A Guide to the Best Action Cameras
If you love to capture yourself in action on your surfboard, on your bike, or at the edge of a cliff, action cameras are just your thing. They offer you instant high-quality videos and stills. There are several models of action cameras currently available in the market, and it can be difficult to select a suitable model. This buying guide will help you choose the best action camera.
What is an action camera?
An action camera is a compact, rugged, handheld or mountable digital camera that is designed for recording action while being immersed in it. It is usually mounted on helmets, bikes or motorcycles, handle bars, or tripods to record activities.
What are the types of action camera?
The following are the most popular types of action cameras: Box Style, Cube Style, Bullet Style, Periscope and 360˚
- Box Style: You won’t go wrong with buying this type of action camera. This is the most popular one and comes with a lot of choices to choose from. As the accessories attached to this camera can be interchanged, it is very versatile and can be used almost anywhere. Beginners or those without a particular interest should consider this type of action camera.
- Cube Style: They are small, portable, and usually used if you want to mount it in a small space or if you prefer smaller, more mobile action cameras. In these cameras, there is usually only one button used to start and stop recording, and their fields of view are slightly smaller than those of box-style cameras. A camera this small cannot be equipped with a screen, so everything has to be done remotely on your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
- Bullet Style: This type is very long and sleek and looks like a bullet. A bullet type is usually used in places that need this shape, as well as the mounting on your RC car or drone. The camera can also be used to film bikes since it can be easily attached to the stem. The camera lacks a viewfinder, a screen, and wireless connectivity. Therefore, you can only view it if it is plugged either on your phone or your PC.
- Periscope Style: There is a unique feature with this type: the grip sensor can either be on or off based on your grip. You can also slide it easily into pockets while traveling. Although it does not have any mounting capabilities, it does have a 1/4" tripod screw underneath which you can connect to a tripod or selfie stick. It works like the cube style, has an app that is simple and user-friendly, and can be connected to your smartphone.
- 360˚ Style: The camera will work fine for normal events like sightseeing and travelling, but for extreme sports such as wakeboarding and mountain biking, its delicate and fragile lenses might not be your finest choice. The device usually has a small screen that displays your battery life, number of photos or duration of videos. In addition, you may also use the app which can be accessed on your smartphone.
What are the advantages of using an action camera?
The following are some advantages of using an action camera:
- Portability: The size and weight of an action camera is drastically less than that of a point-and-shoot or a DSLR. From your dash board to underwater, they can be mounted anywhere and take high-quality videos and photos.
- Quality Photos and Videos: The majority of action cameras have the capability of recording 4k videos in great quality. Furthermore, their large sensors make them capable of capturing excellent photos that can be transferred via WiFi directly to your smartphone.
- Versatility: With an action camera, you can record normal activities, such as travel and sightseeing, as well as extreme sports, such as surfing and skiing at different angles. In addition, they can be mounted to handbars, helmets, or wheels, so you can use them wherever you are.
- Image Stabilization: The majority of action cameras are equipped with Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) in order to keep images clear while in motion and to remove blur. This is the reason why the gear is so popular with extreme sports enthusiasts, such as cyclists and skateboarders.
- Waterproof: As opposed to other cameras, action cameras have extra layers of protection on the lens and body. This then allows them to be widely used for diving, surfing, swimming and other water sports activities. Manufacturers have also been developing action cameras which are already waterproof to eliminate the need for protective cases.
Types of Action Cameras
Helmet Cameras: These types of action cameras are designed to be mounted on your helmet. Helmets are used in a number of outdoor activities, including, biking, cycling, kayaking, and rafting.
All-purpose action cameras: These types of action cameras can latch onto any surface, from steering wheels to handlebars. They provide you with a highly sophisticated option for recording smooth fascinating videos of your adventures.
What reviewers say
Brands: Most long-time users advise you to stick to well-known brands. This keeps you safe on all counts: in terms of reliability, durability, and availability of accessories.
Warranty: If you are investing a significant amount in any product, make sure that you also receive a reliable warranty from the manufacturer.
User manual: After going through thousands of action camera reviews, we find that most users recommend products that come with a detailed user manual with clear instructions.
Check the resolution: It is a widespread assumption that the greater the number of pixels per inch, the better the resolution offered by the camera. Depending on your budget, you can go for higher resolutions, such as 4K. However, if you don’t already own a 4K TV or monitor, purchasing a 4K camera would not be of much use.
Check the frame rate: The number of frames (images) your camera can capture within a second determines its frame rate. The current trend is 120 fps (= frames per second) or more. However, it should be kept in mind that a higher fps puts more stress on the hardware, and is available only at lower resolutions.
Check the field of view: Most action cameras provide a field of view somewhere between 140 degrees to 170 degrees. You can choose between a narrow, medium, or wide view. A wider view would obviously provide you with fascinating 3-D images. Some high-end cameras allow you the freedom to switch to a narrow view, according to your convenience.
Check the mounting system: A good action camera should ideally come with a universal mount that snaps onto any support. Some of them provide additional mounts enabling use in different environments, such as cycling, surfing or biking. But, if you have a rather specific requirement, you may have to buy a separate mount.
Go for water-resistant and waterproof models: Currently, there are several models that are water resistant. A special waterproof housing is required in most cameras to protect them at greater depths. The special housing also protects your camera from dust and heat. It is better to check the manual as to the capabilities of your camera in extreme conditions.
Check the battery life: The actual performance of your camera battery can vary from the manufacturer’s specifications. This may be due to several reasons, including the type of use and the weather conditions. Shooting at a higher fps or using your Wi-Fi can drain your battery. Also, sub-zero temperatures are known to affect battery performance.
Check the memory: If you are an outdoors enthusiast, you will obviously require a lot of additional memory to capture your adventures. Micro-SD cards with fast processors are the best. Cameras that support the UHS-II (=Ultra High-Speed II) standard can deliver a writing speed of more than 250MB/s on an SD card.
Check wireless connectivity: Features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and near-field communication are definitely attractive on an action camera. You can transfer your files easily over Wi-Fi. Additionally, you can control your camera remotely with your smartphone, or adjust settings.
GoPro - is one of the leading manufacturers of action cameras. They have established themselves as a market leader with their commitment to quality and service. They are very popular with outdoor enthusiasts and offer a wide selection of products.
Aokon - is another well-known name in this segment. They offer the best features at affordable prices.
eXuby - is a name to reckon with in the action camera market. Their products have made a place for themselves with their rugged design and sophisticated features.