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Liquid Image Video Scuba Mask HD320 Review

Some highlights of the Liquid Image Video Scuba Mask HD320 :{IMAGE_CAPTION}


  • This is the worlds only swim mask that has an integrated waterproof digital still and HD video camera
  • The 5 MP camera can operate to a depth of 115', making it ideal for use when scuba diving, free diving, or snorkeling
  • Video Mode - 30 FPS @ 720p HD
  • Image Resolution - 5.0MP CMOS Sensor 2560x1920
  • Light attachments available for deeper dives
  • Record all your underwater adventures!


Table of Contents for Review of the Liquid Image Underwater Video Mask


What You Get

Included in the box, you will find the following, in addition to the Video Mask:

  • USB Cable
  • User Manual
  • Carrying Case
  • ArcSoft Photo Impression Software
  • ArcSoft Video Impression Software
  • 4 AAA Energizer Lithium Batteries
  • Silicone Grease


Pros

One of the first things you notice when you inspect the Liquid Image Video Scuba Mask HD320 is the streamlined design of the unit. The dive mask is a hybrid, combining 720p HD video capabilities and 5 megapixel camera with a sleek dive mask made of very solid composite materials with a flashy metal-flake blue paint job. The lenses are made of high quality tempered glass and have a cross hair in the center of each - helping you to frame in your video and photos. There are two compartments on either side of the mask, both double sealed and accessible via threaded caps, which  house the 4 AAA lithium batteries which power the unit. You can expect battery run time of over 2 hours with high quality batteries.

{IMAGE_CAPTION}On top, there is another, larger cap that seals the USB port and microSD slot (32GB max). All of the compartments are threaded and have washers in addition to O-rings for optimal water resistance - a tube of silicon grease is included to make the seal even more effective. Two lever buttons is all it takes to operate the mask, the left side of the lever powers the camera on and off and switches between video and photo modes. The right side of the lever is the shutter/record button, it's function depending on the mode you're in. Two bright LEDs which you can see through the smokey premium grade silicon skirt tell you whether you are in photo or video mode, red for photo, and a blue LED for video. A status LCD tells you battery life, how many pictures and clips you've taken, and whether you're in photo or video mode. The mask weighs barely more than a regular swim mask and allows you virtually hands free operation of the camera.

The mask size seems to be a good compromise that will fit most people without leaking. If you have a much larger than average size head your view may be slightly limited. Likewise, if you have too small of a head, you may get leaks. The goal was to fit the majority of people with this mask, for people with larger noses and who generally need larger masks, the HD321 is available and features a larger skirt. The mask seals nicely given you don't have a huge amount of facial hair. The strap is highly adjustable and features a quick release mechanism on either side. If you have longer hair that tends to get tangled up, you may want to get a strap pad available at diving supply stores.

We took a few sample snapshots at the office before actually field testing the unit, and the results were quite surprising. The pictures turned out sharp and had decent contrast. Certainly better than expected for the retail price of $249.95, especially for a camera with no adjustibility.

Our underwater footage turned out amazing! Resolution is crisp and well saturated at 1280x720, and the frame rate is a smooth 30 FPS. Colors were well saturated, nice and contrasty, and had minimal artifacting. The rolling shutter issues associated with the original 302 mask, which would be a concern for serious videographers but not most recreatonal users, have mostly been eliminated. When used in conjunction with a blue or green water filter, the results are absolutely dreamy!

Bottom line is the mask works wonderfully underwater! The red and blue LEDs are very visible, making it very easy to tell what mode you're in. When in video mode, the LED blinks to let you know that you're recording. The buttons are placed in an easy to reach spot on the "shoulder" of the mask, allowing you to change modes and start and stop recording without fumbling. The power/mode button is a few mm higher than the shutter/record button, making it easy to distinguish between the two. We think the design is a solid one which most people will appreciate.

Cons
While the mask is very user friendly, more controls would be nice. Some people will miss the ability to adjust focus settings for the camera mode; although this would be difficult with no viewfinder or live preview LCD.

It would also have been nice if the status LCD reported how many pictures/video clips the memory card has space for, as opposed to how many have already been taken.  The unit also has a microphone, which seems unnecessary as most of the sounds captured are generally the gurgle made when breathing out.  A different frame color might have been nice, you can have any color you want, as long as it's blue, but that's really down to personal preference.

Another issue is battery life. The ocean tends to be pretty cool, and coupled with the fact that water has a much, much higher heat capacity than air, it tends to affect your battery life rather quickly. For this reason Liquid Image recommends and includes a set of disposable lithium ion batteries. Until they release rechargeable lithium ions, you can expect to spend a decent amount on batteries for your dives.

All in all, the negative aspects are certainly outweighed by the positive.

Liquid Image Underwater Video Mask Documentation

Included with the unit is a 25 page manual that covers everything you need to get your mask up and running. Also included is a USB Cable, 4x AAA Lithium batteries, a tube of silicon for the washers, and a carrying case.


Video Codec Settings

The basic codec settings for the Liquid Image Underwater Video Mask are as follows:

Video: h.264 @ 1280×720 @ 30 fps
Audio: no audio codec information available.

Sample Video Clips, RAW and Unaltered

Download a sample RAW video clip from the HD320

Sample Video - Compressed for the Web




Recording Capacity

You can expect recording times somewhere near the following:
1 GB card - 30 minutes
32 GB card - 960 minutes


Battery Time

Battery life is around 2 hours of video, or 2000 pictures with lithium ion batteries.


Warranty and Support

The mask has a 90 day limited warranty.. Helmet Camera Central is here to assist with any issues that may arise with any products that have been purchased by us.


Software

Bundled with the mask are ArcSoft's Photo Impression and Video Impression Software. These programs, while minimal and simplistic, are very user friendly and allow for easy and straightforward video, slide show and photo editing.

Summary and Recommendation

We think Liquid Image has a superb product here. It is a quality piece of work with a surprisingly low retail price of $249.95. It functions perfectly and has video and photo quality that will please even the most scrutinizing videophiles.

The Scuba series gets a definite Dive Cam Central recommendation. It does it's job quite well, and it's simple operation will ensure that everyone who uses it will be able to easily record their aquatic adventures in high definition!!

LI HD 320 Buying Options




Change Log
11/9/2009 Erik / Version 1.0
** Initial post.