Action cameras have been gaining popularity in the last years. These are small video cameras designed for use in extreme conditions. Initially, its main application was first-person video recording. However, they are increasingly being used to record footage in places where professional equipment can’t go.

In recent years the entry into the market of new brands, mainly Chinese, has contributed to an increase in the available supply. At the same time, their price has been reduced, helping to make them more accessible to the general public. You no longer have to be a professional athlete to think about buying an action camera.

Key Facts

  • They are specially designed for use in extreme conditions. Its main application is the recording of videos in first person point of view.
  • They are the perfect companions for your adventures. You won’t be able to go out without your action camera. The first ones came from the brand GoPro, although in the last few years the number of manufacturers has increased considerably.
  • In recent times they have fallen considerably in price, making them accessible to the general public. Currently, few cameras are capable of recording 4K resolution at 30 fps.

Ranking: The best action cameras in the market

Below, we present our complete ranking with the five best action cameras available onthe market today. We have selected them taking into account the different needs of different users. However, all of them have really high quality standards.

No. 1: GoPro, HERO7 Black

The latest from the GoPro HERO line is a truly complete package with a camera that offers incredible features. Designed to predict your movements and correct the camera’s movement, it offers a truly fluid image. It’s like using a stabilizer, but without the need to. But its price is also quite high.

This is a very resistant and submersible camera, up to 10 meters deep without the need for a casing. It can be controlled with voice commands, for hands-free control. It records in 4K at 60 fps and allows live transmission. It also offers 8x slow motion video and it has a battery with 1220 mAh capacity.

No. 2: Sony, DSC-RX0

Sony’s bet is a really an impressive camera. This is a device that records video in 4K and takes pictures with 15.3 MP. It has a Zeiss 24 mm lens with f/4 aperture. This lens offers a wide angle with a higher quality level than usual for these types of cameras.

It is really resistant, submersible up to ten meters without casing and up to 100 m with casing. It is capable of withstanding falls from two meters in height and weights of up to 200 kilos. In addition, up to 15 cameras can be synchronized to create virtual reality content. Unfortunately, its price is undoubtedly restrictive.

No. 3: YI 4K+

A great action camera capable of recording at a resolution of 4K at 60 fps. In addition, it captures incredible 12 MP photographs with the high quality 155° wide-angle f/2.8 crystal lens. It features a Sony IMX377 image sensor and an integrated 2.2″ Gorilla Glass touch screen.

It has a wide variety of functions. It offers voice control, RAW image capture, the ability to broadcast live video and USB type C connection. It can be submerged to depths of up to 40 m if used with a waterproof housing.It can withstand temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and at a price not excessively high.

No. 4: TomTom Bandit Action

Magnificent camera integrates a series of sensors that, in addition to recording the location, also measure the speed and G force. This way, the sensors identify the best moments of the adventure and generate an automatic tag for the video. They come with interchangeable Batt-Sticks so you don’t run out of battery.

Its assembly is fast and safe thanks to the new support system included. It records video in 4K quality at 15 fps and Full HD at 1080 to 60 fps. And takes pictures at 16 MP. Best of all is its automatic editing system. With it you can edit videos on your mobile devices in just a few seconds. This camera is highly rated by buyers.

No. 5: Garmin Virb Ultra 30 Power

Magnificent action camera designed box style with a waterproof covershoots video up to 4K at 30fps and video 2.7K at 60fps. It shoots with 12 MP resolution and it also incorporates a large number of sensors. It includes speed, altitude, G-Force and GPS sensors, among others. It also has Wifi and voice control.

Garmin’s mobile application allows real-time synchronization with the camera. On the other hand, it doesn’t come with many standard accessories. These include a water-resistant housing up to 40 metres deep and short and long extension arms. Except for this fact, you could say it’s a very complete camera.

Shopping Guide: Everything you need to know about action cameras

When buying an action camera, it is important that you consider a number of purchase criteria. Don’t forget that not all action cameras offer the same features. For this reason, in this section we address the main questions that are asked by action camera buyers.

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When choosing one of these cameras, it is advisable to see some sample shots. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. (Source: Boyarkina: 52819507/123rf.com)

What is an action camera exactly?

They are small, compact, lightweight and rugged cameras that shoot videos using a wide-angle lens. They are built for recording under extreme conditions. In fact, they often include submersible housing units in the kit. They are designed to be so small that they can be worn on the body without limiting a person’s range of movement.

With a fixed wide-angle lens, they provide the human’s own peripheral vision sensation. This also allows them to ensure a proper framing. They are ideal for activities in nature and for documenting sports.

Because they are so light, they can be used as drone cameras.

What are the main applications of an action camera?

The most common applications for action cameras are first-person shot recording. They are often used outdoors in extreme situations. In addition, given how small they are, they reach places that traditional cameras cannot reach. Mounted on a drone, they are used for aerial and scenic shots.

Whats are the advantages and disadvantages of action cameras?

Action cameras are very light, compact and shock resistant. For these reasons, they can be easily transported. They can be worn on your own body taking advantage of one of the many accessories available in each line. They can even be immersed in water by attaching a protective housing.

In recent years, their price has gone down a lot – it is no longer necessary to make a great investment to enjoy one of these handy gadgets. On the flip side, it should be noted that the microphones they incorporate do not record high quality audio, in this aspect, technology has not progressed at the same speed as other features in these products.

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The sharpness of the image will depend on the quality of the lenses used. (Source: Gilmanshin: 49316934/123rf.com)

What types of action cameras are there?

Broadly speaking, we can distinguish two types of action cameras or sports cameras. It’s possible to differentiate between cheap or low-end action cameras and high-end cameras with much higher performance and cost. Without a doubt, this differentiation can happen thanks to a rapid increase in Chinese brands developing their own models.

Type Features
Low Range Much cheaper price, but also far less performance capabilities. Moreover, they don’t usually include as many accessories. They are aimed at a less professional user profile.
High end These are cameras aimed at people with much higher budgets. They are intended for more professional use. They offer the possibility of recording in 4K.

What uses can action cameras have?

You can use an action camera in many different ways. Ultimately, how you use it will largely depend on the activity you need it for. Nonetheless, some basic tips are always helpful with all models. As with everything in life, don’t forget that it’s advisable to practice and play with a device before embarking on important recording.

It should go without saying to take full advantage of the accessories available for each model. These cameras use real physical filters in front of the lens to correct the light that reaches the lens. Take advantage of the light. And of course, be very careful with the memory and the battery. You wouldn’t be the first to run out of battery or memory at the most inopportune time.

What are the main accessories of action cameras?

The first one that’s sure to come to your head is the tripod. Another thing you’re sure to have in mind is the pole or extension pole that allows you to position the camera inward to face you.

Also the helmet fastening and front body harness are quite popular when trying to achieve the perfect effect of subjective vision.

Similarly, the chest harness is also very commonly used as it frees you from carrying weight on your head. Divers often use a handle that is an accessory similar to a pole, but shorter and more ergonomic. And finally, there’s the suction cup to attach the camera to the outside of a vehicle. If you’re looking to record good audio, you will also have to invest in a microphone.

Who are action cameras ideal for?

The profile of people who might be interested in an action camera is very broad. For starters, athletes who want to record their matches or workouts are sure to benefit from this technology. On the other hand, surfers who want to record themselves on the waves without having to worry about the camera being damaged by water would also benefit from making this purchase.

It is also used by many motorcyclists or cyclists and even skiers who anchor it to their chests or helmets. Of course, they’re also interesting for skaters and even for street artists like dancers or musicians or parkour and circus performers. To summarize, it is the perfect companion for outdoor and adventure lovers.

Advantages
  • Light
  • Shock resistant
  • Easy to transport
  • Versatile
  • Water resistant
  • Moderate price
Disadvantages
  • Medium quality audio
  • You won’t want to leave home without it

Purchase Criteria

Next, we’re going to look at a number of important criteria that you should consider before purchasing an action camera. With this in mind, it will be easier for you to be satisfied after having made the right purchase. We wouldn’t want you to be disappointed with your future action camera after a few months.

  • Purpose
  • Resolution
  • Frames per second
  • Bitrate
  • Lense
  • Image stabilization
  • Sensor
  • Connectivity
  • Mobile application
  • Accessories
  • Battery
  • Audio quality
  • Size
  • Brand

Purpose

You won’t need the same camera for professional use as for a more personal one. Similarly, it is not the same to think about buying one for occasional use as it is to getting something you will use very often. You also have to think about under what conditions, circumstances and which places you would usually record.

It is also important that you take into account what specific activity or sport you need it for. If you’re going to use it for surfing, you’re going to need a waterproof casing.

It is also important that you think about how you are going to use it, since the accessories you may need will depend on it.

Resolution

You have to wonder if you want a camera that records in 4K or if it’s good enough for you for it to just come with Full HD (1080p). In general, now a days almost all the video content that is watched is consumed in Full HD. However, recording in 4K and then rescaling to 1080p offers a number of advantages that should not be overlooked.

This way, a sharper image can be achieved, software stabilization can be applied and the zoom can be applied in the editing. Conversely, you need editing equipment with more power and storage capacity. Not to mention that, in general, editing requires considerably more time.

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Action cameras are ideal for outdoor travel and adventure. (Source: Kumtanom: 66078412/123rf.com)

Frames per second

The higher the number of frames per second (fps), the sharper the motion of moving bodies in the scene. As a reference, in cinema 24 fps are usually used which produces what is known as motion blur effect. The result is very pleasing to the eye and is often associated with a cinematographic style.

At 60 fps the movements are seen with greater clarity and realism. They are often used in documentaries or sports broadcasts. The advantage of recording with a high frame rate is that the slow motion effect can be applied later in editing.

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The “frames per second” effect is also known as slow motion.

Bitrate

The bitrate is the amount of video information produced by the camera. Its value can give you an idea of how much video information is compressed when it leaves the camera. Please note that the camera does not transmit all the data it generates, as the volume with which it works is enormous.

To fix this, the camera compresses or discards some of the information. However, to edit a video, it is best to have as much data as possible. So, the higher the bitrate, the better. However, like in almost everything in life, balance is a virtue. Remember that more data means more resources and time.

Lense

This is undoubtedly one of the fundamental aspects of a camera. Not in vain, the sharpness of the lens depends on the quality of the lenses used. In action cameras, the maximum opening normally takes values around f/2.8. The focal length is usually 150º and 170º viewing angles.

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The price of the camera will largely mark the range to which it belongs. (Source: Choker: 43260193/123rf.com)

Image Stabilization

If you need an action camera, it’s because you’re going to move around a lot. And of course, you don’t want the video you record to vibrate and be blurry. Don’t let that inopportune vibration spoil your moment of fame. You should know that there are different types of techniques to stabilize the image.

In general, for video the most effective is external stabilization. The aperture settings are really effective for the correction of vibrations. Unfortunately, few cameras have it.

The internal electronic stabilization, on the other hand- although quite effective- leads to loss of quality or angle of vision.

The sensor

The action camera sensor is another element that determines the quality of the recording. It is the component that captures the light that then passes through the lens and through the diaphragm where it becomes an image. In general, the bigger the better, as it will capture more light and therefore offer a better quality image.

Connectivity

In general, these types of cameras include a USB connection that allows them to be hooked up to computers or other devices. However, nowadays, most models also come with the possibility of connection via wifi and Bluetooth. Even high-end models allow connection using NFC technology.

Mobile application

The mobile application used by the camera manufacturer is another aspect you can’t overlook. This is because it will be the one that will allow you to speed up the transfer of video from the camera to the mobile device- And we already know how important mobile content sharing is. Unfortunately, not all of them offer the same features. Some apps even allow you to edit your phones in them!

Accessories

It is essential that you take into account the different types of mounts, housings and accessories that come with the camera. Ultimately, if you need them and they don’t come in the camera kit, you’re going to have to buy them separately. That can be an extra financial investment you didn’t count on. Better avoid surprises.

In this case, remember that the GoPro are the reference cameras for manufacturers of accessories. For this reason, it is advisable that you choose a camera with a similar format. This gives you access to many more accessories to complete your action camera kit at a possibly cheaper price.

Battery

Battery life is a fundamental aspect of this type of camera. In many occasions you are going to use it in natural environments in which it is not going to be possible for you to recharge it. You always have the option of resorting to complementary batteries. However, in the long run this is also an extra burden.

The truth is that most batteries are lithium ion models. This component makes it possible for this type of camera to be lighter. In order to measure the battery life, you must know that it is measured in milliamperes hour (mAh). Often, many manufacturers also include in the specifications of the battery life in hours.

Audio quality

Unfortunately, the sound quality in most cameras is not excessively good. An external microphone is often necessary to achieve optimal audio. Another option is to record it with a digital recorder.

In that case, you will have to make an extra investment to complete your equipment.

Size

In action cameras, both size and weight are important. The smaller and more compact it is, the easier it will be to carry with you. And we’re not talking about transporting it or taking it on a trip. We mean taking it with you when you parachute, surf or get lost on the mountain with your bike.

Brand

Without a doubt, the brand that sets the standard of excellence is GoPro. One can practically say that GoPro created the concept of action cameras. Sony and Panasonic also offer high quality devices. Nonetheless, other brands that are recognized and offer very good quality equipment are: SJ, JVC, Tom Tom and Toshiba.

Keep in mind, in recent years a multitude of Chinese brands have been appearing, mainly focused on the sale of low-end cameras. Some, like Xiaomi, have even gone so far as to have a camera superior to GoPro’s top-of-the-range. This has allowed the market to become more versatile, making this technology more accessible to the general public.

Summary

Action cameras are the perfect companions for a life full of adventure. Their popularity has grown in parallel with the emergence of much more economical models. In recent years, the range of this type of camera has expanded considerably. There is no doubt that this is a very positive thing since it has become a technology accessible to most.

This, on the other hand, greatly complicates the buyer’s task of choosing which camera to purchase. That’s why it’s important to know what the key specifications of these devices are and what you will be using it for. Answering these question will then lead you to consider aspects such as resolution, bitrate, frames per second or battery life.

We hope you found this guide interesting and helpful. If so, we would appreciate it if you could share it with your friends and social networks.

(Featured image source: Vasilev: 114210766/123rf.com)

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