I'm going to consider this post a "pre-review" as I'm just so damn thankful the thing ACTUALLY showed up after almost 2 years. Good grief....
So basically, this thing was showing up all over YouTube advertisements for a bit at the end of 2015/early 2016 and I thought man, that would be amazing for horses!
So I pre-ordered, but being the paranoid consumer, I bought mine through B and H Photography "just in case" and began the wait. And boy was it a wait. There was a ton of drama online with this thing NOT shipping and well, I was conflicted on cancelling my order or waiting it out. Bottom line, I WANTED this thing and could really USE it so I hung in there. In Sept(ish), the company would FINALLY begin shipping and collectively all us SoloShotters waited without baited breaths.
I saw online people were getting theirs and since I bought mine through another company, I was going to be ready to receive it maybe New Years. Shockingly, a mystery box arrived on this day and as I opened it I realized what it was and squealed a bit. Maybe a lot. Sure, knowing it was SHIPPED or PROCESSED would have been nice, but well, it was here so yay.
I tore it open and... that was about all I had time for as it needed to be charged and I needed to go out and ride or teach dog training or something.
So it wasn't until the next day that I was able to play with it and I started with something I needed to do and something I thought would be fairly easy for the robot - tracking a dog training session. I set everything up and through some set up struggling, I finally got the thing coordinated and let it start calibrating. Well, at this point it looked like a drunk camera as it looked alllll around the place (especially the sky) before finally finding me. (tag is in my pocket) OK, whew. I began the training session and hoped for the best.
So it tracked me ok, but it didn't zoom. It also "lost the plot" a couple of times so we ended our training session and I went in the house to get ready to ride. For riding, I had my rider put the tag on her arm and we challenged the camera by putting it under the covered. This basically meant that GPS to the tag and/or the camera would be weak at best. Sadly, this is what I bought the camera for, so we gave it a shot. I also tweaked the zoom to "encourage" it to zoom more. I didn't end up uploading this video (apparently) to YouTube so I'll highlight that it had issues with keeping the rider when we got to the far (uncovered) side of the arena. where the GPS should be the best. Go figure.
At this point I could tell it was "learning" and it began to feel like a "baby" robot and I accepted that as I got on my horses. I wore the tag on my leg this time to see if that made a difference. It still had issues on the FAR side tracking but it does improve steadily from horse to horse. I'm not sure why it didn't want to track on the area to the front right of the camera, but whatever. At the very end it ends up going over there so who knows. Drunk baby robot is the name of the game at this point at our farm.
That was the end of the first day of using it. The battery was low, but we'd gotten about 1.5 hours of footage and the tag was still good on battery life. I downloaded the videos and we moved on with our busy lives.
The next weekend we went schooling cross country and as I was the only ground crew, I was hesitant to take all the media gear, but I did it anyhow. The SoloShot "should" have done a great job as it was in the open, good GPS availability, and all those good things. I tried to convince it to zoom more, but I feel it's a combination of it "learning" and the limitations of the "25" model.
The entire schooling video is below. In the beginning, I was adjusting and leveling the tripod at each stop but once we got to the young horses, I was just plopping it down and letting it do it's thing. I basically walked around the course and just tossed it down, let it recalibrate, and then hoped that it caught some of the action. If we were in a spot for less than 5 minutes, it didn't usually have time to calibrate and track so we missed those parts of the school. It DID do a great job of realizing it was being moved and saved the battery and locked back onto the tagged person provided it was given time to calibrate and do it's thing.
Overall, it was a worthwhile purchase for us, but it's not a slam dunk. Hopefully as we get better at picking settings AND it gets better at "learning" then it'll be better but as is, it's good. I just hope it can get to be a "great" unit as it has a lot of potential.