Gone are the days when only professional photographers had the best quality cameras to capture the most-cherished moments. Be it fun, adventure sports or that ideal vacation, we can now record it all with action cameras. Action cameras can be mounted anywhere owing to their small size and light weight. Most of them have an impressive video quality of up to 4K with a pretty good still-image quality. They can also work as dash cams or surveillance devices.
Since the launch of action cameras, GoPro remains the seller of the most popular series of action cameras, with the latest being GoPro Hero7 priced at ₹ 37,000 online. GoPro Hero7 has the capability to shoot 4K videos at up to 60fps along with 12MP photos. It offers hyper smooth stabilisation and is waterproof down to 10m without a housing. Its removable battery is 1220mAh lithium-ion rechargeable. Connectivity to GoPro app on the phone is available via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Other features include a 4.9cm touchscreen, voice control, time warp video, image detection, GPS performance stickers and live streaming. While GoPro Hero7 offers many standout features, a number of cheaper options with similar functionality are available in the market.
Buying an action camera can be a tedious task, especially if you are trying it for the first time. Go for a reliable brand to ensure warranty and timely repair or replacement.
Basic features of an action camera remain the same. A strong body is designed for rugged use. Waterproofing (with or without housing) makes it suitable for underwater use up to a certain depth. The user interface (UI) is made as friendly as possible for easy learning. A time-lapse feature enables recording continuously for long hours.
Most actions cameras have built-in noise-reduction microphones, and some even support external microphones. MicroSD cards can be inserted for high-quality recordings. Here are some parameters that may be helpful in making a decision.
Image and video quality
Image quality generally lies in the range of eight to twenty megapixels, which is what most smartphones offer. This allows capturing of still images, if needed. When it comes to video, standard resolution of 1080p is enough for a casual upload. Most big brands offer resolution up to 4K, which is ideal for a professional user.
Electronic image stabilisation (EIS) helps the footage to stay clear even when the camera is subjected to bumps. Further, light and exposure control settings can be changed for a better view.
There are many other factors when it comes to quality. Frame rate (frequency of images) is set to 30fps usually, but in case of extremely fast-paced footage, you may need to go even above 60fps. Many have a lens that comes with correction feature to eliminate any distortions and an adjustable field-of-view.
Action cameras have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for hassle-free data transfer. You can control the camera through your smartphone/tablet using the app designed for that particular camera. Wi-Fi frequency offered is 2.5GHz, 5GHz or both in some high-end models. 5GHz Wi-Fi provides faster data rates at a shorter distance, while 2.5GHz Wi-Fi is suited for longer transmissions at slower speeds. This ensures a great live streaming experience. Also, Bluetooth can be connected to remotes to capture images or videos. Range of Bluetooth is 10m, while that of Wi-Fi is about 50m.
Sometimes, enhanced USB connectors are also provided to connect conveniently to a PC and other devices. This enables storage and sharing over the cloud. Features like voice commands for hands-free control and face detection are enhancements added to make the work easier.
Display and controls
Having control of the camera gives you an option to change the settings whenever you want. Touchscreen, if enabled, makes it more user-friendly. Display screen size is around 5cm (2 inches) for most cameras. Features like optical zoom and digital zoom produce better-quality images.
The kit of accessories may come along with the camera or you may need to buy it separately. Basic accessories are batteries, battery chargers, mounts, USB cables and reference guides. Battery capacity (in mAh) decides how long a device can continuously work on it. Only rechargeable batteries require a battery charger. Other accessories that may be bought include items like a waterproof case, remote control and helmet mount. The best thing is that one kit is compatible with most of the cameras usually, sometimes even GoPro.
The action camera market is growing rapidly. Some of the cameras are mentioned in this section. You may explore other options like the latest DJI Osmo camera based on your requirements. Prices may vary based on different e-commerce websites.
AKASO V50 Elite
It allows you to shoot 4K videos at up to 60fps along with 20MP photos. It has built-in EIS and can dive deep up to 40m (131 feet) with the waterproof case. There are two lithium-ion batteries, 1050mAh each, provided in the kit. 2.4GHz built-in Wi-Fi provides connection to a smartphone via AKASO DV app. Other features include a 5cm touchscreen, voice control, time-lapse video, 8x optical zoom, wireless remote control and adjustable view angle. It is available for ₹ 14,999 (with accessories) on Amazon.
SJCAM SJ8 Pro
Maximum video resolution is 4K/60fps along with 12MP photo resolution. It comes with EIS and allows you to dive up to 30m with the waterproof case. The detachable lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 1200mAh. You can switch from 2.4GHz to the faster 5GHz Wi-Fi to connect to SJCAM Zone app on your phone. Other features include a 5.9cm touchscreen (with 2.4cm front screen), GPS, time-lapse video, 8x digital zoom and remote control. It is priced at ₹22,990 online.
It allows you to shoot 4K videos at up to 60fps along with 12MP photos. It has built-in EIS and can dive deep up to 40m with the waterproof housing. The high-density lithium battery has a capacity of 1200mAh. You can switch from 2.4GHz to the faster 5GHz Wi-Fi to connect to Yi Action app on your phone. Other features include a 5.5cm touchscreen, voice control, time-lapse video and live streaming. It is available for ₹ 29,999.
You can shoot 4K videos at up to 30 fps along with 16MP photos. Also, you can dive up to 30m with the waterproof case. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 1050mAh. It has built-in Wi-Fi to connect to XDV app on your phone. Other features include a 5cm screen, time-lapse video, 4x optical zoom and wireless remote control. It is priced at ₹8,999 (with accessories).
Noise Play SE
Noise Play Special Edition (SE) allows you to shoot 4K videos at up to 30fps along with 16MP photos. You can dive up to 30m with the waterproof housing. The 1050mAh, 3.7V built-in lithium-ion battery has an average life of 2.5 hours. It has built-in Wi-Fi to connect to Noise Play app on your phone. Other features include a 5cm screen, a time-lapse video and wireless remote control. It is available for ₹6,999 with accessories on Amazon.