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Aiptek SportyCam Z3 review

Richard Easton
11 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
110
inc VAT

The SportyCam Z3 is a keenly priced entry-level action camera with an excellent selection of mounting options but poor battery life

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Specifications

Sensor: Size not disclosed CMOS, Sensor pixels: 5000000, Max recording resolution: 1080p (30fps), AV connections: Mini HDMI, Composite, Size (HxWxD): 85x50x23mm, Weight: 81g, Warranty: Two-year RTB

The Aiptek SportyCam Z3 comes with an impressive array of mounts that puts some other more expensive action cameras to shame. This means it’s well equipped for a number of different recording situations straight out of the box and makes the camera impressive value.

 

Included are a three-way pivot arm, a bike mount, a flat mount, a curved mount and some Velcro straps. There's also a standard mounting point on the bottom, so you can feasibly use a tripod or third-party camera mount. There’s also a remote control for remotely triggering the camera and, as the camera body itself isn’t waterproof, there’s also a waterproof case in the box. With this case fitted the SportyCam Z3 is waterproof up to 30m down, which is enough for most recreational scuba diving. 

The camera is light, but the unit itself isn’t at all ruggedised; it won’t survive many bangs and knocks without its case. You control the camera with a four-way control on the back, and it's very easy to use. There’s a 1.5in LCD screen to help you navigate the menus, which also displays a live view to help you compose your shots. It’s not a particularly high-resolution screen, but it's bright enough that we didn’t have a problem using it outdoors.  

The camera is equipped with a typical wide-angle lens with 170o field of view, but this drops down to 130o when you shoot in 1080p mode. The camera's highest video resolution is 1080p at 30fps, and you can shoot at 60fps if you drop the resolution down to 720p. There are no high-frame-rate options to help you make slow-motion footage. 

Usefully, there’s a voice-activated recording mode which you enable by flicking a switch on the side of the camera. This begins recording automatically when ambient noise above 65dB is detected. Alongside video, you can capture up to 8-megapixel still images (but not while recording), and you can take continuous time-lapse images at distinct intervals between 2s and 60s.

We tested the SportyCam Z3 by mounting it to our high-speed HPI Racing Bullet MT off-road radio-controlled car for testing. The camera is mounted vertically, so we found stability to be a problem due to the sheer height of the camera body added to the three-way mount. This created a large amount of leverage on the adhesive mounting point, which meant the camera became dislodged on a number of our test runs despite its strong adhesive.   

^The SportyCam Z3 struggled to produce stable footage - best viewed full-screen at 1080p

The hard case at least survived being thrown around. In our eventual successful run we saw a lot of vertical wobble, again caused by the camera mount assembly's height. Colour saturation was also muted and footage lacked sharpness even during our static footage tests, and video showed noise and compression artefacts. 

Despite these problems, the Aiptek SportyCam Z3 performed respectably for its low price, and the number of accessories provided in the box is a real bonus. The real disappointment was the SportyCam's battery life; it could only manage 44 minutes of continuous video. If you're only going to be recording short runs of video, though, it's a great-value camera. 

Hardware
SensorSize not disclosed CMOS
Sensor pixels5,000,000
LCD screen size1.5in
Video recording formatH.264 MOV
Video recording resolutions1080p (30fps), 960p (30fps), 720p (60/30fps), 800x480 (60fps)
Max recording resolution1080p (30fps)
Video recording mediamicroSD
Sound48kHz stereo
Maximum still image resolution3,200x2,400
Memory slot (card supplied)MicroSD
Data connectionsMini USB
AV connectionsMini HDMI, Composite
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery life0hr 44m
Battery charging positionCamcorder
Size (HxWxD)85x50x23mm
Weight81g
Buying information
WarrantyTwo-year RTB
Price including VAT£103
Supplierwww.ebuyer.com
Detailswww.aiptek.de
Part codeSportyCam Z3

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