The action camera giant GoPro found its roots way back in the early 2000s when Nick Woodman started it as a response to the clamor to have camera equipment that can get close to the action without hurting the pockets.
The first action camera was sold two years after the company was founded, and it used 35 mm film to take and record videos.
The company further developed the GoPro concept and migrated the storage to SD cards, which allowed for longer videos and more stills than its previous iterations.
So, what is better than a GoPro? Or are GoPro action cams the best you can get?
Let’s find out!
Qualities of a GoPro
What Makes a GoPro a GoPro?
As one of the first companies to develop an action camera, the GoPro camera came with a few innovative features that made them stand out compared to similar products that have tried to replicate the success that they have had over the years.
These features have become generic or common amongst other action cameras over the years which allowed the competition to catch up with the action camera brand.
Durable and Weatherproof
The materials used to manufacture action cameras are certified to be durable enough to withstand rough handling which enables it to tag along and survive the action.
These cameras are also weatherproof, at the very least waterproof, which allows it to be used under any weather condition without sacrificing the quality of images and videos that it takes.
SD cards have allowed the digital camera market to expand, allowing for more images and videos taken and stored while the device is still in use.
Action camera-wise, SD cards have allowed users to record entire competitions or entire trips without needing to swap cards.
Action cameras have proven to be versatile as they can be used in a multitude of applications including extreme sports and hiking trips, as well as serving as onboard dash cameras for vehicles and bikes.
Their accessories also allow it to be used in many ways that only your imagination can limit.
Compact and Lightweight
Probably, the first innovation that GoPro had was that it allowed action cameras to become smaller and easier to carry, therefore preventing any hindrance to an athlete’s performance.
Most action cameras come as square or rectangular which proves that form follows function in their case.
Comparison with Other Action Cams (Sony, Yi, SJCAM, Thieye…)
Action cameras from other manufacturers have the same kind of features that a GoPro would normally have.
Even newer GoPro models like the Hero 7 Black would already have a corresponding model from a competitor ready to take it head-on in the market.
4K Ultra HD
Newer GoPros would have 4K Ultra HD capabilities which is something that other action cameras would already have.
Action cameras, regardless of brand, seem to have acquired a fountain of youth when it comes to battery life as they have released newer batteries that last longer.
Weatherproofing is something that GoPro has learned to tame over the years, which new players are slowly catching up on.
The advanced connectivity, like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, wraps up the features that are shared between GoPros and Action Cameras.
As previously mentioned GoPros are naturally versatile and can adapt to several scenarios to which they can be used.
However, more and more users have taken to other brands, especially those that provide the same function but have a lower chance of being stolen or broken.
Action cameras, regardless of the brand, can go wherever and whenever the user wants it, although they have the same weakness when it comes to capturing images and videos under low lighting conditions.
The rectangular or even cubic structure of the action camera is something shared regardless of the brand although some manufacturers have dared to try a deconstructed approach for more flexibility while some have tried evolving it into a curvier, more aerodynamic casing for use in certain sports.
GoPro Vs Smartphones
Mobile phones and actions cameras have very little in common, except that most smartphones can capture better images and videos than a GoPro. This is because smartphones can be flexible when it comes to the imaging lenses and software that it uses.
Mobile phones can and will make phone calls, send and receive texts, and access data, which no GoPro camera can do as of the moment.
GoPros, on the other hand, have a more dedicated software, namely image stabilization, that allows the camera to adjust and compensate for movement.
Both mobile phones and action cameras come with a ton of accessories that can make them adapt the way you want them to, although mobile phones tend to have a larger arsenal, it can be confusing, and not everything is made to be compatible with each other.
GoPro accessories often complement each other and can be interchanged as needed.
GoPros can withstand any climate or weather condition, even rough abuse while mobile phones can break easily and it will not always work if subjected to extreme temperatures without any accessory to protect them.
This effectively limits how you can use mobile phones as an alternative to a GoPro.
Mobile phones are definitely much larger than GoPros and heavier in a way as well. GoPros are much more compact, and its accessories complement this feature as well.
They don’t get in the way of performance which mobile phones tend to do at times, especially during races and such.
The sheer size of mobile phones also makes it more vulnerable to falling off, and they are highly sensitive to user movement which can cause some blurring and shaky video capture.
GoPros, meanwhile, are much more versatile and can be in some applications where mobile phones dare not even enter.
What Is Better than a GoPro?
So, what is better than a GoPro?
It depends on how you want your action cameras to be.
GoPros are the go-to equipment for professional athletes and videographers who are looking for quality output backed by a known name.
The alternative options though can provide the same level of output at a lower cost, but some of them have features that are unproven and may not even function as one would hope for an action camera.
Mobile phones tend to become bulky and more sensitive to vibration than a GoPro while other action cameras may not last as long as you would want them to.
All-in-all, choosing which one is better is really a matter of taste and preference. And it is always a good idea to try each one out, and see which would suit your lifestyle better.