Action cameras have become the must-have travel accessory over the past few years, as people of all ages discover the wonder of high quality imagery and video to capture the beauty of their destination (and it’s Instagrammable too).
And, as the popularity of these gadgets continues to grow, so does the number of options available. Whether you consider yourself a photography aficionado, or you’re a bit of a novice, choosing the right action camera can be a tricky task. So, we’ve put together this list of important factors to consider when choosing your ideal product.
Video resolution is a vital factor to consider when selecting a brand and model. 4K resolution is the highest quality available on most high-end action cameras, followed by 1080p and 720p. You will need to think about what you’ll be using your camera for, as well as the devices you will use to view the footage, in order to select the right option for your needs. For instance, buying an action camera with 4K is not the best option without a 4K TV or computer.
It’s highly likely you’ll be planning to use an action camera for taking still photos too, so you’ll need to think about the camera’s image quality. In short, the higher the megapixels, the higher the photo resolution will be. You can still optimise your image to suit your needs though, so it’s not too much of a concern.
Do you plan to use your action camera in rain, snow or underwater? If yes, durability is a major factor you’ll need to consider. When looking at particular models, check if they are waterproof - sometimes referred to as weatherproof - on the list of key features. Many action cameras have a water-resistant exterior, but with others, you will need to use a waterproof case for protection.
Size and shape
You’ll find that some shapes are more convenient for certain applications than others, so give some thought to this before making a purchase. The majority of action cameras are box-shaped, which is the ideal shape for chest mounting, whereas others are shaped a bit like a bullet - the preferred shape if you plan to mount it on a helmet.
It’s probably best to go with the lightest and smallest model for your travels, giving you the maximum portability.
Planning to use your action camera on the slopes or while surfing? You’ll need the perfect mount to secure your camera. Not all brands will have the specific accessories you are looking for, so you’ll need to make sure your brand of choice is fit for purpose.
Check the brand website before making a purchase to see what accessories are included, as well as those that are available as add-ons. That way, you won’t end up disappointed that you can’t buy a certain accessory suited to the activity you’ll be using it for.
In order to get the best performance (and footage) from your action camera, you’ll need the fastest memory card you can afford. It’s certainly true that without a fast enough write speed, you will encounter dropped frames and jerky footage. The minimum you’ll need is probably a Class 10 card, whereas the camera you choose will preferably support the UHS-II standard, which will provide write speeds of up to 312MB/s in the best quality cards.
Due to their high specification, most action cameras only have between one and three hours of continuous use before running out of juice. This will always depend on usage, and whether you’re shooting using high-resolution videos, but it’s always best to be aware of how long you’re likely to need your camera switched on for.
Most people will opt for the device with the longest battery life, but that’s not always the best option. Sometimes, those that last longer will not have the features you require.
Want to know more?
Cobra Electronic stocks a wide range of action cameras and accessories that are perfect for a variety of sporting and outdoor activities. Take a look at our collection here.