Whether you're looking for a sturdy camera you can strap to yourself while you go biking or climbing, or one you can attach to your car to capture the craziness of the road or protect yourself from fraud, a good action camera is a must. Long battery life, durability, ease of use, accessible storage — this week we're looking at five cameras that have it all, based on reader nominations.
Title photo by Amanda Brewer
As with any gadget purchase, shop around online — you'll often find considerable discounts. Just remember to factor in postage, especially if you're buying from overseas.
It's not cheap, but the GoPro Hero 4 Black is an extremely popular action camera, and for good reason. It's near-indestructable and can survive all sorts of punishment. It has its own speedy onboard processor, is capable of shooting video at 4K, 1080p or 720p, or slow-motion video at 240 or 120 frames per second. It's an equally powerful still camera as well, snapping 12 megapixel (MP) photos and offering a burst shooting mode that can capture 30 frames per second (fps). Night photo modes and lots of manual options give you lots of over the quality of your photos, and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth let you control the camera from afar on your mobile device if you need to. The camera even has great automatic low-light and time-lapse modes. Its ubiquity in this category means it also has a wide range of accessories and peripherals. For more insights, check out Gizmodo's full review.
If you're looking to get into the "action camera" market without dropping too much money, the SJCAM SJ4000 might be up your alley. Despite its relatively low price, it offers 1080p video at 30 fps to the party (along with 720p video at 60fps.) It's a 12MP still shooter, and has lots of options for manual image and video control both on-board and available via remote control through a Wi-Fi-connected Android or iOS device. It's durable, water-resistant and completely functional when submerged, and can go just about anywhere a pricier camera can go and stand up to just as much punishment. It has mild burst shooting capability, but it does have a few perks other cameras don't, such as the ability to work as a web cam that's constantly connected to a computer. It's also compatible with many GoPro accessories.
Sony's FDR-X1000V 4K Action Cam is another pricey model, but for your money you get an impressively durable go-anywhere shooter that's capable of extremely high-quality video. The camera can shoot in full 4K and 1080p HD at 30fps and 120fps respectively, but it also offers impressive quality at 720p HD at 240fps. It's not really designed as a still shooter, but it can capture 8.8MP still images if you need it to, and it packs digital image stabilisation on-board. It's water-resistant, splashproof, and extremely durable. The camera sports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and more connection and configuration options than we have room to mention here, and offers remarkable sound quality, which is a big deal compared to some of the others in the roundup. Gizmodo has a detailed review.
Sony's more affordable action camera, the HDR-AS100V, still offers Sony's image stabilisation and "SteadyShot" technology, designed to help you get crystal clear shots even on the move. It can shoot 13.5MP still images and 1080p HD and 720p HD video at 240fps and 120fps respectively. Like the other cameras in this roundup, it's exceptionally durable, and offers attachments for multiple sports. The camera records additional information like GPS and map position along with your videos so you can overlay it later or include it with whatever video you end up producing. The camera packs Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth more so you can manage it remotely or easily transfer video, and has a built-in stereo mic for sound recording. Here's what Gizmodo thought of it.
Another cheaply-priced option, the Mobius ActionCam, is available in both a standard and a wide-angle model. It's extremely compact: about as long as a AA battery long and only twice as wide. The wide angle lens has a viewing radius of 131 degrees, and is capable of shooting 1080p HD video at 30fps or 720p HD video at 60fps. It has an on-board microphone, and is capable of being used as a dash cam or as a stationary security camera. It's a budget-friendly model that can serve multiple purposes, and while it's not rugged enough to go to space or stay underwater for hours, you will see these cameras mounted on quadcopters and private aircraft.
This week's honourable mention goes to a slightly older GoPro model, the GoPro Hero 3 White, which is a more affordable choice for GoPro fans.
Favour a different action cam? Tell us why you made your choice in the comments.