Often times we forget the simple fact that cameras come in different types. But it is clearer when you look at it as different occasions in life dictating different types of photography. For instance, you would never go hiking with a loaded DSLR camera because the setup would frustrate your fun. This is a case where an action camera perfectly fits. Taking photos and videos while you are deeply carried away by the action.
Action cameras are ideally designed for extreme sports and fun activities. Thus, they are lightweight, compact, and rugged in nature. These type of cameras have multiple mounting options. From skateboards- to drones, surfboards, helmets, bicycles- and they even have one for pets too. That allows you to watch what your pet is seeing.
Advantages of using Action Cameras
- Action cameras are small in size, something that makes them popular among people with hobbies. If you are the fun type then these are your kind of cameras. DSLR disqualify to be taken for active outdoor activities like surfing. They may be just reserved for special occasions like weddings. On the other hand, action cameras are small for high portability. They also have a built-in WiFi which lets you share pics on social media once you can access a WiFi network.
- They are rugged in nature. This makes them withstand the roughness of the environments they are exposed to. Whether it is a rugged terrain or underwater. For example, if you were scuba diving or parasailing on water then a waterproofing housing would be very important. This protects your camera against splashes that may get to it. Similarly, terrestrial outdoor activities like biking, climbing, kayaking, all need a sturdy rugged companion that will survive the harshness of the environments like underwater.
- Action cameras let you record different perspectives of an activity. In other words, if a bike rider was on a recording mode they always have a camera mounted on their helmets, to have the perspective of the rider. And then another one mounted on the environment around the rider, to have a perspective from a distance.
- Despite their small sizes, action cameras record 4K best quality videos. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why athletes of a professional caliber would go for an action camera. It captures your best moments while you are immersed in an activity.
- An action camera might just be the best alternative you are looking for the dashcam of your car. The wide angle lenses possessed by action cameras makes them suitable for replacing dashcams. Which are more expensive anyway. And you can always remove your camera whenever you want to pause for a moment of your adventure. As a car dashcam, the wide angle lens allows for the entire view of the road.
What is the Best Action Camera
The camera market is saturated with models from different brands. So choosing the best action camera can be a bit tricky especially when you are new in the field. Gone are the days when Kodak and Samsung ruled the industry. Two years ago, Sony was the best brand with models that warmed the hearts of many photographers. And then the immediate year 2018 was the year of GoPro. A brand that has maintained ahead of the competition for the last few months.
The best camera also depends on what action you want it for. Take for instance your primary reason is to achieve the best video quality. In a case like that the veteran brands like Sony and Panasonic can serve you better.
Buyers are often faced with a challenge choosing the best value for their money. It is for this reason that we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best models to make things a little bit easier for you. It applies especially in the first quarter of 2019. But first glance will be on factors and features to consider when buying an action camera.
We all know that GoPro has been rolling out better and more advanced versions of the Hero series of cameras every year. Every new model comes with a more lightweight body, a lighter package, improved stabilization, and more advanced features. The Hero 7 Black set the standards way too high for the better part of 2018 up until now. In fact, it was the best GoPro model to buy last year.
Factors To Consider When Buying An Action Camera
Size, Shape & Weight- Just as GoPro is always working on coming up with lighter and smaller models, the 3 body dimensional factors affect the quality of an action camera. Most people go for the small compact designs that will seamlessly fit in their palms. Light and small are key points when picking an action camera.
It is important to note that the shape of an action camera determines their mounting options. The common designs in the market are the bullet-shaped cams that go well with mounting on helmets, and the cubic box-shaped models that work with chest mounting option.
Durability- Since this is a camera that you will carry along with you in rugged terrains and underwater. It is likely to experience the harshest of times. So the camera you choose to buy should be long-lasting. To survive the scratches and accidental slips in extreme sports or any other hyperactivity. It, therefore, becomes so important to consider the durability of the camera before reaching the decision to buy.
And for the enthusiasts of underwater activities, ensure to check the waterproofing properties of the camera. Some have an exterior waterproof lining while others require you to have a separate waterproof housing accessory. Either way, ensure your camera is waterproofed before throwing in on water.
Video Quality- If your main goal for buying an action camera is t0 record high-quality videos, then that becomes a priority factor. As it stands the best video quality so far is the 4K resolution. But there is a limiting factor. To get the best out of a 4K camera you have to own a 4K TV or a 4K computer monitor. The closest figure below that is a 2.7K recording. A resolution whose quality of videos is still impressive. The brand of the camera plays a role too.
Connectivity- Most camera brands overlook the screen. Mainly to maximize on the shooting features. As such, a good quality action camera must have sound connectivity. Either via Bluetooth or WiFi. For transfer of photo and video files to your smartphone for better viewing and sharing.
There must be a companion app for connecting your action camera to a smartphone. Both on Android and iOS platforms. This makes it easier to control the settings externally.
Image Quality- Similar to videos, if you are obsessed with shooting amazing still photos for a trip then the image quality should be on top of your checklist. The number of pixels is the determining factor. In that a larger number of pixels results in high resolution for the photos to appear clearer and more detailed.
Internal Memory Card- For smooth functioning of an action camera the memory card has to be super fast. This ensures compatibility for correct interpretation. And further avoids dropping frames that mainly hinder the clarity of video footages. Before buying check if the memory card offer write up speeds of 312MB/s or more. If slightly less that would still be okay.
Top 10 Action Cameras in 2019
Having the above details in mind helps you to make the right decision when buying an action camera. Also read a number of reviews online to ensure you don’t miss a thing. From the list below, the GoPro Hero 7 Black happens to be our pick. It is currently the most popular brand Hero 7 with multiple useful features that make photo/videography more enjoyable.
For instance, the Hypersmooth video stabilization function that compensates for when the camera shakes. The ability to read your body language and calculate your next move enables the Hero 7 Black to record decent high-quality videos. The rest of the models in the list act in their different capacities to provide the best videos.
1. GoPro Hero 7 Black Action Camera- Our Pick
The Hero 7 Black’s versatile application can allow you to shoot portrait photos for specifically Instagram and Snapchat. This happens when the device is on Portrait Mode/Orientation. The best shots come when the camera resolution is at an ultra HD 4K and 60fps. With high stabilization, the videos that result are neat and smooth.
- The voice command feature on the Hero 7 Black camera lets you control it hands-free. For example, you can tell it, “Take a video, GoPro”, and it goes straight to recording.
- The Hero 7 Black has a Protune feature which serves many functions. Including access to settings like sharpness, color, ISO limit, among other adjustments. Allows for editing of image/video files to the highest standards.
- Whether you go on skiing or any other extreme water sport, you don’t have to carry a separate waterproof housing accessory for your camera. The Hero 7 Black is 33″ waterproof.
- The transfer of photos from your camera to your phone is so easy and convenient with the device. This can either be via the GoPro app on your iOS/Android smartphone. Or better still one can share them on WiFi when they can access the signal.
- It has an inbuilt function the GoPro app that allows reshaping footages to be more entertaining. In addition to attaching appropriate music and sound effects.
- The variety of accessories that can work with this kind of camera shows that it’s on high demand. It can use up to 3o different accessories to be precise. That means it can be applied to nearly any sport, biking and riding being the basic examples.
- As the Hero 7 Black records high-quality videos and best photos, it usually eats up a lot of juice. Thus the battery runs dry barely 2 hours into the shooting adventure. However, the fast charging can save the situation. There is a companion supercharger power adapter that is sold as a separate accessory for the camera. It saves a lot of time when charging.
- Perfect videos and images.
- The multiple mounting options mean the camera can be applied in many fields.
- It does not support night photo shoots.
- Lack the NFC function, a cashless transaction, which has been integrated into just about every electronic device to make payments easier.
2. Insta360 ONE X- A Tiny Super Shooter
The Insta360 ONE X is a super slim design that shoots top quality videos despite the small size. It has an inbuilt 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization that enables it to be used in rugged terrains like mountain climbing or any other outdoor activity. Being one of the lightest and most compact action cameras in the market, the device is perfectly designed for extreme sports. And any other fun activities like skateboards.
- It has a large Aperture of 2.0 to allow in a substantial amount of light needed for photography.
- Insta360 ONE X is a highly portable action camera. The overall thickness is about 28mm, making it lightweight and easy to carry around.
- The Sony CMOS image sensors incorporated in the camera uses advanced technology to receive light energy and transform it to live pictures. The end result is better quality videos with smooth transitions.
- The transfer of videos from ONE X to a smartphone is fast. This can be done through either WiFi or via cable transfer.
- Even with a small size, the Insta360 ONE X camera packs a 1200mAh battery that can stand a 5K video recording for 1 hour straight. It would be advisable to carry a spare battery if you were going on long recording sessions away from home.
- The ONE X camera is appropriate to not only the rugged terrains but also underwater. It has multiple mounting options.
- The flowstate Stabilization allows the camera to record steady videos. That compensates for any shaking movements the photographer might experience.
- The image quality is great with the right settings.
- The 360° recording allows the user to get immersed in what they are doing and not what they are filming.
- Smartphone and desktop app buggy with some dormant features.
- Can be easily misplaced due to its small nature.
3. Xiaomi YI 4K Plus Action Camera- Raw Photos for Extensive Editing
The YI 4K+ is one of the first cameras that record at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. Like any other premium action camera, the device maintains a compact shape that can comfortably fit in any pockets. It does this while holding many excellent features in its body. For example, the Sony IMX377 12MP image sensor, Ambarella H2 Processor, and much more.
- Adopts Electronic Image Stabilization technology to come up with stable videos. Anyone engaging in an extreme sport or activity has to experience bumps and shakes along the way. It is never smooth. But EIS can come in to improve the quality of the videos.
- By adopting the raw format method in shooting your pics, you give it limitless editing options. The YI 4K+ action camera snaps high-quality raw format photos.
- Both armatures and professionals can use the camera alike. This is because of the simple settings that are more like what you see in smartphones. However, there are more complex settings too, meant for professionals.
- Having a voice control function means the device can be controlled from a distance without being in touch with it. The voice command era is well in. Controlling the camera without having to be in touch with it gives so much convenience and flexibility in its operations.
- The accessories used in 4K+ are the same as those used in the predecessor, YI 4K. Those who previously owned the older model can carry forward their accessories to be used in the new camera. Even the handheld gimbal is still one of the key accessories working in the 4K+ camera.
- Transfer of videos through the YI Action App is super fast. This allows for preview and playback in a smartphone’s screen which displays better than a camera.
- Photos and video content of high quality.
- Works perfectly under good lighting.
- Charging takes abnormally long.
- The battery gets heated up.
4. EKEN H9R- A Powerful Budget Design
Selling for less than a $100, the EKEN H9R incorporates important features. Including the 170° high definition ultra-wide angle lens. A feature that helps it captures more landscape into the photo. With your 2.4G digital remote and standing within a distance of 9 ft you can comfortably control the camera. Additionally, H9R is waterproof up to 30 meters. That means swimming with it is possible.
- A companion App called Ez iCam used on the smartphone can enable you to access many features. For instance, content sharing, photo playback, live preview, and much more.
- The device records best at 1080P resolution while maintaining at 60 frames per second rate.
- For the EKEN H9R to function perfectly well, an external class 10 memory card with a storage space of 32GB has to chip in. This part essentially stores video files to allow the camera to record more.
- As for connectivity, the device might seem low on budget but it adds vital features like WiFi. Which ensures fast transfer of files on an active network. It is important to note that WiFi is functional and compatible with devices that are Android 4.0 & iOS 8.0 and above.
- It has a 2.0-inch LCD display screen. The display is fair for checking what videos look like.
- The recording for full HD is high quality.
- Easy to install and connect it to WiFi.
- Lacks an external microphone.
- Records poorly in a bad light.
5. Drift Ghost X Action Camera- A Sports Champion
This is one of the best unique action cameras available in the market. Drift is a veteran camera company specializing in the action cameras niche. Their models are durable, wearable, smart, and are geared towards customer satisfaction in shooting sessions. The Drift Ghost X, in particular, takes a unique shape of a bullet. Designed like an aerodynamic vehicle. A slim, highly polished, and attractive to hold.
- Ghost X has a battery capacity of 2000mAh. This a massive figure substantial enough to stand 5 hours of 1080P High Definition recording. The battery is sold separately so you can even buy an extra to multiply the number of hours you can go on a shooting session.
- The lenses are rotatable 360° all around. No matter the mounting position you can always adjust the lens to achieve the desired alignment of the photo.
- The companion Drift Life App on your smartphone gives convenient control features. It allows all the stages that a modern photo or video go through. And that is viewing & editing to come up with best shots for social media.
- The camera has a compact size whose dimensions measure 43x82x31.40mm. It only weighs about 120g. A perfect action camera for a long trip and extreme sports.
- With the video tagging feature in the camera, you can capture the awful moments when you’re unaware immediately after they happen.
- A number of Ghost X cameras can be synchronized together through WiFi. In this mode, you can control all the cameras from one central point. In other words, when you start recording in one, all start to record too.
- A good value for money.
- Suits best the motorcycle and mountain bike fans.
- Moisture protection (waterproofing) makes it fit for fishing.
- No mode stabilizer.
- A bit buggy.
6. SJCAM SJ8 Pro Action Camera- A Smart Video Recorder
The SJCAM SJ8 Pro camera is versatile in the sense that it be applied in a variety of fields. Such as drone cameras, underwater sports, security recorder, car DVR, and much more. It has the Sony IMX377 image sensors and a 0.96-inch OLED screen that displays clearly under the sun. Other functions of the camera include shooting modes like slow motion and time-lapse videos.
- The SJ8 Pro packs a battery with a capacity of 1200mAh. At full charge, the device can shoot for 90 minutes straight on 4K resolution and 60 frames per second.
- The Ambarella H22 processor that spins all the operations of the SJCAM SJ8 Pro is one of the top quality chipsets in the industry.
- SJ8 Pro incorporates Class 10 TF/SD card with a storage space of more than 64GB. You have to ensure the memory card format is FAT32.
- It has an electronic image stabilization feature. Which allows for freedom when using the camera. It acts as a cushion to camera shakes in rugged terrains. The end result is beautiful photos despite the bumpy rides.
- The SJ8 Pro has a 2.33″ IPS Touchscreen that is hyper-reactive.
- The camera is waterproof up to 30M underwater. You can dive in for swimming without worrying about anything.
- It incorporates two microphone speakers. One in front and the other on the side. They both record clear sounds from within and have a noise canceling feature to ensure more clarity.
- Works very fast on WiFi 5GHz speeds.
- 1200mAh battery is a 30% improvement from the previous model.
- Lacks NFC support. Which is becoming a popular cashless transaction in many parts of the world.
- Does not have a Bluetooth function.
7. Mi Mijia Action Camera- Accurate Transmission & Clearer Images
The Xiaomi Mi Mijia is a midrange action camera with a lot of premium features and an impressive performance. As one of the Xiaomi products, you expect a low price for a high-end device. For instance, the Mi Mijia action camera incorporates a 7-glass lens technology, which is quite expensive. And what it does is to smoothen the transmission process so as to realize clearer and distinct images.
- Mi Mijia uses the IMX 317 sensor which grants entry to more light. So even at night recording is still perfect. The machine works well under IR light.
- To compensate for camera shakes during random movements while immersed in the action, the Mi Mijia camera employs the 6-axis electronic image stabilization system. Helps so much in creating stability for the shooting.
- As for the battery, just like any midrange action cam, it has a capacity of 1450mAh. This lasts 2 hours of 4K 30fps recording. If your goal is to have particularly long shooting sessions then you would need a spare battery.
- The Ambarella A12S75 is the central image processing unit of the Mi Mijia camera. The chipset is one of the popular brands in the market.
- The camera has a Bluetooth 4.1 function. You can either connect it on Bluetooth or use the Mi Home App on your smartphone to adjust, add effects, edit, and access other settings.
- A good quality product.
- Value for money with a performance that supersedes expectations.
- Mi Mijia is a bit cumbersome.
- Lacks the 4K 60fps recording which is considered a standard in most action cameras of the time.
8. ThiEYE T5 Edge- Native 4K Shooting
The ThiEYE T5 Edge is one of the industry leaders in Native 4K recording. In fact, it plays in the same league as the likes of Hero 6 Black and the YI 4K+ action camera. The T5 Edge has attractive features despite being a budget action camera. For example, the voice control technology that lets you control your device hands off. It takes the instructions merely by the touch of a remote button. Saves a lot of energy and brings more convenience.
- It records best quality images at 4K 30fps. The second best resolution it supports is 2.7K 30 fps.
- T5 Edge incorporates a 170-degree wide lens that opens up for more color saturation. Adjusting of the viewing angle is possible.
- The buckle that holds on the device allows for a 360° turning. It can also be locked at any point. This gives a variety of shooting options. Changing the angles to achieve the desired results.
- Providing stable and steady shots is an inbuilt Gyro Stabilizer. No matter the shaking resulting from rapid action, the ThiEYE camera will record perfect videos.
- ThiEYE T5 Edge has a function for Distortion Correction. This ensures photos are flawlessly displayed in a clear detailed manner. Eliminates points of exaggeration.
- The camera is waterproof up to 60 meters. It shoots underwater without risks and maintains the natural blue effect of water. Alternatively, it comes with a waterproof accessory that is also 60M waterproof. This ensures safety while diving or on any other extreme water sport.
- It has a Nightshot function.
- ThiEYE T5 Edge has a voice control feature.
- It lacks the NFC function.
- The battery capacity is limited. About 110mAh.
9. AKASO V50 Pro- Free Important Accessories
The ability to record fast actions is the reason why AKASO V50 Pro is one of the top players in the action camera market. Integrated into the design is a number of high-end features that jointly work to produce excellent photos. And what’s more beautiful about it is that the camera comes with some free accessories. A charger, 2 rechargeable batteries, digital remote control, and a number of useful kits.
- To cover for camera tilts and shakes, the camera is equipped with 6-axis gyroscope stabilization. The technology ensures smooth recording for steady and consistent videos.
- The 4K 30 frames per second recording on V50 Pro is quite clear. The end result is high-quality images.
- Through the iSmart Pro+ on your smartphone, you can control the operations of the camera. Like editing, adding effects, including music and soundtracks, and many others.
- It has an image distortion correction feature. This enables restoring back the parts of an image that might go out of shape in the shooting process.
- The AKASO V50 Pro action camera has an inbuilt Filter. Its function is to minimize glare while boosting saturation. All for the perfection of the end images.
- For the clarity of the sounds produced by the subject(s) immersed in the action, the camera incorporates a Wind Noise Reduction feature. Which filters out unnecessary noise from the environment.
- V50 Pro has an internal memory space of 128MB. This is an advantage as most action cameras hardly come with any.
- It has a Nightshot function.
- The battery, although coming with a spare, has a limited capacity of 1100mAh. This means you run out of juice barely an hour into a shooting session.
- It lacks the Bluetooth function.
10. Soocoo S300- 8G All-Glass Lenses
As the title suggests, the Soocoo S300 is a powerful action camera that shoots like a pro. It’s the kind of camera that has all the features you need to decode your own epic. The combination of the HiSilicon Hi3559V100 chipset and the Sony IMX377 image sensors produces an efficient system for high-grade images. All this while cutting power consumption to the minimum.
- It has a 170° wide angle lens to create a larger field of view. This helps to accommodate more in the picture.
- Like the other cameras in its price category, the camera records perfectly at 4K 30 frame rates per second.
- The external GPS function installed in the device is of huge help, especially among car racers. It records your journey, performance, together with the driving date.
- Soocoo S300 incorporates a strong A9SE75 SoC that corrects distortions. Mostly lenses cause distortion in images. But with distortion correction, the end result is great photos. You don’t have to go through complex settings and filters to come up with good-quality images.
- The camera comes with a Waterproof case accessory. This protects the camera up to 30 meters underwater.
- With the optical image stabilization feature in the camera, you can record your bike riding on a bumpy road without worries. Unsteady videos can be so disgusting to watch.
- The Soocoo camera app on your phone makes it easier to record, edit, and share your moments on social media or your Vlog.
- Soocoo S300 is among the few cameras in its price segment to include the Voice Command function. With the six available command options, you can control your camera completely hands-free.
- It has an LCD Gorilla Glass 2.35″ TFT-screen. This feature enables access to photos and video playbacks.
- The 1200mAh can record at 4K 3o frames per second for 1¼ hours. Fairly good.
- Lacks NFC function.
- Has no internal storage space memory.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
What are Action Cameras used for?
Shooting photos and recording videos on extreme sports and other fun activities is difficult with the bulky DSLR cameras. Action cameras are specifically designed for recording while totally immersed in the action. Like scuba diving, big wave water surfing, bike riding, skating, and many others.
Because they are used in rugged environments, action cameras are compact, lightweight, small in size, has multiple mounting options, can be wearable, and comes with many accessories.
How much does an action camera cost?
Most good build action cameras costs between $100 and $200. However, premium brands like go for much more, because it has more advanced features. There are also other pretty good models selling for less than $100. It is important to check for the features to see if it matches the price.
What does Point Of View (POV) camera mean?
These are cameras that shoot scenes that are in front of the person. They are usually mounted on helmets, hats, and goggles. They are commonly used in live video streaming.
Action cameras will always make your life better and more fun. With this type of cameras, you can cover your epic moments and share them instantly on social media. They cut across extreme water and terrestrial activities. Video recording of sports like bike riding, kayaking, scuba diving, surfing, and many more used to be complicated back in the days. But now that is totally possible with action cameras. They are widely popular in many parts of the world. Especially those countries that touch the coastline of the sea.