I first learned about iON Action Cameras at the Dew Sports Tour in San Francisco last year. As a big sponsor of the event, iON was showing their then new Air Pro 2 model. As an indicator of just how fast the electronics market innovates, we had not yet received our test model when the announcement of the Air Pro 3 came in. Here is a look at the Air Pro 3 and how it performed during our time mountain biking with it.
Style and Design
The iON Air Pro 3 is very similar in design to the Air Pro 2 but it comes with deeper water capability (49 ft. depth vs. 30 ft. of the Air Pro 2). The Air Pro 3 also has an improved 16mm f2.8 fog free lens with an angle of view of 160 degrees. We did not test the deep water ability of the Air Pro 3 but we did ride with it in moderate rain to light mist conditions with no problems.
The sleek body of the Air Pro 3 is definitely a plus, especially if you don’t like the feeling of wearing a box on the top of your head. The brushed aluminum body is beautiful but what really makes the Air Pro 3 stand out is how easy it is to use. To start the unit, just move the top mounted slider forward and the unit will be on and recording. A distinctive vibration lets you know the unit is on. There is a single shutter button on the top for still and you may also use the remote function of the smartphone app to take stills. One key feature we like is that if you forget to put your memory card in (which we did more than once), the red “RED” light will not go on and the shutter button will flash blue to indicate that you forgot something. When you use the remote function of the app, it will also inform you that you forgot to put in your memory card, very handy.
To open the unit, simply flip the lock slider down and twist the back counter clock-wise. Inside you will see the microSD port (accepts up to 64GB card), HDMI interface, micro USB interface, FHD or HD slider, mic jack and tiny reset button and receptacle for the WiFi podz connection. To close it, simply push the pod in, turn the outer ring clockwise (as indicated) and flick the lock slider up and you’re good to go.
Also included in the box, the iON Air Pro 3 comes with an extensive array of mounts and clips for use with the cam lock system. There is also a mini tripod so you can use the standard tripod mount on the bottom. We mounted the Air Pro 3 on both our bar and our helmet, with the helmet being the preferred location (for a better, higher angle perspective). If you travel a lot, there are plenty of outlet adapters included as well.
We used the iON Air Pro 3 in a variety of riding conditions and we were flat out amazed at the HD quality when shooting 1920×1080 at 60 frames/second. Files are huge of course (a 21 minute segment eats up 3.4GB of memory), but the color and clarity of the footage is really high. Contrast was just about spot on and low light to high light transitions were handled quickly and accurately. Like most cameras at speed, wind noise was a bit annoying, but not more so than any other video cam we’ve used.
In our video sample below, we climb through some shady singletrack on one of our local trails. Unfortunately, our video rendering software was creating some audio anomalies that aren’t there in the original video. However, you can still see that the Ion Air Pro 3 handles light-to-shade-to-light transitions well and has very high HD quality with excellent color and contrast. Remember, YouTube compresses video so what you see here is several grades below the actual direct output from the camera. Be sure to select the 1080pHD quality under settings.
iON Air Pro App
A key component of what make the iON Air Pro 3 so easy to use is the smartphone app. Available for iOS or Android, you use the iON Camera app to connect (via WiFi) to the camera unit. Once connected, the app offers 5 screens (Dashboard, iON, Album, Remote, Settings). The Dashboard shows you that you are connected with the WiFiPodz and also displays the battery life of the unit as well as your uploading status and other activities. The iON section allows you to sort and filter through your clips. The Album section sorts your photos and movies by day or by name and you can also create or delete albums here. The Remote section does exactly that, it acts as a remote viewfinder for either stills or video and offers a shutter button for stills. The Settings section is your access to Social Media (Facebook, YouTube or iON Cloud) sharing. Also, all the remote settings (photo resolution, photo mode, HD resolution, auto rotation, etc…) are available here. And lastly, the Remote section holds your Wi-Fi settings.
One of the main things that iON likes to promote is the ease of real-time sharing. You can easily upload your rad trail edits directly to Facebook or YouTube via the app. Share your stoke while the coals are still burning!
At $349.99 the iON Air Pro 3 is $50 cheaper than the GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition. True, the iON doesn’t have as many shooting modes or a remote, but with how well the iON Camera App works, your smartphone is your remote.
The superior quality of the iON Air Pro 3 video combined with its easy to use features offer a great choice even against other industry leading brands. The built-in helmet mount makes the helmet stick up (in harm’s way) a bit much for our liking, but this can be easily remedied with a good size velcro strap. If you are in the market for a video cam, the iON Air Pro 3 is definitely worth checking out.
- Great video quality (1080p HD at 60 FPS)
- Easy to operate
- Sleek design
- Built-in waterproof housing
- Many mount options and power adapters
- App is intuitive and viewfinder looks great
- Built-in WiFi
- 8GB of cloud storage
- 12 megapixel stills
- Battery life when using full features
- High profile of the ball/socket helmet mount
- Wind noise at high speed
- Lens Type: Fixed Focus (1m) sharp glass.
- Sensor Type: 12mp
- Video Resolutions: FHD 1080p: 1920 x 1080 (16:9), 30fps/60fps. HD 720p: 1280 x 720 (16:9), 30fps/60fps/ 120fps.
- Default Switch Settings: Full HD: 1080p/30fps. HD: 720p/60fps.
- Field of View: (Degree of Angle) 1080p/60fps = 160 degree.
- Video Format: H.264 compression, saved as MPEG4 (.mp4) file.
- Aperture: f/2.8 (high performance in low-light situations).
- Light Sensitivity: Super low light (>1.4 V/lux sec)
- Exposure Control: Auto
- White Balance: Auto
- Microphone: Built-in mono with AGC (auto gain control) 3.5mm external mic jack input.
- Audio Format: AAC
- Capture Modes: Single Shot, 10 Phot Burst, Timelapse.
- Photo Resolution: 12MP
- Average Recording Times: 1080p/720p: 8min / GB.
- G-sensor (Auto-rotation): Yes
- Slide to record: Yes
- Waterproof: Up to 15m/49ft.
- Construction: High quality metal barrel.
- Dimensions: (H x W x D): 37 x 107mm.
- Weight: 145 grams (real world, actual weight)
- Battery Type: 1200 mAh Lithium Polymer.
- Battery Life: Approximately 2.5 hrs
- Charging: Via USB to computer or optional power adapter.
- Low Battery indication: Yes
- Memory: MicroSD card, up to 64GB capacity (not included).
- Dual File recording: Yes
- TV out: HDMI – Composite.
- Wi-Fi: With included Wi-Fi PODZ™
- PC Connection: USB 2.0 (data connection and battery charging).
- PC Compatibility: Windows Vista, 7 and 8: Mac OS x 10.4.11 and later.
- App Support: With included Wi-Fi PODZ™.
- MSRP: $349.99
For more information visit usa.ioncamera.com.