If you’re into skiing, cycling or surfing, then an action camera is the perfect way to record your adventures.
GoPro isn’t the only manufacturer, and with so many different models now flooding the market, it is hard to decide that action camera to buy.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the key points you would like to know regarding action cameras, to help you find the one that’s right for you.
1. what's an Action Camera?
An action camera is a tiny, light-weight video camera that can produce high-quality, wide-angle video in almost any environment.They are either ruggedized, or attain ruggedness by sitting inside a housing, and support a large variety of mounts that alter them to be fixed to anything — asurfboard, a helmet, your chest and so on. For this reason, they’re very popular for extreme sports.
Action cameras are designed to be trivial to use. A typical setup would see just three buttons — power, start/stop recording and settings.
Most have a small LCD screen to provide basic information and access the settings. a few (like theTopjoy) have screens to view your videos, but in most cases there simply isn’t room for one.
2. what's the field of View?
Every action camera has a fixed, wide-angle lens with a focal length typically within the region of 17mm to 20mm (at 35mm equivalent). depending on the size of the sensor,this gives a field of view of around 140 degrees, up to 170 degrees in the Topjoy or some Sony Action Cam models.
This wide field of view creates an immersive experience, and roughly equates to the field of view of human eyesight.
However, such a wide angle does also create a fisheye effect, where straight lines become increasingly curved the nearer they get to the edge of the frame.
The effect offers action camera footage a unique style, and it could be argued that this distortion has become the expected norm for action video. but some users aren’t keen on it.
Remove the fisheye effect From Action Camera Video
The fisheye impact is fixed. The software for editing videos includes a “Remove Fisheye” setting, as do many image and video editing applications.
Because you aren’t using the full device, there are usually limitations on resolution and quality when shooting in these modes. 4K recording, for instance, isn’t possible.
3. how tough is it?
A prerequisite for an action camera is that it's tough enough to shoot in any environment.
Traditionally, most use a transparent plastic housing, included in the box, to provide protection from the elements. The is waterproof up to an impressive 131 feet, for instance.
But newer cameras are also being built as waterproof without the necessity for a housing. The Topjoy is waterproof to 49 feet, the Session to 33 feet, and the Topjoy to around three feet.
Many Sony Action Cam models are described as “splashproof”. in all cases, you'll still place the camera in a housing to increase the water protection.
You will also want a case if you want serious protection against dirt or shock. For extreme environments, you should check the operating temperatures within the camera’s functioning capabilities, too.
Form factor problems
When it comes to size and design, smaller and lighter are most definitely preferred. this is a natural a part of the evolution of the technology, as newer models are generally lighter than the previous generation.
There are also different form factors to consider.
4. how Long can It Shoot?
A lot of action camera manufacturers don’t provide battery life quotes in their specifications. where they do, we are able to determine that most cameras offer anywhere between one and three hours of use.
The actual life you get will vary considerably based on many factors. Shooting at higher resolutions — especially 4K — uses more power, as do higher frame rates.
Having Wi-Fi turned on drains the battery faster, and extremes of temperature also have an effect. you can expect your battery life to be noticeable shorter if you’re shooting in sub-zero temperatures.
Also remember that the battery compartment is enclosed within the camera’s housing. depending on where you're shooting, changing batteries might not always be possible.
5. What does It Shoot?
MP4 is the standard format for action cameras. It’s used by GoPro, Sony, Topjoy and others. MP4 is a smart option; it has a high quality to size quantitative relation, and can be uploaded to YouTube or other on-line video services without needing to be processed in another application.
Virtually all current models will shoot 1080p resolution, with newer, high-end cameras going up to 4K. They shoot to memory cards, and a large, fast one (Class 10) is needed.
Cameras shoot at a range of frame rates, usually from 24fps — for softer, more cinematic-style footage — up to 60fps for a crisper effect familiar with sports and action video.
120 frames per second and more is becoming common. this enables you to create smooth, high-quality slow motion videos. Higher frame rates are a lot of taxing on the hardware, and require a lot of information to be written to the cardboard. As a result, they’re usually only available at a lower resolution. Shooting at 240fps on the GoPro HERO4 Black, as an example, is only possible at 720p resolution.
Action cameras also will shoot stills at the maximum resolution allowed by the sensor, further as many extras such as time-lapse videos.
6. where can you Mount it?
Being able to use an action camera in a variety of environments isn’t just about being tiny and tough. It also has to be flexible enough to work with your alternative equipment.
If you’re using it once surfing, or cycling, or skiing, you’re going to need a way to mount the camera to your board, bike, or helmet. If you want to use it handheld, attach it to a drone or harness it to your dog, you’ll want mounts for those things, too.
The ecosystem is a major issue to consider. GoPro has the largest, with a massive selection of first and third party accessories. Most other brands are covered for the essentials, but could also be found lacking if you require something a lot of niche. At a push, you'll also build your own mounts.
Other Manufacturer variations
GoPro is the leading name in action cameras, but other makers do offer additional benefits.Some makers, including Sony, also offer image stabilization, something that GoPro doesn’t have. This produces far smoother video. It’s not quite up to steadicam levels, but is free from much of the jerkiness associated with action camera video.
Stabilization in action cameras is digital, thus where it's implemented you either lose some of the width from the field of read or have to shoot at a lower resolution.
7. connectivity, Cards and more
As we’ve already said, you would like the fastest memory card you can get for best performance. A card that isn’t fast enough will cause frames to be dropped, resulting in jerky video.Class 10, therefore, is the minimum you need. ideally the camera can support the UHS-II standard, supplying you with write speeds of more than 250MB/s in the most high end cards.
Some cameras also offer built-in Wi-Fi capabilities. This isn’t just for the simple transfer of video from the camera to your laptop (or upload to the web). It may also be
used for accessories, such as the Live view Remote for the Sony Action Cam range, and even live streaming.
Form factor problems
When it comes to size and style, smaller and lighter are most definitely preferable. this is a natural part of the evolution of the technology, as newer models are generally lighter than the previous generation.
There are also different form factors to consider.
A Wi-Fi enabled action camera may also be controlled remotely via a smartphone. All the major brands have apps for iPhone and android that include remote controls,playback and even basic editing functions.
It’s a helpful feature to possess, especially on a camera that doesn’t have a screen for playback.
It’s a Wrap
Action cameras are booming in popularity. And as they get smaller and a lot of powerful, that is only progressing to continue.
But while they’re designed for simplicity and ease of use in environments where you don’t need to be fiddling with controls, there’s a lot of points to consider when buying one than you might have realised.
By understanding the importance of the ecosystem, and differences within the field of view and also the quality of the video, you can choose the action camera that's perfect for your needs.
Do you own an action camera, or are you looking to buy?