$50 or $300? What To Think About When Buying An Action Camera
It’s that time of year when all the naughty and nice kids get to give their lists to Santa… some want trucks, others a Barbie… and then there’s your kid who wants a GoPro HD Hero… why not? It’s the latest and greatest action camera out there, right? Right, and if you’re a professional snowboarder like Shawn White capturing his front double cork 10 (yes, that’s the name of one of his insane tricks) – you’re going to appreciate the sick footage captured by a GoPro.
However, if your 7-year-old is anxious to hit the mini terrain park with his buddies or perhaps fly down a green run… the $300 investment may not be the way to go.
Here’s a look at this years latest POV (point of view) action cameras – it may help you find what’s best for your family and all the kiddos who want to use it!
$50 - $100 Cameras
I’m going to start with the Action Shot Camera. This camera is not only the most cost-effective – but also very user-friendly. That said, if it’s your 7-year-old who wants the POV camera or hard-to-buy-for tween – this is the camera for them!
Prices start at $50 for a Standard Definition version of the Action Shot Camera, the High Definition version is around $99.
Sold at any store like Target or Walmart, the camera can be attached to helmets, bikes, skateboards and more with a very easy mounting system. The on-the-go interface means you can record POV footage and photos of all the action with just a few clicks. And if you’re not that video savvy when it comes to computers with this, you simply upload your footage and photos to any computer (Mac or PC) with the included USB connection, then edit your greatest triumphs – or fails – with the included video editing software. Included video editing software is always a plus when dealing with these cameras, as it can be pretty intimidating just trying to watch the video on a computer in the first place.
The Action Shot is not trying to compete with the $200 helmet-mounted action cameras on the market. At a $50 price point, this is trying to give younger kids a less expensive way to get into the action video fun.
Another cost saving idea is to scrap the idea of buying a specific POV camera altogether – especially if you have a newer smartphone.
The Optrix is a waterproof, shock-absorbing case and mounting system for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The case has a cool touchscreen membrane that allows you to fully operate your iPhone or iPod while in the case. And because your touchscreen is always visible, you can frame your videos before you record, see them as you’re shooting and review them when you’re done.
The Optrix mounting system includes a quick-release with flat and curved 3M adhesive mounting bases that are similar to the GoPro mounts.
What’s the coolest part of using the Optrix and an iPhone or iPod to make your extreme sports videos? You have instant sharing built-in as long as you have an Internet connection. Using apps like Qik or Justin.TV you can even do live, streaming video right from your helmet or your hood.
$200 to $600 Cameras
Now for the bigger kid in your family… the one who perhaps you want to spend between $200 to $600 dollars on… these cameras below are exceptional. If you’re heliskiing, or packing a punch in some serious powder and want to show it off on your jumbo flat screen these cameras are the way to go. (After being in the television business for 15 years – I can only say I wish I had these when I flew in an F-16!!)
The Contour Plus HD Action Cam allows you to record beautiful 1080p HD videos with its 170-degree wide-angle rotating lens. Described as the “most connected” POV camera, the Contour Plus HD connects to Bluetooth (enabling the user to preview the shot on their phone) and via an HDMI port.
The unit features a water-resistant shell and has been designed to withstand harsh conditions. It also has a GPS receiver and comes with custom body, gear, and vehicle mounts.
A few things you should know when considering this camera - Android users are all set, but iPhone users will have to buy a $30 ConnectView card to make the app talk to the camera. Plus a huge note - no waterproof housing is yet available.
The Drift HD170 is one of the most advanced action sport cameras on the market, sporting a variety of video resolutions, 5 megapixel photos and a 170-degree wide angle lens to catch all the perfect shots. The camera is capable of being operated remotely thanks to a wireless remote control, allowing you to start and stop recording on the fly. I love this idea because when you are wearing gloves and trying to poke at buttons on top of your helmet – it can be a very frustrating experience – especially when you hit that 20 foot jump and realize you’re not recording (kidding about the jump.. I’m a big chicken).
With a built-in screen, the camera includes a feature missing from many of the action camera options on the market.
What the GoPro Cameras offer that its competitors don’t is access to all of its settings and features using only the on-camera controls. With this model, you can pick between frame rates ranging from 30 fps to 120 fps, choose NTSC or PAL, and set the quality between 720p to 1080p — all without the need to carry your laptop into the field. The camera also comes with a variety of sport-specific accessories and mounts for skiing and snowboarding, motorsports or surfing.
Choosing settings manually on the GoPro can take a little more time - but their iPhone app is a great new tool for connecting via WiFi, which makes changing settings and monitoring your shot easy. The GoPro is the priciest model on this list - but for picture quality and frame rate, this camera is by far the way to go.
Whatever you choose – a good thing to know is that being out in the cold sucks the life out of all and any battery, so be prepared to charge these beauties each and every day. Important to consider when you're comparing models: accessories are often sold separately and you may also have to pick up an SD memory card separately - which, of course, can mean some additional costs.
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