You may remember that Olfi caused quite a storm in action cam world last year when it unveiled a £149.99 / $179.99 product that undercut its rivals by a hefty margin, yet managed to compete, and even impress, in terms of picture quality.
Well, that model has been given a thorough refresh by its designer and manufacturer Headcamz, a drone and action cam specialist based in Wales, and it now boasts enhanced styling, improved picture quality and a glut of additional user-friendly features.
- 4K video at 24p
- 16MP still images
- Gyro stabilisation
Like its predecessor, the one.five comes in a well-conceived carry case (itself wrapped in a thin and eco-friendly cardboard sheath), which doubles as the POS packaging and a handy storage solution for the camera and its accessories.
Inside, there's the diminutive Olfi one.five camera itself – which sits somewhere between a GoPro Hero5 Session and the larger BGoPro Hero5 Black camera in terms of size, measuring 54 x 40 x 24mm and weighing just 55g – plus a rugged waterproof housing, a thinner cage that includes a shirt pocket clip, a micro USB lead and a selection of flat and curved 3M adhesive mounts.
It's more than enough kit for any budding filmmaker to get started, but Olfi cleverly piggybacks on the GoPro mounting system, which is great news, because the provided base mount just didn't seem to fit securely enough (more on that later).
The one.five comes with two choices of casing: a tough, 30m-waterproof plastic housing that looks and feels extremely robust, and a much slimmer cage. The latter boasts a lapel clip on the rear and also comes with a screw-in connector for mounting onto accessories, which gives you the option of keeping the rig relatively stealthy and lightweight.
Olfi has completely overhauled the way its camera looks; it's not just smaller than before, it's also neater, with a far more intuitive button layout. There are two small buttons at the top of the unit, which control power and shutter release, while two additional arrow buttons at the side navigate the extremely simple menu screens.
That's it. There's no clunky touchscreen or irritating one-button operation. In fact, it's as simple as scrolling through the menus via the arrows on the side, and confirming with the shutter button or cancelling with the power switch.
Admittedly, it does take two presses of the power button to access the main menu screen (one press flicks it from shooting video to stills, the second brings up the menu), but it's not a big price to pay for simplicity.
The LCD screen at the rear is bright and easy to see, even in direct sunlight, while the spongy rubber casing gives it a neat, carbon fiber-style finish. It looks ace.
A microSD card slot, microUSB input and HDMI output are located on the right-hand flank as you look at the front of camera, while a 900mAh battery pack lurks safely behind a door on the underside of the unit.
This new battery pack is down on power compared to its predecessor, but Olfi claims the one.five can still deliver a good hour and a half of recording time.
Build quality and handling
- 55g body-only
- 110g with waterproof housing
- Oversized buttons
Even out of its protective cladding, the Olfi one.five feels like a sturdy little camera. Although it's not waterproof straight out of the box, like the GoPro Hero5 Black, it gives the impression that it could withstand a bump or two.
The wide-angle lens is slightly recessed behind its rubbery casing, meaning it isn't liable to scratch if dropped face-down, while the hatched plastic running along the edges make it easy to grip.
If you handed a naked Olfi one.five to a friend and asked them to guess a price, we'd be amazed if they didn't return figures well in excess of the £149.99 / $179.99 price tag – it looks well proportioned, streamlined and neatly designed.
Once inside its chunky, waterproof housing (this takes the overall weight up to 110g), the little camera quickly takes a more serious tone, with the thick plastic and oversized buttons suggesting it can withstand a pummelling.
However, even though the casing ruins some of the camera's more delicate features, it still boasts some cool red detailing around the lens, which gives it a bold look in the increasingly crowded action cam field.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the small range of accessories that came with our review unit. The main anchoring base didn't quite fit the plastic thumbscrew points affixed to the waterproof housing. As a result, the camera had a tendency to flop forwards under its own weight, regardless of how tight the thumbscrews were ratcheted.
The package also contained a glorified selfie-stick, complete with wireless remote, as well as chest strap and a watch-style wrist strap for the aforementioned remote.
Despite feeling a little lightweight and flimsy in the hand, the remote worked exceptionally well. It pairs easily with the camera when you press two buttons simultaneously, and handles the basic camera functions without complaint.
The wrist strap felt cheap, though, and we wouldn't be surprised if the brittle plastics gave up the ghost after a few strenuous workouts. It's a similar story with the selfie-stick and chest strap.
However, as previously mentioned, the Olfi one.five will happily sit in any mount and accessory that has been designed for GoPro cameras, meaning there's a bustling marketplace for owners to plunder.
- Motion detection
- Loop Record function
- Battery life disappointing
The pocket-sized Olfi one.five packs an impressive performance punch for a camera in this price bracket, with the ability to shoot 4K at 24fps (although this actually equates to 3840 x 2160 pixels interpolated from 2880 x 2160 pixels) and 720p at 120fps – perfect for capturing those smooth slow-mo shots.
You can also shoot simple timelapse videos using a range of timing settings and a handy 'Loop Record' function, which continuously records in small sections, overwriting the oldest files when the memory card is full.
This basically means you can use your Olfi one.five as a car dash cam when you're not busy filming extreme sports, with the optional time and date stamp adding an extra layer of evidence should the unthinkable happen.
Unfortunately, the one.five's battery life wasn't great during our test run. We managed to squeeze in between 30 and 45 minutes of filming and general fiddling before it was time to plug it in for a charge; and battery life is reduced further when Wi-Fi is activated and the unit is paired to a smartphone.
- Flat colour profile
- Slow-motion footage
- Possible to reduce distortion
The addition of the new back-illuminated Sony Exmor-R CMOS sensor is instantly noticeable, with colors looking more vivid than before, while image shake is reduced thanks to gyro stabilization in most situations.
We found the vibration from a V-twin motorcycle engine was enough to overpower the technology, but that's a fairly extreme example. When attached to a bicycle on rough terrain, it did a good job of smoothing out the footage.
There's even an option in the menu screen that allows users to select just how intense the color palette should be, with the option to shoot 'Flat' should you want to color-grade in post.
We found the standard option perfectly suitable for bright and sunny days (Vivid just seems overkill), but the resulting footage isn't quite as impressive as that captured on GoPro's high-end products
The Olfi one.five doesn't quite distinguish light from shadows in the way the Hero5 Black currently does, but it is still very good.
Those with detailed photographic knowledge can play around with exposure settings, three metering modes, five white balance options and five different ISO limits, while it's possible to reduce the fisheye effect when shooting in wide angle via a distortion correction setting.
Still images can also be captured from 3MP to 16MP, with the option to activate a neat High Dynamic Range function that captures more detail in the highlights and shadows.
Editing and apps
- Single smartphone app
- Good for viewing live footage
- Clunky to use
Unfortunately, Olfi doesn't offer the same array of apps and editing software as rivals such as Garmin, GoPro and TomTom, with just one simple smartphone application on offer.
Apart from looking a bit cheap, the app is only really good for viewing live footage, adjusting some basic functionality and downloading footage and images to a mobile device.
The in-app editing functionality is extremely basic (trim, drag and drop footage) and it feels a little clunky to use – certainly not as slick as TomTom's Bandit app or GoPro's Quik.
There's not much an Olfi one.five owner is left wanting, despite the unit costing half the price of GoPro's leading camera.
GPS, voice activation and the ability to link external sensors, such as Garmin's numerous cycling products, are just a few things missing from the package, but for those who simply want to capture good-looking footage without breaking the bank, there's very little to complain about.
The battery life is a bit of a let-down – but that's also true of many modern action cameras – while image clarity and vibrancy don't quite live up to GoPro standards.
However, at this price, the Olfi one.five is very difficult to ignore.