The Rollei Actioncam S-30 WiFi is a low-cost sports and activities camcorder, which despite its sub-£120 price includes WiFi remote control capability. Considering the price of WiFi-capable cameras from bigger names, such as the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition or Garmin VIRB Elite, the S-30 seems like a deal too good to be true. So what has Rollei left out to get the cost so low?
The S-30 is based around a CMOS sensor of unspecified size but with a resolution 2Mpixels, which is just enough for the Full HD video it records. This is performed at 30 frames per second, but it's also possible to capture 720p at 60 as well as 30 frames per second. The S-30 can take still images at up to 2,560 x 1,920, although this will require a little interpolation with just 2Mpixels of sensor resolution available. Aside from grabbing single images, three, five and ten-shot continuous shot settings are also available.
There are three quality modes, allowing footage to be recorded in MOV or AVI format at data rates of up to 13Mbits per second, which will allow reasonable if not outstanding quality. A microSD card slot is used for storage, with support for modules up to 32GB. With the latter, there will be enough space for five and a half hours of footage at the top quality setting. However, a memory card is one thing Rollei doesn't include in the box, which is not a huge surprise given the price. You do get a copy of Corel VideoStudio X6 bundled, though.
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Rollei rates the S-30 as waterproof to a depth of 10m, and shockproof against a drop from a height of 3m, although neither of these are backed by any particular international standard. You also can't have both at the same time, as the waterproofing requires an underwater housing, which is included in the box, whilst an alternative housing protects the camcorder from impact.
Not only does the S-30 come with these two different housings, but the box is also full of mounting options as well. A couple of robust double-sided adhesive pads are included, for sticking one of the mounts to a helmet. There are two bases – one for screwing to a bike handlebar, plus the helmet option, which can also be strapped on rather than stuck.
There are then three different arms you can attach to either base, and finally the screw plate, which can be attached to either the robust or waterproof housing. So the S-30 already comes with plenty of attachment options, and there are still more available from Rollei's website, including chest and shoulder mounts, suction mounts for cars, and a number of others. The S-30 itself is available in orange, black and yellow, to suit your outfit. It's also amazingly small, weighing just 75g.
Yet another amazing inclusion for the price is the 1.5-inch LCD panel. This is located on the side, so won't allow you to use the S-30 like a regular camcorder, but will be great for selecting menu options and ensuring you are pointing the camcorder in the right direction when positioning it on a mount. It's certainly great to see the LCD's inclusion when even the GoPro only offers a panel as an add-on accessory.
The availability of a menu means the S-30 can offer a few more settings than most action cameras, which usually only provide the ability to toggle record. The S-30 provides options to set the ISO from 50 to 800, as well as leaving it on auto, but only in photo mode. Metering can be changed from centre-weighted, to multi-point, to spot. There are daylight, cloudy, tungsten and fluorescent white balance presets as well as automatic, but no manual option. Both of these settings are available with video as well as still image capture.
There is even the facility to vary exposure between -2EV and 2EV, but no direct control over shutter or iris, unsurprisingly, and again this is only available in photo mode. No scene modes are available either, and with the waterproof housing we would have liked to have seen an underwater colour compensation filter, although the S-30 appears to be more targeted at surfers than divers. In video mode there are some digital filters, which include red, green and blue alongside sepia, negative and black & white options. The menu buttons also let you turn on WiFi mode and turn off the screen, which is handy for preserving battery life.
The most surprising feature of all of the S-30 is of course WiFi control, which is normally something only found in premium models. The usual system applies, whereby you set the camcorder up as a WiFi hotspot, then connect your smartphone to it. You can then fire up the Rollei app, which is available for Android and iOS. This allows you to preview what the camcorder is seeing, toggle record, and even configure some of the settings, including continuous shooting mode, white balance, and frequency (to compensate for mains light flickering). Best of all, the preview continues even when you're recording, unlike some WiFi implementations, notably the Garmin VIRB's.
The S-30 has a 120-degree field of view, so picks up a fair chunk of the action around it. Image quality in good lighting is decent, but not outstanding. Colours are reproduced faithfully, but there is evidence of noise and grain, which slightly mars the level of detail. This is more evident as the light drops. Colour fidelity remains reasonable in poor illumination, without a high level of compression patching. But the image is not as bright as top-end models like GoPro's HERO3 Black Edition can produce.
The Rollei Actioncam S-30 WiFi provides a lot of features for the money, and the bundled housings and mounts don't show any signs of cost cutting. Image quality is a step behind more premium units like the GoPro HERO3 Black Edition or Garmin VIRB Elite. But considering the price and WiFi functionality, if you want to capture your extreme sporting moments like the professionals but on a more modest budget, the Rollei Actioncam S-30 WiFi is incredible value.
The Rollei Actioncam S-30 WiFi gives you a lot of extreme sporting camcorder for your money, including WiFi control.
Next, read our JVC HD Everio GZ-R10SE review, a regular camcorder with action cam ruggedness.