Best Action Camera 2016: Top 6 You Must See!
What is an action camera? If you’re looking for a simple explanation, action cameras are small and lightweight devices that are both wearable and mountable. What’s most noteworthy though, is that they are completely portable. If you’re trying to decide which is the best action camera for you then look no further because we’re going to explain what they are and how you should go about deciding.
As a result, we’ve done the research required from the vast amount available and briefly reviewed a selection based on categories such as best sports camera or the best action camera for slow motion.
Action cameras have especially seen an explosion in worldwide popularity since 2013, and it has been predicted that the market size for these products will grow at a rate of 22.2% between 2016-2019!
The drivers behind the surge in uptake, in what is a relatively new device, is seen to have come from a number of different sources. One of these is due to the willingness of new manufacturers to enter the market and the popularity of social network sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Before we move on, let’s talk some more about why an action camera is an excellent choice, over say a traditional camcorder or even using your mobile phone…
First of all, starting with the camcorder, if you can imagine for a moment trying to secure one to your bike or body. Seriously securing it, to get the best from any potential recording opportunity is going to be next to impossible. This is because of their size and extremely limited mounting options available.
As for your smartphone, while they are much smaller than a camcorder, the cameras on them are not designed to be rapidly shaken around whilst traveling at high speeds. Imagine you’re say, water skiing or even snowboarding down a mountainside. The resulting vibrations would render any video and audio captured useless.
So the good news for you is, if you love to take part in extreme sports like, mountain biking, snowboarding or even pot holing and mountaineering. Action cameras give you a sense of freedom to enjoy the activity. This is because you’re safe in the knowledge that whatever you do, the camera will record good quality video and audio.
Finally, before you jump straight in and start reading reviews. Here are a few things you should consider prior to viewing the best action cameras in 2016.
Things to consider when searching for the best action camera…
- What do you want to use your action camera for? There are literally hundreds available and not all meet the needs of say a runner and a mountaineer for example. Therefore, you may not need something that is considered to be the best action camera to get decent performance.
- How durable and Waterproof does the camera need to be? As with any product the manufacturers of action cameras have a range of specific tasks in mind when designing their product. Hence, some are more rugged than others and likewise some are fully submersible and other simply splash proof.
- Do you need a long life battery? Some activities such as pot holing, mountain climbing and exploration, may take you away from plug in power points for considerable amounts of time. Therefore, you may need to search for a camera for extreme sports with changeable batteries.
- What mounting options will best suit you? Every activity has its own requirements. And as such, where you can mount an action camera to fully get the best from it is extremely important for you to consider. One thing to remember is that not all action cameras are suitable for every activity. And different camera shapes allow for different mounting accessories and possibilities.
- What frame Rates and Resolution do you need? Frame rate is normally abbreviated as fps (frames per second), with some action camera brands offering devices with 120fps recording. For standard recording and playback 30fps is adequate, but if you want to slow the footage down while editing, go for 120fps.As for resolution most of the modern cameras record in full-HD 1080p. But not all 1080p resolution is the same it can differ between cameras and manufacturer. Recently we’ve seen a few of the best 4K action cameras hit the market, these offer superior resolution. However, you will need some really state of the art computing power to edit footage from it.
Best Action Camera For Your Money: GoPro Hero 4 Silver
Recommended for: Looking for the best action camera which offers an all around package of features for a great price? Then the GoPro Hero 4 Silver could be the camera for you!
Max. Video Resolution: 1080p 60fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 12MP
Weight: 0.32 pounds
For many, when you mention the words action camera, they think of GoPro, because it is one of the best action camera brands and rules the world market. Seen as GoPro’s best all round package, the Hero 4 Silver stands out from all similarly priced devices.
However, it does look somewhat similar to an earlier model of GoPro, but this Hero 4 model is unique in its own right, as it’s the first with a brilliant LCD display. This display allow you to set up your shots exactly how you want them and easily review the footage thereafter.
The touch screen within the display enables you to quickly access important information and settings. Which on older models, would have required multiple presses of buttons. Therefore, not only is this a better display but will also save you time.
Whilst this camera does have 4K, it’s not the best 4k action camera. Its frame rates top out at 15fps for Ultra HD. You would be better off recording at 1080p, which offers higher frame rates at 60fps.
The camera snaps images in JPEG format and records digital video in H.264. Plus, has composite video/audio plus HDMI connections. There is also Bluetooth, WiFi, camera resolution of 12MP, wide screen video capture, 1160mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery.
With all of the above features and a great price, it is easy to see why we’ve rated the Hero 4 Silver as the best action camera to buy for your money.
Best Budget Action Camera: Kodak PIXPRO SP1
Recommended for: If you’re in need of what could be the best small camera for travel. The Kodak camera could fit the bill as it doesn’t need a case to be waterproof. Therefore cutting down on both weight and the amount of space it takes up whilst transporting it.
Max. Video Resolution: 1080p 30fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 14MP
Waterproof: Yes up to 33-feet
If you’re looking for a small and compact action camera and a real bargain, then the Kodak Pixpro SP1 is for you. Not only is it around half the price of the GoPro camera above, but what’s more is that it also offers video quality that is almost comparable in good light.
Some users have stated that the camera is a little bulky.However you must remember this Kodak has everything you need including a 1.5-inch inbuilt display, and does not require a waterproof case. That means it is as big as it will ever get, which can’t be said about other cams which do require a case.
Controls on top of the cam allow you to navigate through various on screen options. However, they are not as intuitive as we would like them to be. But as with most things, with a little practice, you will easily master them.
The Kodak has an advanced CCD sensor offering 14-megapixel. This means more speed, quality and clarity of both images and video. Plus, being waterproof up to a depth of 33-feet is a huge benefit as most cams at this price point don’t offer this feature.
Furthermore, the inclusion of an LCD display, (EIS) or electronic image stabilization and compatibility with an Android remote viewer app for smartphones make this little cam the best choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Best 4K Action Camera: Panasonic HX-A500
Recommended for: If shooting video in Ultra HD 4K is a must have for you, then this top of the line Panasonic HX-A500 could be the best 4k action camera for you!
Max. Video Resolution: 4K UHD 30fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 12.7MP
Waterproof: Up to 3 meters
Weight: both units combined 159 grams
This Panasonic action cam allows you to capture exactly what you see in high quality 4K and at 1080p HD, either at face level or via a helmet. In fact if you can overcome the inherent awkwardness of a two piece camera you will discover that this device is excellent since it delivers high quality audio and video in any of its inbuilt shooting modes.
As you can see from the design, Panasonic have successfully tried to differentiate themselves from the likes of GoPro, and have done this with the design of the HX-A500. To help you get the most from the camera there’s a 1.5-inch display on the back of the cams main body. It’s a small one, but it’s vibrant enough to be able to show you exactly what’s going on.
All in all this camera is a feature rich device designed to take on the likes of the GoPro Hero 4 black, which it does extremely well. Additional features worth mentioning are the cameras ability to be remotely controlled via an iOS or Android app, slow motion recording at up to 200fps and the included head-mounting kit it comes packaged with.
Best Action Camera for Extreme Sports: Sony 4K FDR-X1000V
Recommended for: In to snowboarding, skateboarding, cycling or some other extreme sport? If you are and need of the best camera for extreme sports, you should seriously consider this Sony X1000V!
Max. Video Resolution: 4K UHD 30fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 8.8MP
Waterproof: Up to 60-meters with case
Weight: 114 grams
This Sony action camera features what could only be described as a must have piece of software if you’re into extreme sports. Featuring SteadyShot image stabilization, it reduces vibration and its effects on the recording of video. Therefore, enabling you to get that perfect shot and be able to play it back with confidence.
There’s also burst shooting, which in camera mode, let’s you snap up to 10-high-quality shots of a trick or transition. Meaning it’s great if you want to replay and analyze footage. As for waterproofing, without its case this Sony cam is splash proof, thanks to its IPX4 class rating. However, with its case it is submersible up to a depth of 60 meters.
Of the cameras on this list so far, the Sony X1000V has much more to offer. Making it probably the best action camera buy we’ve seen so far. Notable features of this device are, its battery life, which can be extended up towards 60-minutes. Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity, airplane mode, interval recording plus an 8.8MP camera with its ZEISS Tessar Lens.
Best GoPro Camera: GoPro Hero 4 Black
Recommended for: If shooting video in crisp and clear 4K is a must have for you, this top quality GoPro could be one of the best 4K action cameras for you!
Max. Video Resolution: 4K UHD 30fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 12MP
Waterproof: Up to 131 feet with housing
Considered to be the best GoPro action camera available, the Hero 4 Black does it all, for a considerable premium over the Silver Hero 4 above. As well as capturing Ultra High-Def 4K video, this cam can also capture slow motion video at an impressive 120fps, for playback at 1080p resolution, now that’s impressive!
If you’re an experienced photographer, GoPro have settings which you can alter depending on your needs, like white balance, image sharpness and ISO. Like all other GoPro cameras, the Hero 4 Black is able to be remotely controlled via a smartphone app. Whilst using the app you will also be able to view image previews and playback video.
Moving on to specifications and features, this cam shoots video in two different formats, H.264 and MP4. Plus, you also have the ability to automatically create video from frames captured at set intervals. However, this feature is only available in 4K and 2.7k resolutions.
In addition to the features above, it also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity plus, Night Photo and Night Lapse, which enable customizable exposure settings for night-time video shooting. This cam offers you some incredible features, rightly making it the best GoPro camera.
Best Action Camera for Slow Motion: TomTom Bandit
Recommended for: If you’re looking for a camera with great on the move editing features without the need to download anything to do it, then the TomTom Action cam is the right one for you.
Max. Video Resolution: 4K UHD 15fps
Max. Photo Resolution: 16MP
Waterproof: Up to 40-meters with lens cover
Weight: 190 grams
As you can see with this device, not all action cameras have to be square shaped, like those from GoPro and Polaroid. With its innovative design, this camera looks like a miniaturized telescope and underneath the hood this little cam packs some semi-pro and top level, action camera features and specs.
Talking of features, the Bandit uses its built-in sensors to tag all of your potential footage highlights, almost making it too easy for you to edit. Furthermore, its companion mobile app allows you to quickly create a reel of highlights by just shaking your smartphone.
If you want the best action camera for slow motion, fast mobile editing,a versatile mounting system and a removable battery with a 3 hour life span, then the TomTom Bandit should be a serious contender for your choice as the best action camera.
What do you think of our list? Feel we missed something out? Let us know in the comments below!