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A 10-Step Beginners Guide to Buying an Action Camera

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Action camera next to notebook

Action camera next to notebook


Actions cameras are a great way to capture those high-intensity and unique moments. They can be used in so many different sports, activities, and adventures.

With so many to choose from, how do you know which is the right one to purchase? Read on for our ten step beginner’s guide to buying an action camera.

1. Picture Resolution

Resolution is an important factor when choosing an action camera. The higher the resolution, the better quality pictures and videos the device will produce. While most modern cameras are capable of 1080 HD resolution, some offer greater quality pictures of 1440 or even 2160 ‘ultra’ HD quality.

The number listed indicates the number of left-to-right pixels the device will capture. In general, the higher the number the better the resolution and thus better the image quality.

Action camera on helmet

Action camera on helmet

2. Field of View

Most action cameras are designed to capture a wide field of view (FOV). This allows more of the action to be captured by the lense. FOV is normally stated in terms of degrees, and the greater the number the wider the angle.

Some action cameras offer multiple fields of view that can be changed via software settings, given you a choice for what you are shooting.

Action camera sitting on wooden column

Action camera sitting on wooden column

3. Storage

Cheaper action cameras may come with built in storage but lack the ability to expand the capacity with your own memory. Its a good idea to consider this when purchasing, as the more storage available to the camera the more photos and videos you can take without having to offload them to a computer.

Look for a camera with expandable storage that takes SD or SDHC cards if this is important to you.

Dog with action camera on collar

Dog with action camera on collar

4. Screen

Because action cameras are designed to be small, some lack the inclusion of a screen to see what you are shooting. This is generally not an issue as the wide field of view makes it easy to capture everything in one shot.

Some higher end devices include touch screens that not only provide a reference of what the camera is looking at, but also the ability to switch settings and menus in an intuitive manner.

Action camera capturing sunrise

Action camera capturing sunrise

5. Battery

Your camera is no use if the battery is dead! Be sure to check how long the camera can record for before it will need charging, and what method should be used for recharging. Most devices use internal batteries, but a few may require removable ones.

Action camera next to rucksack

Action camera next to rucksack

6. Water and Dirt Resistance

Depending on what you will use the camera for, you will want to check how waterproof and dirt-resistant it is. Look for whether the camera is waterproof by itself, or if it requires a special enclosure to keep it safe and dry.

Action camera in water

Action camera in water

7. Materials

The durability of the unit is also an important factor to consider, and is often determined by what materials are used in the device. As the device will likely need to survive drops, impacts and spills you should look for a unit constructed from durable materials such as rubber, metal, and reinforced plastics.

Action camera

Action camera


8. Dimensions

The size and shape of an action camera are important to consider based on where you will be using it. For example, if the unit needs to fit in a small place, be sure to find a smaller device. Beware that smaller units sometimes come with resolution or quality tradeoffs, so weigh up the pros and cons before purchasing.

Action camera capturing fire show

Action camera capturing fire show

9. Mobile Connection

Many action cameras now come with built in wifi connectivity, allowing you to connect them to a mobile device to view recordings and control camera settings. Some units also allow the phone to be used as a virtual viewfinder to help compose shots and set up the picture. Consider if this is an important factor for you.

Action camera next to bag and personal items

Action camera next to bag and personal items

10. Accessories/Mounts

You will likely want to look for accessories to go with your new device. Some of the most popular additions to consider are various mounting solutions. This allows you to attach the camera to yourself, your vehicle, or even your pets to record the action from a new perspective!

Action camera capturing BMX stunt

Action camera capturing BMX stunt

That’s all there is to it. Once you purchase your device, you will be set to capture all the action on your next adventure!


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