Looking at travelers’ vlogs, photographs, and videos online might make you want to buy an action camera. Such cameras function as a normal camera but the difference lies in the way these cameras shoot photos and videos. You can attach them to your bike handles, car, helmets, pets, and even take them underwater.
As a result, you can capture epic moments while you are immersed in adventurous activities. Those videos of diving, under-water shots, zip-lining, riding bikes, biking on rugged tracks, etc. are recorded using action cameras.
The best parts about an action camera are its super-wide lens and its compact, lightweight design. You can practically carry the device in your pocket. The accessories that are used with these cameras are also small in size and can be stored easily inside your backpack or even a pouch. Before buying an action camera, look for the following features.
Shape, Size, And Weight
When you will browse the internet for finding the right action camera, you will find box-shaped and bullet-shaped cameras. Rectangle or square is the most commonly seen cameras and is suitable for chest mounting. However, people who want the camera for helmet mounting choose the bullet-shaped one.
When it comes to weight and size, most of the cameras are compact and fairly lightweight. But if you want maximum portability, you should buy the one with minimal weight and fitting size. You should also pay attention to the Field-Of-View (FOV) the action camera offers, as it decides how wide-angled the camera is. It is recommended to go for the camera that lets you choose from narrow, wide, and medium FOV.
The most important factor in deciding your purchase can be the video quality. Currently, 4K resolution offers the highest video quality but cameras with 4K resolution are generally expensive. If you do not want to spend that much on an action camera, you can go for 1080p or 720p resolution as well.
If you own a 4K computer monitor or TV, the images and videos shot by lower resolution cameras would look pixelated and blunt. However, investing in a costly camera would be a waste of money if you do not have a 4K TV or monitor. But if you want immersive footage with crisp details, 4K quality is recommended. In case you want highly advanced results, go for cameras that let you shoot videos in 4K at 60 fps and above.
You may want to buy the camera for taking still photographs. In such a case, consider its image quality. Higher megapixels support higher picture resolution. Also, look for image stabilization so that the photographs do not come out to be smudged or blurry. You are probably buying a portable camera so that you can shoot your photographs while participating in a hike, diving, bike riding, mountain climbing, or other such activities.
You should also consider zooming capacity and megapixels the camera features. Going for a minimum 8-megapixel camera is recommended while the zoom is required for taking pictures of a faraway object. You can also look for additional features like exposure control settings and low-light performance.
Most action cameras provide up to three hours of continuous filming on specific settings before their batteries give up. If you want to shoot for more than 3 hours continuously, choose an action camera that lets you replace batteries. Some cameras have fixed back panels, which means you cannot replace the battery. This means that the only way to make these cameras work is by charging them.
In mountains, forests, or while trekking, finding a charging point is a rarity. Moreover, charging the camera again up to its full potential can take 2-4 hours. And during traveling, you would not want to waste time sitting in a café or house while your camera is getting charged.
If you love filming high-resolution videos, your battery will drain significantly faster, which means you may not be able to record the most crucial moments of your entire trip. So, choose a camera with a longer battery life. But to fit the camera into the budget, companies tend to decrease their features and quality. So, buy only from trusted brands.
All the companies focus on producing cameras that are robust and resilient to damage. The cameras tend to withstand dust, drops, and subtle damages. There are videos of these cameras working fine and even after they have been dropped from a speedy vehicle, run over by cars, or dropped from significant heights.
If you are a sports enthusiast and engage in adventurous and thrilling activities, you must consider the plastic used, the strength of the glass used, and overall build quality. Invest in a waterproof action camera. Such cameras not only work underwater but also are dust-proof. The ideal waterproof index is 30m, which will allow you to perform a light activity like kayaking or surfacing. In case you will be doing heavier water events like swimming or diving, you should get a 45m water-resistance feature.
Choose a camera that has multiple settings so that it can be used in various situations and for several years. Do not buy an outdated action camera if you want to own a device that is future proof.
If you wish to live stream your escapades online on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, buying a camera with a live streaming feature is recommended. GoPro lets you live stream seamlessly on your social media, and if you have a huge fan following, this feature would be extremely useful for you. However, if your followers include your friends and family, you can ignore the live streaming feature.
Just like a battery, you do not want to run out of storage while recording something extraordinary. If you are going to shoot a lot of videos instead of taking pictures, you will need a spacious SD card. So, look for a camera that has impressive internal storage as well as lets you insert SD cards with abundant capacity.
However, you can also buy a few micro SD cards and carry them with you. Whenever the card in the camera fills up, you will have the option to replace it. For a rough estimate, a minute of 4K filming uses almost 400MB of space. So, choose the memory and storage accordingly.
Pay attention to the accessories that are coming with the action camera before making a purchase. Standard accessories include head mounts, helmets, chest belts, telescoping poles, handlebar mounts, etc. But if you are into skiing, surfing, or other extreme activities, you should buy a camera that comes with specific accessories or is compatible with a range of accessories.
- Headcam attachment – This attachment is suitable if you are going to record yourself mountain climbing, zip-lining, surfing, racing, snowboarding, skiing, sandboarding, etc.
- Windscreen attachment – This is useful for recording your car journey through splendid mountains and scenery in a short and sweet 2-minute video, which you can share with your friends and family.
- Handlebar attachment – Bikers love this accessory because it lets them record their thrilling adventures.
- Remote control or app – Having a remote control or app allowing you to control the device is important for times when your camera is mounted far away and you have to record videos or click pictures. These are also useful for clicking photographs while you are participating in dangerous activities like skiing, surfing, etc.
- Underwater cover – If you are interested in filming your underwater experience, having an underwater cover lets you shoot while snorkeling or swimming without damaging the camera.
If you have controls on your action camera itself, it can prove to be highly convenient. You would not have to utilize your smartphone to connect to your camera every time you want to change settings. Although cameras have off/on switch and buttons to switch between various modes, touchscreen operation makes changing the setting easier.
However, make sure the elements and controls on the screen are vibrant enough to be spotted in bright daylight. This will allow you to easily alter the settings without focusing much on the screen of the camera.
The camera should have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to enhance your experience using it. The presence of Wi-Fi allows you to take control of your action camera using the app on your tablet or smartphone. It also enables you to transfer data wirelessly.
Bluetooth, on the other hand, is necessary so that your device is compatible with an external remote to capture videos and pictures. This is useful when you wish to take your footage while your camera is kept at a distance or you have placed it at a remote location. High-end action cameras also support voice commands, which allow you to control the camera just by speaking.
Buying an action camera is an easy task if you consider the features discussed above. Image resolution, video quality, connectivity, battery life, storage, accessories, durability, design, size, and weight play an important role while selecting a powerful and robust device.