Action Camera 101: 5 of Your Top Questions Answered
Thinking of entering the world of action cameras? Here are the answers to some of your biggest action camera questions.
What Is an Action Camera Used For?
An action camera is a small, rugged, waterproof digital camera designed for capturing immersive action shots. They allow you to jump right in and become part of the adventure to capture photos and videos in a way that traditional cameras or smartphones just can't.
What's the Difference Between a GoPro and Other Action Cameras?
Most people think of GoPro when they hear the phrase “action camera”—and for good reason! Like most action cameras, GoPros are compact, durable and offer an impressive set of features perfect for a wide array of activities. But what sets GoPro apart is the incredibly high image quality that these action cameras capture—everything from image quality and coloring to electronic stabilization is industry-leading.
GoPro also provides hundreds of mounting options so you can stay immersed in an activity and still capture the perfect shot with ease.
Curious about the different GoPro cameras? Check out our comparison tool and find the action camera that’s best for you.
Is an Action Camera Worth Buying?
Yes! An action camera will take abuse and go places that your smartphone or DSLR can only dream of—whether you're on a wild adventure or just hanging poolside with the fam. They can be mounted to almost anything, including your bike, backpack, or even your surfboard. Let’s be honest, who would risk diving head first into any of these activities with their phone—yikes.
And with the increased versatility of action cameras like HERO9 Black, any video will look like a cinematic masterpiece with tools like HyperSmooth—the built-in electronic image stabilization technology that eliminates shaky footage entirely.
Can Action Cameras Be Used for Photography?
Yes. Modern action cameras like HERO9 Black capture high-quality 20MP photos as stills, burst shots, long exposures using Night Photo (featured above) and even RAW, so advanced photographers have more flexibility with editing in post-production.
Thinking of using your action camera for everyday photography? Check out this article with five reasons why an action camera like a GoPro should be the small camera you take everywhere.
What Should I Look for in an Action Camera?
Here are four things to look for when choosing the best action camera for your next adventure:
- Video quality and frame rates
- Editing tools and connectivity
It’s important to select the camera that fits your lifestyle. Do you love panoramic shots? The dual-lens GoPro MAX offers 270° distortion-free PowerPano captures with one click. Or if you’re a vlogger who doesn’t want to deal with multiple cameras, you can use the very same GoPro MAX as the ultimate vlogging camera with built-in shotgun mic performance and a front-facing screen to frame up your shots.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, go with the HERO9 Black. And if you’re an aspiring vlogger, you can always add Mods to turn the camera into the grab-and-go vlogging rig of your dreams.
1. Video Quality and Frame Rates to Go Slo-Mo
A good starting point is 4K when looking into action camera resolutions, but some can only shoot at this resolution in lower frame rates. The best action cameras can capture 4K video (or higher) in frame rates that exceed 30fps. This means you’ll have more frames to work with for crisper image quality, and if you decide to slow things down, the extra frames will delivery buttery smooth slo-mo video.
PRO TIP: The GoPro Quik app connects easily to your GoPro camera and comes with a Speed Tool, so you can edit videos shot in high frame rates into awesome slo-mo clips for sharing. You can download Quik on the App Store and Google Play today.
The best action cameras can go everywhere you can—AND even a few places you can’t. All GoPro action cameras feature a rugged design that’s waterproof up to 33 feet straight out of the box, so it can handle just about any adventure you can think of.
When it comes to durability, GoPro cameras can handle most drops and bumps as is. But if you just want that extra bit of protection, GoPro offers a line of protective accessories to help keep your camera in tip-top shape.
3. Action Camera Accessories
An action camera’s versatility depends a lot on the available accessories. GoPro offers hundreds of specialized GoPro-made mounts, accessories and even Mods, all of which help capture shots discretely so you can stay immersed in the action.
4. Editing Tools and Connectivity
Software is also extremely important when considering an action camera. The top action cameras make it simple to trransfer your content to a device to preview, edit and share your shots. GoPro streamlines this process with the combination of their mobile app, Quik, and the WiFi + Bluetooth connectivity for transfering and previewing your footage while on the go.
Plus, with a GoPro subscription, Quik users can unlock Auto Upload to the Cloud. This means that when you’re done with the day’s adventure, you can plug your GoPro in to charge and it’ll join your home WiFi network (or other designated network) and start transferring new content to the GoPro Cloud. Use the Quik app or login via a web browser and—voila—your footage is waiting for you