Video: Drift Ghost-S Camera review

Claimed longer battery life, better video and other new features from Drift's flagship action camera

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FOR the last few months we’ve been running Drift Innovation’s relatively new Ghost-S action camera. It’s been one of our go-to cameras for onboard footage and chucked into a suitcase on a fair few occasions for press launches too.

The Ghost-S is similar to the old HD Ghost but essentially has improved battery life, better video quality, more options to choose from and better Wi-Fi according to the firm, but more of that later.

Whilst jotting down some of the camera’s pros and cons it’s evident there are a lot more things we like about this camera than dislike.

Firstly, and importantly, it’s well-built and really simple to use. There’s a large two-inch built-in LCD screen covered in tough Gorilla Glass and four buttons to navigate through the clear menu. A ‘menu’ buttons takes you to just that: the menu; then there’s a left and right button, and then an on/enter button. You really can’t go wrong and it’s much simpler than the set-up on the GoPro 3.

It comes with a selection of both flat and curved mounts which will stick onto just about anything. Once you’ve placed the camera where you need it, you can pull out the Drift’s party-trick - the rotating lens. Yes, that little lens will rotate just short of 360 degrees so you can fix it to a banked surface but still be filming the right way. There’s even a little arrow to show you which way is upright.

Without the optional waterproof case (which allows you to go to depths of 60m) you can take the Ghost-S up to three metres underwater, and with the new battery it can stay down there for roughly 3.5 hours before running out of juice.

At 182g the camera isn’t heavy, but it isn’t also light, especially when you consider a GoPro 3 weighs only 73g. But then you also have to remember that the GoPro doesn’t come with an LCD screen, it’s not waterproof unless you have a special case, and the battery life is notoriously bad too.

The quality video processor and new Sony 12MP sensor on the S allows for better video and faster frame rates. If you want to film at 1080p you can now do so at 60fps, lose some quality at 720p and you can up your frame rate to 120fps, whilst WVGA will let you film at 240fps, ideal for edits where you want some slow-motion.

Perhaps the most disappointing feature with the S is its performance in low light and cloudy weather. In overcast conditions, something all too familiar in the UK, the camera has a hard time of retaining much colour compared to if you’re filming on a sunny day with bright blues and greens. Many action cameras are susceptible to this but we couldn’t help notice how much better the Garmin Virb Elite handled the less-than-perfect weather.

Also, both the internal and ‘optional extra’ external microphone have difficulty in handling wind noise. Again, this is a problem you find on most action cameras including the Garmin and GoPro, but it’s worth noting that if you plan on using the camera for high-speed rides you’ll have to think about where to place the mic to minimise the noise.

Other than small niggles like the rear hatch - which exposes the battery, mini USB charging port, mini HDMI port, Micro-SDXC card and external microphone socket - which can be difficult to open, we really like the Ghost-S. It’s rugged, will take up to a 64GB memory card for long shoots, and has a nice bright LED to let you know if the camera is on, off, or recording.

Although Drift Innovation regularly release downloadable firmware updates to improve video quality, the Ghost-S is very much a plug and play camera. Unpack the camera, charge it, and in the firm’s own words: ‘Get out there.’

Price: £329.90