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Reviews > Cameras > Digital > Intova X2 Waterproof Action Camera > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Intova X2 Waterproof Camera

Test Series by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - March 18, 2017

Field Report - June 6, 2017

Long Term Report - August, 2017

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

My backpacking venues have mostly been a combination of Minnesota, where I have lived most of my adult life, and Arizona since 2009.  I have always been a "comfort-weight" backpacker, never counting grams, but still keeping my pack as light as easily attained.  I do a lot of video and still photography on my hikes, typically with my smartphone.

Initial Report

When carrying my smartphone on backpacking trips, I am always paranoid about getting it wet.  I even dropped it into a waterfall in Oregon, and it still works!  On hikes where I expect precipitation, I typically carry the smartphone in a Ziploc bag.  It'll be nice to not have to worry about all that with the X2 camera!

Product Information

I will refer in the rest of this report to the Intova X2 as "the camera".  

Manufacturer: Industrial Revolution/Intova
Manufacturer website: https://www.intova.net
Model:
X2
Year of manufacture: 2017
Country of origin:
China
MSRP:
$349.99 USD
Color tested:
Only available in black
Weight:
Listed: 7 oz (197 g)
Measured:  6.8 oz (194 g) without memory card
Dimensions:
Listed: 3.15 x 2.76 x 1.97 in (8 x 7 x 5 cm)
Measured: as listed, though the control buttons protrude slightly beyond these dimensions
Warranty:
Limited one year

The features listed by the manufacturer include:
  • 1600 mAh rechargeable & removable battery for 2 hours of use
  • Housing built with rubber armor to withstand depths of 330 ft (101 m)
  • 2 in (5.1 cm) LCD screen/viewfinder with 960x240 pixels
  • 1080p resolution at 60 FPS, 16 MP still photos using a 2.3 in (58 mm) CMOS sensor chip
  • Built-in 150 lumen flash/light
  • Memory up to 64GB with (not supplied) MicroSD card
  • 170 degree view angle with f2.5 aperture
  • Tripod mount
  • Intova app for iPhone and Android smartphones (remote camera control via wireless)

Initial Inspection

After removal from the packaging I visually inspected the device for manufacturing defects and found none.  The housing opening to get at the charging port is a little tricky to open: there is a tab slider that has to be pushed while opening the latch, requiring some manual dexterity.  I plugged in the supplied charging cable to a 5V converter, and noticed I had to select "Charge" on the menu to begin the process.  All the other devices I own start charging as soon as I plug them into power.

Note that there is a thin plastic film over the lens and viewfinder screen that must be removed before use.  The film is not easy to see unless closely examined.

Next I screwed the camera onto one of my backpacking tripods, and took it out by the pool to get some photos:

x1

The first photo above shows the camera from the front: from the reader's perspective the camera controls are visible on the top, just below them are the light/flash and the lens.  To the left are the menu controls.  These control buttons are all very large, with lots of travel, and generous amount of space between them.  They seem to be designed to be operated with scuba wetsuit gloves, which I won't be using, but this would be a nice feature for cold weather use when backpacking.

The second photo shows the housing lid, slightly ajar as I haven't put in a smartcard yet, and in the center of the camera the "hood" accessory is attached.  The latter just attaches to some posts with a friction fitting, and should be useful when operating the camera in bright sunlight.

Trying it out

I made a trip to the store, bought a 64GB smartcard, and plugged it into the unit.  I stepped out my office door and snapped a couple of pictures.  I then took it into the backyard to take some underwater pictures and video.  While poolside I noticed that the LCD screen is tough to see in bright sunlight.

Importing the media onto my Mac was fairly straightforward: plug one end of the supplied cable into the mini-USB port on the camera, the other end into a USB port, then select "MSDC" on the camera.  The camera appears as an external drive, and on a Mac the media can be imported directly into the Photos app.  The results are shown below:
x2

In the top picture, the pergola beams at the top and the wall on the bottom are both perfectly straight.  The camera has a very wide field of view, which creates some "fish-eye" distortion.  This is less noticeable in the bottom photo taken at the shallow end of my pool.

I am really impressed by the clarity of the underwater photos.  I hope I can find some backcountry situations where I can leverage its capabilities!

I took some video in my backyard and underwater in the pool as well.  The quality of the video is very similar to that of the stills, which is what I expected since it is the same optics and sensor.

I took some test photos of a ruler to see how close I could get to small items before the camera lost focus.  It seemed to blur out at a field of view about 1.5 ft (about 0.5 m).  This will be a limiting factor for taking pictures of wildflowers and other small items in the backcountry.

I downloaded the Intova app to my iPhone and installed it.  When I enabled the wireless transmitter on the camera, I was able to find the wireless network on my iPhone and connect to it.  Entering into the "camera controls" menu on the app, I could preview the screen, take pictures and adjust settings.  When I submerged the camera underwater, I immediately lost the wireless connection, so the app cannot be used to control the camera when it is underwater.  This would have been a nice feature to have, because I will rarely, if ever, have my head underwater when filming, so it may be difficult to get the composition right.

The camera comes with few accessories: the LCD screen hood mentioned above, a floating lanyard, and a second housing cover for the socket/connection area.  There was no documentation for the spare cover, but it seems to have easier access to the ports, at the expense of not being fully waterproof (there is a warning label that it is not waterproof).  Noticeable by its absence is any kind of lens cover - I hope the lens is very scratch resistant!!

Summary

I am looking forward to getting the camera into the backcountry and seeing how it performs under field conditions.  Though it has nothing to do with backpacking, I hope to use it for taking photos and videos in the pool.

Things I Like So Far:

  • Lightweight.
  • Seems pretty indestructible.
  • Controls are large, making them easy to see and use.
  • Truly waterproof - this camera can be completely submerged for underwater photography.

Things That Concern Me Upfront:

  • No memory card supplied with the unit.
  • LCD screen washes out in bright sunlight.
  • Limited macro (close-up) photography capability.
  • No lens cap supplied with the unit.

Field Report

Video on Youtube

There is a video on Youtube that demonstrates the performance of the camera with non-still clips.  View the video here by clicking on the preceding blue link.

Field Experience

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
March 31-April 2
Saguaro National Park East near Tucson, Arizona
Miller Cr, Heartbreak Ridge, Turkey Cr
22 mi (35.4 km)
4240-8400 ft
(1300-2560 m)
25-60 F
(-4-16 C)
Sun, snow showers, high winds
April 14-16 Area surrounding Flagstaff, Arizona Grand Falls, Devil's Bridge
5 mi (8 km) 4300-8000 ft
(1310-2440 m)
32-75 F
(0-24 C)
May 4-7 Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona Morse and Echo Canyons
10 mi (16 km 6600-8200 ft
(2010-2500 m
48-80 F (9-27 C)
Mostly sunny, wind gusts to 30 mph (48 kph
May 25-30 Monument Valley and Canyonlands NP in SE Utah Canyonlands
N/A (car camping) 3900-6200 ft
(1190-1890 m)
Sunny, very windy with blowing dust, temperatures 50-85 F (10-29 C)

Miller/Turkey Creek Loop

Three-day backpack into the Rincon Mountains that make up the Saguaro National Park East Unit.  This is a great hike as it is one of the few substantial loop hikes in the area, with only a short road walk between the two trailheads to complete the loop.

There is a substantial spring with a pond and waterfall at the campsite for our second night out (Manning Camp), and I had hoped to get some underwater photography at that spot.  I heard the camera beep a few times in my pack, but didn't think anything of it until I pulled it out and tried to use the camera.  I had fully charged it before departing, but alas the battery was completely depleted.  My guess is that bumping around in my pack the camera got turned on enough times to lose almost all of the charge.  Perhaps this is a design trade-off for making the switches easy to use underwater - they are easily pressed accidentally.

Grand Falls, Devil's Bridge

This was a 2-night car camping and day hiking trip to a little-visited waterfall, and a highly-visited arch near Sedona, Arizona.  This time I had no power issues, and I successfully took 15+ videos and a half-dozen still photos such as the following:

x3

Clearly, this camera has a wide-angle lens!  The curvature of the Earth is obvious in the above photo.  What isn't so clear is the stellar clarity of the image.  The version included above is only 800 pixels wide, or only about 15% of the actual image resolution.  So, let's take a look at an 800x400 pixel slice of the above image at full resolution and scale:

x4

There is some loss of quality in the above due to the JPEG compression level, as the BackpackGearTest.org website has a limitation of 200kb for image size.  Even with that level of compression, the image clarity is still pretty darn good.

I did experience the "screen washing out in sunlight" problem.  It was not easy to look at the small LCD screen and know the precise composition of the photo or video.

I took about a dozen video clips of the falls with the Intovo X2.  One thing that was conspicuous by its absence is a lack of Image Stabilization, or "anti-shake".  In a viscous environment, such as underwater shots, this is probably not such a big deal, but users of smartphone cameras have become quite accustomed to pretty good quality image stabilization on videos.

Morse and Echo Canyons

This was a car-camping trip to the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona.  To be more specific, it was a "hammock hang" for hammock camping aficionados.  We also did some nice hikes including a shuttled descent down Echo Canyon with its incomparable rock formations and geology (see photo below).  The pictures and video from the X2 were nice and sharp.

x5

Canyonlands

This was an epic 6-day tour of Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, Gooseneck State Park, and Canyonlands NP White Rim Trail by Jeep.  I used the camera mostly to take action videos out the window of the Jeep as we traversed the challenging terrain.

When I returned I eagerly plugged the camera into my computer to download the images, but the camera froze.  I had to remove the battery and plug it back in again to "reboot" the camera.  Tried again with the same issue.  It's not a cable problem, tried a different cable which works fine with other USB devices.  Eventually I removed the micro SD card, plugged it into an adapter and plugged that into a slot of my computer.  This actually works better for transferring the files - it's quicker than using a USB cable.

This camera takes great quality stills, and I found if I kept the horizon in the middle of the image I could get pretty good pictures with some cropping - see the following from Monument Valley:

x6

My main beef with the camera on this trip is that the viewfinder screen washes out really badly in bright sunlight, and the light doesn't get much brighter than the desert!

Summary

Kudos

  • Image sharpness
  • Water resistance - able to use in wet environments like waterfalls with impunity
  • Easy to operate controls

Areas for Improvement

  • Wide angle lens may not be a fit for all shots
  • Viewfinder screen washes out in the sunlight
  • Power button is easily bumped which can deplete battery - perhaps a "lock" function similar to what headlamps offer would make sense
  • USB interconnect is flaky - plug in the SD card to computer as a backup

Long Term Report

Video on Youtube

There is a video on Youtube that demonstrates use of the wireless remote capability using a smartphone.  Follow this link for viewing.

Field Experience

Date
Location
Trail
Distance
Altitude
Weather
July 29-August 6
San Juan mountains between Durango and Silverton, Colorado
Various
45 mi (72 km) total across 7 hikes
8000-12,500 ft
(2440-3810 m)
38-75 F (3-24 C)
Sun, rain showers, high winds

San Juans

This was a 9-day car camping trip to the mountain trails between Durango and Silverton, Colorado.  We hiked every day that we were not driving to/from Tucson.  Here's a sample of photos taken on this trip with the camera:

x7

Upper Left: this photo of the bridge over the Animas River along the Colorado Trail shows the downside of a wide-angle lens.  The photo at upper right however taken at the exact same spot shows that with careful field selection, I was able to get a great panoramic shot with no distortion.  The bottom photos of the Ice Lake trail and Spud Lake also how well the camera can be used to get nice panoramic shots.

I also took about a dozen video clips with the camera during the week.  I was able to make it through the whole week without recharging the battery, but I was very careful to turn it off between uses.

It rained every afternoon on this trip.  I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to worry about this camera getting wet, unlike my cell phone which I had to be real careful with.  It's nice to not have to worry about some things.

WiFi/Remote issues

During the third month of use I had a project where I wanted to control the camera remotely using my iPhone.  In my Initial Report (above) I mentioned that I successfully used this feature.  When I tried again to do so, the Intova indicated it successfully set up the WiFi network, but neither my phone nor my Mac laptop could find it.  While I was doing this I managed to "freeze" the camera computer, where it was stuck in the "on" state but totally unresponsive to buttons.  I had to remove the battery and re-insert it to power-cycle the system and restart.  Once I did so the camera worked fine.  I repeated this procedure several times to try and get the WiFi network operational, but was unsuccessful in doing so.

While working on this project I noticed that the battery depletes pretty quickly if left on in a "standby" mode with the screen off.  I have the screen timeout set at about 30 seconds, and after leaving the camera on for about 2 hours the battery was almost completely depleted.  The WiFi was turned on, so that may have contributed to the rapid depletion.  Bottom line: turn the camera "off" when not using it.

I contacted Industrial Revolution by email on July 18, and they got back to me the next day with a list of things to try and a form to return the unit if none of these actions were successful.  Fortunately, a reset of all the camera parameters to their default did the trick.  This time around I had set the WIFI/REMOTE setting to ON, though it was not documented anywhere in their user manual.  Oddly enough, the REMOTE setting must be OFF to use the remote function.

Summary

The Intova X2 camera can be used to great effect on backcountry trips with careful selection of field of view, and good battery management.  It takes great photos and videos, and the wide-angle lens is very useful but does require careful scene selection to avoid distortion (unless that is the goal!)  The waterproof aspect of the camera eliminates a whole set of worries.

A possible improvement for the unit is a level indicator.  Many digital cameras now show the camera level angle in the viewfinder, and my iPhone has a level indicator in the Compass app that can be used to shoot level video.  This is not such a big deal for still photos which can be easily corrected, but video files are not amenable to small adjustments in angle after the fact.

I am headed to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota next month and intend to take the camera with me.  It is a perfect fit for boating activities.


Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Intova for the opportunity to contribute to this test.




Read more reviews of Industrial Revolution gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Cameras > Digital > Intova X2 Waterproof Action Camera > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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