What should you consider when buying an action camera?

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From holiday snaps to your baby’s first steps, your smartphone camera has you covered for everyday moments in life. But when it comes to breathtaking action and adventure, a smartphone camera just can’t keep up — enter the modern-day action camera.

Action cameras offer you an entirely new way to film your adventures, featuring durable designs, waterproof casings, and state-of-the-art imaging capabilities.

If you’re in the market for an action camera, hold on tight and launch yourself into a world of adventure with this article. We will discuss the action camera features you should consider and reveal some of the best options on the market in 2020. 

Durability: Whatever the weather

Durability is one of the most important features to consider, as it will determine how well your action camera can keep up in any given shooting environment. The best action cameras on the market can withstand extreme temperatures, dirt, a dive into the ocean, or even being dropped. Waterproofing is a good feature to look out for if you wish to dive deeper for more content. DJI, GoPro, Sony, and other companies offer action cameras that are waterproof, shockproof, and resistant to extreme environments.

Stabilisation: Hollywood shots

Stabilisation has become a huge factor to consider when choosing an action camera. Whether your skiing down a mountain, running along a track, mountain biking, or recording other dynamic shots, stabilized video makes a world of difference to your footage. Most modern-day cameras come equipped with their own internal stabilization, letting you focus more on the action rather than worrying about the shot. When it comes to action camera stabilization systems, key contenders re DJI’s RockSteady, which made its debut with Osmo Action, and GoPro’s HyperSmooth, which was introduced with the GoPro Hero 7. We recommend checking out the stabilization availability of different action cameras for different resolution combinations. 

Videos: 4K and beyond

The main function of an action camera is to capture dynamic, high-quality videos in any environment. Most action cameras in 2020 can now shoot both HD and 4K videos, which means you should pay attention to things like HDR support, 60fps frame rates, slow motion, and integrated shooting modes. A great example of this is Osmo Action, which features HDR video, 240fps slow-motion mode at either 1080p or 720p, and timelapses in 1080p, 2.7K, and 4K.

Images: Simple shooting

In addition to videos, an action camera should be able to take exceptional still images. A larger lens captures more light, which improves your images and video quality. Look for action cameras that offer intelligent image processing. The Sony RX0 II has one of the largest camera sensors of any action camera and offers a range of image control and dynamic range modes.  

Lens: Wide-angle views

Action cameras are known for their point-of-view lenses, which use a very wide-angle view to capture yourself and all of your surroundings in one frame. Most action cameras on the market can produce a wide-angle shot that is perfect for capturing all the action in one shot.

Screens: Perfect selfie shots

An action camera screen monitor is an important feature to consider when you are purchasing your equipment. A screen helps you see what the action camera is recording, review your footage, and change settings easily. The DJI Osmo Action triumphs in this category, featuring a 2.25-inch touchscreen on the back and a vivid 1.4-inch selfie screen at the front. 

Voice control: Focus on the action

Every second counts when you are undertaking extreme sports activities. Voice control is a fantastic feature that lets you control your action camera while focusing on the moment at hand. This clever feature gives you control over recording, taking a photo, turning the device on and off, and more.

Others to consider

There are lots of other action camera features you should consider. Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity makes it easier to transfer your images and videos to your phone or laptop. No matter how impressive the hardware is, software stability should always be considered when purchasing your action camera. A dedicated app lets you edit your footage, download files, change the camera settings, and more. Battery life is also an essential thing to consider; most modern action cameras can record for over an hour on a fully charged battery.

Some action cameras to consider…

Now that we’ve gone through some important action camera features, it’s time to check out some of the best action cameras in 2020. Here are five of our favourites!

DJI Osmo Action

To kick off our list of recommended action cameras, we will start with an action camera that has changed the game. The DJI Osmo Action was released in May 2019, opening up a world of creativity for professionals and adventure seekers alike. DJI debuted its first action camera with some stand-out features that make it a unique addition to the action camera market.

Osmo Action has two screens: the back screen delivers a hyper-responsive display while the innovative front screen lets you capture selfies and frame action shots effortlessly. This action camera also comes with DJI’s own electronic image stabilization (EIS), which they have coined as “RockSteady.” The EIS technology works in conjunction with high-performance algorithms to record cinematic action shots. 

In addition to 4K/60fps video at 100 Mbps, Osmo Action also features 4K HDR video, improving the dynamic range of your footage and giving you more vibrant details. This action camera also comes jam-packed with creative shooting modes that support 8x slow motion, timelapses, hyperlapses, and continuous shooting. 

Osmo Action is as rugged as it is sophisticated, and is waterproof to depths of up to 11 meters without any external casing. This durable action camera features voice commands and is supported by a lineup of accessories, which round off an entry that easily earned its place on our list of top action cameras.

GoPro Hero 8

Next on our list is GoPro’s new successor to the Hero 7 Black — introducing the GoPro Hero 8 Black. Built on the success from previous models, this new model features a slimmer design, a foldable built-in mount, a better microphone, and updated EIS stabilization.

GoPro introduced HyperSmooth 2.0 with the Hero 8 Black, offering stabilization functionality across all resolutions and frame rates. Included with this update are three modes of stabilization that crop the frame at different levels to counter camera shakes. HyperSmooth 2.0 can also be applied to slow-motion footage shot at 120fps and 240fps. 

In addition to these updates, a narrow lens perspective lets you shoot close-up footage, 2.7K and 4K video modes now support bitrates up to 100 Mbps, and social media live streams can be broadcasted at 1080p. 

The Hero 8 Black also comes with built-in foldable hinges that allow it to be attached to other accessories like a tripod. This convenient feature removes the need for an additional frame mount for accessories and gives you easier access to the battery and memory card.

Insta 360 One X

This innovative action camera brings some impressive features to the market. The Insta360 One X offers sharp footage at 5.7K 30fps, 4K 50fps, and 3K 100fps. An HDR mode ensures your footage maintains excellent details in different types of lighting conditions. The Insta360 One X also features its own form of electronic stabilization, named FlowState, which provides stability for all of your action shots.

When it comes to exciting features, Insta360 One X brings heaps of action to the table. Snap the action camera into the Drifter accessory to create stunning slow-motion shots with ingenious angles. The accessory features an aerodynamic body and a shock-resistant frame, letting your creativity take flight. Another useful accessory is the invisible selfie stick that produces great selfies without appearing in the footage itself. 

Insta360 One X also impresses with various shooting modes. TimeShift gives you control over your perspective by using slow motion and stabilized hyperlapses. These features are all combined with the One X app for simple, cinematic editing.

Garmin VIRB XE

The next action camera on our list is built for extreme adventures. The Garmin VIRB XE is a compact, waterproof action camera with plenty of impressive features. This action camera shoots high-definition footage at 1080p 60fps and 12MP photos up to 30fps. You can also capture photos while simultaneously recording videos. The VIRB XE is engineered to withstand harsh environments, and it is waterproof up to 50 meters without an external case. 

G-Metrix is a clever feature that contains information on GPS, G-force, orientation, and more performance data. Users can playback their footage with overlays of speed, acceleration, and more. For fast-paced action shots, the VIRB XE contains motion sensors that detect camera movements and EIS stabilization that keep your shots smooth. 

With built-in WiFi, VIRB XE can be connected to a smartphone or tablet for live video control, editing, and playback. This rugged action camera also comes with Bluetooth-enabled HD audio to ensure you can obtain the best audio possible. VIRB XE also comes with impressive remote-controlled accessories and features a user-friendly design that makes it a great addition to the action camera market. 

Sony RX0 

No action camera list in 2020 would be complete without the Sony RX0. Promising boundless creative inspiration, the RX0 combines excellent imaging performance with durability. This action camera is waterproof down to 10 meters and shockproof up to 2.0 meters. 

Packing an Exmor RS CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor, RX0 offers excellent imaging capabilities. One great feature of this product is the ability to shoot super slow-motion video at 1000fps. From golf swings to football tackles, you can capture slow-motion sports footage like never before. RX0 also contains an anti-distortion shutter up to 1/32000 seconds that gives you crystal clear shots of fast-moving subjects. Users can take photos up to 16fps, and Picture Profile/S-Log2 offers more professional video options. 

Along with all these great features, the RX0 is supported by a lineup of accessories that accommodate a variety of shooting options. The Sony RX0 is a robust action camera with impressive imaging features that easily place it in our top action camera list.

Summary

Inspiring infinite creative possibilities, action cameras provide content creators with cutting-edge technology and versatile applications. Whether you are skiing down a mountain or bungee jumping, the best action camera is the one you feel most comfortable using. So, before you hit the slopes and chase the next adrenaline fix, be sure to check out the options available for you on the market. In no time, you will be creating inspirational content to be proud of!

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