The Guide to Action Cameras

Fully Utilising Your Action Camera

If you’re reading this, you should either have already owned an action cam, if not plan or considering to own one because it is really worth to get one due to its ability to last and affordability.

In this article, we will discuss on how you can better utilise your action camera to it’s fullest ability, be it a Yi, Eken, GoPro, SJCAM, ThiEYE, or a Gitup, just to list a few popular brands.

What I mean when I say to use it to its fullest ability is knowing your camera’s features and what it can do. Thus, below are some of the settings and features that you should know and use to fully squeeze and take advantage of every feature that your action cam has to offer.

What we will cover:

Enough of babbling, let’s go!

Video Settings

Resolution

different kinds of resolution

This is the most basic thing you should start with and that’s why I am putting it on the first.

Resolution is the number of pixels on the display. Hence the higher the resolution, the more detail and the clearer it is.

Most videos, be it Youtube, theatres or TVs, we watch nowadays are filmed using a 16:9 aspect ratio (ratio of the width to the height). Hence, it goes without saying that action cams film in this res too.

What resolution should you use

1080p is the standard resolution and pretty much suffices most displays we use today.

However, due to the rising popularity of better, higher resolution displays, cameras, not forgetting action cams, have been made capable of filming 2K (2440p), all the way to 4K.

Scam: Fake Resolution

https://actioncamguides.com/real-or-fake-4k-resolution-in-action-cameras-how-do-you-identify

Especially for 4K, it is very ambiguous because fake 4k is very prevalent.

Thus, as a guideline, action cameras below 100 does not have real 4K and if you see one that claims to be able to film 4K, be very wary of it. As far as I know, the cheapest 4K action camera is Thieye T5e, just a little over 100, at 110 USD.

If you’d like to know more about fake 4K and how they go about manipulating it, check out my article on it here!

Frame Rate

what are frame rates?

The frame rate is the frequency at which the consecutive image (frames) are being displayed and is measured in frames per second (FPS).

resolution and frame rate settings Sj4000 sjcam

Almost all the times, frame rates are together in the same tab as the resolution in action cams.

The standard or default frame rate used is 30fps as it is smooth yet storage saving at the same time.

Having said that, there are actually multiple frame rates, 60, 120, 240 fps that you can alternatively use.


The higher, the smoother and thus better for slow motion. However, the drawback of this is that it will take up more space and perform worse in low light conditions.

–> Click here to know more about a popular scam: fake frame rates! <–

Using the Right Field of view

Field of view simply explained, is how wide the video is. It is measured in degrees and 180˚ means it can record everything from the left to right and 90˚ means it can only record half of that. Pretty straightforward right?

Some action cams (such as Git2, SJ5000x, Hero 5) have the ability to customise the field of view of the camera, and only higher end action cams have it due to the more complicated algorithm required to produce the different fields of view.

field of view gopro

The picture above shows the 3 different fields of view, wide (about 160˚-170˚), medium (about 140˚)  and narrow (90˚), to better illustrate the difference.

Generally, for wider FOV, there will be distortion  (fisheye effect) around the image and it will seem to bend a little around the edge. Also, as more details are captured, it creates a more immersive experience for the viewers. It is mostly used for action events such as skydiving, mountain biking, or diving. 

As for narrower FOV, there is little to no distortion but the detail they capture is very limited. They are mostly used for filming a particular thing as there are fewer distractions. Some examples are webcams, vlogging and social media.

How It Works

It is mostly done by software and what it does is it digitally zooms in on the image captured or crop into the sensor.

field of view in action cams

However, this does not result in loss of resolution. Why though?

This is because the camera’s sensor records at a higher resolution than the cropped video.

To help you better understand, let’s me give you an example. Say you want a 1080p video, with a medium FOV. What actually happens is your action cam actually records at 2.7K wide, so that after cropping it, it still maintains the real and original 1080p video.

Enhancing Image Settings

Exposure Value (EV)

This is basically the brightness of the photo and positive values mean brighter and negative values means dimmer.

It usually intervals by 1/3 and it is quite useful if you find your shots either too bright or too dim.

White Balance

white balance settings

For white balance, it is a software filter that adjusts the temperature and colour (tint) of the image so that it is most accurate and natural depiction of the actual object.

Most of the times, pictures of videos look a little tinted