Action cameras have gained in popularity in recent years. These small camcorders were developed for use in extreme conditions, and they were initially used for first-person video recording. However, they are increasingly common when recording in places that professional equipment cannot reach.
Over the last few years, the arrival of – mostly Chinese – new brands on the market has led to a rise in the available supply. Simultaneously, the drop in prices has made these products much more accessible to the general public. You no longer have to be a professional athlete to buy your very own action cam.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Action Cameras in the United Kingdom: Our Picks
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about action cameras
- 4.1 What is an action camera exactly?
- 4.2 What are the main uses of action cameras?
- 4.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of action cameras?
- 4.4 What types of action cameras are available out there?
- 4.5 How do I use my action camera?
- 4.6 What are the main accessories for action cameras?
- 4.7 For whom are action cams recommended?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Resume
- Action cameras are specifically designed for use in extreme conditions, their main use being for first-person video recording.
- They are the perfect partner for all your adventures, and leaving without it will be impossible for you. GoPro was the very first action cam brand, but new brands have flooded the market in recent years.
- Prices have significantly decreased lately, and the general public has gained greater access to action cameras. Few current models can record 4K resolutions at 30 fps.
The Best Action Cameras in the United Kingdom: Our Picks
The section below will introduce you to our very own ranking of the best action cams currently available on the market. We tried to include the needs of different types of users in our selection, and all models offer great quality.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about action cameras
There are several key criteria that you have to pay attention to before purchasing your action cam. Remember that each model presents its own characteristics and features. We've designed this section to tackle the main questions people ask themselves up buying an action camera.
What is an action camera exactly?
The fixed wide-angle lens provides the peripheral vision sensation of our human eye, which also ensures that you have proper framing at all times. Outdoor adventurers and athletes are particularly fond of action cameras.
Their light weight means they are also suitable for use as drone cams.
What are the main uses of action cameras?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of action cameras?
Due to market supply, prices have significantly dropped in recent years; it is no longer a huge investment to buy one. On the other hand, one great disadvantage of this kind of product is that the built-in microphones tend to record low-quality audio.
What types of action cameras are available out there?
|Low-end||Much more affordable, but also much fewer features. They generally don't include as many accessories. They target less professional users.|
|High-end||These cameras are aimed at people with much higher budgets. They are intended for professional use. They give you the possibility of recording in 4K.|
How do I use my action camera?
You naturally have to make the most of all your cam's accessories. Placing real physical filters in front of your lens will help you correct the light that reaches it; you need to take full advantage of the light. Memory and battery are two aspects you definitely don't want to overlook. You wouldn't be the first to miss out on key shots because you've run out of either.
What are the main accessories for action cameras?
Head mounts and helmet fastening systems are also very popular to get the perfect first-person perspective.
Helping you avoid possible discomfort from weight on your head, chest harnesses are also frequently used. A shorter, more ergonomic version of the pole is often carried by divers. Last but not least, suction pads are very useful to attach your action camera on your vehicle.
For whom are action cams recommended?
Many bikers and cyclists now use them, and skiers often attach them to their helmet or chest. Other target groups include skaters and street performers, such as musicians and dancers. Action cameras are also ideal for outdoorsmen, adventure lovers and other adrenaline junkies.
The following section will introduce you to several key criteria that you can't forget when the time comes to make your purchase. They will make your decision-making process much easier, and we're sure you'll be satisfied with your choice. One thing we definitely don't want is for you to be unhappy with your action cam!
- Personal use
- Frames per second
- Bit rate
- Image stabilisation
- Mobile application
- Audio quality
You'll need top quality for professional use, but that won't be a necessity if you buy it for personal purposes. The frequency of use is also something you have to consider. The shooting conditions and places you want to use your action camera should play a role in your final decision.
Will you be using it for specific activities or sports? This is important as you'll for example need a waterproof protection for surfing.
The accessories that will be useful to you depend on your personal use, so think about it.
Do you absolutely need an action cam that can record in 4K resolution, or will Full HD (1080p) be good enough? Currently, most of the video content we consume is actually in Full HD. However, there are a number of great advantages gained by recording in 4K and scaling down the image to 1080p.
You'll obtain a much sharper image, and you'll be able to apply software stabilisation and zoom during the editing process. On the downside, this requires more demanding editing equipment in terms of power and storage capacity, not to mention the time you'll need to edit your footage.
Frames per second
A higher number of frames per second (fps) will provide a sharper motion of the moving bodies in the image. For reference, know that 24 fps are usually used in cinema; this creates what what we call the motion blur effect. This cinematographic style is particularly pleasing to the eye.
You'll get much greater realism and clarity of movements when recording at 60 fps, which is often used in documentaries or broadcasts of sporting events. Recording with a higher frame rate gives you the possibility of later applying slow motion effect during the editing.
This value corresponds to the amount of video information produced by your camera, and it gives you an idea of how much compressed video data passes through the camera. Considering the incredibly high work volume of these cameras, remember that they cannot actually transmit all the data generated.
This means that the camera will either compress or discard some of this data. You naturally want as much data as possible when editing your video, so you should always prioritise a higher bit rate. However, keep in mind that more data also means more resources and time needed, so finding the right balance for you is key.
This is without a doubt a fundamental aspect of any camera. The sharpness of your lens will greatly depend on its quality. Here are some data about action cameras that may be useful: the maximum aperture usually revolves around value of f/2.8, while the focal length varies between viewing angles of 150° to 170°.
We imagine that you'll be moving around quite a bit if you need an action camera, And you definitely don't want vibrations while you record videos. If you simply won't let ill-timed vibrations ruin your moment of glory, know that several techniques will help you obtain a perfectly stable image.
When it comes to video, the most effective one tends to be external stabilisation. While optical stabilisation is particularly efficient for correcting vibrations, few cameras feature this characteristic.
Yo can also opt for internal electronic stabilisation, which is considered to be quite effective; however, this comes at the expense of quality and image angle.
The sensor of your action cam is also a determining factor in the quality of your video. This key component captures the light, which then passes through the lens and the diaphragm before being converted into image. A bigger sensor will be able to offer higher image quality by capturing more light.
Action cameras generally feature a USB connection so that you can connect it to your computer or other electronic devices. Nowadays, technological advances has led to most models offering the possibility of connecting via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with higher-end cams even allowing connection through NFC (near-field communication) technology.
Camera manufacturers offer very handy mobile applications, so don't overlook them. Depending on the app, you will be able to speed up video transfer from your camera to your mobile phone. We know just how important smartphones have become for content sharing. Note that not all apps will present the same features.
This aspect is particularly important as it will determine the different types of cases, anchors and other accessories you'll have access to. In the end, you will always find the right accessories separately online, but you'll save money if they directly come with your action cam kit. Avoid surprises by checking available accessories first.
When it comes to range of accessories, GoPro remains the undisputed industry leader. We definitely recommend you to buy a model with a similar format, which will give your action camera access to many more accessories – at more affordable prices.
We know you know this is a fundamental aspect for any type of electronic devices, let alone cameras. It's very likely that you often find yourself in situations where charging your battery is simply impossible, whether you're up high in the sky or riding swells. One available option is having spare batteries handy, but you might realise in the long run that this is extra weight to carry.
Most current action cameras feature lithium ion batteries, which contribute to making this product lighter. Milliamperes hour (mAh) is the technical unit used to measure the autonomy of batteries, but many manufacturers will also include the autonomy in hours in the product's specifications.
As we mentioned earlier, most action cameras unfortunately lack top quality when it comes to sound. If you need quality audio, you'll need to equip yourself with an external microphone or simply a digital recorder.
This will naturally be an additional investment, although some kits include an external mic.
Size and weight are two fundamental aspects, as they will determine how easily you can carry your action camera around. But we don't mean taking it from point A to point B during a trip. We're talking about having it with you while you're parachuting, surfing or exploring mountains on your bike.
The brand par excellence is GoPro, which practically created the concept of action cams. Sony and YI also offer high quality devices. Other recognised brands that offer quality equipment include SJ, Tom Tom and Toshiba.
As we mentioned already, the arrival of Chinese brands has developed the lower-end market, making these products more accessible. Brands like Xiaomi have even come to outmatch GoPro's highest range models. This democratisation of the market isn't something the general public is complaining about.
An action camera will be the perfect companion for your life full of adventure. The appearance of much more affordable models has contributed to the increasing popularity of this product, and the offer has considerably expanded in recent years. We like to think this is a very positive thing.
But it's true that this phenomenon has also made choosing the right camera a little bit of a hassle. Knowing the key specifications and your needs is therefore essential, so make sure you consider aspects such as resolution, bit rate, frames per second or battery life.
We hope you found this guide interesting and helpful. If that's the case, feel free to share it with your friends and family on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!
(Source of featured image: Vasilev: 114210766/ 123rf.com)