We’ve used the Swann Freestyle 1080HD for a few months now, and captured some good images. Not that getting results from this GoPro lookalike was all plain sailing.
Swann offer a host of mounts for attaching the camera securely to flat or lightly curved surfaces (such as motorcycle fairings and surfboards) but, crucially, not a bar mount for a bicycle. Given that GoPro target cyclists so strongly we were surprised at this omission. Luckily, GoPro accessory mounts (chest and bar) both work with the Swann.
That aside, we like the remote stop/start unit that attaches easily to pack straps and makes it very ease to ‘lose’ mundane sections, saving valuable memory and edit time later.
The Swann features a colour LCD viewing screen that clips to the back of the camera so you can review what you’ve just shot. You can’t leave it on when riding though, as the protective case isn’t big enough. This is an extra pain if you want to switch between 1080p and 720p, as you need the screen to access the camera’s menu.
The laser pointer helps show where the lens is pointed if you want to judge it that way, but again you can’t use it in the protective case, which seems counter-intuitive. That fully enclosed waterproof case also kills a lot of sound detail – a slotted back, which GoPro have as an option, is needed.
Compared to the GoPro the Swann doesn’t do badly for clarity in good light – it offers video at 1080p (30fps max) or 720p (30 or 60fps), or JPEGs at 8MP – but it doesn’t beat it.
When Swann sort the chest/bar mount and offer a bigger, slotted case we’ll find a home for the Freestyle. Right now though, we just can’t recommend it over the market-leading GoPro.