If this is the first time you're purchasing an action camera, you may be overwhelmed by all of the options available. And you may have a ton of questions, such as:
- Are the most expensive cameras better?
- What's the difference between a 2K and 4K camera?
- Will I need lots of accessories in order to use my camera?
- Are cameras with removable batteries more power-efficient?
DurabilityWhen you're biking, surfing, snowboarding or taking on another hardcore activity, occasionally wiping out is inevitable. In fact, wipeouts can look really cool when captured by an action camera! Thus, you want a camera that can handle its' active lifestyle.
Most Durable Action Cameras
- GoPro Hero4 Black – This versatile unit can be easily mounted to a variety of platforms, and both flat and curved adhesive mounts are among the Hero4 Black's included accessories.
- SJCAM M10 Plus – It may be small but it can survive just about anything you throw at it.
- Replay XD Prime X – Strong aluminum housing protects this camera in high-impact situations.
User-FriendlinessAs some people are more tech-savvy than others, you should select a camera that isn't too sophisticated for your needs. Many cameras work with integrated apps and thus require a smartphone during operation while other cameras are stand-alone units. Different camera types come with a variety of features, such as a waterproof case and different types of mounting arms, and the best choice is very user-specific. Here are some features to look for to assure seamless use of your new action camera.
Features To Consider
- Wi-Fi Capability – Some action camera users are content to capture their video and then go home before uploading the video. Others, however, prefer a “real-time” approach, where a video can be uploaded more efficiently, anywhere there's a Wi-Fi signal. The SJCAM SJ4000WiFi is a top choice for posting video while on the go, using your phone.
- Ease of Mounting – You can't really have an action camera that has no mounting capability. That doesn't mean that all mounting doohickeys are equal. Some cameras are designed specifically to be mounted to modern equipment such as drones while other systems use a proprietary mount.
- Battery Type/Longevity – The two main types of action camera batteries are those that are removable and those that are integrated into the camera. Replacement batteries can up the initial investment of your new action camera. But many users prefer cameras with the removable battery option as it means you won't have to plug in your camera as often. SJCAM SJ5000 is an inexpensive camera with a removable battery, and the battery in Veho's Muvi K2 Pro can't be removed but lasts an impressive three-plus hours before needing a recharge.
- Waterproof Depth – Terrestrial adventurers may not care about this factor, but to those who hope to use their action camera during water-based activities such as surfing and scuba diving, having a waterproof camera is essential. Some action cameras, such as the Polaroid Cube, are only waterproof to a depth of 6 feet. GoPro cameras are an ideal choice for those who take to the water, as they typically have a waterproof rating of an impressive 131 feet inside their waterproof case.
Video QualityWhen browsing action cameras, you'll notice that some have more enhancement features than others. These include an impressive zoom range and a wide lens in order to capture more of the landscape. If your goal is simply to capture video and upload it with minimal editing, considerations such as image resolution and software compatibility may not be high priorities. But if you're a film buff and enjoy editing videos, you have much more to consider along with the camera's image-capturing capability, including app integration and frame rate.
Image Resolution and Frame RatesImage resolution among action cameras varies widely, from low-quality 720p to 4K, with 1080p the standard. Most users will find that 1080p is more than sufficient, especially on Internet platforms such as YouTube. Resolution is typically improved with 4K recording. As for frame rate, most users will find that 30 frames per second is an acceptable playback speed. Those who want more options when tweaking their video or still images should opt for a camera with 120fps capability.
Cameras With the Best Video Quality
- GoPro Hero4 Black – Many users tout the Hero4 Black's crisp images as one of its best features. It's equipped with night mode capability and a 12-megapixel sensor.
- SJCAM SJ5000X Elite – The camera's 12.4 Sony sensor allows for crystal clear quality and fast recording. It also comes with a built-in gyro stabilizer for smoother video capture.
Overall ValueOf course, your budget is one of the biggest factors involved with choosing the right action camera. But many people make the mistake of being too thrifty and end up with a camera they're disappointed with. You should choose a camera that has all or most of the features you desire and doesn't break the bank.
Best Value Among Action Cameras
- SJCAM SJ4000 – If you're on a budget and don't mind sacrificing video quality for versatility, this is a great choice.
- GoPro Hero4 Black – As this camera is tops in both durability and video quality, it's no wonder that it's popular.
- Drift Stealth 2 – Compact and aerodynamic, action camera users consider this a hidden gem among action cams.