Are you an avid traveler? Or a vlogger who shares experiences with social media followers? Maybe you are a daredevil who goes mountain biking or deep sea diving. No matter what, an action camera can be a splendid companion for you. You can carry it with ease and shoot high-quality videos for reliving those moments later.
But there are many products in the market that offer unique features and amazing value for money. To save you from all the confusion while shopping, we have created a buying guide explaining all the features you should look for in an action camera. Don't forget to browse through our top 10 recommendations featuring the best action cameras from top companies like GoPro, Insta360, DJI, Sony, and more.
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Read the buying guide below to learn about the features you should look for in an action camera like video recording capabilities, various photography modes, water resistance, screen type and audio recording options, and the type of action camera to choose depending on your needs.
You must already know about box-style action cameras. Popular action cameras like GoPro Hero9 and Insta360 comes under this category. They are rugged, support additional accessories, and pack a lot of features. But there are other styles too, for example, cube, bullet, and 360-degree. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
A cube-style action camera is the smallest among the four. It is lightweight and can easily fit in your pocket. You only need a little space if you want to mount it on a motorcycle handlebar. A bullet-style action camera looks like a flashlight. Other than an intriguing design, there is nothing special about them. It may look much more stylish than a cube-style action camera.
A 360-degree action camera features two lenses. It can capture 360 videos that you can use to create virtual reality videos. The viewer can experience the world in the video as if they are in it. Vloggers and content creators may find this type of action camera useful for giving their subscribers a unique experience through their videos.
Whether you want to record your memories or create content for social media, high-resolution videos are always fun to watch. Find out the video recording capabilities an action camera should have, so you can choose the best one for your budget.
While shopping for action cameras, you will find most of the top products in the market offering at least 4K video recording capability. Before you decide you don't want to shoot 4K videos, watch some on YouTube. Whether it is for personal use, professional use, or social media, high-resolution videos are always breathtaking to watch.
If you are a content creator, then there is no excuse but to go for a product that can shoot the highest resolution video for your budget. Products like GoPro MAX and Insta360 offer video recording in 5.6K and 5.7K, respectively. Currently, this is the highest video recording resolution any camera has ever offered. Another feature you can use to judge a camera's video recording capability is fps.
Fps or frames per second determine how smooth a video would be. For example, a 4K video shot at 60 fps will look smoother than one shot at 30 fps. Shooting at higher fps also enables you to create slow-motion videos. The more fps at which you shoot, the slower your video can look. Buy a camera that can shoot at high fps at the highest video resolution for creating crisp slow-motion videos.
For example, GoPro Hero9's SuperView mode utilizes the full capability of the wide-angle lens it has. As you choose the following FOV options like wide, linear, and narrow, the field of view gets narrower, resulting in a more "zoomed in" frame, thus letting you be more creative with your shots.
As the angle of view of a lens increases, it will be able to incorporate more elements into the frame. But it will also increase the distortion along the edges, which the camera may digitally crop out, or you need to spend time fixing it while editing. For example, a lens with a 180-degree FOV will have more of the scene in the frame than one with a 93-degree FOV (DJI OSMO Pocket 2).
You don't have to be a photography guru to capture stunning photos. Just have an idea about what the results will be when you shoot in a particular mode to make the best out of your action camera. Here are some photography modes your camera should have to impress your social media fans and friends with your creativity.
Timelapse is a mode in which your camera clicks a picture at regular intervals. The end product will be a video that looks as if a video is sped up. Burst mode allows you to capture several pictures in a short amount of time. Later, you can choose a picture that has the best composition. This mode is extremely useful when you are trying to capture fast-moving actions like bike racing.
If you come across a scene with lots of bright and dark areas (highlights and shadows), your camera will have trouble capturing every detail. A camera with an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode will capture an image with all the details in the highlights and shadows. Make sure that your choice has these basic photography modes before you buy.
Touchscreens make configuring your action camera easier. It enables you to adjust capture settings quickly before you click a picture or start shooting. Action cameras are meant for fast and rugged activities like biking, trekking, mountain climbing, off-road riding, swimming, etc. You don't want to waste your time struggling with settings on a non-touchscreen camera.
If you want an action camera for shooting travel videos and vlogging, buy one with a front-facing display. It will help you frame your selfie videos perfectly. Another feature to look for in an action camera is its audio recording capability. Having a microphone is not enough. If you want to shoot videos for social media, buy a camera with multiple microphones.
For example, the GoPro Hero MAX features six microphones that capture 360-degree audio. When you view the 360-degree video from the camera, the spherical audio captured by it provides an immersive surround sound experience. If you only want to capture what's in front of you, stereo audio recording capability will be more than enough.
Water resistance is one of the necessary features an action camera should have. It not only protects the camera from accidental water splashes and rain but also enables you to shoot underwater. Most action cameras offer water resistance up to 5 meters. You can also find ones you can take up to 60 meters underwater.
Some cameras will only become water-resistant if you use an underwater housing (a camera case that protects the camera while being used underwater), which normally comes with the camera. For example, Sony's FDR-X3000 becomes water-resistant up to 60 meters when you put on the underwater housing.
But products like the SJCAM SJ10 Pro offer water resistance up to 30 meters with the housing and 10 meters without it. If you go deep sea diving or want to shoot underwater ecosystems (like coral reefs), buy an extra housing that will enable you to take the camera to your desired depths. You
While traveling the world with your action camera, you cannot be sure how long you will operate it. You don't want your camera to die when something interesting comes up during your adventures. Not only that, shooting at high resolution and frame rates drains the battery quickly. Depending on your needs, buy a camera with longer battery life or buy extra batteries to switch when one runs out.
If you want to use your action camera for planned shoots, consider its video recording capability rather than battery life. But if you want one for capturing memories while traveling, think about battery life profoundly. For planned shoots, we recommend going for a camera that can shoot continuously for at least 1 hour when set at 4K 60 fps.
For capturing favorite moments while traveling, it will be a good idea to buy one that can shoot in 1080p at 30 fps for at least two hours. If you plan to upload those travel videos to YouTube and you prefer to shoot in 4K, we recommend buying extra battery packs.
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ONE R Twin Edition
Comes With Interchangeable Lenses
Dual Lens Allows 360 Degree Video Capture
Hero9 Holiday Bundle
Features a Front Facing Camera for Vlogging and Selfies
Hero8 Holiday Bundle Pack
Supports 1080p Live Streaming
OSMO Pocket 2 Gimbal Creator Combo
Mechanical Gimbal Provides Exceptional Video Stabilization
Allows 4k HDR Video Recording
Water Resistant up to 60 Meters With the Underwater Housing On
Lens Hood Prevents Glare and Lens Flare
Provides 95 Minutes of 4K Shooting at 60 Fps
Has a Battery Life of 3 Hours Even When Shooting in 4K
With the capability to shoot 360-degree videos in 5.7K at 30 fps, the Insta 360 ONE R is a must-have action camera in a traveler's bag. It comes with interchangeable lenses—a 360-degree lens that can shoot at 5.7K and a wide-angle lens that can shoot 4K videos at 60 fps. When you are using the 360-degree lens, you can enable the tracking option to keep the subject in the center of the frame easily.
The electronic image stabilization in the ONE R is on par with the more advanced gimbal stabilization as it also uses algorithms to analyze the scene, making it work even in low-light conditions. You can shoot slow-motion videos and hyperlapses with ease. ONE R also supports capturing HDR photos and videos that bring the details in highlights and shadows in one frame.
If you want an action camera that offers the flexibility of choosing the lenses you want to shoot in, go for this product. You can also buy a 1-inch lens mod separately that allows a wide-angle 5.3K video capture at 30 fps.
The key feature of the GoPro MAX is its dual-lens that support 360-degree video capture. Your travel videos will look exceptional and also enable you to create a virtual reality video where the viewer is right in the middle of the captured world. If you switch to HERO mode, the camera uses just one of the lenses, enabling you to shoot 180-degree videos, like a normal action camera.
It supports 5.6K video recording at 30 fps in 360-degree mode and a maximum resolution of 2.5K at 60 fps in HERO mode. The camera is rugged and water-resistant up to 5 meters and features six mics that can capture 360-degree audio.
It comes with electronic image stabilization that delivers gimbal-like video stabilization, and its horizon leveling will maintain the frame even when the camera tilts to the sides. We recommend this camera to everyone who wants to make virtual reality travel videos for YouTube or personal use.
GoPro Heor9 offers 1 hour 20 minutes of continuous shooting in 5K 30fps, making it an apt device for planned outdoor shooting. It comes with a touchscreen that allows easy configuration of shooting modes and a front display for vloggers to frame their selfie shots perfectly. It comes with a detachable lens that you can swap for the Max lens mod, which gives you an even wider field of view.
Hero9 comes with HyperSmooth 3.0 that combines electronic image stabilization and algorithm to provide horizon leveling (a feature that levels the video horizontally by eliminating accidental sideways tilts). You can enjoy capturing pictures using various modes like LiveBurst, scheduled capture, duration, timelapse, and more.
Other features include water resistance up to 10 meters, SD support up to 256 GB, RAW audio, photo capture, etc. The bundle pack contains an extra rechargeable battery, 32GB memory card, floating grip, magnetic swivel clip, and a GoPro case.
GoPro Hero8 allows you to shoot 4K videos at 60 fps. With HyperSmooth 2.0, you can get stabilized videos even when you mount it on a motorcycle or a bike. With support for media mod (sold separately), content creators can mount a shotgun mic (for direction audio), a front-facing screen, and a powerful LED light to the GoPro Hero8.
You can choose between several FOV (field of view) options to compose your shot according to your needs. Its high-quality sensor allows you to shoot night lapses (night time timelapse) without any grains. The LiveBurst mode clicks 90 still images continuously, which allows you to pick the perfect shot for your social media.
You can live stream full HD videos to your social media for your fans and viewers to watch. The Holiday bundle comes with an extra battery, chest mount, 32GB memory card, and a handgrip with a tripod.
DJI OSMO Pocket 2 has a feature that other products on our list don't have: a gimbal. The mechanical stabilization offered by this device is superior to electronic image stabilization, allowing you to capture cinematic-looking shots with ease. It enables high-quality capturing of images and 4K videos at 60 fps using the 64 MP sensor.
With ActiveTrack 3.0, the camera can move in any direction to keep the subject in focus. You can set the camera to capture a motionlapse (timelapse with smooth camera movement), and the four microphones on the handle enable surround sound recording.
The Creator combo comes with extra accessories like USB type-a to type-C splitter charging cable, do-it-all handle, wireless microphone transmitter, wireless microphone windscreen, micro tripod, and a wide-angle lens.
DJI OSMO Action can record 4K at 30 fps in HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode and 60 fps in normal mode. HDR mode captures details that usually get lost in the highlights and shadows in normal mode. It features a touchscreen and a front-facing display to help you frame your shots perfectly.
The device is water-resistant up to 11 meters, and the RockSteady mode combines EIS and algorithms to provide you with shake-free footage. You can shoot slow-motion videos up to 240 fps in 1080p and set custom exposure for capturing pictures in low-light conditions.
OSMO Action allows you to control it through voice commands too. It can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees celsius, and the efficient heat dissipation system provides 16% more efficient cooling, allowing you to shoot for extended periods.
Sony FDR-X3000 is designed like a camcorder, making it compact and easy to hold. It has a built-in GPS that displays location tracking and speedometer on your views when you edit it through Sony's Action Cam Movie Creator. Using the supplied underwater housing, you can go up to depths of 60 meters.
It also makes the camera dustproof and shockproof. Sony's action camera comes in two variants—FDR-X3000 and FDR-X3000R. The product we have featured here is the former one. The only difference between them is that the second one comes with a screen for live viewing of your footage.
Yes, the FDR-X3000 doesn't have a touch screen, nor does it support live viewing. You need to buy the live view kit separately for that. It can last 60 minutes when shooting 4K videos at 30 fps, and the built-in tripod socket allows quick mounting of your camera to a tripod for capturing steady videos.
Kodak PIXPRO SP1 is a rugged action camera that is drop-resistant up to 2 meters and water-resistant up to 10 meters. It can even withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees celsius. The maximum video capturing capacity of the SP1 is only 1080p at 30 fps, which may be a disappointment for vloggers and content creators.
It features an LCD screen for live viewing but is not touch-sensitive. You can choose from several FOV options to compose your shot, and the EIS will reduce shakes to provide smooth videos for your personal use and social media.
The AI (artificial intelligence) takes care of face detection and auto-exposure control depending on the lighting conditions. We recommend this product to people looking for a durable action camera for rough adventures like hiking, trekking, swimming, and mountain climbing.
SJCAM SJ10 Pro packs a lot of features in the small body. It comes with an IPS touch display for live viewing of videos and SuperSmooth stabilization that combines EIS and algorithm to produce shake-free videos. The camera is water-resistant up to 30 meters with a waterproof body, and without it, the camera is safe up to 10 meters.
It offers 95 minutes of continuous 4K shooting at 60 fps, records quality audio using dual microphones, and allows live streaming directly to your social media. Customer reviews show that the video quality is on par with the top models in the market, and the build quality is sturdy.
Campark V30 is the most affordable action camera on our list that can shoot 4K videos. It offers a whopping 3 hours of battery life when shooting at the maximum resolution of 4K at 30 fps. You can go underwater up to depths of 30 meters with this action camera.
Its 20 MP sensor can capture pictures with superb contrast and finest details, and the multiple FOV options enable easy shot composition. The camera has two batteries that can be charged simultaneously, adding to the convenience this device offers. Customer reviews show that the image and video quality is average, but the stabilization is top-notch for the price.
Whether it's for YouTube or your personal collection, aerial shots are always breathtaking to watch. And high-resolution videos will make your social media channel a viewer-favorite. You will also need editing software to stitch your footage and add effects to it.
To help you with all these, we have created buying guides for the best camera drones for beginners, vlogging cameras, and video editing apps. Follow the links below to read and shop from our top 10 list featuring products from the most popular brands in India.
In a nutshell, your action camera should have features that enable you to capture professional-looking videos with ease. Look for high resolution and high fps video recording capability and electronic image stabilization. Various photography modes will help you capture creative shots with ease, and manual control over various capture settings will give you more flexibility while shooting.
If you want your camera to be functional under the high pressures of the deep sea, buy extra housing or find a camera with your desired water resistance. Finally, buy a camera with a longer battery or get extra batteries, so you won't miss out on any special moments during your adventures.
Author - Arun F Xaviour
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