Choosing the Ultimate Action Camera

Action cameras allow you to capture and share all the heart stopping, adrenaline packed moments in your life with ease.

Whether you attach an action camera to your helmet as you paraglide over lush greenery or take HD video to chronicle your immense mountain climb, the compact quality of action cameras make them almost indispensable in this day and age.

mountain-biker-equips-action-camera-to-helmet

But, like any popular gadget, the action camera market is rife with competition so this article aims to break down the key aspects to look out for when choosing your next action camera.

Your Action Camera’s Body

You’ve probably heard the old adage about not judging a book by its cover. But an action camera’s overall shape, design and feel is a good starting point.

Action cameras can be broadly placed into three types of shape…

  1. Box action cameras: By far the most ubiquitous choice, box-shaped action cameras provide versatility, the ability to house a lot of features and compatibility with a whole heap of accessories.
  2. Bullet action cameras: As the name suggest, these action cameras are shaped like a cylindrical bullet or a telescope, which can make mounting on handlebars or boards easier.
  3. Rectangular action cameras: Rectangular action cameras can sometimes pack more inside because there’s simply more space than a box/cube alternative. Of course, it’ll be a bit bulkier too.

Battery life and durability

woman-takes-selfie-while-snorkelling

The other external aspect to consider is durability. The best idea is to consider where you might want to use your action camera. If you love snorkelling, clearly underwater specs will be a key concern. If you love skiing, make sure your action camera is built to handle altitude and snowy conditions.

Another crucial element when choosing an action camera is its battery life. Because they are so compact and include such high-quality image and video, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other features, most action cameras only deliver 1-3 hours of continuous use.

There are two potential solutions to this. The first is to choose an action camera with the best battery life possible. The second is to simply buy a spare battery or two you can keep in your camera bag for rainy days.

Image & Video Quality

If you’re keen to take breathtaking images and videos on your action camera, it’s time to dive into the world of resolution. Most action cameras will offer either 720p, 1080p or 4k quality, with 4k resolution producing stunning image clarity.

Any of those resolutions listed should be more than enough for everyday users, but if you are keen to publish your video to YouTube or submit it professionally, 4k might be the way to go.

You should also pay attention to frame rate, which signifies how smooth your images will be. This will be listed in an fps format, such as 120fps, which is about the minimum spec required to take slow-motion video.

It’s important to remember that, as your resolution increases, your frame rate will decrease. For example, if you’re moving the camera rapidly to shoot your dog running around, the camera will struggle to retain 4k resolution.

racer-straps-gopro-to-helmet-pre-race

Connectivity, Memory & In-Camera Features

The wonders of social media and the internet have changed our lives forever. We now want to share our moments quickly, easily and readily. Luckily, most action cameras are equipped with functionality to do so. Just ensure that your camera choice has the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities you’re after.

A lot of camera consumers think memory cards are solely about storage space. However, you want to make sure you get a fast one to keep up with the performance of your chosen action camera. A slow card will drop frames and cause your camera to appear jerky.

Of course, it pays to get one with plenty of storage too. There’s nothing as annoying as losing that perfect shot simply because you ran out of storage space.

You may also like some of the lesser talked-about action camera features, such as auto-editing, easy-transfers and the ability to track your location, time and speed (if you’re riding a bike, for example).

Ability to Mount or Use Accessories

The final piece of the puzzle is to think about how often you’ll want to mount your action camera. If you surf or ski a lot, how compatible your camera will be with various mounts will dictate your purchase decision.

Other popular action camera accessories include external LCD screens, aforementioned battery packs, remote viewing devices and filters.

dog-has-fun-outdoors-with-action-camera-attached

Final Action Camera Advice

Our final piece of advice is to try before you buy. No matter what the specs say on the tin, one person’s lightweight might be another person’s flimsy. What fits well in the palm of your hand may feel unnatural to your friends and family. An easy menu interface to you might be a complicated beast to your spouse.

To overcome these issues, drop by your local Camera House store or read up on more action packed, action camera posts, like our recent post on how action cameras really work!

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