What Is an Action Camera? 

What Is an Action Camera featured photo

Do you ever wonder how explorers capture breathtaking photos and videos? You’re not alone. As someone who often travels to different areas, I want to record my adventure and all the action I partake in. I know a traditional DSLR won’t do for its bulky size and weight, so I researched the next best option: an action camera. 

An action camera is a digital camera designed for shooting action videos. It is characterized by its compact size, durable build, and, sometimes, waterproof design.

Besides extreme action and sports, action cams can also shoot other types of videos. This article will explore the several uses of action cameras and their unique features. Below, you will also learn how to choose the best action camera for your needs.

What Is an Action Camera?

An action camera is a compact, rugged digital camera. It can capture videos and photos while the shooter is in action. It is extremely popular for recording extreme sports and outdoor activities, like hiking and skydiving. Other popular uses of action cams include driving, surfing, and urban exploration. 

With the right accessories, an action camera can also attach to handlebars, helmets, surfboards, and windshields in cars. It allows you to capture hands-free footage, so you can focus and enjoy your current activity. Plus, it lets you shoot from different angles and perspectives in almost any environment.

Pros of Action Cameras

  • Compact and portable design
  • Rugged and waterproof construction
  • High-quality videos and photos
  • It can mount on any surface in various positions
  • It is suitable for several shooting situations, such as extreme sports and outdoor activities

Cons of Action Cameras

  • Limited control over exposure and zoom
  • The wide field of view might be unsuitable for other scenes
  • It requires extra accessories if you want to use it as a video professional camera

What Are the Unique Features of Action Cameras?

Action cameras offer unique features that help capture action scenes and other fast-paced movements. Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.

Compact Size

An action cam is popular for its compact and portable design. It is just the right size for your hands so that you can quickly capture the action when needed. At the same time, it can easily mount on any surface if you have the right accessories. 

When you are done using it, an action cam can fit in your pocket or any small bag for safekeeping.

Durable and Waterproof Design

Action cameras use durable construction materials that can withstand tough shooting environments. They can also handle various weather conditions, whether rain, sand, or snow. 

Most high-quality models are even waterproof, unlike a normal camera. They enable you to capture underwater footage while you swim, dive, or surf.

Plus, an action cam usually comes with a protective case. This exterior housing further protects the camera from damage. It can also improve the shock and waterproof camera capabilities.

Wide-Angle Lens

The wide field of view is another notable feature of an action cam.

The camera uses a built-in wide-angle lens to give you a broad perspective ranging from 140 to 170 degrees. Such a wide viewpoint lets you capture all the action in front of your eyes. It even makes your videos more immersive to the viewers as they can feel like they’re a part of the adventure.

Image Stabilization

High-quality action cameras have electronic image stabilization. This technology detects and minimizes motion while you’re shooting videos. It helps the camera deliver smooth and steady footage, even when you are constantly moving during recording.

In some action cams, image stabilization comes in multiple modes. Each varies depending on the amount or intensity of the stabilization you want. Note that a higher setting could mean a crop factor, which results in a smaller image angle. 

What Are the Popular Examples of Action Cameras?

Now that you know what makes an action camera unique, you’re probably wondering about the popular models you can use. Below are the best action cameras available today.


GoPro Action Cam

When someone says “action camera,” the first brand that probably comes into mind is GoPro. 

This company has produced numerous high-quality products, garnering millions of action camera sales annually. Their flagship product is the GoPro HERO series. It is popular for its high-resolution footage, smooth stabilization, and superb image quality. All these features come in a durable yet portable package.

DJI Osmo Action Cam

DJI Osmo Action Cam

The DJI Osmo is another action camera packed with advanced shooting capabilities. It can shoot ultra high definition 4K video up to 155-degree wide field of view. It also offers smart stabilization features for smooth videos. But what sets the DJI Action Cameras apart from other action cams is the dual-screen display. It lets you see and record yourself in the middle of the action.

Insta360 Action Cam

Insta360 Action Cam

The Insta360 offers up to 360 degrees of shooting perspective, thanks to its fisheye lens. It lets you capture the widest angle possible without worrying about where to point the camera. It can also record highly-detailed videos and photos. Plus, the Insta360 Action Cameras make editing easier with the Insta360 Studio application.


AKASO Action Cam

AKASO Tech offers budget-friendly yet quality action cameras for everyone to enjoy. Most of their products can capture high-resolution videos with reliable image stabilization. AKASO action cams also have a rugged, waterproof build to withstand rough shooting conditions.

How to Choose the Best Action Camera? A Simple Buying Guide

The above products are just a few examples of the countless action cameras available today. But with so many other cameras to choose from, it can be overwhelming to purchase one that best suits your needs.

Below are some factors to consider before buying an action camera for extreme sports.

Video Resolution

The typical action camera records up to 4K video resolution. Some high-end models already capture highly-detailed 6K videos.

You probably won’t need to shoot in ultra HD category, especially if you’re not a professional videographer. However, it is still best to consider the type of videos you create before finalizing your purchasing decision.

Image Quality

While not specifically designed for photography, action cameras can still capture high-quality pictures. Look for a model with a higher megapixel rate to get sharp and detailed photos. 

Battery Life

“How long can the action camera battery last?” is probably one of your questions when searching for the best action camera. The truth is that it varies greatly from product to product and other factors. These include video quality, WiFi and Bluetooth use, and outdoor temperature. For instance, recording with the WiFi on means the battery will drain faster than you expected.

Consider the battery capacity if you want a longer-lasting action camera. The higher the mAh rating, the better. 


The connectivity options are another important consideration when buying an action camera. Look for USB compatibility and WiFi/Bluetooth features for convenient file transfer. Some action cams also have HDMI connectivity. This feature allows you to stream recordings live on a separate monitor.


It is best to check the accessories compatible with the action camera before buying it. The specific attachments you’ll need will depend on the type of videos you want to shoot.

For instance, if you want to capture videos while cycling, choose an action camera that mounts on a helmet or handlebar. Those who surf must also look for a suitable mounting accessory.

Storage Capacity

Finally, ensure the action camera can save the videos and photos you want to capture. Learn if the device accepts micro SD cards and other types of storage cards. Then, purchase the card compatible with your specific action cam.


An action camera is the chosen camera of many travelers for many reasons. It has a compact, rugged build that withstands harsh shooting conditions. It is perfect for extreme sports, like skydiving and parasailing. But as previously discussed, action cameras can also capture other outdoor activities, like driving and hiking.

Do you have more questions about action cameras? Feel free to send a message via the contact page.