Here are some useful things that you need to know about a GoPro or action camera before buying one: [no_toc]
1. What exactly is an action camera?
Action cameras have an amazing knack for producing high-quality videos that are wide-angle in virtually all environments. What makes them even better is that they are tiny and lightweight which makes them easy to attach on the user’s body or equipment as they record events. An action camera can be fixed to a helmet, surfboard or even your chest.
2. Battery life
The actual life of the camera’s life depends on a number of factors. For example, setting it to shoot at a higher resolution will lead to more power usage. The same applies to bigger frame rates. At the same time, keeping the Wi-Fi on also causes the battery to run out faster. Under normal circumstances, a good camera will give you one to three hours of use. One big challenge for these cameras is that it is not always easy to change batteries in some locations due to their housing.
3. Standard format of images
Most action cameras produce images in MP4 format. It is a format that is easy to upload to YouTube without having to be converted in a different application. Brands like GoPro, Topjoy and Sony all use MP4. Newer models are now shooting 1080p resolution with some high-end ones even using 4K.
4. Connectivity and memory cards
The best way to achieve superior performance is to use a fast memory card. Without a fast enough memory card, the video will be of poor quality due to dropped frames. The minimum should be a Class 10 memory card. There are cameras that have inbuilt Wi-Fi capabilities. This is useful for transfer of videos to other devices but at the same time can be useful for other functions such as live streaming.
5. Where should you mount a GoPro or action camera?
A good camera is one that is versatile enough to work with any equipment that you are using. Whether you are cycling, surfing or skiing, you should be able to mount your camera at a good place for it to capture the action. GoPro cameras don’t offer image variation like some brands including Sony.
6. Frame rates
For cinematic-style footage, cameras shoot at around 24 frames per second and for a crisper effect at around 60 frames per second. The crisper effect is mostly associated with action cameras. Recently, 120 frames per second has become quite common, enabling users to create slow-motion videos that are smooth and of high quality. An action camera also shoots stills at the sensor’s maximum resolution.
The best action cameras can withstand being used in any environment. Most of them have always had clear plastic housing to protect them from the elements. For example, the GoPro HERO4 is built to be waterproof up to 131 feet. Newer cameras don’t need extra housing to be waterproof. There are many Sony action camera models that are marketed as “slashproof”. It is always advisable to have an extra housing to give the camera better water protection.
As action camera technology advances, it is important to know the features that are most important for your needs. It is not possible to find a camera that ticks every box in the book. Know what you want to achieve with the camera and then pick the camera that matches your criteria.