Are Action Cameras Worth Buying?

Today, we are going to discuss on whether you should consider buying an action camera for yourself and whether it’s worth it.


Is it worth buying action cameras?
It all started from GoPro. Action cameras were made to be small and simple yet durable. GoPros were a huge hit since the beginning because they were offering as much as a traditional camcorder but at a way lower price point. They were cheaper, lighter and more robust than camcorders. All adrenaline sports enthusiasts were hyped because there was finally a product out there that satisfies their needs.

Now, although a lot of people still use GoPro, many manufacturers, especially the ones from China, like SJCAM, Eken, ThiEYE, Xiaomi, are making cheaper alternatives to GoPro, for people who have a tighter budget because you must remember that GoPro still costs $400-500, despite being significantly cheaper than professional video cameras.

I have also written a post about action cameras like what it is and what to look out for when buying.

Having said that, let’s get started.

Affordable & Value for Money

Cheap Action Cameras are everywhere

So in this photo, I randomly took a screenshot the search result when I googled ‘cheap action cameras’ and this came in.

Thus, if you went and researched about action cameras, chances are that you will definitely see a lot of random China manufacturers selling their cameras for below 100. That shows how competitive the market for these action cameras is.

As mentioned in the first part of this post, I gave a little comparison about the price point of a GoPro and a traditional camcorder which can cost you a few grand. However, a GoPro is already considered as the cream of the crop in action camera markets as it is one of the, if not, most expensive action camera and it offers a lot of features that other cameras does not.

In the past, cameras at this price range, if you even find one, are super crappy which films at 240p or maybe if you’re lucky 360p but presently, competition is booming and together with technology advancements, you can easily find one that films in 1080p or 2K.

Therefore, I feel action cameras now are getting more value for your money and because of that many have actually switched to action cameras as their preferred mode of filming.

Also, I feel there are some that are actually value for your money, which I wrote a list and comparison of the best action cameras under $100 here.

Versatile & Multi-Purpose

I feel action cameras are generally very versatile because you can really bring it anywhere. Also, I feel that action cameras are generally good for vlogging your holidays or wherever you go because of the wide FOV and not only limited to filming extreme sports or sports in general.

There are also many types of action cameras and although all of them are built for sports and extreme events, they are still different types of them to suit your niche.

Different Types of Action CamerasSome examples would be the bullet style action cameras (Ion Air Pro, Campark ACT30), cube style (Hero Session) and lastly, the box style (GoPro Hero, SJCAM SJ4000) which majority of the cameras fall into.

Other than it being able to fit whatever needs you have, it also many mounting options which you can easily use to mount onto wherever you want, making it very versatile and multi-purpose to use.

If you are unsure of the mounts or the mounting options you can do with your action camera, I have written an in-depth post about it and how you can do it here.

Robust and Reliable:

Unlike your smartphones and other devices you own, you don’t really have to worry too much about the protection because it is built to handle a beating. Having said that, I feel you should still store it properly and try your best to isolate from your items in your bag.

If you compare it to your smartphones, even the best phones with covers for the best waterproof, shockproof, dust proof ability is nowhere close to the level of action cams.

If you are using your phone and in the event that it is damaged or spoilt, there is a very low chance that the data would still be intact.

However, on the other hand, even if the action camera is damaged, they are made to protect the storage card inside the camera. Hence the data will still be retained in the MicroSD card and your precious photos and videos will still be there.

Another thing I noticed about the build of action cams is that they are much better in dealing with shock then smartphones.

After doing a bit of research, I found that most action cameras are actually made such that the chipset, motherboard, etc is mostly isolated from the casing. Thus, in the event that the camera is accidentally dropped, ie. received shock, the force willdissipate throughout the body of the camera, minimizing the damage of the internal system.

Wide Field of View

Action Camera Field of View VS Smartphone Field of view iphone 6 plus vs gopro hero 4 silver

One thing you would notice straight away from a footage taken by an action camera would be that it captures really wide and a lot of details can be seen from one frame.

This makes the videos or pictures more immersive because more can be seen, making it really fun to watch as compared to normal footage taken a smartphone camera which has an average 40% of the FOV when compared to action cameras.

However, there’s a drawback to this wide FOV, the fisheye effect.

fisheye effect caused by fisheye lens in action cameras

The fisheye effect caused by action cameras is made due to the curvature of the fisheye-shaped lens and hence the whole frame would look a little distorted and bent inwards or outwards depending on the camera.

Despite that, it is possible to remove fisheye effects through simple post processing which most editing apps offer, therefore, it isn’t really something to be bothered about.

Good Video Quality

Does action cams have good video quality?

To start this off, this is a generalisation of most action cameras however there is still a small percentage of cameras that have really bad quality especially those that fall below $40. 

Many cameras nowadays are built to record and film 1080p and higher and hence video quality will be pretty crisp because of the high number of pixels present.

Another thing is that cameras nowadays are able to record slow motion at 1080p (Full HD) making those fast events to be able to be seen more smoothly and the footage generally becomes more smooth and clear.

Recently, I have also realised that there is an uptrend of cameras having video stabilization features because there is a demand from consumers. This is because in action sports footages won’t always be very smooth and levelled and instead be very shaky and hence stabilization is required to keep the footage viewable.

Example of Digital Stabilization (EIS) in ThiEYE T5 ($130)

 

On top of that,  another thing I would like to point out is that video stabilization can be found in cameras lower than $150 nowadays in case you were wondering that this is a premium feature only offered to cameras at a higher price range.

Something to note about the stabilization on action cameras is that they are digitally stabilised (Electronic Image Stabilization) and can’t be mechanically stabilized because the parts would be too fragile and break. Hence, there are many gimbals made for action cameras to completely smoothen the shots.

Connectivity

Affordable Action Camera with Remote Eken H9RNowadays, you can easily find cameras below $100 with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI connectivity, etc and all this is to better connect and integrate to your other devices.

For example, you can easily connect to your smartphone to view footages from the camera directly treating your smartphone like a remote control, which your phone obviously can’t do.

This, in my opinion, has brought a lot of conveniences especially if you mount it onto your selfie stick or monopod because you are now not even required to touch your camera and are still able to control it and it is significantly less troublesome.

Not to mention that 95% of action cameras have this feature too.

Summary

So at this stage, I guess you should know better whether you should buy an action camera or not and whether it is worth it.

You are missing out a lot if you don’t own one especially if you are into adrenaline sports or an enthusiast.

If you constantly find your phone battery running flat because you have been constantly taking pictures and videos, you should also definitely consider getting one because your phone’s battery will be preserved so you can read your messages, listen to your music, etc. And if your camera’s battery flat, you can use your phone to do, providing more flexibility in your end.

If you intend to buy one, you don’t have to buy such an expensive one like a GoPro to start out because if you are new to action cameras, you wouldn’t need the features that it offer.

I feel this list of action cameras, that I created would be good for people to start out with action cameras because it is really easy to use not to mention affordable.

Lastly, there a few things you should some disadvantages of action cameras too. They are not as good in low-light settings as your camera because it lacks a flash and the sensors in action cameras are quite small.

They are not as good in low-light settings as your smartphone camera or camcorders because it lacks a flash and the image sensors in action cameras are quite small.

Furthermore, it might be a little troublesome to share your photos through social media because you would have to use your smartphone app to transfer the media from your camera and then share it.

But otherwise, I think it is a really go device to have and your investment in this would definitely pay off and action cameras are indeed worth buying in 2017.

Lastly, if you have anything to share, it can be anything about action cameras, please feel free to drop a comment down below. I’ll really appreciate that! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!! 🙂


–> Not sure which action cameras to buy, click here for my camera reviews!<–

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7 Comments

  1. I have temped since a few years ago for buying action camera. But I was a bit skeptical and pull back due to the price point. As I rarely use on a daily basis so I didn’t want to spend so much money on it.

    Lucky I read through our article and finally save my life. I am considering buying the cheaper one like below $100 which have the same function which Go pro.

    At the moment I have shortlisted Eken. What do you think?

    1. Glad this article helped!

      I think Eken will fit you the best because you seem like you are new to action cameras so I feel you can go ahead to buy it.

      If you have anymore questions, feel free to comment down below. 🙂

  2. I have been considering getting an action camera for myself. All things considered, which camera do you think is the best? GoPro? Or another brand? I love adrenaline sports, and I believe that an action camera would be right for me. Thank you for making this comprehensive guide about action cameras, it was extremely helpful.

    1. If you have a budget of about 500, I do think the GoPro is the best camera but many of us don’t have that budget. That’s why I have reviewed on other alternatives. I feel that if your budget is around 200, go for the Yi 2 action camera, it is a really good camera and although it does not offer as much features as the GoPro (voice control, etc), the quality of the video produced is really good and can be comparable to the GoPro Hero 5.

  3. I have been contemplating for a while now if I should get an action camera since my hand phone comes with a camera that serves well in my photo and video taking. However, after reading your article, I think it is really worthy to invest in one for better pictures and videos be it for personal or professional use. And like you mentioned, fish eye effect is one of the most bothersome thing, but thankfully for the post processing apps, everything is made such a breeze!

  4. Hi between Go-Pro Hero 5 Black and Sony FDX3000 which has an upper hand despite the price.

    1. Hi Faizal, it depends on your needs.
      I feel that overall, the Hero 5 Black will fit most people as it is more versatile and generally more user-friendly than the FDX3000. It has tons of accessories that you can buy third party and also many features such as voice control and user interface that makes a good user experience. On the other hand, for FDX3000, it has a better stabilisation is easier to hold but I feel it isn’t worth for it’s price and Hero 5 black would be your better bet.
      If you have any other questions or need any coupons or discount codes, feel free to reply and I’ll help to look some for you!

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