Before we start you should be aware that I am a fan of DRIFT action cameras. I make no bones about it. I have used cheaper alternatives as well as the other, well known, premium brand. However, I always come back to DRIFT, and I will tell you why before this review is done. I have been vlogging and making YouTube content for nearly ten years (I know, how did that happen!?), so I feel that I can provide an objective view on the new DRIFT GHOST-X action camera.
Before I kick things off, I would like to pass on a massive thank you to all the team at DRIFT Innovation for giving MAPPED the opportunity to review their new camera. The companies name says it all; DRIFT Innovation. They are a passionate team, dedicated to creating pioneering cameras for everyone. They look for the most creative ideas and are open to all customer feedback, be it positive or negative, as it drives them to improve. These are the ideals that I can really get behind, and it shows in their products.
Initial impressions are good, very good. The moment you open the glossy packaging the DRIFT GHOST-X looks and feels the business. The sleek and solid design is quickly followed with a reassuring feel of quality when you first pick up the camera. You can feel the high end plastic and metals that make its chassis. It feels solid, weighty but not heavy. Things are looking good. Combined with the solid design ques, which we all look for in new kit, comes simplicity. The camera has only three buttons. Three chunky buttons that are simple and clearly marked. So, a high quality bit of tech that is also intuitive? Yep, things a definitely looking good…
Team MAPPED have a full range of DRIFT Innovation cameras, which we have acquired over time. These include the DRIFT Stealth 2, GHOST-S and the new GHOST-4K. I have been personally using the DRIFT GHOST-S and Stealth 2 for the majority of my adventures, including the NC500 Adventure and more recently the Isle of Man TT. They are both fantastic cameras; reliable, sturdy and effective – all the things you need when riding a motorcycle. So, I was extremely keen to see how the new generation of cameras (4K and X) compared to old faithful, the DRIFT GHOST-S.
While on the subject of comparisons, the DRIFT GHOST-X looks almost identical to its ‘bigger’ brother, the 4K. They share the same design and casing, so all diameters are the same. The only visual difference is the obligatory model name on the side and its three grey buttons – the 4K has black buttons. I think that this is a really smart move, making the camera feel closer to its higher spec model.
So, the looks. I am not proud and freely admit that I really care about what kit, and tech, I wear on my bike…and a major part of this is how it looks on the bike. In this, I think the DRIFT GHOST-X excels. Its compact design looks fantastic on my helmet. I also know, through my experience with the Stealth 2 camera (which is also a very small camera), that the DRIFT GHOST-X can be fitted to any part of the bike for support shots – which is very exciting. It utilises all the same mounts as the cameras before it. These are sturdy and bestow a reassuring sense of confidence…with a ‘click’ when fitted. When mounted the DRIFT GHOST-X looks streamlined and stealthy next to your kit, no scaffolding needed to fit this camera in place! (unlike its competition). I find that this camera complements your kit, rather than drawing the wrong kind of attention.
It is another step forward in the design steaks for DRIFT. The GHOST-S dwarfs the GHOST-X, it’s almost comical. The key design focus of this camera was clearly size, the DRIFT GHOST-X is small and sleek. This is down to the cameras modular design. It’s side panel (embossed with the GHOST-X logo) is the cameras battery. This has been created to be a side dock to be interchangeable with DRIFT’s long life battery. This new long life battery is no mean feat. Straight out the box the stand-by time is a claimed five hours, which is impressive. However, the new battery provides show stopping eight hours. This can not be understated in the realm of vlogging when on tour. Very impressive stuff. In addition, the game changing USP of all DRIFT cameras is also present and correct; the rotating lens. The DRIFT lens is what attracted me to their cameras and is what keeps me with them. The ability to mount the camera at any angle and know that you can centre the lens is amazing.
However, for all the leaps in design there are issues. I feel it is a case of two steps forward and one back. With the new generation of cameras (the 4K and X) comes a new approach to external audio jacks. I am sure there is a reason why this was changed, but the old phrase ‘if it aint broke’ rattles around my brain every time I use it. DRIFT now provide external mics via USB adaptors. In my humble opinion, I think that this is now over engineered. Using the DRIFT GHOST-S I was able to connect my mics by simply plugging them into the camera, at the back of the device, via a 3.5mm jack. Simple, right? Now, to do the same thing, a USB adaptor is required (and provided, thankfully) and is connected under the camera and the mic needs to connect into this. Get rid of the middle man! I don’t know why the USB adaptor is needed. I can only guess that it is a space saving approach as this same USB connector is used to charge the camera. On the same subject, I would have also thought that DRIFT would have moved to micro USB’s (like the on the older Stealth 2 uses)…which are compatible with all mobile phone chargers, making charging the camera a lot easier while on the road (less cables!).
This is my only major gripe with the DRIFT GHOST-X – so all in all, I can not truly complain on what is on offer here. However, I would like to mention the ‘revised’ remote control that comes with the GHOST-4K. This is a rare occasion where DRIFT dropped the ball. The remote that came with the GHOST-S was large, sturdy and had large buttons with solid Velcro strap. This new one is tiny with a plastic strap that resembles a child’s first watch. Please go back to the original design DRIFT…you nailed it first time around! Also, why does the remote need two buttons? I think that all we want is a remote that turns the camera on and off and this can be done with one, large, button.
Now, the tech stuff. It may be small but the DRIFT GHOST-X is bursting at the seams with specs! I will not list all the technical specifications here, but you can see everything on DRIFT’s website. That being said, there are some key bits of information that I think you should know. First things first, resolution and frame rate. The DRIFT GHOST-X will kick out 1080p at both 25 and 30 FPS. This is my preferred set up and the quality is fantastic. It also goes all the way up to 60 FPS at 720p. In short, if you are an aspiring YouTube vlogger, this camera has you covered. The DRIFT GHOST-X also can take still photos and has a timelapse and photoburst mode. It has an adjustable field of view, which is very useful and can also take a 128GB memory card – this is a fantastic step forward, having being limited to 64GB with the GHOST-S, meaning that you can film all day and not worry about maxing out on memory.
So, what is the cost of this technological marvel? £129.99.
Take a moment and process that. £129.99 for a top end, premium brand piece of kit that provides the option to film at 1080p or 60fps in a small, light weight chassis with an external mic, with the option to have 128GB of memory and use it with changeable long life batteries. Are you ordering one yet?…
Yes, I am impressed. I truly believe that this is the new go to vlogging camera. It is not perfect and I will still be using the GHOST-S, but in partnership with the DRIFT GHOST-X. It will be interesting to see if this new camera does replace the GHOST-S as my primary camera, time will tell. However, if I was starting out again and looking for that first camera, this would be at the top of my list.
At the beginning of this review I stated that I would tell you why I always came back to DRIFT, this is why…DRIFT Innovation not only produce amazing action cameras, but all their products are out the box ready. They have everything in that box to get you out there recording and having fun. They are simple, intuitive, solid and reliable cameras – which I have used in all kinds of weather on my motorcycle and they (as yet) have never let me down. As a result, in my mind, there is no other option if you are a biker and looking to record your adventures.
Check out the DRIFT GHOST-X and all the DRIFT range at www.driftinnovation.com