The Olfi makes a good first impression, immediately standing out from the action camera crowd with its approach to packaging. The small semi-hard case contains the camera and accessories, all neatly packed inside. And once the cardboard outer packaging is stripped away, the case that remains is ready to be used, rather than thrown away; it's similar in quality and design to many aftermarket cases you can buy.
And the case isn't the only thing that stands out. The branding and design suggest that the people behind the Olfi, action camera specialists Hedcamz, have thought carefully about what they're offering – and especially about what's needed to make their product stand out in a crowded marketplace.
The Olfi camera itself packs in some pretty serious features for the relatively low price, starting with the recording options: 4K at 24fps, 2.5k at 30fps, Full HD at 60fps and 720p at 120fps, giving you plenty of scope for shooting everything from scenery to high-impact action.
And these various resolution and frame rate combos all produce good-quality usable footage, which isn't the case with many similar cameras.
Other features are of the sort we've come to expect from action cameras: Wi-Fi for app connection, manual control for adjusting the sensitivity, and compatibility with the standard GoPro mount. The Olfi offers these alongside more advanced options, including a gyro (stabiliser) mode and a high dynamic range (HDR) mode.
The camera itself takes the familiar box-style design, and is almost identical in size and shape to the GoPro Hero4 range, with minimal control buttons and a small LCD screen. Like the GoPro, the Olfi sits inside a removable 30m-waterproof case, with the standard GoPro-style mount underneath ensuring it can be used with all GoPro accessories.
While the basic design of the Olfi is similar to the GoPro Hero4 Black, the layout of the controls and ports is slightly different, with the navigation buttons on the side and the microSD card slot on the bottom of the camera. On one side are two ports: a mini USB for connection to your computer, and a micro HDMI that enables you to connect to a TV or display.
On the front of the camera, by the side of the lens, is a small LCD, which is extremely clear and handy for quickly checking the camera's status, as well as for changing settings such as frame rate and resolution. You can navigate through the settings using the buttons on the side of the camera.
Round the back is the battery cover which, when removed, reveals the 1600mAh power pack. This has enough juice for a good hour and a half of recording time, plus plenty of switching between modes and settings, connecting to the app and reviewing of footage.
The small fisheye lens gives a generous 160-degree angle of view, slightly more than many cheaper action cameras, which are typically around the 155 degree mark. Behind the lens is the well-regarded Sony Exmor-R sensor.
Build and handling
The Olfi feels more solid than the majority of other cameras I've tried out – even compared to the GoPro Hero4 the build quality stands up well, feeling every bit as good as the market leader. The Olfi is just over 10g lighter than the Hero4 Black, at 75g compared to 88g without the waterproof housing.
Out of the case the camera feels well made, with a tactile textured effect going around the sides, top and bottom, while the front and back have a smooth matt finish.
The 30m-waterproof case matches the quality of the rest of the camera and features a flat lens, so there are no screws on the outside, which is more evidence of the thought that's gone into the design. Having a flat lens enables you to quickly wipe it clean, something that isn't easy with the recessed design of many cases. If necessary the lens housing can be unbolted from the inside.
When the camera is inside the waterproof housing only one of the navigation buttons can be used. This may sound odd, but it's actually a smart idea, as it keeps things streamlined yet still enables you to navigate through the settings – in this mode the navigation is a carousel action, rather than backwards and forwards.
The lights around the power and shutter button are a nice touch. These flash to show that the camera is recording, which is handy when you're out on the trail, as the light can just be seen through the case from the top and front. Unfortunately, they are slightly covered by the waterproof casing's buttons.
Camera operation is straightforward. You power it on by holding down the power button on the front, and after the Olfi logo appears on the screen you're ready to start recording – unfortunately there's no quick start option that enables you to power on and start recording in one go.
The shooting mode – stills or video – is selected via the power button; a camera or video camera icon appears at the top left of the screen to let you know which mode you're in.
The LCD also shows you mode, resolution and frame rate information, the date and time, and the selected angle of view: wide, medium or narrow. These settings can be adjusted using the side navigation buttons.
At present the Olfi app is still in development – when launched it will enable the camera to be connected to an iOS or Android device. There's also an Apple watch app in the works.