Best Action Cameras 2018
Welcome to the best action cameras of 2018 and action cam buyers guide page. Below we have ranked all cameras with a Cam Score which is a score we create after pulling in all reviews, stats and more from each action camera found everywhere online. You can then have a look through our best action cam buyers guide to help you work out what action cameras are all about in 2018 and beyond.
Action Cameras Buyers Guide
Action Cameras as we know it have been around since the early 2000's, they weren't digital, as they were mini film cameras, yes, film. Since then they have come a very very long way. Thanks to cheaper electronics, sharing tech with smart phones and stealing hardware from larger cameras, point and shoots and in some cases high-end digital cameras. They aren't to be seen as just the small rectangle that records footage of you surfing, hiking, snorkeling anymore.
Action cameras have outgrown that, they're testing new territories, branching out from regular small recording devices in to so much more. Now you can get a camera in a pair of glasses, you can attach a camera to your bike and even record your current speed and distance travelled. You don't even have to touch your camera, with voice control or a remote, you just say a word, or press a remote on your wrist and you'll start recording.
Welcome to our buyers guide, where we walk you through some of the basics of an action camera and hopefully guide you with finding the right camera for your needs.
The best action cameras reviewed by thousands of enthusiasts and experts from across the web and shown here with each camera getting it's own cam score. This is a complete list of every action camera available (over 110 in early 2018) means you get to see not just the best action cameras but you can click through to each individual camera and find their user guides, firmware updates, imagery examples, user and expert reviews. All of this has been accumulated to help you choose the best action camera from the biggest and smallest camera manufacturers in the world.
Discover The Best Action Camera For You
Choosing the best action camera depends on a lot of factors, how much you have to spend, what the camera is for, whether you have a specific purpose or for many activities and adventures and depending on what is available. Action cameras are getting better and better and more like high-end cameras every month. The best action camera should make your recordings look as good as they can and even help you improve your overall photography and videography skills.
ActionCameraFinder.com is here to help you decide what camera is best for you, we promise that you will find new cameras available to you of which you didn't see before, that is our first aim. By updating the site on a daily basis with new cameras and their support updates and documentation we try and keep up to date with new action cameras that come on to the market. Due to the sheer choice of cameras available, we have set the site up simply so that you can see the pro's and con's from experts, enthusiasts and the camera manufacturers so we can help you choose the best you can.
With our camera page resource, everything you need to know is at your fingertips, you can compare every single action camera on the action camera look up table page or you can register, log in and save specific cameras you are interested in and compare just those. Here and only here will you get all the information you need to find the best action camera for you.
Specifications and Features
Lets look at some action cam specs and features, after all, this is what we're building the site look-up tools on, specs and features. Specifications for action cameras vary wildly, from some aiming at 1080p High Definition video, to those specialising in slow motion footage or being able to connect to other devices, peripherals and extending battery lives with an external battery.
On ActionCameraFinder we have split up the specs in to different parts; key specs, video, photo, physical, power, action settings and interface specs. Each group of specs has a few important specifications and features within, which we share with you to help you find out the information you are after.
Below is a quick summary in to the two most important features of an action camera, it's sensor/chipset and video resolutions and frame rate possibilities.
Sensors and Chipsets
Sensors, chipsets (processors) come in all forms, made by different manufacturers, some are shared by different camera companies and some even make their own. But it seems that the best or most used sensors on the action camera market are made by Sony. You can check out the sensors used on each camera and find the best action camera sensor as well. Here is the Sony IMX206 image sensor which has a number of decent action cameras using it.
Ambarella seem to be making the best action camera chipsets as they are used most across the action camera range. You can see the Ambarella A12 and children of that processor here and all the others beneath it on our action camera chipsets page. The chipsets are hugely important with helping your camera record, work it's interface and run the whole camera as its the brains of their hardware.
Video Resolutions and Frame Rates
Maybe the best action cameras have the fastest frame rates of 240fps and record in 4K resolutions. We haven't quite hit this benchmark yet, the end of 2017 and early 2018 is seeing cameras come out with 4K recording at 60fps. There are a handful of cameras now being able to record at these resolutions and frame rates.
And a comparison chart to show you the different video resolutions which are popular on action cameras.
You may not require this speed in slow motion or 4K footage, and there are plenty of offerings aiming to make sure they record fantastic high definition video at 720p and 1080p with frame rates of 30, 60fps and slower.
We have added a resolution and frame rate pairing field to every camera, showing what they can record at, so go check it out.
What Are The Best Action Cameras
If you google "best action camera", you will come up with huge tech sites showcasing 10 of the best action cameras, in these lists, 2 of them will be GoPros and the rest will all be other well known brands like TomTom, Garmin, Sony, etc.
There are some huge problems with these posts, these action cameras may be the best at one or two specific points, but they aren't the best at being an action camera. They're the best at being well known, at being the most expensive, etc. Some "top 10 best action cameras in 2018" posts even have cameras on them from 2016 and earlier. There have been some major improvements since then and these posts are usually the same post that was made in 2017, just re-titled to look up-to date.
This is one of the main reasons we created ActionCameraFinder.com, we thought, if we plug in and add every action camera available online, then we can create a site free of brand recognition and instead, show all action cameras, their user reviews and stats from across the web, in one place. Rather than a single person selecting the 10 most expensive and latest action cameras and simply calling them the best. We have well over 100 action cameras on the site now which are all compared and ranked with a Cam Score, so we're well on our way to doing what we had planned.
Because when it comes down to it, the best action camera is the one that fulfills your requirements, and that will be totally different to someone else's requirements and hopefully with our table, simple table, grid and lists of action cameras we can help you find what you're looking for. All you have to do is ask yourself, what do i want to do, or what could I do in the future with one. Then click the filters we have on our look-up and find pages and see whats on offer.
Size Shape and Weight
You're probably just aware of just one shape when it comes to action cameras, the rectangle, that beautiful mini brick like shape that the GoPro has held on to for so long. But cameras come in all shapes and sizes now, from mini cubes, tic tac shape boxes, tube like cameras and the not so crazy point and shoot shape which feels good in your hand.
The Smallest Tic Tac Size Action Cameras
There are a couple of manufacturers creating these style action cameras and they are getting a lot of praise in the RC and FPV world. They're easy to stick on to a small drone or flying rc plane and used to view your flight live or even record for viewing later. These are also known as keychain cameras, so if you see that phrase, you know what you're looking at.
One thing we love about these mini cams is that they are so small, that they can be put pretty much anywhere without you really knowing about them. You can even place them on top of a cap peak if you are doing something like airsoft and you'll get a fantastic POV reference during your skirmishes and you won't even know its there, just stick it to the top with a clip or velcro and press record, they're so light and out of the way and weigh in at less than 50grams in some cases.
Medium Cube Shaped Cameras
The GoPro Session started this style and a few are following suit, SJCam and Foxeer are two manufacturers who have released cube shape action cameras and they are very good alternatives to the GoPro Sessions. You can get screens on these and also take them underwater, unlike the mini action cameras and they weigh in at about 60-80g. They seem to be doing everything that the regular shaped action cams are doing, but in a different shaped package, we like them.
The Rectangular Original Action Cameras
This shape is known and copied by all action camera companies before they try and branch out in to other shapes and featured action cameras. GoPro still release cameras in this shape and it seems to be very popular still. There are only slight variances in shape and size over the past few years and we don't see that changing much in to the future. They're still small enough to stick nearly anywhere and have their upsides and downsides, depening on what it is you're trying to capture.
Tube Shaped Action Cameras
Paralenz was released last year as a 100m+ waterproof scuba and diving action camera, it's a tube shape and doesn't need a housing. The reason for this shape is you either hold it like a torch or you can place it on the side of your head or a mount and it has a very small frontal profile. This means that if you are going high speeds or against water, there is very minimal drag, they place the hardware directly behind the lens in a tube and this makes for a more slim line action camera. The Replay and HTC Re cameras are also tubes and we'll probably see more coming out in 2018 and beyond as they do have their place.
Rugged Tough and Action Cameras
You may have heard of the terms, rugged and tough cameras as well. You usually get a few differences between tough and action cameras but they can both be great for the outdoors. The best tough camera for you is the one that fulfills it's role as needed. Let's look at a few of their differences.
There are a few different type of adventure cameras, tough and action cameras are the most prominent on the market and you will think of two things when you think of these. Action cameras being the rectangular shaped brick which you can put a small waterproof case around and fit some mounts to. The tough camera range which seem to be produced more by the bigger brands like Olympus, Panasonic etc which look like point and shoot cameras on steroids. One you may prefer over the other depending on your situation, but they share similar features and no matter what they look like these types of camera cross over and blue the lines between what they are when they have certain specs.
Things like being drop proof, you can drop, bounce, throw them and usually they will come out unscathed. The downside to the tough cameras are the moving parts inside which may not like this as much but you seem to find those with optical zoom more in the tough range than categorised as action cameras. The best tough cameras will also be waterproof without a housing and you can often snorkel, freedive and dive underwater to depths of 10metres+. Instead of touch screens they usually have a view finder and more buttons or dials around the camera as their interface. You always get a view finder as well, so that you can frame your shots by holding the camera up to your eye, much more like a traditional camera. The top of the range and best action cameras are recording in 4k video resolutions, their frame rates are improving for slow motion footage and are coming with fully manual ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed controls so that you can create the shots you want with the settings you want.
Tough and rugged cameras generally advertise features such as drop and freeze proof, were as action cameras don't. But that doesn't mean they can't be dropped or are as good in the cold. Usually you make your action camera drop proof by putting it in to its housing or case.
You don't need to put a waterproof housing on these types of camera, but you can. We have an Olympus TG-4 with an underwater housing so that it takes it from 15m deep down to 60m/120feet deep. These generally make the camera a lot bigger because there are usually a lot more buttons on a tough or rugged camera, which means more buttons and fiddly bits within the housing, which in turn, makes it bigger. But we haven't had any problems with this camera out of the case and it has been snorkelling more than 100 times without the deeper underwater case protecting it. Just make sure that you always rinse your action camera with fresh water after diving in a salty water source or the sea.
One of the main differences between these camera types is that tough and rugged cameras usually come with optical zoom built in. Which means if you want to zoom in on something in the distance, you can. Action cameras tend to rely on digital zoom only and don't have a moving lens like tough cameras do. That doesn't mean you can't zoom in though, we talked about making a DIY zoom lens and fitting it to your action camera on our list of optical zoom action cameras.
Action Camera Batteries
This is a very important spec and requirement for most, we list on the site the battery life which the manufacturer has claimed for the camera and we list it at the length it can record a 1080p video at 30fps. Some may record shorter than this and their battery life may not last as long if you are recording in 4k at a slower frame rate, like 60fps, but this should give you an idea about how long they last.
They will all last longer than this on standby as they aren't being used, so the battery drain will be minimal. You can check out the table of action cameras and sort by battery capacity or battery life length by clicking on the title of that column.
This needs a whole section to itself, not that battery tech has moved on much in the lat few years, but there are some positives we can look at. Some cameras for instance can share the same battery, which means that you could own two different action cameras, for entirely different reasons and share the same batteries, which is great. There should be a lot more compatability in the realm of photography and video.
Even in 2018 battery life wont exceed more than 2 hours of continuous recording, which is a shame if your adventures or video recording requirements are longer than that. There are a couple of cameras that will work longer but they are focused specifically on cycling. Hopefully in 2018 and beyond this is one of the technologies that improve.
How do we get around this? Luckily there are a number of ways to prolong the battery life of an action camera. First is to get an action camera that you can add an external power supply and battery bank to. This is a simple fix, you just plug in your power bank via USB to your action camera and presto, however long you can make that power supply run is however long you are now available to record videos. There are a few downsides to this though, so this may only work if indoors, if the weather is good or if you don't mind the extra weight of the large battery you've just attached.
Once you attach the battery, you could use it for extra long time lapses, recording long videos of activities that you enjoy and other things. You will though need to make sure that the micro SD card that you are using to record on to is big enough for this new recording. Similar to an external battery is a small solar panel setup, if your camera accepts charge by USB whilst it's recording, it should if it has loop mode or dashcam mode and you live in a sunny part of the world, why not connect a solar power setup to it. You can get roll out, pocketable solar panels with USB charging now for very cheap and it means you have power wherever you go. This setup could be perfect for hiking or backpacking in sunnier parts of the world, as you won't have access to a wall plug socket for a while and you can continue to use your camera in the wild without worrying about its battery life.
Another way of getting around the lack of battery life is to have spares. This is probably the simplest way of prolonging your battery life but there are downsides to this approach too. You will need to make sure that every spare battery you take with you is fully charged, that's more gear to carry and more equipment to check the status of before using your camera. If you want to do anything that requires the waterproof case, there is going to be no way to change the batteries, because the camera will be sealed. So if you are snorkelling or scuba diving, you're stuck with that one battery that you already have in your camera and are limited to its battery life for whatever it is you want to record or for however long you wisht to stay in the water.
If you have a recording to do and need to get every little bit out of your battery, here are some tips to do just that.
- turn wifi off, if it's already running
- if you can, turn the screen off when recording
- turn auto power off to the smallest amount of time
- charge your batteries regurlarly and to full capacity, you will be using lithium batteries and their memory is not as good as alkaline batteries
- try to keep the battery from getting cold, if you are outside in winter, place your camera somewhere near your body to keep it warmer
Hopefully we will see a major improvement in battery life in the next year or two, as with all the improvements elsewhere, it really needs to catch up and help the other parts of a camera.
Price Range of Action Cameras
Due to the huge amount of choice in 2018, we are sure there is something for you at the price range you can afford. Cameras now start as little as $30 and sometimes are cheaper in sales and go all the way up to and over $1000. If you're just interested in checking out what action cameras are about, then you can't go wrong in the sub $50 price bracket, cameras cheaper than this will actually outperform even GoPro 3's and similar.
If you have a lot more to spend or this is going to be your main camera, you will be comforted to know that if you have up to $200 to spend you will be able to afford a top of the range real 4K action camera with a few extra features thrown in too. You'll get high frame rate at 1080p to super slow motion and high definition videos, wifi to connect to your phone apps and laptops, great EIS (Electronic Image Stabalization) and much more.
At the top of the price bracket there are a handful of cameras, including the newly released Sony RX0, a 1" sensor action camera that is best used with external monitors but is waterproof and dustproof out of the box and has some insanely high frame rates of up to 960fps, think of a Sony RX100 but in a simpler body that is weather proof and meant to be used as a package and with other audio and video equipment to get the most out of it.
Whatever your limit is, you can check out our price brackets of action cameras here:
Mounts and Gimbals
With some camera releases, expect to get all of the mounts you could ever wish for in the same purchase as the camera you buy, where as with others you won't get anything other than the camera, usb cable and case.
There are mounts for absolutely everything and multiple choices for whatever it is you wish to attach an action camera to. If you want to connect to a cars exterior for road shots, you'll have plenty of choices, from different brands and different types of mount, window mounts, rubber suction mounts, wing mirror mounts and more, they're endless.
The same goes for any other activity you can think of, cycling, surfing, spearfishing, running, any activity will have a plethora of mounts available, just have a look at Amazon or a google search to see what best suits your price range and requirements.
There are even mounts to place cameras on your clothing, velcro mounts, clip mounts, if you need something particular, just have a search and you'll find it.
When it comes to hand based mounts, gimbals are the new selfie stick. Manufacturers are creating their own for their own cameras, or there are gimbals which can fit a multitude of action cameras to them. If you are partaking in very bumpy action shots and movement, a gimbal could be perfect, it will take your footage to the next level, and no matter how good your image stabalization is, a gimbal will always improve it.
You just place your action camera in to the gimbals grip and then let it do it's thing, these devices run on small motors that spin in various directions to counter act the movement that you are creating and that is how you get a smooth shot.
Head and Body Mounts
If you are mounting a camera to your body to record an activity, the best way, but not the best look way, is to mount it to your head. Your head is the most stable part of your body when you are moving, that is how you can see so well, even when you are trail running or mountain biking. it doesn't look the best and in some sports may even be a hindrance and get in the way, like in skydiving you may find your lines can tangle with it if you are unfortunate, but this is rare.
With nearly all action cameras, comes a phone app, these are used to connect to your action camera wirelessly, so if you have WiFi on the action camera, expect a phone app as well. After connecting your phone to your camera, they can be used to control the camera, start recordings, take photos and other small functions.
As well as this, phone apps are now turning in to mini editing platforms, especially for 360 action cameras. As some of the footage recorded will need to be stitched together or you'll have to choose the output of your camera, whether it's a 360 photo, a globe photo, a video or other format and with a phone app you can do all of thise.
Some cameras don't have a manufacturer released phone app, but don't worry, Ez iCam have you covered. With this phone application, for android and iPhones you can remotely control your camera from it. You can download the files from your camera on to your phone and various other functions as well. So if you buy a cheap action camera with wifi, look here to connect to your cam.
On Action Camera Finder we have more than 70 action camera manufacturers, 70, that is a lot of camera companies, big and small, vying for users to buy their cameras. Some of these manufacturers have only one camera, like FrontRow and Rylo, whilst others have many cameras, like GoPro, SJCam and Yi.
There are even manufacturers who share camera technology and distribute the exact same cameras under different names, for instance, the PowPro and SooCoo companies sell the same looking and same specced cameras, they're just rebranded. With PowPro, they don't put their names on them, don't have a website presence, they just sell them online under that name, using all the same imagery and marketing materials and information for each camera as SooCoo do. SooCoo though have a website and obviously a bit more behind them.
Some companies and manufacturers specialise in one type of camera, like Insta360, whom make just 360 degree recording cameras, others have their hands in many types.
Action cameras are nearly all chinese brands and this is not a bad thing, if anything it's a great thing. The tech is cheap and once people start to trust these companies, it means cameras like the GoPro 6 and Garmin Virb Ultra 30 will come down in price. Which as of early 2018, has just happened.
These manufacturers are making some of the best action cameras on the market and after all, it's not surprising, even the big brands have all of their cameras made in china as well, so what is it that you are actually paying for? Branding, marketing and other non-camera related things.
Trust and Reliability
Can you trust any of these manufacturers, that depends if you're dropping $30 on an action camera or $200. If you are only spending a few dollars on a camera, you shouldn't really expect any support from them, unless they also sell more expensive models.
The quick answer is yes, you can, but always make sure you check reviews out online and on online store product review sections first. If you're still wary about the manufacturer, check out reviewmeta.com put your action camera through that and see which of the reviews are real and fake. This will show you whether that company are buying extra reviews or if they are real and that too good to be true camera is actually a very good camera for little money.
In regards to reliability, that depends on what you are using the camera for. You should have no problems with reliability of the larger chinese brands like SJCam, Apeman, Gitup, Runcam, Foxeer, ThiEYE, Yi and Xiaomi. These are all action camera manufacturers that have been going for years, have a solid support system, firmware updates for their cameras, they sell different models that have different specs and will all be releasing new cameras in to 2018 and beyond.
One thing to note is that some of these companies have either been built up with very little marketing, compared to GoPro or they sell other electronic and consumer proucts. SJCam follow the former plan, they started with the SJCam SJ4000 a few years ago, it cost hardly anything, used some standard hardware and since then they've grown and grown. They're now producing some of the best action cameras at really low prices, they actually have 4 of their action cameras in the top 30 of the best action cam ranking list, as of early 2018.
Xiaomi on the other hand have a huge budget for marketing, are doing very well in the smart phone and other electronics world and are now branching out in to action cameras, they now have a couple of action cameras available, including the Xiaomi Mijia 4K, which was at the top of the ranking list of best action cameras at the end of 2017. They recently released a 360degree, 5k VR ready action camera and have more in the pipeline for 2018.
If we are to compare specs with the bigger brands to put this in to perspective, the Xiaomi Mijia 4K costs less than $100, the GoPro 5 costs $300 which is 3x that and that is on sale. They both use an Ambarella processor, the A12 for the Xiaomi and the A9 for the GoPro. They both do JPEG and RAW photo capture and have a myriad of features and recording options, including photo burst mode, time lapse, timer, photo, video, slow motion video, 4K at 30fps. The only real difference is the lack of voice control and the slightly smaller field of view on the Xiaomi.
And when it comes to reliability, we've all seen those videos where someone finds an action camera at the bottom of the ocean after it being there for months or even years and it still works, as though it has been on the shelf in a dry room the entire time. I myself have even found a GoPro 4 Silver whilst freediving, but that had been there for at least a year and had succumb to the fishies and had flooded.
Just remember, that manufacturer purchases are always going to be more reliable, unless the company making a third party accessory are professionals and that is what they specialise in, such as the aluminium underater housings you can get for the GoPro's and other action cameras.
What Does The Future Hold
You still get that renowned super wide field of view with most new action cameras but they're specialising in many different ways, if anything, the field of view is now an after thought, it's a given. 2018 and beyond will be the year of 4K in high frame rates, the Yi 4K+ and the GoPro Hero 6 are both capable of 4K at 60fps. Action cameras that are ready to be taken to the depths of the oceans without needing a separate waterproof case. The newer GoPros, Olympus Tough range and others, are capable of 15m depths and more, the new scuba diving and underwater camera, Paralenz is capable of over 100m dives without a case.
A new technical improvement which is helped by the incredible chipsets onboard the cameras now is electronic image stabalisation. So if you don't have a gimbal or stabalisation grip and your recording footage whilst on the move, this feature could be everything you need. We have listed down all the cameras with EIS image stabalisation and we even show examples of what the footage looks like on most cameras when this feature is turned on.
As well as high video resolutions with slow motion frame rates, cameras that won't need waterproof housings, we should be keeping a close eye on image stabalization technology. The Sony FDR-X3000, Revl Arc and others have new optical and gyro image stabalization as standard now, which means the smoothest videos right at the source, no software needed. Some of the EIS (Electronic Image Stabalization) or also known as Digital Image Stabalization can be very good, it depends on the camera but these too are improving.
The main improvements should always be towards sharper, crisper and smoother videos, and that is what is happening, just along side a lot of other tech improvements.
2017 we saw the first batch of real consumer 360, vr ready, hd action cameras, like the Yi 360 VR, xiaomi Mijia Sphere 360, nikon keymission 360, garmin vrib 360, rylo 360, insta360 and new versions of the ricoh theta. Expect 2018 and 2019 to explode with new 360 action cameras, they'll get cheaper and much better than the original tech of 2017.
These cameras are basically two image sensors, both facing opposite ways, that record wide angle videos that overlap each other, imagine being able to see 180degrees, well these cameras single sensors and lenses provide a 210degree field of view on both sides. This overlap is then removed and the two images are stitched together, either in camera or in software that comes with the camera that you can use on your phone app.
We're already seeing stitching in the camera itself and that means exporting 360 and VR ready videos. Combined with phone apps that connect with the cameras, you'll be able to edit and export within minutes the 360 footage you just recorded.
What Other Things Can You Do With Action Cameras
What do you enjoy doing or want to try? If we just get down to it, action cameras can do a lot, let's look at some of the things you could use an action camera for and what they can do.
You want to take a long exposure shot of the stars at night over the mountains, or some cars on a highway so that you can see light trails, action cameras can do that. With manual features in photo mode, you can set the shutter speed to longer times and control how long that photo is taken for. This varies with camera to camera, but it is now possible to replicate what bigger cameras are doing in this tiny little package.
You can attach them to drones and other small flying equipment. RC (Remote Control) flying vehicles and drones have picked up in popularity in the last couple of years and with it, action cameras too. Some come attached and as part of the drone and others allow you to add your own camera to the gimbal that is already set up on it. Other flying vehicles aren't set up for video recording but you can attach smaller action cameras to them and record your flights and get a FPV (First Person View) of it's flight. Action cameras are tiny, so the likes of the Hawkeye, Foxeer Box and GoPro Session are small enough to add without hindering the flight of your new toy.
Go hiking and take sporadic pictures, you won't even know you have the camera on you they are so small. There are a few cameras that now have optical zoom, which means you can frame the photo you want, zoom in on some wildlife and you won't have to worry if the rain comes down, if it gets cold, or even if you drop it. The range of tough cameras are getting better and better and will be more than up for the job of saving your best memories in photo and video formats. If you hike with a furry friend too, like us, you can always attach a camera to it's back and get a great point of view of your dog. This is just something you couldn't trust with a normal camera, even a point and shoot would struggle to be lighter and stable enough, it would have a narrow field of view so you'd see less and they're just not made for bumps and knocks like action cameras are.
Like us, are you in to watersports? Surfing, snorkelling, scuba, freediving, spearfishing, kiteboarding, open water swimming? Or all of the above? An action camera would be right at home in any of these environments.
Recording your dog or cat whilst you are out of the house? Easy, just set up the camera in a good position, set to timelapse, video mode and if you have to, plug it in to an external battery and you'll be able to see what your best friend has been up to whilst you've been out. We did this when we got our little pup from the rescue, when we left him alone we would record him, there were a couple of instances where we wished we hadn't, he was up to no good for some of the recording.
To continue on with their versatilty, you can even use them as dash cams in your car, truck, van or lorry. Some come with special dash cam modes and others with looping mode which means that the video recording you take will only record for the set amount of time that you want it to record for, usually it's 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 20 minutes. Then once it has got to that time limit, it either starts all over again or it continually records and when you save the footage you will only get the last few minutes of that recording, perfect for a dash cam in your car.
Do you cycle commute in the week and hit the trails on the weekend? Not a problem, there are loads of cameras that will fit these requirements easily. Just choose one that has loop recording and either good image stabalization or high frame rates. That way the loop recording will cover your bike commute to work and the stabalization will record smooth footage whether you're on the road or trails mountain biking on your n+1.
There is just no end to the functions that they can perform.
What Cant You Do
Photography is still probably the hardest thing to replicate and why people stick to their bigger cameras, it's not so much the camera, but the glass up front that makes things look that much better. You can actually get action cameras with many manual functions on them now if you wish to learn photography and how to control shutter speed, iso, aperture, and what these do when working together, now is a good time to get involved.
Here you can see the GoPro 5 and Sony action cameras photo examples to see how much they're improving https://www.flickr.com/groups/3016505@N25/pool/ and the Sony https://www.flickr.com/groups/action-cam/pool/
Low light photography can be done, but because of their small size, they come with small sensors, this is a problem, especially when low light is involved. If you want to get some photos in low light, they can be compensated with ISO improvements and selecting a higher ISO, but the downside to this is the noise that it creates with it's 'fake light'.
There are fewer and fewer things that action cameras can't do in 2018, there are cameras though that are starting to specialise in certain things. So with some cameras they might not be able to do a lot, but they may be fantastic and the best in one specific area. For instance, the SoloShot is an action camera which follows you as you move about during your activity. You wear a tag and the camera follows that tag, which means you're always in shot, no matter what you are doing. Once you place the camera on a tripod, put the tag on and head out for a surf, now imagine someone was controlling the camera, with its 65x optical zoom, but instead, it's the cameras tech following your every move, so when you come back from a great session on the waves you have footage as though it was recorded by a pro cameraman. Now this camera will be very poor at doing other things but is better than any other at being hands-free and working remotely to follow the action.
The Moment Camera
If we were to ever rephrase the coin, action camera, this is what i'd call it. It's the most accessible type of camera out there and they capture more moments than any other type of camera, smart phone or digital.
athey were interested in getting better pictures, video and saving those famillready interested in y moments.
As well as older people, those already interested in photography may find that their 2nd camera could well be an action camera. I myself use an action camera mounted to the top of my underwater setup to capture the dive in it's entirety. They are very versatile and very small things.
They Aren't Action Cameras Anymore
How so? What do we mean by this? We have hinted above quite a few times how they are slowly growing and edging away from being an absolute action cam. Instead you'll find them being used in very interesting ways and by totally different people, shooting many different forms of footage.
VLOGers (Video Loggers) are combining them with external microphones to follow their lives or hobbies and create high quality content, all with the use of a couple of devices that combined weigh no more than 400g. Vlogs are mostly people speaking directly in to the camera, and with an action camera and it's wide field of view, holding it at arms length will give you a great angle and frame your upper body and head nicely. If you were to use a more traditional device, a handicam, digital dslr, mirrorless, you'll end up with a much smaller field of view and a heavier piece of equipment.7
Vloggers are in for a treat too, as Andoer has recently released a flip screen action camera, the first of it's kind. This means you can point the camera right at yourself, flip the rear screen to face forward and see exactly what you're pointing the camera at. It even comes with a waterproof housing so you can still use it underwater.
Cleaning and Maintaining Your Action Cam
Because of their nature, they will more than likely get wet, get salt water on them, covered in mud and other debris. You have to make sure that you're keeping your camera clean and dry after every use. This will make sure they last longer and will be vital to keeping your camera in good working order.
How To Find The Right Action Cameras
There are so many action cameras, so many different features, that is exactly why we built action camera finder, to help you find the best action cam for you.
It all started with needing a new camera to replace a GoPro 3+ Silver which I placed on top of my underwater housing and underwater photo setup when scuba, freediving and snorkelling. I needed some specific things, a screen, as the 3+ did not come with one, so that I could frame the shot properly and get the camera inline with my full-sized underwater camera. This means that whatever I was looking at, the action would be too, without a screen it was hard to get the two cameras looking at the same thing and centering them. I was also looking for cameras that did 1080p at 240fps and something that I could take underwater to at least 30m/100feet deep.
There was just nothing out there that helped me find these specific features, if you go over to the table, you can find cameras with these specs in less than 20 seconds, mission accomplished.
We aren't the be all and end all of action camera resources though. There are loads of amazing review blogs online and some great youtube video channels. The youtube videos are especially good to check field of view, contrast, low light and comparisons of footage between action cameras, perfecct if you are unecided between two cameras.
Here is our list of resources that you should check out to keep up to date with action camera news and more. If you have any recommendations, please send them forward and we'll get it added to this list.