The Real Deal on Action Cameras

By Marion Fernandez
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With the continued popularity of GoPro and the other action camera brands out there, we have to ask: are the cameras really worth it?

Depending on what kind of outdoor activity you go in for, you may have even considered one for yourself at some point, but have perhaps questioned whether the cost was really worth it, or whether an non-brand camera would still do the job or be a waste of money. Let’s take a look at the real deal on action cameras and whether you should go out and get one.

They are unique


Generally speaking, action cameras are different than any other camera you can find. They are built to be mounted on top of your helmet, car, or even your surf board, to capture your perspective when you are out doing your thing. The fish-eye perspective allows you to share what it felt like to experience your adventure, or to relive it if you want to see it again. Such point of view-styled footage can really show off some extreme sports or the latest crazy moves that you have been trying out.

A standard video camera is larger than an action camera and is also usually cheaper. And although the film quality is still high, giving you excellent footage, you wouldn’t be able to mount a standard camera on the top of your helmet, thus giving action cameras an added edge for the average outdoorsman.

Are name brands important?

The brand that changed it all

GoPro without a doubt has a hold on the action camera market. Their square-shaped Hero line has been used by athletes and outdoorsmen across the board. Yet the question remains: do you really need to buy the GoPro brand to achieve the level of quality people have come to expect?

Well, there are undoubtedly a number of disadvantages to a GoPro. To begin with, the lens does not have the ability to rotate, making the camera inflexible when it comes to filming movement. They also cost more than other action cameras on the market. You also have to pay extra to have a live view screen, which would give you the ability to see how well-positioned the camera is. Otherwise, you run the risk of going on a whole adventure with your camera pointed in the wrong direction, missing out on the things you had actually wanted to film. Bottom line: there are plenty of other action cameras out there that would give you what you wanted, plus have more functionality, cost less, and are lighter to carry too.

You have options

So you are not locked into buying a GoPro or any other specific type of action cam. There are many on the market right now that are worth the money.

These include:

1. GoPro

Absolutely love mine

Still, GoPro still make very good cameras and are the best known camera on the market. They keep releasing newer models with new functions, and the GoPro Hero5 even has GPS, voice control, and a rear touchscreen, making it pretty amazing.

2. Olympus TG-Tracker

They got the design right with this

This video camera is waterproof, simple to use, and has a lot of sensor-enabled action abilities. The sensors include a barometer, thermometer, GPS, compass, and even an acceleration sensor, which can all be viewed in the playback video.

3. Olfi one.five

Nice entry level camera

Now here is an action camera that is not going to break the bank. It is half the cost of a GoPro, but still provides an easy-to-use design, high definition, and a clear LCD screen. It does not have voice control, but if you are just looking for an action camera that can do its job without draining your wallet, you should check this guy out.

4. Garmin Virb XE

Garmin – one of the big names in the market

Garmin are well-known for their GPS devices and this action camera comes with a lot of amazing technology. Unfortunately, the price is about the same as the GoPro, although it is waterproof out of the box, so no need for an added case, and its GPS sensor is state of the art.

5. TomTom Bandit

Known for GPS unit now moving into the camera market

TomTom is also known for its great GPS systems, but this action camera has a bit more to offer than just tracking. The shape of the camera is not a box,  like the style used by GoPro, but is instead a bullet-shape. The Bandit’s sensors keep track of your GPS, speed, G-force, and more, making it easy to go back through and see what your stats were. Its editing feature is also unlike any other on the market. By just shaking your phone, the camera’s app will automatically edit your videos and get you ready to share them.

6. YI 4K Action Camera

Sadly no GPS on this unit

The biggest drawback to this camera is that it does not have GPS, voice control, or waterproofing. Waterproofing is only necessary if you are going to actually use the camera underwater, though, which many of us are not. So, if you are looking for a camera that can just do its job of catching you in action, this is a bargain.

7. Sony FDR-X3000R

Sony the trusted brand for many

The Sony action cam’s biggest claim to fame is that it has an image stabilization feature that other cameras do not have. The stabilization feature works in every mode and resolution, keeping your images smooth and focused, instead of the often bumpy and chaotic results of other cameras. This camera also has an added underwater housing feature that makes it ideal for people who are trying to film in the water.

What is the point of them?

If you are still wondering what the benefit to having an action camera is, you need to think of it another way. Imagine you are a skier coming down a black diamond run. Having an action cam mounted on your helmet will let you share that experience with others, taking people, who are not skiing, on a run. No matter what kind of sport or activity you enjoy, whether that’s driving a car or jumping off mountains, action cameras provide you with a chance to show your friends and family what you have been up to. They also let you review how things went on your latest adventure. Mostly, of course, they are meant for enjoyment. If you are looking to share your favorite activity with others, an action camera may be a perfect idea for you.

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