is in the front hatch. I dabbed a little Vaseline on these connectors and have had no corrosion whatsoever on the pins despite the yak being left out outside.
The head unit has taken a dunking and handled the immersion fine, not that I'd recommend that of course.
The buttons are easy to operate and scrolling through the menu to change from traditional to DV is straight forward.
The DV which let's face it is why you buy this is incredible, you can identify individual sunken branches, ledges and features. Shown below is a sunken branch with leaves on it.
The fish definition is great. When I loaned my yak to a very experienced fresh water fisherman, Eddie Edwards, he was distracted from paddling telling each individual species he could identify just from the screen with shouts of there's a shoal of bream, I've seem a pike and look at all the skimmers, whatever they may be.
Below shows a handful of groundbait dropping to the riverbed.
And here a shoal of roach
The DV transducer is quite large, I've fitted mine side slung with it in the water as the MX does not have a transducer hole. The Predator 13 does and it fits nicely in the recess. For Ocean Kayaks it fits in the older model recess but is too long for newer yaks. Other models I'm not sure on and you may have to revert to fixing in the Hull.
In conclusion I would recommend this unit to kayak fisherman, the Down Vu is fantastic, it's easy to fit and simple to use. Only downside is it does distract you from fishing watching the amazing definition of the terrain and it encourages your fishing buddies to excitedly shout across the water disturbing the tranquility.