You’ve stumbled upon an action camera and finally found the choice that fulfilled your needs and uses.
However, out of the blue, there are 2 options, asking you for which field of view model you want.
Which one should you choose?
Well, that’s what we are going to find out today.
90˚ Vs 170˚ Action Cams
1. Field Of View
As you should already know, the obvious contrast between the 2 is the wideness of the shots. It is measured in degrees (˚), and 90˚ means that it records exactly half of the footage whereas if it’s 180˚ (technically impossible), it records everything in front of the lens.
Most action cams have a 170˚ field of view, which is very wide and in order to fit all of that into a normal display, the fisheye lens distortion is introduced, which brings us to our second point.
All media are displayed in a 16:9 aspect ratio (width to height) regardless of the field of view of it.
Hence, no matter how wide or narrow a video is, it has to fit into the same dimension. This means that at least for the majority of action cams, which have a wide field of view, fisheye distortion is required so that it fits everything nicely into the display.
Can we remove the distortion?
Alternatively, you can use editing apps to easily correct it. I won’t dwell on it here because I have written a whole tutorial on removing fisheye effect here!
The resolution for both versions are the same, however because the anti-distortion version takes fewer details, it will consume a lower amount of space.
4. Physical Lens
The is the only physical difference between the 2 that you can see right away.
Something to keep in mind is that the lens on the 90˚ versions is slightly longer. Thus, it can’t be used together with ‘traditional’ waterproof cases because most housings are made for 170˚ lenses.
This hence limits the versatility, which is one of its drawbacks.
Comparison of 90˚ and 170˚ footage
Pros and Cons
|No Fisheye Distortion||Lower Field Of View|
|More Natural Look||More Expensive Due To Lesser Stock|
|Longer Lens --> Will Not Fit Into Normal Housing|
|More immersive (Higher FOV)||Fisheye Distortion Present (Can Be Advantageous At Times)|
|Able To Fit Into Normal Protective Housing|
At the end of the day, it boils down to your needs and how you’re planning on using your action cam.
If you fall into the general category of users where you are using your action cam for a large array of events, I’d personally recommend 170˚ field of view action cams. I feel it’s more versatile as most accessories are built for it, and not to mention it’s cheaper too!
However, on the other hand, if you really want an action cam without any distortion with the expense of field of view, go for the 90˚ ones.
As for the ideal viewing angle, I feel that it falls in between both of them, somewhere about 130˚ to 140˚. This is because the fisheye effect isn’t that obvious and at the same time it provides enough field of view for an immersive viewing experience.
That’s all I have for now. If you have any doubts or thought about this, please feel free to drop a comment down below! I’ll really appreciate it!
Lastly, thanks for dropping by and have a great day! 🙂