Do you agree that conventional cameras just don’t give you the freedom that action cameras do? Do you consider yourself to be quite the thrill seeker that wants to record and capture those adrenaline-pumping moments so you can experience them again and again? You’re not alone. Having the best action camera is your solution so read on!
Whether you are canoeing, skiing, snowboarding or biking, the action camera will go anywhere and capture those moments in extreme detail. What separates an action camera from other cameras is its toughness, diminutive size, and mounting options when compared with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot or a camcorder. This makes action cameras exceptionally fit to capturing footage from a first-animal or first-person point of view. However, there are numerous models available on the market, and since finding the best is far from easy, we decided to jump in and help you out.
In this article, you will learn how to choose the best action camera by keeping an eye on the most important features, and we’ll also highlight the best models on the market, and all of them are worthy of your money. But first, let’s take a look at the table of the models we reviewed so that you have a better insight into what to expect.
|Product Name|| Weight|
|Specific Features||Best Use||Price|
|Garmin Virb XE||5.4||G-METRIX-built-in GPS and external sensors, 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second||Wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, skiing||Check price on Amazon|
| Sony HDRAS50R||19.2||1080p60 XAVC S Video at 50 Mbps, 120 fps High-Framerate capture in 720p, 1/2.3-inch Exmor R Sensor with Bionz X||Skiing, snowboarding, cycling, skateboarding||Check price on Amazon|
|TomTom Bandit 4K||6.6||4K resolution video, 3 hours battery life, built-in sensors, G-force, altitude, and rotation||Cycling, skateboarding, climbing, skydiving||Check price on Amazon|
|GoPro Hero4 Black||5.3||Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, improved camera control and built-in video trimming||Skiing, cycling, skateboarding, snowboarding||Check price on Amazon|
|360FLY 360° HD||5||360fly panoramic 360° HD video camera, action camera adapter, tilt mount with curved and flat base plates||Snowboarding, climbing, skydiving, extreme sports||Check price on Amazon|
|Sioeye Iris4G||25.6||All-in-one unlocked 4G LTE live streaming camera, real-time speed, Sioeye Cloud live basic streaming service included||Skiing, cycling, skateboarding, snowboarding||Check price on Amazon|
|Ricoh WG-M2||8||8MP photos in bursts up to 8 fps, 204° and 151° angle of view, waterproof down to 65 feet||Climbing, skydiving, surfing, extreme sports||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
So now that you are convinced to buy an action camera, how exactly do you choose one? Lucky for you, we have a brief guide that will help you determine the factors and features needed when buying an action camera.
You don’t buy an action camera for the sake of owning one. One crucial factor to consider in this regard is the video quality or resolution. As of this writing, the highest video quality that you can get from an action camera is a 4K resolution, which is offered by most high-end models. Lower resolutions include 1080p and 720p.
So which video quality is right for you? Well, it all depends on what you will be using the camera for and which output devices you’ll be using to view your footage. For example, if you don’t own a 4K-capable monitor or TV, you might want to pass on getting a 4K resolution camera.
Size, Shape, and Weight
When utilizing an action camera to record a wild or fun activity, having the camera attached to your vehicle or body gives the best records. Putting on, a heavyweight camera that throws off your balance may cause a serious wipeout. Action cameras are usually well-known for their 3 unique shapes such as a cube, box, and bullet. Each of them is good for different situations.
Most action cameras are box-shaped which makes them suitable for mounting on the user’s chest. Some cameras feature a bullet-shaped design which most folks use for helmet mounting. For the size and weight, you will want the smallest and lightest your money can buy for maximum portability.
Field of View (FOV)
Basically, FOV is the area that your camera can cover at any given moment. In general, action cameras have a wide-angle FOV but there are models that allow you to change the FOV to wide, medium and narrow.
The camera’s FOV may not be the most important feature to consider, but keep in mind that wide-angle shots can in times look distorted and have that fisheye effect. The higher the megapixels, the higher the image resolution.
Most action cameras in the market can offer one to three hours of battery life before the battery runs out. Obviously, this will depend on the usage. If you’re shooting ultra HD videos, expect the battery to run out sooner.
Using connectivity features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will also contribute to the faster draining of the battery. Of course, you will want a model with the longest battery life, but they tend to be more expensive. If longer battery life is out of the question, make sure that you can easily buy affordable spare batteries.
This connectivity feature is important if you want to transfer your videos or pictures on social media websites. The most recent models of action cameras are stuffed with diverse connectivity options so that you can easily send your trip collections to other devices.
Ideally, you want an action camera that you can easily hook up to a computer or smartphone for transferring footage. Many cameras don’t have a screen for preview and playback, so connectivity is a must. In this regard, connectivity also refers to features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features.
Memory cards are the most widely-used storage options for action cameras because of their small size and huge storage capacity. When you decide to go outdoors with your friends or family, then always prefer to purchase a couple of memory cards for your action camera in order to prevent your camera from showing storage full when enjoying the moment.
Memory is very important because it determines the performance that you can get out of your camera. A slow memory card with not enough, read speed, can lead to problems like dropped frames and jerky footage. At the minimum, go for a class 10 card. Preferably, go for a camera that supports the UHS-II standard for faster read speeds.
Always remember to purchase all important accessories alongside your new camera unit. You can order for them online as well, but always try to get the best brands, there shouldn’t be any compromise on the quality. Depending on the activity that you’re planning to use the camera in, you might need the proper accessories.
For example, the right mount is needed if you need a camera for surfing, which will be attached on the surfboard. Before buying, make sure that the brand offers additional accessories that are relevant to your intended activity. If not, check for third-party accessories that are compatible with your prospective camera.
Take into account these features above, read reviews and feedbacks and most of all, do a thorough research. If you do all these, you should end up an action camera that best fits your needs and requirements.
Best Products on Today’s Market
The action camera market has grown into a behemoth of an industry and is projected to undergo rapid growth towards the year 2019. So if you find yourself overwhelmed when shopping for an action camera, you are not alone.
Fortunately, we’re here to help you out by highlighting some of the best models that money can buy.
Price: $315 – $400
Dimension: 1.4 x 3 x 1.6 in
Weight: 5.4 oz
Specific features: G-METRIX-built-in GPS and external sensors, 1080p resolution at 60 frames-per-second, burst capability, waterproof, Bluetooth audio
Best use: Wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, cycling, skateboarding, climbing, aviation, skydiving, extreme sports, drones
Description: Garmin is mainly a GPS company, but it’s not surprising that they have dipped their toes into the action camera market as well. Coming from the company it comes, the Garmin Virb XE Action Camera has a built-in GPS and external sensors for capturing performance data like elevation, speed, heart rate and G-force. The 1080p full HD resolution, at 60 frames per second, should be more than enough for most applications.
However, those who are looking for 4K video quality might want to look elsewhere. The burst capability should allow users to make successive action shots and the device is waterproof up to 50 meters without the case.
The standout feature of the Virb XE is the ability to add data overlays like power, speed, acceleration, height, and so on, using the desktop app. Despite the saturated market, Garmin has a solid product that is one of the best cameras for action shots.
- Waterproof without additional case
- GPS and other motion sensors
- Good video quality
- Excellent build quality
- Very compact
- Excellent mounts
- Not good enough accessories for vehicle mounting
Related: It is advantageous to have a couple of extra batteries around for your action camera. EforTek Replacement Battery is a great replacement battery to get for your Garmin Virb XE. Charging time is speedy, even with both charging together. It is helpful that they have two different USB charger. Each battery has 1280mAh to provide you with extended power.
Price: $300 – $350
Dimensions: 7.87 x 4.45 x 5.04 in
Weight: 19.2 oz
Specific features: 1080p60 XAVC S video at 50 Mbps, 120 fps High-Frame Rate capture in 720p, 1/2.3-inch Exmor R Sensor with Bionz X, ZEISS lens, Wi-Fi/NFC/Bluetooth, 60 m waterproof housing
Best use: Skiing, snowboarding, cycling, skateboarding, climbing, skydiving, extreme sports, sailing
Description: Sony has been making action cameras that are a hit among people. The famous company had first released the HDRAS50 model, but the newer, Sony HDRAS50R/B Action Camera comes with a new Live View remote. Basically, the remote is worn on your wrist so you can see what you are recording.
We have to say that the image stabilization on the HDR-AS50R is excellent, thanks to the new SteadyShot technology. The 11.1-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor captures footage and image in Full HD, which can be shot up to 120 frames in 720p.
For still images, it features an 8-megapixel camera at 4K quality with the ability to capture time lapse in 4k. It’s small and compact enough, but you’ll likely need the case for activities like skiing or surfing. It’s a good thing that this comes with its own waterproof housing. Overall, Sony has a winner with the HDR-AS50R, and it definitely deserves the Action Cam title.
- Great view and audio
- Excellent battery life
- Good waterproof case
- Small and compact
- Easy to use
- Great camera for low price
- Inadequate mount accessories
- Low-quality case
Related: Sony HDRAS50R do consume a lot of energy during startup or shutdown. You definitely need to get 2 batteries before going outdoors. The Wasabi Power NPBX1 Battery comes with 2 batteries and a charger with a car adapter and a European plug. The product also meets or surpass OEM standards.
Price: $232 – $400
Dimensions: 3.7 x 1.5 x 2.1 in
Weight: 6.6 oz
Specific features: 4K HD video, 3-hour battery life, built-in sensors to monitor speed, G-force, altitude, and rotation, Bandit App (iOS & Android), Go-Pro mount adapter included
Best use: Skiing, snowboarding, cycling, climbing, skydiving
Description: TomTom has soared into the action camera market with its very own product called Bandit. The TomTom Bandit 4K Action Camera is a barrel-shaped wonder capable of recording 4K HD videos.
One of the first things you will notice about the Bandit is its cool design and color scheme. The striking white body and red stripe make the camera really stand out from the rest of the cameras. The Bandit comes with a built-in GPS, and motion and heart rate sensors.
The main selling point of the Bandit is that it gives the user a quick way to edit and share action videos via the sophisticated companion app. It can shoot 4K quality, but at a restrictive 15 frames per second. Other supported resolutions aren’t so restrictive which includes 30 fps and 60 fps. The mounting options are quite versatile, with its unique rotating mounting system. The Bandit is definitely strong debut from TomTom.
- Clever editing features
- Easy to position and mount
- Cool design and color scheme
- Versatile mounting options
- Long battery life
- Good value
- Needs a lens swap to waterproof
Related: Get the best shot on curved or flat surfaces using the TomTom Bandit Surface Mount. This gear enables you to mount your action camera closer to the surface. With Bandit, you can mount your camera facing backwards or forwards and easily dismount it with the quick discharge mechanism. This gear works very well on surfaces that are clean and non-porous.
Price: $290 – $500
Dimensions: 1.53 x 2.79 x 2.8 in
Weight: 5.3 oz
Specific features: 4K @30 fps, 2.7K @60 fps, and 1080p @120 video, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, improved camera control and built-in video trimming, Protune™ with SuperView™, night photo and night lapse
Best use: All types of extreme sports
Description: There was a time when action cameras basically mean a GoPro, and that is still somewhat true to this day. There’s no denying that this brand is the leader in this area. For quite some time, the GoPro Hero 4 has been the flagship camera of the company, until the recent launch of the Hero 5.
Anyway, the Hero 4 is still a beast of its own, especially when it’s the first device that has the 4K capability at 30 fps. This was at a time where other similar products could only manage 4K at measly 15 fps. If you’re shooting at 1080p, you get an impressive 120 fps, which means unbelievably high-quality slow-motion shots.
Another thing that makes the Hero 4 a winner, is the generous assortment of mounting options, both from GoPro and third-party manufacturers. The Hero 4 is a feature packed model and is a strong contender for the best action camera for the money.
- Has 4K capability
- Great image quality
- Fast, powerful photo capture
- Sharpness is satisfactory
- More slow motion
- More manual control
- Low light performance is decent enough
- No rear touchscreen
- Battery still not great
Related: Conveniently charge the batteries of your action camera with the GoPro Dual Battery Charger, the only battery charger produced by GoPro that enables you to charge two HERO4 batteries at the same time. The USB compatibility feature enables you to power the accessory with most standard USB power connectors, the GoPro wall or car Charger or a PC. It comes with two Dual LED indicator lights which show the charging status so that you can know when your camera batteries are good to go.
Price: Approx. $90
Dimensions: 4.02 x 4.02 x 7.48 in
Weight: 5 oz
Specific features: Action camera adapter, tilt mount with curved and flat base plates, Mic plug and strap, Power cradle and USB cable, rechargeable internal lithium battery, dustproof, shockproof and water resistant
Best use: Skiing, snowboarding, climbing, skydiving, and pretty much any other extreme sport
Description: The 360FLY 360° HD Video Camera looks like a curious thing because it doesn’t look like your typical action camera. It’s a good thing that the weird design is also accompanied by a unique feature – it’s an extremely wide angle camera.
With this camera, you’ll be sure not to miss any of the action going on around you. When using the camera, it’s imperative that you use it with the mobile or desktop app as well. The app is used to change settings and publish videos on 3rd-party websites.
Another cool thing about the 360fly is that it’s actually Virtual Reality ready where your footage can really shine. There are three mount options which makes it quite versatile. Another thing worth noting is that the 360fly is quite a tough camera, as it is dustproof, shockproof and resistant to water.
However, even though it is advertized as a 360° camera, it isn’t a real full circle footage camera as it has only one lens (for 360° you need two lenses), and capturing 360° is simply impossible. Rather, it has an approx. 200° angle of view, which is much more than any other wide angle action camera.
- Shockproof, dustproof and waterproof
- Rugged design
- Endless mounting possibilities
- No stitching of images
- Can control speed, exposure, color and brightness
- Not really 360°
- Poor image quality unless there is lots of light
- Battery seems to go quickly
- No LCD to easily change settings
Related: Get some strong legs under your 360fly camera with this 360fly 1/4-20 Tripod Adapter that gives you a chance to utilize your action camera with most standard tripods just like the ones utilized by GoPro and the whole line of innovative 360Fly 4K mounts.
Price: Approx. $500
Dimensions: 4 x 9 x 12 in
Weight: 25.6 oz
Specific features: Real-time speed, Sioeye Cloud basic live streaming service included, Mobile apps for iOS and Android available
Best use: Skiing, cycling, snowboarding, extreme sports, live streaming
Description: If you are more into real-time video sharing, the Sioeye Iris4G Live Streaming Camera might just be for you. For the most part, uploading, editing and sharing video can take a long time. The Iris4G basically removes all those steps by streaming your footage in real-time, which can be viewed by anyone, provided that they have the free Sioeye app (available in iOS and Android). The camera has a built-in time-lapse and still photo capture of 18-megapixel.
Furthermore, this camera can record in 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 120 fps. The clear LCD screen is super nice as well, on Which you can operate settings like video quality, burst photo rate and more. It has a fairly short battery life at 1.5 hours, but that’s only because you are streaming live.
All in all, the Sioeye Iris4G is one of the first cameras that has a built-in live stream feature, and we won’t be surprised if future action cameras head down this path. Not cheap, but rather, a great value for your money if you are really a sports lover or would prefer not to use your smartphone to live stream.
- Integrated 4G service
- Easy to mount
- Great image quality
- Great value for the money
- Built-in Livestream feature
- Short battery life
Related: When you decide to go outdoors with your friends or family, you may need to get extra memory cards for your action camera in order to prevent your camera from showing storage full when enjoying the moment. The SanDisk Ultra 32GB microSDHC is recommended for your action camera. It gives you a chance to shoot and save more excellent photographs and Full HD videos on your Android tablet or Smartphones.
Price: Approx. $220
Dimensions: 1.3 x 2.3 x 3.1 in
Weight: 8 oz
Specific features: 4K Ultra HD Video at 30fps, 8MP photos in bursts of up to 8 fps, 204° and 151° angle of views, waterproof down to 65 feet, 1.5-inch LCD, Wi-Fi
Best use: Snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, climbing, surfing
Description: When it comes to toughness, waterproof-capability, and stylish design, the Ricoh WG-M2 Action Cam is a tough one to beat. Right off the bat, you’ll notice the camera’s stylish design which comes in both white and orange colors.
As mentioned, the unit is waterproof which means you don’t have to spend more for a waterproof housing. The WG-M2 comes with 4K UHD video capabilities and has a FOV at 204° Ultra Wide. At 4K, you can record videos at 30 fps, full HD at 60 fps and 720p at 120 fps.
The bright f/2.0 lens is great for low-light shooting. With just a few buttons, the camera is fairly easy to use. We just wished there were more settings to calibrate with regards to contrast and white balance quality.
At the end of the day, Ricoh has made a solid action camera with the WG-M2, with enough features to keep people interested.
- Stylish design
- Easy to use
- Shock resistant
- Quality not good enough
Related: Do you need a flexible selfie stick for your action camera? If yes, the Q3 Telescoping Selfie Stick will definitely be a great partner on your wonderful travels. It features a flexible ball head mount for a 360° rotation with the quick locking system easily adjustable to your desired angle. This flexible selfie stick provides you with a pleasant camera mounting!
We have reached the end of our article. With many specifications and features to consider, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when shopping for an action camera. Determining your intended usage is always a good start when shopping for one. Are you planning to use it more casually or perhaps you want to record more extreme activities? Our choice of action cameras ranges from affordable to very costly, and it is worth remembering that you get what you pay for.
Image quality is one of the essential factors to consider when choosing the best action camera, and the Sony and GoPro really exceed expectations in this area. It is always worth considering the frame rates instead of the max resolution, because while most action cameras shoot in 4K resolution, there are some less expensive models that use a frame rate of 15 fps, therefore making the video look jumpy and unsteady.
As always, it always pays to do your research and read about actual customer feedback to help with your search. Have you used an action camera before? Which model is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.