BMX, Skateboarding, Parkour, Rapid Water Canoeing, Surfing, Bungee Jumping. There’s a growing breed of travellers who chase down adventure travel activities and extreme sports around the world, from New Zealand to Tokyo to Hawaii. It’s quite something watching exhilarating footage of their board-stomping, wave-crashing, gap-leaping adventures.
For anyone who’s into extreme sports or even first-timers pushing out of their comfort zone to try something daring for that addictive cocktail of fear and freedom, it’s a big plus to be able to capture all the action as it happens. Thanks to new accessible technology, we can now film ourselves on the waves, or in the air, from that first-person view in the heart of the action rather than a still footage from afar.
We look at the latest Action Cameras that you can buy to film your thrill-seeking travel adventures. For the amazing things they do like taking water-proof videos and seamless timelapse, you’d be surprised that these are the opposite of bulky!
Mount these super-compact camcorders on your helmet, your board, your waist, your bike… and they do all the work while you concentrate on losing yourself in the most heart-racing activities.
The GoPro Range
These are the end-all-be-all action cameras everyone talks about. Everyone who follows the progress of action cameras knows about Go Pro and how GoPro’s founder wanted to push action photography to radical heights. A surfer himself, he made this to capture the lively action from the waves rather than from the distant shores. This is why the product really works because the guys running the company are action guys themselves. Go Pro cameras are durable products, with tough housing for tough environments, and produce great image and video quality.
Waterproofing is superb. Go Pro battery life (2.5 hours of continuous shooting) is impressive even if it simply consists of a few AAA batteries. They have near-perfect reliability, which makes the price-to-value of the higher-end GoPro cameras simply unparalleled.Fuss free, tough and it works. They are just the best action cameras to go for in general.
The Hero: The Perfect Entry-Level Go Pro
The aptly-named Hero Go Pro is the most affordable price out of the entire range with some more-than-sufficient specifications. 1080P video at 30 frames, and 720P video at 60 frames give you awesome captures for its sub-190 dollar price-tag. There is 5 megapixel photo capture and 40 metre waterproofing out of the box with the provided housing.
It never moves or detaches from its mounts. For the low price, you will be hard-pressed to find such quality.
The Hero 3: The Entry-Level Go-Pro with built-in Wi-Fi
Consider this scenario: you are looking to film small clips of your friends skateboarding while on a trip in Paris, and you want to share the videos on-the-fly with your family and relatives back home. With the GoPro Hero 3, you absolutely can.
It practically one-ups the entry-level Hero with in-built Wi-Fi capability that works as reliably as the normal image capture. A mid-range price (SGD290) gives you a basic Action Camera experience coupled with real-time Internet connectivity in the Hero 3. Not the very best out there, but certainly does the job if you want great 1080p video. A great mid-range action camera.
The Hero 4: The Absolute best
When it all comes down; this is the grand-daddy of GoPro action cameras and all other action cameras. The 12 megapixel Sony CMOS sensor produces magic every single time. You get the ‘Holy Grail’ of video capture: 4K super high definition video. Although you only get 30 frames per second on 4K it is still ridiculously dandy video capture.
There are pro features that justify its pricey SGD750 tag, which set it apart from the cheaper Hero variants. 12MP Burst photos are possible, not at the 5 frames of the cheaper GoPros, but at an blistering 30 frames per second. This feature really pays for itself with some amazing shots that would leave travel and action sports enthusiasts salivating.
The inclusion of the brand-new Bluetooth feature means you can get photos online through Flickr and other photo sharing services in no time.
Along with sheer speed, you can capture time-specific photos with the highly innovative Time Lapse mode. Set 0.5 to 60 second intervals and get the shots as you desire.
ProTune settings are the real winner though; do manual control with colour, ISO, Exposure and other settings. Get the same vibrant results you previously expected from only point-and-shoot cameras, Smartphone cameras or DSLRs.
Xiaomi Yi Action Camera: The Budget-priced winner
Times are a-changing and Chinese manufacturers are really upping the ante. Everyone knows the phone market is starting to see terrific Chinese-conceived products, but these Chinese companies are now coming up with action cameras to rival the GoPro.
For far cheaper than the Hero’s budget price-tag, you are getting an unbelievable combination of a 16 megapixel sensor, 1080P video at 60 frames per second, a premium Sony image sensor, an included mount,WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity at SGD118.
Compared to the SGD190 price of the Hero, you are actually getting the very best value for the price of the whole Go-Pro selection, with the exception of perhaps the top-end Hero 4. Even the internal battery of the Yi lasts longer than a GoPro would, perfect for long surfing sessions.
With the same durability, 40 metre waterproofing, the housings that enable it and the mounting capabilities on all the GoPros and even Xiaomi’s offering, every single one of these cameras do an absolutely amazing job for almost any sport or activity – extreme or not – you endeavour to capture.
Consider carefully which features you need. If you want top image and video quality, the Hero 4 is a obvious choice and the high price should not deter you, given that you are most likely expecting to pay that much for the quality.
But when you put the lower-end GoPros up against the Yi, there shouldn’t be any contest. You get token Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for cheaper with the Yi than the entry-level Go-Pro, which doesn’t even have any Internet or Bluetooth connectivity. With the really reliable sensor and processor of the Yi, you are getting some action camera ‘chops’ for very cheap.
Action cameras are the must-have vogue tech gadgets to have on your trips if there’s any kind of action or adventure involved. Just strap them on your bike, a surfboard, a car, or just a plain-old helmet, and you get tremendous images and videos. As of now, the Xiaomi Yi and the GoPro Hero 4 are the respective budget and top-end options that make great companions for action and adventure travellers anywhere.
About the Author
Jeremy Cai is the Tech and Travel Writer at ShopBack, resident lover of all things travel. His visit to Australia at age 18 made him a believer in travel as a way of bridging cultures. He has since taken in the sights and sounds of Japan, Korea and France, among many other top locations. Now, he travels by obeying his taste-buds, and has touted the wonderful pleasures of spicy Thailand Tom-Yam, the succulent pleasure of Tokyo Beef and the eclectic flavour of Korean Kimchi as his most-loves. Follow him on Twitter at @Speedygi81 for interesting stories and other projects.