Of all the features a modern action camera packs (think the GoPro Hero5 and other small, portable, high-quality devices), built-in marketability is one of the most compelling. Watch one video of a trail ride or an online clip of an exhilarating flight and you absolutely must have a camera all your own, no matter how adventurous or laid-back your lifestyle.
The first challenge is as “simple” as picking one. With so many viable devices (high-end cameras, near-indestructible cameras, cameras attached to drones, etc.) available, it can seem like there are hundreds of identical options, but a few definitely stand out above the rest.
You Can’t Go Wrong with Sony . . .
Sony makes top-flight gear, and that’s why the HDR-AS300R HD Action Cam gets first mention. The device is small, imminently portable, and remote-controllable with its wrist-mounted LIVEVW control screen, making it perfect to catch great third-person angles on your jumps and dives.
But the device also shines in first-person, thanks to Sony’s proprietary SteadyShot technology. The camera’s second-to-none image stabilization becomes an important feature when you’re riding a bumpy trail or on a run. Indeed, SteadyShot has been crucial in making Sony a top manufacturer at all sizes. Check it out and see just how useful it is.
. . . or the OG Action Camera
You don’t have to know what an action camera is to know the name GoPro. The company’s devices were the first consumer-level ultra-portables, and the line keeps getting better with age.
The newest line from the beloved GoPro Hero5 brand comes in two flavors: the Session, which is ostensibly aimed at “prosumer” users; and the super-high-quality Black line, which is built for actual pros. Both shoot in 4k resolution and feature a range of mobile- and voice-control options. The Session is a little smaller and may be better, in general, for people who don’t absolutely need the Black’s high-end features, like the ability to shoot RAW images.
One possible caveat: the GoPro Hero5 Black is the only model that supports image stabilization, digital though it may be. If reducing shake is a concern for you, you may wish to consider a Black model on that fact alone.
A Drone to Top It Off
Of course, you’ll need a personal helicopter to carry your action camera for you, right? If you don’t want to fiddle with a ton of individual components, but still want pro-level videos and photos, a drone with a built-in camera may be for you. If that’s the case, look no further than DJI’s upcoming Mavic PRO. The device folds down to be no larger than a bottle of water, making it ultra-portable, and it sports an insane number of photo- and video-friendly features, including great (mechanical) stabilization, crystal-clear 4k video quality, and “tripod mode” for slowed-down indoor flying. Early reviews also praise the device’s pin-precise control and long battery life.
Maybe you want something a little more customizable. Devices like the highly popular Blade 350 QX come built for your collection of GoPros, with a device-specific mount included out of the box. Better yet, the device is made to reduce the risk of so-called “flyaway” events — sad, sad times when your drone flies off on you — with return-home and easy-flying stick relativity features.
In the sky or on the ground, there’s certainly no shortage of action camera goodness to enjoy. From the GoPro Hero5, to Sony’s newcomer, to straight-up personal helicopters, there’s always a way to capture your leisure, your neighborhood, and whatever else you might want to record. It’s a golden era for drones and personal recorders—don’t let the excitement pass you by.