Action cameras have become the ideal device to capture your surfing, cycling, skiing, and many other sport activities and experience.
But GoPro isn’t the sole manufacturer, and with a wide assortment of various models now occupying the market, figuring out which camera to purchase can be quite hard.
This guide will allow you to take a closer look at the key points about action cameras, and help you find the ideal one for you.
1. What is an Action Camera?
It’s a small, lightweight device that produces wide-angle, high-quality video in almost any type of environment.
Such cameras can be either ruggedized or attain ruggedness, and can be attached to anything, thanks to their wide range of mounts that enable them to do so. You can mount it to your helmet, surfboard, your chest, etc. This is what makes them famous when it comes to extreme sports.
With its trivial design and usage, a typical setup for such cameras would include only three buttons – power, start/stop recording, and settings.
Most Action Camera-s have small LCD screens that provide general info and access to settings. Only a few, have video screens. However, in most cases, there just isn’t room enough for more.
2. What is the Field of View?
Every action camera produced has a fixed, wide-angle lens with a focal length with measurements, typically around seventeen to 20mm (at 35mm equivalent). With a larger size of the sensor, these cameras can recreate a field of view of around 140 – 170 degrees.
Equating to the field of view of human sight, this camera’s wide field of view can create quite the immense experience.
However, its wide angle also creates a fisheye effect, i.e. straight lines become more and more curved the closed they get to the edge of the frame.
Despite the fact that some users are not fond of it, it could be argued that the unique effect this camera produces could become the norm for an action video.
Remove the Fisheye Effect from Action Camera Video
The fisheye effect is not fabric-applied, and could be fixed. Most of the action cameras have the setting called “Remove Fisheye”, so if you don’t like the effect, you can always turn it off.
Some action cameras may include settings that enables the shooting at narrower angles. Such devices don’t work by altering the focal length of the lens, but use a smaller part of the sensor, instead. This tiny part ensures the effective cropping of the distorted areas around the edges.
Due to the misuse of the full sensor, there are quite often limitations on quality and resolution when shooting in these modes. 4K recording is not possible, for example.
3. How Tough is It?
An action camera has its prerequisite, and that is the difficulty to capture shots in any environment.
Traditionally, a clear plastic housing to protect it from the elements, would do the trick. For example, the EKEN H9 camera is water resistant for up to 30m when housed in the water resistant case.
Enhancing your action camera with a case that protects it from dust or shock is also considered a smart investment. Checking the operating temperatures up to the camera’s functioning capabilities is important, as well.
All models we offer on our site can be purchased in a bundle with a water/dust/shock proof case and more. Check them out here.
Form Factor Issues
When it comes to design and size, tinier and lighter are certainly more preferable. This is part of the natural evolution of technology, as newer models are lighter than devices from the previous generation.
Different form factors are also to be taken into account.
4. How Long Can It Shoot?
Numerous action camera manufacturers don’t mention or give battery life quotes in their specifications. Where some do, a range between one to three hours is what we can determine as an action camera’s lifespan.
The actual life your action camera’s batteries have varies depending on several factors. Shooting at 4K resolutions and high frame rates, for example, use more power. Keeping your Wi-Fi activated drains your battery even more, as do extremes of temperatures.
Replacing the batteries of your action camera is possible. However, the price can vary between different brands, and so can the availability of third party options.
Remember that the camera’s housing has the battery compartment is enclosed within it which means that charging your batteries may not be possible. It depends on where you are shooting.
5. What Does it Shoot?
Action cameras have a standard MP4 format. MP4 is a good option, because of the high quality to size ratio it has, as well as its ability to upload videos on various online video services, such as Youtube for example, without the need for processing in another app.
All current models shoot 1080p resolution, with newer, more advanced cameras going up to 4K. THey shoot to memory cards, and a large and fast class 10 is needed.
Cameras shoot at a normally 24fps range of frame rates for a more cinematic and softer footage up to 60fps for the crispy effect, often noticed in sports and action videos.
120fps and more are becoming more and more common. This allows you to create high-quality, smooth slow motion videos. With more taxing on the hardware, higher frame rates require more data to be written to the card. Hense, they’re often available only at a lower resolution. Shooting at 120 frames per second on the GEEKAM H3R, for example, is possible solely at 720p resolution.
Action camera sensors allow for the shooting at maximum resolution, as well as a few additions, like time-lapse videos.
6. Where Can You Mount it?
Using action cameras in several environments is not all about it being tough and yet compact. It also requires enough flexibility to work with other pieces of equipment.
GoPro has the largest ecosystem factor to consider, with a massive variety of first and third party accessories. Most other brands have only essentials covered, but may be found ineffective when searching for something more niche.
You can build your own mounts with a single push.
7. Connectivity, Cards, and More
As already mentioned, the lack of speed in a card will cause frame drops, resulting in jerky videos. Which is why you need to acquire the fastest memory card if you want to experience your action camera’s ideal performance.
Class ten, hense, is the minimum you need. With this class of SD card, your camera will support the preferable speed of up to 250MB/s in the most high-end cards.
Some cameras have a built-in Wi-Fi capability that can not only be used to transfer videos to your PC but to utilize accessories, including the Live View Remote, for example. You can even stream live.
A Wi-Fi enabled action camera can be controlled by your smartphone, as well. All major brands have apps for Android and iPhone, including remote controls, basic editing functions, and even playbacks.
It’s a Wrap
Action cameras have an ever-growing popularity and are booming on the market. As smaller and more powerful they get, their demand will only continue to expand.
Despite the simplicity and ease of use action cameras provide, there are several other key points to consider when buying one.
Through the understanding of the differences in the field of view and the video quality, as well as the importance of the ecosystem, you can acquire the action camera to best fit your tastes and preferences.
Do you own an action camera? Are you looking to buy one? In either case, you are welcome to share your comments below, as well as any action video you’ve made. If you still don’t own one yet, grab one from our store and become the hero of your own action movie.